andrewgodsell

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Theresa May Creates a Constitutional Crisis

During the 2015 General Election campaign, Theresa May, as Home Secretary in the Con-Dem coalition, claimed that the emergence of a possible minority Labour government, backed by the Scottish National Party, would be the biggest constitutional crisis in Britain since the Abdication in 1936. May’s idea was met with derision.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/26/snpbacked-labour-governme_n_7145404.html

In the recent General Election campaign, May and the Conservatives kept banging on about their offer of “Strong and stable government”. They contrasted this with the “Coalition of chaos” envisaged if the small Conservative majority was replaced by a progressive government led by Labour, with support from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party. The Tories also consistently smeared Jeremy Corbyn, saying his dialogue with Sinn Fein – which eventually helped the Good Friday peace agreement for Northern Ireland in 1998 – equated support for IRA terrorism.

Now we have a minority Conservative and Unionist government, with the weak and wobbly May desperately clinging on to power, through an unholy alliance with their “friends”, the Democratic Unionist Party.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour, energised by a positive campaign (Jeremy is too modest to add that he has been an inspirational leader) stands ready to take power. As a political activist who supports a written constitution for Britain, I have concerns about the vagaries of the current unwritten constitution.

The Hansard Society has produced an excellent briefing on possible scenarios in a hung Parliament.

https://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/resources/a-numbers-game-parliament-and-minority-government

The document is well worth a read.

I wish to draw attention to a few specific points.

If May’s government is defeated on the Queen’s Speech, convention suggests she should resign as Prime Minister, and advise the Queen to invite Corbyn, as leader of the second largest party, to attempt to form a government (see pages 11-12). This is only a convention, which means May could suggest that the Queen try to appoint another Conservative (is that Boris Johnson, the £350 million man, waiting in the wings?) as potential Prime Minister.

The whole possible process of May proposing a Queen’s Speech, being defeated on this, and a subsequent vote of no confidence, followed by a vote of confidence in a new government, means the current uncertainty could last several weeks. The reference on page 13 to a “technical drafting error” in the Fixed Term Parliament Act casts further doubt on the transparency of the process.

Much has been made of the regressive nature of the DUP, who oppose gay marriage and abortion, but support creationism being taught in schools. There are also suggestions that the Conservative and DUP agreement conflicts with the legal responsibility of the Conservatives, as the British governing party, to be neutral in dealings with the Northern Ireland parties, in line with the Good Friday Agreement. With the governance of Northern Ireland in limbo, following the collapse of the Sinn Fein and DUP administration earlier this year, this has major implications.

There is also the elephant in the mainstream media room. The DUP have consistently had close links with loyalist terrorist organisations. For many years, the mainstream media have not so much underestimated the extent and horrors of loyalist terrorism, as pretended it simply does not exist.

Now where did this loyalist terrorism start? Back in 1912, when the Unionist Party, as the Conservatives were then calling themselves, founded the Ulster Volunteer Force, as a private army that sparked civil war in Ireland, and derailed the plan of a Liberal government to give Home Rule to Ireland.

Back in 1912, the Unionists argued there was no mandate for the Liberal government’s programme, as they were a minority administration, only kept in power by the informal support of Irish Nationalist MPs.

A century later, May is arguing the complete opposite to justify her Conservative government!

I think Labour should be very clear about what is happening, remain united, and press the case that we have the solution to the crisis. By keeping our nerve, Labour can win power, either in the new hung Parliament, or by our momentum leading to victory at the next General Election – widely expected to be held within the next few months.

May and the Tories – who cried wolf about a crisis in 2015 – have suddenly plunged Britain into something that has potential to be the most severe constitutional crisis for over a century.

#WorldBookDay 2017

On World Book Day I thought I would post something that looks back to the start of my attempt to be writer – 30 years ago – and other things happening in the late 1980s.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Obsessive-Compulsive-Asperger-Andrew-Godsell/dp/1326877984/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488462109&sr=1-5&keywords=andrew+godsell

800px-westminster_palace-colour 

With bold ambition, I began writing A History of the Conservative Party on September 30 1985. As a member of the Labour Party, it seemed natural to plunge into literature with a critical history of the Conservatives, despite being aged only 20, and lacking any experience of writing for publication. I drew inspiration from Antonio Gramsci and Aneurin Bevan, two great Socialist politicians. Gramsci was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist dictatorship in Italy. After his arrest, Gramsci wrote to Tatiana, sister of his wife, Julia Schucht: “I am obsessed by the idea that I ought to do something for ever. I want, following a fixed plan, to devote myself intensively and systematically to some subject that will absorb me and give a focus to my inner life”. This led to Gramsci writing the Prison Notebooks (between 1929 and 1935), which rank among the most profound political writings. Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, by which a ruling class asserts and reinforces its position, along with his advocacy of ways that the working class can counter this, have been a massive influence on Socialist thinking and action.

Bevan’s Why Not Trust the Tories? was published in 1944, when victory for Britain, and her allies, in the Second World War was in sight. He drew parallels between the contemporary situation and the position after the First World War, when a Conservative and Liberal coalition government proceeded to condemn the hopes of a nation to the scrapheap. Writing about Tory procrastination over development of the welfare state, Bevan suggested the approach was “Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today”. Several years later, I realised Bevan had borrowed this curious idea from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There. The White Queen offered Alice work as a maid, for “Twopence a week, and jam every other day”, going on to say “The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today”. A Labour government took power in 1945, with a landslide election victory, and delivered the welfare state. The defining achievement of Labour was the National Health Service, with Bevan, a Marxist agitator, being the architect. The Conservatives responded with vehement opposition, voted against establishment of the NHS in Parliament, and have continued to undermine its principles.

My book, which would be published in 1989, demonstrated that the Conservative Party has merely acted as the representative of the ruling class, following reactionary, and anti-democratic, policies while displaying an incoherent political outlook. Amidst lots of adverse comment, the narrative had a single hero, with Disraeli being a man of imagination, who brought drama, and comedy, to politics. An unusually enlightened Conservative, Disraeli (albeit reluctantly, and out of opportunism) gave the vote to urban working class men (but not women) in 1867. I showed how wishful thinking by the Conservatives had credited him with developing the idea of “One Nation”. One of the many villains of the book was Margaret Thatcher, who approached the NHS, and other Labour achievements, with the rationality of the Queen of Hearts.

The book opened with the formation of the Conservative Party in 1830, and ended with the 1987 General Election – which meant the final part of the book covered events that unfolded as I wrote. Thatcher’s government discarded mone­tarism during the Autumn of 1985, realising it had failed, but maintained the general plan. Although there had been some economic improvement, mass unemployment was only gradually reduced. At the beginning of 1986, two Cabinet Ministers, Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan, resigned amidst a dispute over the ownership of the Westland helicop­ter company. Thatcher’s position appeared threatened by revelations about her role, but she survived the crisis. Work on the book about the Conservatives did not go as well as hoped, and I took a break, starting in February 1986.

I retained enthusiasm for writing and, within a few months, the 1986 World Cup finals prompted a decision to write a history of the competition. England made a poor start to the tournament, held in Mexico, before enjoying successive 3-0 victories against Poland – with a hat trick from Gary Lineker – and Paraguay). In the Quarter Finals, England lost 2-1 against Argentina, with Diego Maradona grabbing two goals within a few minutes, early in the second half. The first effort should have been disallowed for handball (the infamous “Hand of God”), but Maradona’s second goal was a brilliant solo effort. There was a late onslaught from England, in which Lineker scored, but it was too little, too late. Argentina went on to win the World Cup, beating West Germany 3-2 in the Final.

I began work on The World Cup on August 18, the day after returning from a visit to Portugal. I spent a week at Estoril, and took regular walks to the neighbouring town, Cascais. One lunchtime I enjoyed a variant on fish and chips, with the main part of the meal being fried swordfish. Having left the restaurant, I was chased down the road by a waiter. I thought that he thought that I had not paid the bill, but he was actually checking I was sure about the (slightly larger than usual) scale of the tip left in appreciation. In November I bought Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live / 1975-85, a five LP box set. One of the inner sleeves featured a photograph taken at a concert by Bruce, and the band, at Wembley in 1985, and I appeared in this picture, stood in the crowd – a wonderful link to a hero. The real highlight of this collection was the first release of Springsteen’s version of Because the Night, taken from a 1980 concert. Bruce’s rendition replaced Patti Smith’s performance of the song as my favourite record. During the latter part of 1986, I produced a mass of notes, and statistical material, for The World Cup. In the early months of the following year, I wrote the narrative section of the book, completing the process in May 1987.

As a Labour Party activist, I was involved in a General Election campaign for the first time in 1987, hoping we would prevent a repeat of the Conservative landslide of four years earlier. The outcome would subsequently be reported in the final passage of A History of the Conservative Party, which in turn is re-cycled as the remainder of the current paragraph. Thatcher called a General Election for June 11, and issued a Conservative manifesto entitled The Next Moves Forward. In the Foreword, Thatcher made the curious claim that her government was fulfilling the “One Nation” ideal. Thatcher led a poor campaign but, with the opposition weak, the Conservatives won 375 seats, Labour 229, the Alliance 22, and the others 24. The Conservatives retained power with a majority of 100 seats. Reconstruction of the govern­ment included the sacking of John Biffen, who had been Leader of the House of Commons. Biffen responded by saying that Thatcher’s government was Stalinist. As Thatcher entered her third term in office, the thinking of the Conservative Party was characteristically incoherent.

I went to Wembley, in August, for a match that marked the centenary of the Football League. A Football League selection beat a Rest of the World team 3-0, with two goals from Bryan Robson, and one from Norman Whiteside. I was thrilled to see Diego Maradona and Michel Platini play for the Rest of the World, combining magically in midfield. Pele was introduced to the teams prior to the match, as guest of honour. A few days later, I began a holiday at Funchal, on the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira. For Sunday lunch – far away from England – I ate up-market fish and chips, sat outdoors at a restaurant, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. A lovely meal could have been improved with a thematic cherry cake.

Back in England’s green and pleasant land, I attended the fourth day of the match that marked the bicentenary of the Marylebone Cricket Club, with an MCC team playing the Rest of the World. I returned to Lord’s the next day, only for play to be rained off. I will admit to being a bit pedantic sometimes (or more than sometimes). I once noticed that the 1986 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack incorrectly stated that Michael Mates, the first MP to score a century for the Lords and Commons team, represented Petersfield. In 1988 I corresponded with Graeme Wright, the editor of Wisden, and Mates, suggesting a note be put in the Errata section of a future Wisden, as Mates was MP for East Hampshire. Wisden and Mates each attributed the error to the other, but declined the idea of a correction. Mates gave his views in a scrawled handwritten letter. Wright stated electoral constituencies could be confusing, adding “a sound grounding in the works of Lewis Carroll would seem essential were one to take them seriously”.

My diary entry of Sunday October 18 1987 began with a promising event in my writing career, and moved on to the awful effects of the British hurricane:

Much has happened since my last entry – including the lights going out! On Thursday I was pleased to receive a letter from Collins Willow which suggests that they are interested in The World Cup, and wrote the reply that they asked for (giving biographical and bibliographical details). This seems to be a major breakthrough and I am excited about it. On Thursday night I went to bed only to be kept awake by a tremendous storm for literally hours.

On Friday I discovered the details of the storm. It had in fact been a hurricane. It has caused widespread damage throughout south east England. I saw some of the local damage, in our back garden, and in a short trip with dad in the car, followed by a walk back. We were without power from the early hours of Friday until Saturday breakfast time. I spent Friday evening alone by candlelight, having gone round the shops in the afternoon to get some candles. That afternoon I posted my letter to Collins Willow. I had always thought of hurricanes as something that occur in other countries, but not here. It appears that the last one to hit Britain with such force was way back in 1703. The damage done, and the loss of life, have been terrible. We lost power again shortly before I began this entry, and have yet to receive it back.

Collins Willow were part of William Collins, one of Britain’s largest publishers. Across a period of several months, leading into Spring of the following year, I had dialogue with Michael Doggart, an editor at Collins, who came close to offering to publish the book, before eventually deciding against this. The World Cup was rejected by a steady stream of publishers, although quite a few considered signing me up for their team.

After a break of two years, I returned to writing A History of the Conservative Party, in March 1988. I decided to leave Dresdner Bank, having worked there for more than four years, and have a spell in which temporary work would overlap with concerted effort to get a writing career underway. On my final day at the bank, May 13, I invited colleagues to join me for a drink-up at a pub. In an echo of my twenty first birthday celebration, I was visited by a stripagram lady. By leaving the bank, I exchanged a secure job for an uncertain future, but felt excited by the possibility of becoming a writer. When Benjamin Disraeli persuaded the Conservatives to take a gamble by passing the second Reform Act, in 1867, Lord Derby, Prime Minister and Party Leader, described the action as “a leap in the dark”. I was following the example of Disraeli, taking a personal leap.

In June I made my third visit to Yugoslavia, spending a week at Bol, a village on the island of Brac, in Croatia, accompanied by Phil, a friend I worked with at Dresdner. Brac was quiet, but picturesque, particularly the Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) beach near Bol, this being a promontory that emerges from a pine wood. At the hotel, Phil and I sampled a local drink, mishmash, composed of red wine sat on top of orange juice, with the two components kept separate in the glass. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band toured Britain in the Summer, and I saw two concerts, the first at Villa Park, in Birmingham, and the second at Wembley Stadium. Both shows featured Because the Night. The Wembley concert lasted three hours and 35 minutes, as Bruce sang 33 songs – including 10 encores, in response to loud, and lengthy, calls from the crowd for more songs.

A couple of months after leaving Dresdner, I resumed the role of something in the City. At intervals over the next two years, I worked on an agency basis for a long list of banks. These were London and Continental Bankers (British), Rabobank (Dutch), Sanwa Bank (Japanese), Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (Italian), Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (Japanese), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (you guessed), SDS Bank (which was Danish), Norddeutsche Landesbank (based in West Germany), Tokai Bank (Japanese), and Arab Banking Corporation (based in Bahrain, but jointly owned by the states of Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Libya). I said it was a long list.

Dorothy Collings died of cancer on September 13 1988. Dorothy was a wonderful woman, who was to be sadly missed by her family, just as Ernest, her husband, had been. Following granny’s death, we learned that Ernest had been illegitimate, but con­cealed this. The revelation prompted resumption of work on my family history, put on hold a decade earlier. Helped by membership of the Society of Genealogists, I was able to discover a great deal of information over the next few years, taking my known ancestry back to the 1700s. Later progress, to earlier dates, will be outlined subsequently in this book (well it makes sense to me).

I visited France in October 1988, spending a long weekend in Paris with Phil. We visited historic sites, and I went to places of personal interest. At Montparnasse cemetery, I found the grave of Alexander Alekhine, a Russian who became a citizen of France. Alekhine was world chess champion from 1927 to 1935, and then 1937 until his death in 1946. I also followed in the footsteps of George Orwell, along the Rue du Pot de Fer, where he lived while writing his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (published in 1933). In December, the Clapham Junction train disaster caused the deaths of 35 people. I was very lucky not to be involved in the crash, as I regularly travelled to work on one of the trains that collided, but did not use it that particular day.

I attended an Amnesty International concert, at Wembley, in September 1988. The headline performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band followed impressive sets by Youssou N’Dour, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, and Sting. I became a member of Amnesty International, supporting the battle for human rights throughout the world. I also joined the Chile Solidarity Campaign, which participated in the struggle for the resto­ration of democracy in Chile. The country had ceased to be a democracy on September 11 1973, when Salvador Allende’s government, which was transforming Chile into a Socialist society, was overthrown by a military coup, and replaced by a Fascist dictatorship. The achievements of Chile’s Socialist government provided a great deal of inspiration for the British left, and Allende was one of my political heroes. At this time I voted in a Labour Party Leadership contest, supporting Tony Benn, as he was a com­mitted Socialist intent on a clear programme of radical reform in Britain, but Neil Kinnock won. During the Spring of 1989, I attended the annual general meeting of Chile Solidarity, chaired by Judith Hart, a Labour MP dedicated to Socialist causes. I also stood as a Labour Party candidate in the Hampshire County Council Election.

In May 1989 a publishing company offered to publish The World Cup. This was followed by a cruel change of fortune, as a few days later the company mysteriously changed their mind. Refusing to be beaten, on the day I learned of the rejection, I set to work on producing an expanded version of the book. During June, I saw England beat Poland 3-0 in a World Cup match. Prior to this I had seen England draw 0-0 with Sweden, and beat Albania 5-0, in their 1990 World Cup qualifying campaign. In the space of a few days, either side of England’s match against Poland, I saw concerts by Elvis Costello and Lou Reed. Elvis Costello performed a solo acoustic set at the Royal Albert Hall, in which the highlight was an amazing Alison. Lou Reed’s show at the London Palladium (a venue that looks better on television than it really is) started with his playing most of the songs from the recently-released New York album, one of the peaks in a long career. This was followed by earlier material, including Rock and Roll plus Sweet Jane, from the Velvet Underground days, and Walk on the Wild Side. The back cover of the New York album had a note from Reed, advising “It’s meant to be listened to in one 58 minute (14 songs!) listening, as though it were a book or a movie”. Lou Reed, who died in 2013, was a great role model, with the gift of self-parody (too often under-rated).

There was a rapid return to the electoral front, in a Hart District Council By-Election. On polling day, the Labour candidate was midway through a holiday, at Playa de las Americas in Tenerife. Phil and I climbed the peak of Mount Teide, besides spending long nights in the bars and discos of our town. Here is a diary account, written on June 16, of helter skelter events:

As the polls were closing in Britain last night, Phil and I were off for what proved to be a remarkable night. The first stop was a pub called the Waikiki. After the Waikiki we went to a couple of other places. At one of these I got talking to a soldier. He told me about being shot twice by the IRA. I decided not to get into an argument about Ireland. The early hours of this morning saw our daily visit to the Crow’s Nest. At this venue I found myself dancing at one point with about eight girls. It seemed fun at first, but events took an unfortunate turn. These girls literally ripped my shirt off, and refused to return the torn remnants. It was the shirt I got in exchange for my spare Bruce Springsteen ticket, at Birmingham last year. I did not wear the shirt much, but I am annoyed at having lost it. The girls tried to take my jeans off. I managed to restrain them. I then left the disco. I waited outside to see if Phil would follow. When he did not I walked back to the apartment alone. The man at the reception reluctantly gave me our key, complaining that I should have been wearing a shirt.

Phil soon returned and we exchanged stories. He said that while I was being attacked he was snogging with a girl he had met. Her friend wanted to meet me when Phil said it was I who had been attacked, but I was by now gone. Phil also bumped into the soldier we had met earlier. Phil managed to knock the soldier’s pint of lager all over the pool table. Besides buying a replacement drink, Phil had to pay the barman the cost of damaging the pool table. The good news of the night is that Phil arranged to meet the two girls he was with. We are due to meet them at the same venue at midnight tonight. Walking home from the Crow’s Nest last night I felt demoralised, but Phil’s story brightened me up. Today we have been able to look back on last night as quite funny. It was certainly different.

Immediately after the holiday, I arranged publication of The World Cup with Nimrod Press, based at Alton, in Hampshire. I was delighted with my bouncebackability. Is that a real word? If not, it should be. I soon completed re-writing the book, which was scheduled to appear in the Autumn. Continuing research included trips to the headquarters of the Football Association, in London, having arranged access to the library with its custodian, David Barber. On one visit, as I sat in the reception of the Football Association, admiring a replica of the Jules Rimet trophy, Graham Kelly, the Chief Executive, walked through, casting a disapproving look at the casually-dressed young man, who had somehow been admitted to the plush building. I corresponded with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), based in Switzerland, and received positive letters from Guido Tognoni, head of public relations. In the light of points I made, FIFA corrected errors in the official World Cup statistics. My efforts were also recognised by a freebie from FIFA, as I received a set of postcards, combining reproductions of publicity posters for each World Cup tournament, and match statistics.

 

 

#GeorgeOrwell, Memories of 1984, and #Aspergers

george_orwell_press_photo

After a break of a few days, during which I have been feeling anxious and unwell, I return to this Blog.

I have decided to post another chapter of my new book, Obsessive Compulsive Asperger, looking back at events in the years surrounding 1984.

Much has changed since then but, more than 30 years later, a lot of the interests I had as a young adult feel familiar.

George Orwell, a man who probably stuggled with Asperger’s, remains my favourite author. His warnings about the dangers of totalitarianism lurking in our dubiously democratic society are as relevant as ever.

Despite the scepticism of many people, I have remained interested in politics, and (just about, in view of this years purge) a member of the Labour Party, intent on tackling the Tories.

So here are my memories, in a chapter entitled The Lion and the Unicorn.

In the Summer of 1981, our family went on holiday to Newquay, in Cornwall. This was not particularly enjoyable, as we stayed at a poorly-managed hotel (worse than the establishment in Fawlty Towers, but not funny), with most of the staff departing during the course of our fortnight there. A few weeks after I left school, a results slip showed I had passed six “O” levels. Failures in English Literature and Computer Studies did not prevent me subsequently writing books with the aid of computers. I became a student at Farnborough Sixth Form College in September 1981, studying for “A” levels.  I also played for the college chess team, participating in a local league and national knock-out competition, the latter sponsored by the Sunday Times.

Excitement on sitting down to watch England’s first match in the 1982 World Cup finals, against France, live on television, grew as Bryan Robson opened the scoring after just 27 seconds. England beat France 3-1, but goalless draws in the second stage, with West Germany and Spain – the latter being the host nation – meant England were eliminated, despite being unbeaten in the tournament. West Germany later reached the Final, where they lost 3-1 against Italy. During August I saw Manchester United win 3-1 at Aldershot, in a match that raised money for victims of the Falklands War. Following this I visited Spain, as we had our first foreign family holiday, the location being Lloret de Mar, near Barcelona. We stayed in a large hotel, which was impressive, apart from unpalatable food. A year later I went on an extended family holiday for the last time, at the village of Cala Bona in Majorca.

I reached the age of 18 at the end of 1982, and made plans for the future. I decided against going to university, having spent enough years in formal education. A growing interest in politics was strengthened by frequent discussion at college. As a member of the debating society, I made a speech advocating that Britain should withdraw from the European Economic Community. A college assembly attempted to follow the format of the BBC’s Question Time programme, with myself on the panel, providing a critical view of the Thatcher government’s approach to unemployment. Thatcher proclaimed herself a “convic­tion politician”, opposed to consensus. Her major preoccupation was an attempt to revive British capitalism, through monetarism. Thatcher’s policies proved a calamity for Britain, with reduced public expenditure, reduced taxation (especially for the ruling class), an attack on the trade unions, and the sale of public assets. When Thatcher took power, more than a million people were unemployed. The number of unemployed people increased to two million in August 1980, and three million in January 1982.

I read lots of the works of George Orwell, and was particularly impressed by The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius plus Nineteen Eighty-Fourfact and fiction respectively. The latter book is a brilliant warning about the dangers of totalitarianism, and a satire on the politics of the era in which it was written. In the character of Winston Smith, who starts to write a diary on April 4 1984, Orwell conveyed the outlook of an individual battling to express a minority view – “sanity is not statistical”. During the Spring of 1983, I read the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital, one hundred years after his death. I felt the influence of Marxism as an approach to politics, economics, and history, being persuaded by Marx’s critique of capitalism, which is shown to be exploitative, and prone to recurring crisis. Capital ranks as a monumental piece of world literature, full of illuminating quotes and allusions.

In May 1983 I voted for the first time, supporting the Labour Party in a Hart District Council Election – Hart covered Fleet and surrounding villages, including Hartley Wintney. The following month, I voted for Labour at a General Election, and felt demoralised as Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives were returned to power, with a majority of 144. Shortly after the General Election, I made the first in a series of visits to the House of Commons, observing proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. On that first visit, I saw Edwina Currie, a newly-elected Conservative MP, make her maiden speech. Edwina was immediately followed by Harriet Harman, feted as Labour’s most glamorous woman MP, who won a By-Election a few months earlier. I was joined by granddad on one trip to Westminster, during which we saw Margaret Thatcher at Prime Minister’s questions.

I passed three “A” levels, but was unemployed for several months after leaving college. Then I was offered a job by the London branch of Dresdner Bank, based at Frankfurt, in West Germany. Employment with Dresdner, as part of their audit department, began on December 28 1983. The bank was situated at Frederick’s Place, a cul-de-sac adjoining Old Jewry, just off Cheapside, in the City of London. The building was a wonderful labyrinth – I initially worked in a mezzanine office, tucked away in a corner, at a tangent from a staircase linking the ground floor with the first floor. Benjamin Disraeli worked in the building as a youth, a fact commemorated by one of those distinguished blue plaques on an exterior wall. During his employment with a solicitor, Disraeli was told by a female friend “You have too much genius for Frederick’s Place: it will never do”. Indeed it did not, and the young man set out on a series of adventures.

I started writing a detailed diary on January 1 1984. This opened with a combination of activities and opinions, linked to interest in politics, and the works of George Orwell – themes destined to recur down the years:

I begin this diary on the evening of the first day of 1984. The year is one that has long been awaited in connection with George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. As expected, the general view of the connection as put across by the media has been distortion – or at least misunderstanding – of Orwell’s views. It is being asserted that the book is prediction and wrong, when in fact it is both a clever satire and a useful warning. I hope that if anything is to come from the connection of the book and the present year, it will be increased understanding of Orwell’s views. Given the current state of the media in this country, I believe the myths surrounding the book will largely remain. The book opens with Winston Smith beginning a diary.

I decided a few months back to keep a diary, to provide a record of my thoughts and actions, which I could then refer to at future dates. Besides simple nostalgic sentiment, such reference has intellectual value. George Orwell, in his As I Please column, in the issue of Tribune dated December 17 1943, wrote “One way of feeling infallible is not to keep a diary”. In the March 22 1946 issue of the same newspaper, Orwell’s In Front of Your Nose was published. In this essay Orwell advised that keeping a diary, or record of one’s views on events, was of value. If this was not done it is possible that “when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it”. I propose to record in this diary a regular account of my activities and also my opinions, hopes, fears, predictions etc. When these are set down to be read, and re-read, it will not be possible for me to believe that opinions I held once, but then wished I had not, were not held in the first place. In this of all years I believe that to be valuable. I saw the New Year in with a Channel 4 programme hosted by David Frost. Ken Livingstone predicted that this year might be a bit worse than last or a lot worse. I expect the former myself, but am optimistic about the long term.

When starting to write the diary, I wondered whether it might be published one day, far in the future. By a convoluted process, some of which happened in 2007, extracts from my diary have now found their way into this book.

Dresdner provided a contrast to the efficient image of both banking and the Germans. There was disorganisation, plus strange procedures, but a generally informal atmosphere, and working at the bank was entertaining. At the start of my time as something in the City, I lacked confidence, but chat about football with the blokes, and readiness to be teased by the women, helped break the ice with colleagues. My anxieties in the working environment continue to this day.

I joined the Labour Party in September 1984. I had been born in a National Health Service hospital, and educated in a comprehensive school, while I believed in democratic Socialism, equality, free trade unionism, internationalism, and Britain playing a positive role in the world. These factors made me a natural supporter of the Labour Party. That Autumn I took a holiday in Yugoslavia, staying at the village of Porec, in Croatia. I was attracted to Yugoslavia by a combination of excellent climate and innovative Socialism, based on industrial democracy, decentralised power, and non-alignment – but unfortunately not parliamentary democracy. The weather was rainy, but I enjoyed my visit, and the drinking of Slivovitz, the local plum brandy. Back in Britain, I attended a couple of Labour Party meetings, staged at Farnborough, which focussed on the national strike by coal miners. Each meeting featured a speech by a Labour MP, the first of these being Dave Nellist (member of Militant). The latter meeting was addressed by Dennis Skinner (legendary “Beast of Bolsover”), a former miner, and impassioned critic of the “casino economy”. Dresdner Bank was conveniently situated for visits to Parliament, which I often made after work. One trip to the House of Commons in 1984 was followed by a letter to Bernard Wetherill, the Speaker, asking about the public availability of amendment papers for Parliamentary debates, to which I received an encouraging reply. At the start of the next year, Timothy Wood, a Conservative MP, handed me a copy of a Local Government Bill, as a Commons committee debating the legislation adjourned for dinner. There is no such thing as a free bill, however, for I had already bought a personal copy – besides financing it as a taxpayer.

On October 17 1984, I attended my first World Cup match, as England commenced their campaign in the 1986 qualifiers, beating Finland 5-0, with Mark Hateley scoring twice. I talked with two pretty Finnish young ladies, working in Britain as au pairs, who sat behind me in the stadium. Afterwards, travelling by tube train from Wembley to Waterloo, I found myself sat next to another lady from Finland, and enjoyed a chat with her, which stimulated laughter, and suggestive comments, from several other passengers. Mentioning my encounter with her fellow nationals, I asked the lady if she was an au pair. This flirtatious Finn announced she was a nanny, who thought it would soon be time for me, as a naughty boy, to go to bed. (Dot dot dot? Actually nothing more to report).

The 1984 Dresdner Christ­mas party was held at the Churchill Hotel. Several people did party pieces, and I sang John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over), oblivious of the possibility the Germans might not like this. For Christmas our family visited mum’s parents at Salisbury. We had a great Christmas, dividing our time between eating, drinking, and watching television at home, and visits to the local Conservative club – some of the family were members, and I did not wish to spoil Christmas with a boycott. Granddad was a staunch Conservative so our political ideas had little in common, but we enjoyed discussing them. Sadly I never saw my grandfather again, as he died suddenly from a heart attack on May 5 1985. This was a traumatic event for his family. Granddad was a wonderful man, and I was to miss him in the following years.

In March 1985, at Wembley, I attended the Final of the Milk Cup – the name at that time of the League Cup – in which Norwich City beat Sunderland 1-0, with a fine performance from Steve Bruce, in defence. Earlier in the season, I had half-seen Norwich win 4-0 at Aldershot, in a Third Round replay, amidst very thick November fog. Mick Channon, in the twilight of his career, was among the goalscorers that day. I returned to Wembley on May 18 1985, hoping to buy a ticket for the FA Cup Final, in which Manchester United met Everton. I negotiated purchase of a ticket from two officials of the Surrey branch of the Football Association. Prior to the match, an emotional minutes silence was observed in memory of the fans who died in the fire at Bradford City’s ground the previous week. During the first half both teams failed to produce impressive football. Play improved as the second half progressed, but the game remained goalless. Twelve minutes from time, United’s Kevin Moran became the first player ever to be sent off in an FA Cup Final. The continued absence of a goal meant that the match went into extra time. With 10 minutes remaining, United’s Norman Whiteside charged with the ball through the Everton half, and into the penalty area, scoring with a curling shot. As the ball hit the net, I erupted with joy. Man­chester United held on to the lead during the closing minutes. When the final whistle arrived, I again celebrated wildly. A few minutes later, Bryan Robson lifted the trophy.

Another great Wembley occasion followed on July 6, with a concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I arrived early, and managed to get a place near the front. For hour after hour, I stood in the crowd on a very hot day. It was uncomfortable, but totally worthwhile, as I got a great view. Bruce displayed amazing energy, and built a rapport with the fans, while his band provided tremendous support. The show began with Born in the USA, and continued with a succession of fine songs before Bruce took a break, following Thunder Road. The second set included a stunning rendition of Because the Night.  The encores ended with a lengthy medley of Twist and Shout / Do You Love Me. Bruce had been on stage for just over three hours, with a performance that was almost unbelievably brilliant – witnessing it was an inspiring experience.

During August, I returned to Yugoslavia, staying at Ulcinj, in Montenegro, a few miles from the border with Albania, the most isolated country in Europe. On a tour of the area, I saw part of the border between Yugoslavia and Albania, marked by a line of trees, viewed from a distant vantage point on a hillside – an eerie moment. In the Autumn, I went to Dresdner Bank’s belated Summer party, at the Savoy Hotel, and felt a bit uncomfortable in the luxurious surroundings. A man in attendance in the toilets commented on my not wearing a jacket. When I asked why this was worth mentioning, the man said he assumed my wallet was in the jacket pocket, and I could have given him a tip. I could have observed that it might cost a lot to spend a penny.

 

 

Once Upon a Time – An #Asperger Story

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Obsessive-Compulsive-Asperger-Andrew-Godsell-ebook/dp/B01MSTMUOQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480596376&sr=1-2

Hello I am back, with more thoughts linked to my new book.

The first chapter is a summary of my condition, adapted from a piece I wrote for this Blog a few months ago:

https://andrewgodsell.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/aspergers-syndrome-and-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/

This is followed by a short account of my childhood, and the origin of some anxieties that remain with me, set out below:

Once upon a time, fairly long ago, but not far away, it was a foggy Winter day. To be precise, this was Monday December 14 1964, and I was born at 5.20 in the morning, the location being Aldershot Hospital, in Hampshire. I was the first child of Phillip and Jill Godsell, who had set up home in Fleet, a quiet town five miles from Aldershot. Dad was a civil servant, working at the National Gas Turbine Establishment, part of the Ministry of Defence. A Labour government had recently taken office, led by Harold Wilson as Prime Minister. The Beatles were at number one in the singles chart, with I Feel Fine – featuring feedback introduction, courtesy of a deliberate error by John Lennon.

My mother, who may be biased, has often recalled I was a lovely baby, who did not cry much. I was baptised at Christ Church, in Crookham (a village adjoining Fleet), on February 14 1965, but have since converted from the Church of England to atheism. Mum noted progress in a Baby Book, from which it appears I was a slow starter. I did not begin to crawl until the age of 11 months, and stood up for the first time five days after my first birthday. A few months later, I learned how to walk, taking the first steps without help on April 7 1966. During the Summer, mum, dad, and I went on holiday at Paignton, in Devon. I learned how to kick a football at around the time England won the 1966 World Cup, beating West Germany 4-2 in the Final, at Wembley. My parents vaguely recall that I watched the match live on television, sat with my father. I was only 19 months old (or should that be young?) at the time. Within a few years, I became aware of the enormity of England’s success in winning the competition. I was destined to publish a book entitled The World Cup, in 1990.

On February 14 1967 mum gave birth to another son, named Mark. I do not retain any memory of my brother as a baby, but have been told I was fond of him. In mum’s record, my first response to stories arrived at the age of two and a half years, which means mid-1967. Strikes me as surprisingly late, considering my subsequent fascination with stories. In the Summer of 1968, mum, dad, Mark, and I had our first holiday together, visiting a caravan site at Rockley Sands, in Dorset. Mark and I were unwell during the holiday, and my being sick in the caravan one evening is my earliest definite memory – not an ideal starting point. In 1969 our family had a caravan holiday at Selsey Bill, in West Sussex. Drives around southern England often took us along “George Carriageway”, this being my name for dual carriageway, which I thought was built by a man named George. Another favourite phrase was “cold wind”, something I would say when looking out of windows on Winter days. I have few specific memories of my early years, back in the 1960s, but recollect a happy time. I often wonder what would happen if we could only connect the past and the present.

I joined Gally Hill Infants School, in Crookham, at the start of 1970, aged five. There was an anxious start, with tears in the first few days. I felt a lot of worry at school, despite being a good learner, struggling to integrate – I remember collective lunchtimes being daunting. I was often picked upon by one of the boys, a bully who was older than me. At the same time, I was befriended by a girl in my class, named Nicola, who attempted to guard me from threats of violence. Many times in my life, I have looked upon females as protectors. I attended the school, which combined solid Victorian buildings with modern prefabricated classrooms, for two and a half years. It felt a rather gloomy place. On the brighter side, I enjoyed Friday afternoon breaks, wandering around the playground alone, looking forward to the weekend, and the comforting surroundings of home.

A few months after I began school, we had a holiday at Brean Sands, near Weston-super-Mare, in Somerset, being based in a Pontin’s camp. This was part of a series of extended family holidays. Mum, dad, Mark, and myself generally went on holiday with my mother’s parents, Ernest and Dorothy Collings, plus my mother’s sister Sally, her husband Neville, and their sons Stephen, Gary, and Martin. The visit to Brean Sands was repeated in both 1971 and 1972, following which there was a holiday at another Pontin’s site, located at Camber Sands, in East Sussex, during 1973.

In the Autumn of 1972, I moved to Crookham County Junior School, known as Sandy Lane, after a nearby road. In the first year I was unsettled by my teacher, Mrs Stark. She was a pleasant woman, but could be stern, and reduced me to tears on several occasions. Another source of anxiety was inability to tie my shoelaces, until I received patient lessons from a girl named Carol. Mrs Stark said I was the cleverest boy in her class, and remarked that I never gave up trying to achieve things. Perseverance is a quality I have retained.

My father had been a close friend of John Noakes during the 1950s, when they served in the Royal Air Force. In 1972, with my brother and I regular viewers of BBC’s Blue Peter, dad wrote to John Noakes, seeking a reunion. One day a neighbour told us that John had arrived looking for dad, while we had been out, and left his telephone number. Dad called John, and our family met up with the Noakes family at their home. We encountered Shep, the Blue Peter dog, looked after by John, but there was not any sign of sticky-back plastic. Mark expected to meet Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton, and was surprised the three Blue Peter presenters did not live together. Following this, John and his son made a return visit to us at Fleet. This was my first brush with celebrity, and I learned that John Noakes was basically an ordinary bloke, despite having found national fame. Meeting John sticks in my mind as a great childhood experience, and a story I still enjoy re-telling – here’s one I did earlier (could not resist that).

Dad represented the RAF at youth level football, with the opposition in one match being the Wolverhampton Wanderers youth team, featuring Ron Flowers. Within a few years, Flowers was a part of a Wolves team that won the Football League, and appeared in the fledgling European Cup. Flowers was also an England international, playing in the 1962 World Cup finals. My father enjoyed being an amateur player, for Bemerton Heath (in Salisbury) and Fleet Spurs. I developed into a football fanatic, and followed Manchester United, enthralled by dad’s stories of watching the “Busby Babes”, a team decimated in 1958 by the Munich air crash, which caused the deaths of eight players. Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup, a feat achieved in 1968, but the team, starring George Best, rapidly declined during the next few years. England were also losing their way. At the 1970 World Cup finals, played in Mexico, England were beaten 3-2 by West Germany, after extra time, in the Quarter Finals. The 1974 World Cup saw England eliminated in the qualifiers for the first time, as they lost 2-0 away to Poland, and were held to a 1-1 draw in the return match, at Wembley. I watched live television coverage of both games, played during 1973, being gripped by the drama of the World Cup. Another early football memory is mum and dad allowing me to stay up later than usual, at the age of seven, to watch the first half of the 1972 European Cup Final, live on television. When I went to bed, the match was goalless, but Ajax went on to beat Internazionale 2-0, with a pair of goals from Johan Cruyff. Subsequently a golden era for English clubs saw the trophy being taken in seven out of eight seasons, between 1977 and 1984, by Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, and Aston Villa. As an adult, I would write about this, and much more, in the book Europe United: A History of the European Cup / Champions League – published in 2005.

The Easter holiday of 1973 included a visit to Stonehenge. I remember being captivated by the aura of Stonehenge, with the ancient stones sat in quiet isolation, holding thousands of years of memory. This was a wonderful survival into the modern era of our earliest past. I felt the power of history, something which still holds my imagination. Sometimes stories develop, and expand, over a long period of time. Fully 35 years after the first visit to Stonehenge, a piece about the place would form the opening chapter of my book Legends of British History, which arrived during 2008. There will be some material from that book later in this chronicle. The trip to Stonehenge occurred during a weekend with granny and granddad, at their home in Salisbury. Mum, dad, Mark, and I frequently visited granny and granddad, and retain happy memories. There was tea-time, with lots of cakes, followed by our eating suppers of crusty bread with cheese and pickle, before retiring to beds where the sheets and blankets had been tucked in very tightly by granny. In the sitting room, a large clock ticked solidly, and chimed each hour. Displayed in a bookcase below the clock, granddad had a collection of books, mostly history and novels, some of which I read. Alice Rattue, my great grandmother, was a lively character, and I recall visits to her home in Green Croft Street, in Salisbury, the street in which she lived for most of her life. Always seeming to wear grey pleated skirts, Alice swore quite a bit as she recounted disputes with a next door neighbour. Although illiterate, Alice was able to write her name. Alice had been born in 1892, a few months after William Gladstone became Prime Minister for the fourth time, and died during the first of the two 1974 General Election campaigns. The February Election led to Labour regaining power, nearly four years after losing to the Conservatives.

I attended my first football match on February 17 1974, joining dad and friends in seeing Aldershot draw 3-3 with Southend United, in the Third Division. During May, dad took me to Wembley Stadium, and we saw England beat Northern Ireland 1-0, in the British Championship – this was exciting, although the atmosphere was not all it could have been, with the crowd far below full capacity. A few weeks later, I was thrilled by the World Cup finals, despite the absence of England. West Germany, the host nation, beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the Final. In 1975, dad, Neville, Stephen, and I went to a European Championship game, seeing England beat Cyprus 5-0, with Malcolm MacDonald (sometimes “Supermac”) scoring all five goals – four of them from headers.

Many of my happiest childhood memories stem from holidays in the sun, at Goodrington, a village adjoining Paignton. Mum’s extended family visited Goodrington in each year from 1974 to 1980. On the first of these trips we stayed in a cramped boarding house, owned by a grumpy couple, which did not live up to an enticing name, Paradise Lodge. In subsequent years we based ourselves in the comfortable Goodrington Lodge Hotel. We became friendly with the family, named White, who owned the hotel, and several other regular visitors. The hotel was a short walk from Goodrington Sands, the two parts of which are known as the “morning beach” and “afternoon beach” respectively in our family. We used to rent a beach hut at the southern end, which had soft sand, and base ourselves there in the mornings. We would move to the northern part of the beach, with compacted sand, in the afternoon – to enjoy swimming, making giant sandcastles, and playing tennis. The tide comes in fully on the “afternoon beach” so in practice it could not always have been used – but I have the recollection of many afternoons on that beach rather than the opposite. On Wednesday evenings there was a regular disco at the hotel, hosted by the manager, John White, who endeared himself to young and old alike by inadvertently introducing records by Showaddywaddy as performances from Showaddyshowaddy – seemed even more of a tongue-twister. The discos were preceded by cricket matches in the neighbouring park, with our family being joined by other guests. The games got rather competitive, from my perspective – there were arguments about the rules, plus displays of frustration with opponents and team-mates alike.

Cricket was a sport I followed with interest, including attendance at a few Hampshire matches. During 1974, I saw part of a County Championship game, in which Hampshire (the previous seasons champions) beat Worcestershire (who went on to win the title this year) by an innings. The trip was organised by Neville, who was a keen cricketer, playing for Droxford, a picturesque village near Hambledon, “the Cradle of Cricket”. In 1977 Fleet was the scene of a benefit game for Barry Richards, the brilliant South African batsman who played for Hampshire. An injury prevented Richards from playing that day, but I was able to get him to autograph my copy of the benefit brochure. The progress of the England team featured in excellent BBC coverage, with television pictures being complemented by Test Match Special on the wireless – the word dad used for radio.

Dad was my hero as I grew up, with his offbeat sense of humour, and enthusiasms, being a great influence. Mum was the more practical, and steady, member of the family. Mum was also, as dad often remarked, an excellent cook. My parents grew a variety of fruit and vegetables in the back garden. I had lovely moments on Summer afternoons, sat in the garden, eating blackcurrants or strawberries, and watching butterflies flit among the flowers and plants. Each year we travelled to Cheltenham, the home town of the Godsell family, for the August bank holiday weekend, staying with Yvonne, a sister of dad, her husband David, and their daughter Elaine. Dad and David took Mark, Elaine, and I on visits to Pittville Park, with another cousin, Linda. I recall boat trips, with my poor steering rendering return to the perimeter of the lake problematic. On one occasion, reaching an island, I rapidly hopped onto land, whereupon Linda tried to do likewise, but fell into shallow water, and had to wade ashore. We would also visit my dad’s parents, Christopher and Phyllis (nee Cook-Cove). It was saddening to see Christopher, my grandfather, suffer very poor health for several years, leading to his death on March 19 1976.

I made my first journey abroad at Whitsun in 1976, joining a junior school trip to France. We stayed at Dieppe, and visited other sites in Normandy, including Fecamp and Rouen. In September I became a pupil at Court Moor Secondary School, where my mother was a member of the kitchen staff. Dad continued to work at the NGTE, with his role including the testing of Concorde engines. I developed an interest in family history, which was initially to last for a couple of years. Uncle David drew up a family tree of the Godsells, which prompted me to produce an equivalent chart covering my mother’s family. Ernest and Dorothy, my grandparents, provided information, some of which we found in a Family Bible, printed way back in 1877. The genealogical notes in the Bible opened with the marriage of William Pillar and Bessie Collins, at Dawlish, in Devon, during 1883. They were the parents of Alice Pillar, who was in turn the mother of Ernest.

I played in a couple of reserve team football matches for Court Moor. In 1977 pupils and staff went to see England play the Netherlands. The Dutch masters gave a brilliant display and won 2-0, inspired by Johan Cruyff, who later described this as the best performance of his career. On another school outing to Wembley, we saw England beat Northern Ireland 1-0, in the 1978 British Championship. That years World Cup finals were held in Argentina, but England were not there, having been eliminated in the qualifiers by Italy, on goal difference. Argentina beat the Netherlands 3-1, after extra time, in a bad-tempered, and dramatic, Final – on a pitch littered by an amazing ticker-tape (actually strips of toilet roll) greeting from the home crowd. Two members of Argentina’s squad, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, joined Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks later. In September, I saw Villa play for Tottenham, when they drew 1-1 away to Aldershot, in a testimonial match.

I attended filming of an episode of Are You Being Served? at a BBC studio in London, during November 1978. With mum having obtained dozens of tickets, a coach trip was organised, with mum, dad, Mark, and I being joined by lots of friends. It was fascinating to see how the programme was made. Prior to filming, we found ourselves in a studio corridor, alongside Wendy Richard and Penny Irving, who were dressed up as Miss Brahms and Miss Bakewell respectively. Dad exchanged hellos with Wendy and Penny. As a curious teenager, suddenly catching sight of a prominent pair of ladies from the exciting world of television, I was left in silent admiration.

Having previously gained a place in the junior school’s chess team, I represented Court Moor at that game. My place in the Court Moor team was secured by a good position in a school chess tournament in the latter part of 1978. I became rather obsessive about chess at this time, with enthusiasm turning to stress about my performance in the competition. My GP referred me to a paediatrician, who prescribed a course of Valium. I took Valium for a few weeks, did not feel any better, got worried about being on the medication, and stopped taking it. I was wrapped up in wider anxieties, about school work and my future. For some reason, which I did not really understand, I was lonely during the latter part of my time at Court Moor. Having been outgoing and popular, I became rather introverted, and was suddenly lacking in real friends. I was a bit of an oddball, who did not fit in, and suffered some bullying.

In May 1979 a General Election was won by the Conservative Party, with Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister. I wrote about this grim event in the book A History of the Conservative Party, published a decade later (1989). I felt the outgoing Labour government, in which Jim Callaghan replaced Harold Wilson as Prime Minister (during 1976), performed fairly well. The Labour government’s position unravelled during the “Winter of Discontent”, as the effects of industrial disputes were exacerbated by severe weather through the Winter of 1978-79. Long afterwards I can still recall (picture this) myself walking home from the centre of Fleet, on a cold day in February 1979, with lots of snow on the ground. I had just bought Blondie’s Parallel Lines LP, this being the start of a record collection, which grew rapidly in the next few years. Besides Blondie (fronted by Debbie Harry, an adorable illusion), my initial favourite artists included Elvis Costello (lyricist of genius), and the Sex Pistols (leaders of Britain’s punk rock movement). In August 1979, I bought Because the Night by Patti Smith, a passionate love song that had been a major hit on its release the previous year. I also purchased discs by Buddy Holly, tragically killed in an air crash back in 1959, at the age of just 22. With a great admiration for the Beatles, I became interested in John Lennon’s solo records. The senseless murder of Lennon, in 1980, left millions of people around the world with feelings of immense sadness.

I acquired several records by Bruce Springsteen during 1980, starting with the Born to Run single. Next I bought Bruce’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, a remarkable album, released two years earlier, portraying a life in which struggle is combined with optimism. On May 30 1981, an excited 16 year old attended a concert by Bruce and the E Street Band, at Wembley Arena, which lasted nearly three hours. The highlight was Because the Night, a song Bruce recorded for Darkness on the Edge of Town, but decided not to use. A tape of the song had been passed to Patti Smith, working on Easter – an album with an alluring cover picture of Patti – at the same studio complex as Bruce. The intermediary was Jimmy Iovine, multi-tasking (or multi-tracking) as engineer on Bruce’s album and producer of Patti’s record. With Bruce’s approval, Patti penned changes to the lyrics. Bruce performed Because the Night in concert with his set of words, but had not released his version as a record. I learned from Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, a biography by Dave Marsh, that a legendary track, The Promise, intended for the Darkness album, had also been omitted, and wondered when I might get to hear the song.

Our family had a seventh successive Summer holiday at Goodrington in 1980. Some members wanted a change, but the only problem I could see (or feel) was some hard potatoes, served at dinner in the hotel restaurant. Walking through the reception of the Goodrington Lodge one evening, I overheard John White on the telephone, complaining to the supplier that the potatoes would not go soft when boiled, which meant residents were not eating them. John had raised this with a delivery man, who said the hotelier was going soft in the head.

The Labour Plotters and the Appalling Treatment of a Mentally Ill Man

It is day 21 of my suspension from the Labour Party. I am one of thousands of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn suspended by a right wing clique at party HQ, who are continuing the work of the PLP plotters trying to bring down a leader overwhelmingly elected a year ago. The treatment of myself, and thousands of other loyal Labour Party members, by cynical careerists is sickening.

Here is an email I sent to the party today.

Hello

I write to complain about the appalling way I have been treated by the Labour Party, from which I have now been suspended for 21 days without evidence. I have been a loyal party member for 32 years, but am now alienated by arbitrary suspension, and this is severely affecting my already precarious mental health.

I have today spoken at length on the telephone with Jack from Compliance. I began by explaining that, further to several previous emails (see below for some of these) and telephone calls, I wished answers to a series of points. This is a summary of what happened today.

1 I said I spoke to Compliance 5 days ago, at which point I was told that my challenge to the supposed evidence – Retweeting messages I did not Retweet – would be looked at soon, and the suspension lifted if they agreed with me. When I asked for an update, Jack said “it is impossible to give a timescale for this process”.

2 As I have Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long-term mental health conditions, I feel I should be entitled to expect reasonable adjustments, in accordance with the Equality Act, in the way that the Labour Party deals with my appeal against suspension. This view is supported by the Equality Advisory Support Service, with whom I have discussed the situation. Jack said he was unable to comment, but had noted my point, and would pass it to somebody dealing with my appeal.

3 I have not received a response to my email of August 27, asking about a subject access request in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988. It is an offence under the Act for an organisation such as the Labour Party to process a person’s data in a way which causes distress. I therefore intended to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Jack said he was unable to comment, but had noted my point, and would pass it to somebody dealing with my appeal.

4 I had previously been told by Compliance that suspension appeals would not be heard until after the leadership election. This was not true, as Ronnie Draper was given a personal hearing on September 9, and his suspension was lifted that day. As I had been suspended a day before Ronnie Draper, and immediately launched an appeal, it was reasonable to expect that I should have been given an appeal hearing by now. Jack said this was not the case, but he needed to get advice from a colleague. Jack then said “nobody in Compliance will be able to speak on individual cases, including Mr Draper’s case”.

5 Pamela Fitzgerald had her suspension lifted on September 9, without needing an appeal hearing. I suggested this could be followed by my suspension being lifted without the need for a hearing. Jack said he would not comment on this.

6 I noticed on Twitter yesterday that one member of the party remains suspended but have been told they can vote in the leadership election. First Jack said this was not true. I pressed, saying that there had been quite a bit of material about this on Twitter, including some of the correspondence between the member and the party. I felt this set a precedent for other suspended members, including myself, being allowed to vote. Jack said “there is no such thing as a precedent”, which I remarked did not sound factually correct. Jack said he needed to get advice from a colleague. Then Jack said that, regardless of the truth or otherwise of the particular situation I had mentioned, he could not comment.

In summary, I felt that in view of my loyal party membership, the lack of evidence for the suspension, the number of times I had contacted the party about the matter, and my mental health, it was reasonable to expect a guarantee that the matter would be resolved in the next few days, a timescale that would enable me to vote in the leadership election.

Jack now said “Just because you have phoned and spoken to me, you cannot jump the queue.”  I reminded Jack of the points I had just made, and pointed out it was unreasonable for him to make his suggestion.

Jack said he had spoken to me at length, but Compliance did not have time to look at my case at the moment. I said that it would save time on future phone calls and emails if somebody in Compliance would spend a few minutes looking at the supposed evidence, and lift the suspension. Jack said he could not guarantee any progress with my appeal ahead of the leadership ballot closing.

By this point I was getting so anxious that I told Jack I was having trouble getting the words out.

Jack said he understood and sympathised with my position, but “my hands are tied, and I can only tell you what I have already said, because that is what I have been told to do”.

I asked Jack if he could pass the call to somebody else, who had the authority to do something more specific, given the circumstance I had outlined. Jack said he had been told not to pass the call on, and that he now had to terminate the call. Jack then became the third person from Compliance to put the phone down on me.

I again ask, please can somebody deal with this promptly and fairly?

Thank you

Andrew Godsell

 

 

Why NOT Trust the CONservatives?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Trust-Conservatives-Andrew-Godsell/dp/1326209159/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473680557&sr=1-6

Sadly almost all of my political energy in recent weeks has been used fighting against suspension from the Labour Party. Among the many annoying aspects of the situation, it is taking me away from one of the things I do best, namely attack the Conservative Party. To partly redress the balance, thought I would post the final chapter of my critical history of the Conservatives, a book published last year. So here are my thoughts on a decade of Dodgy Dave as leader of the Nasty Party.

 We Are All in This Together 2005-2015

The Labour Party defeated the Conservatives in a third successive General Election on May 5 2005, obtaining a majority of 66. Labour won 356 seats, the Conservatives 198, the Liberal Democrats 62, and the others 30. The day after the Election, Michael Howard announced his decision to stand down as Conservative Leader. Following a review of the rules for Leadership elections, which did not lead to any changes, a contest began in October. Two ballots led to David Cameron and David Davis advancing, while Liam Fox and Kenneth Clarke were eliminated. The vote among party members saw Cameron defeat Davis by 68 per cent to 32 per cent. Cameron – educated at Eton and caught smoking cannabis there – had only been an MP since 2001. He struggled to establish a strong image as Leader of the Conservatives, being criticised by many for his relative inexperience, and faced difficulty uniting the party. A veneer of socially-conscious Conservatism alienated the right, despite Cameron’s clear Eurosceptism.

Tony Blair stepped down as Prime Minister in 2007, and was replaced by Gordon Brown, the new Labour Leader, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer for the 10 years of Blair’s premiership. At the same time John Prescott ceased to be Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but Harriet Harman, who replaced him in that role, was not accorded the additional position of Deputy Prime Minister by Brown. The premiership of Brown was undermined by the onset of an international banking crisis in 2007, which developed into a global recession, and the biggest crisis of capitalism since the depression of the 1930s. With the Labour government struggling to deal with a budget crisis, as vast amounts of public money were used to rescue private sector banks, Cameron and the Conservatives gained ground. In June 2009 the Conservatives won the European Union election, with 25 seats, while UKIP took 13 seats, Labour 13, the Liberal Democrats 11, and the others 10. The Conservatives now resumed their link with the Ulster Unionists, running a joint campaign in the Northern Ireland section of this election.

Public confidence in the British political system was severely reduced by the scandal of MPs making excessive, and often illegal, claims for expenses. A campaign by the Daily Telegraph, during 2009, highlighted failings by both Conservative and Labour MPs. After requests under the Freedom of Information Act had been blocked, due to lengthy resistance by MPs, the Telegraph leaked information. The newspaper largely used the expenses detail against the Labour Party, and in favour of the Conservatives. Being outside the public sector, the Daily Telegraph was exempt from Freedom of Information, and did not have to disclose how much, and to whom, it paid for the leaked detail. It subsequently transpired that the Telegraph bought the information for £150,000 from John Wick, a supporter of the Conservative Party, with former links to the security services. The deal was agreed by Will Lewis, the editor of the Telegraph, who moved the following year to News International.

The electoral pact between the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists led to an embarrassing rejection, as Sylvia, Lady Hermon, the only sitting Ulster Unionist MP, resigned from the party in March 2010. The reluctant Unionist alliance failed to win any seats at the subsequent General Election, and the pact was soon discontinued. That General Election, held on May 6 2010, led to a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives having 307 seats, Labour 258, the Liberal Democrats 57, and the others 28. The Conservative Party had failed to win a majority for a fourth successive General Election, which represented their worst sequence of results since the six successive defeats between 1847 and 1868. After several days of negotiations between parties, Gordon Brown and the Labour government departed from office, being replaced by a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. David Cameron became the Prime Minister, while Nick Clegg was his Deputy – a Con-Dem double act. Cameron, aged 43, was the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, a Tory who took office in 1812.

The government quickly set about massive public spending cuts, with the Conservatives using a budget deficit as an excuse to attack public services. Cameron and the government told people “we are all in this together”, but the continuing problems of recession, aggravated by austerity, had a disproportionate impact on people with lower incomes, while the Conservatives rewarded rich people with massive tax cuts. The policy was overseen by George Osborne, a complacent Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had inherited a multi-million pound fortune. Unemployment increased to almost 2,700,000 by the end of 2011 – the highest figure since 1994.

A messy compromise between the Conservatives, who opposed electoral reform, and the Liberal Democrats, who had long been in favour of some reform, led to a referendum on the generally unsatisfactory Alternative Vote, in May 2011. The electorate rejected AV by 68 per cent to 32 per cent, a result which damaged the cause of electoral reform. Later that year the Coalition carried legislation to set a fixed term of five years for Parliament – unless there was a vote of no confidence in the government, or a majority vote of two thirds of MPs in favour of an early election. It appeared that the main motive was a wish by the Coalition government to bind the two parties making up the alliance, with a law that would force them to remain together, in power, for five years.

The Coalition government’s policies had an adverse effect on both the National Health Service and Sure Start. The Health and Adult Social Care Act 2012 led to major reorganisation of the National Health Service, with the Conservatives undermining the service through fragmentation and privatisation. Dozens of the Conservative MPs who voted for the legislation benefitted financially, through links to private health companies, which won contracts as parts of the NHS were sold off. The Welfare Reform Act 2012 unfairly disadvantaged many benefit claimants, particularly with the introduction of an under-occupancy penalty, generally known as the Bedroom Tax. Major cuts to Legal Aid were also imposed. In the light of these events, the Conservatives were regularly reminded of the “nasty party” tag by the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, who replaced Gordon Brown in 2010.

The Conservative Party, along with their friends in UKIP, whipped up hysteria about immigration, undermining Britain’s multi-cultural society. Internal argument among Conservatives over Britain’s role in the European Union continued to influence the party leadership. At the start of 2013, David Cameron announced that a referendum on British membership of the EU would be held if the Conservatives won the next General Election. The death of Margaret Thatcher, in April 2013, led to widespread re-assessment of her legacy. While Conservatives lauded Thatcher as a saviour of Britain, many people saw that Thatcher had encouraged a form of capitalism that was in crisis, sold off important public assets, and divided the nation. A lasting effect of Thatcher’s policies was a drop in the level of support for the Conservatives, who only gained a majority in one out of the five General Elections between 1992 and 2010. In the Summer of 2013, the Coalition government’s plan for armed intervention in the civil war in Syria was defeated in a vote by the House of Commons, as the Labour Party led the argument against this course. Cameron, who misjudged the situation, had to pledge that the government accepted the will of Parliament.

In May 2014 the Conservatives were reduced to third place in the European Union election, with 19 seats. UKIP won the election with 24 seats ahead of Labour, who took 20 seats. The Liberal Democrats were left with a single MEP, while the other parties won 9 seats. After a protracted and damaging trial, Andy Coulson, formerly director of communications for David Cameron, was convicted of previously organising phone-hacking at the News of the World – part of the News International group – and sent to prison in July 2014. Cameron’s judgment in appointing Coulson, who had already been under suspicion, was questioned. July brought another scandal, with credible allegations that Conservative MPs were active in a paedophile ring, during the Thatcher administration, prompting Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to announce an inquiry into historic allegations of child abuse. The chair of the enquiry, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, had to step down a few days after her appointment, due to public pressure, as her brother, Michael Havers, had been Attorney General in the Thatcher government.  Following this May blundered again, appointing Dame Fiona Woolf, who also resigned as chair, due to her friendship with Leon Brittan, who was accused of suppressing a dossier about paedophile MPs in 1984, when he was Home Secretary.

    An independence referendum was held in Scotland, on the initiative of the Scottish National Party administration. In the weeks leading up to polling in September 2014, the Conservatives were worried that the outcome would be a vote for independence. With the Tories and Liberal Democrats unpopular in Scotland, the government was reduced to leaving much of the detailed campaigning against independence to the Labour Party, with Gordon Brown taking centre-stage. The referendum rejected independence, at this point, by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The government committed British forces to take part in air strikes against the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, having received backing from the House of Commons in September. Meanwhile British military activity in Afghanistan reached an end, 13 years after this action, led by the USA, was started under Tony Blair’s government.

During the Autumn two sitting Conservative MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, defected to UKIP, and were returned to Parliament for the latter party at By-Elections. Nigel Farage, the reckless UKIP Leader, fanned fruitless speculation about other MPs defecting from the Conservative Party – which he had once been a member of. Many people were concerned about the openly racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic comments regularly made by prominent members of UKIP. Besides a cynical approach to Europe, UKIP had an extreme outlook, bordering on Fascism. In 2006 Cameron said “UKIP is sort of a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists”. After ruling out a Conservative pact with UKIP across several years, Cameron changed his mind in Autumn 2014. There was growing support among members of the Conservative Party and UKIP for the idea that, in the event of another hung Parliament, the right wing parties should work together. In late 2014, and the early part of 2015, Liberal Democrat members of the government, anticipating the forthcoming General Election, sought to distance themselves from the Conservatives. There was clear evidence that the Coalition was failing to deal effectively with the budget deficit, and national debt. The Coalition reorganisation of the NHS had left it in crisis, and the Labour Party’s rescue plan was growing in popularity.

After 13 years out of power, as Labour won three successive General Elections, the Conservatives sought to re-create Thatcherism. Cameron was portrayed by supporters as a modern Conservative, in touch with ordinary people. The reality of Cameron’s premiership was continuation of old themes, which had motivated the Conservative Party since its foundation in 1830. For nearly two centuries, the Conservative Party has been run by the wealthy and powerful, with the party focussed on keeping those people wealthy and powerful. The rich benefitted in a limited recovery from capitalist crisis after 2010 but, for most people, Britain was a poorer place, both morally and financially, under the Conservatives.

Labour HQ say suspensions not being investigated until AFTER leadership ballot

Today has brought official confirmation from the Labour Party of the scenario many people feared. Having prevented thousands of Corbyn supporters from voting in the leadership election, with draconian suspensions, the anti-Corbyn clique at headquarters are blocking members from an appeal process that could allow their votes to be reinstated. This is a travesty of party democracy, and an insult to thousands of loyal Labour people.

I finally received an email from the compliance department at Labour headquarters today, but this merely repeated the vague suspension letter.

I replied as follows:

Hello

I do not feel that your email really deals with the issues that I have raised in a series of five emails sent to the Labour Party, between August 25 and August 31, contesting my suspension. I presume you have the emails on record, but can re-send them if required.

To summarise my position:

1 As a loyal member of the Labour Party for 32 years, I am aggrieved that I have been suspended, on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations about comments on Twitter. Suspending me on this basis is contrary to natural justice. I have been found guilty without trial.

2 The suspension letter mentions an investigation, but does not give a timescale for this, and I have not been contacted by regional office. I seek an assurance that a decision on my suspension will be made in time for me to vote in the leadership election, assuming that the suspension is lifted.

3 I had a telephone conversation with the compliance department on August 30, having been told, in line with NEC guidance, that they would provide me with the evidence on which I had been suspended. Compliance said the evidence would be emailed to me, but I have not received it.

4 I have Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long-term mental health conditions, and feel I should be entitled to expect reasonable adjustments, in accordance with the Equality Act, in the way that the Labour Party deals with my appeal against suspension. The suspension is adding to my anxiety. I feel that the Labour Party’s delay in dealing with the appeal is disadvantaging myself as a disabled person. I have been deprived of my vote in the current leadership election, thereby infringing on my right to take part in the democratic political processes in Britain.

I am copying this email to X, who was part of the NEC panel looking at possible suspensions, and argued against the suspension of myself.

This is the tenth day of my suspension, I renew the request for fair treatment, along with a prompt and detailed response to the points I have raised.

Thank you

Andrew Godsell


The compliance department responded:

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for getting in touch.

As I said in my email below, the investigating officer will be in touch in due course but this will not be before the conclusion of the leadership election. The is due to the extra work the election creates for staff, meaning we do not have the resources to complete investigations in this timescale. Unfortunately I am unable to give you an exact date as to when you will be contacted.

If you have requested the evidence that your suspension is based on, this will be sent to you in 5 working days from the date you requested it.

We will of course make reasonable adjustments for disabilities, I would advise you to let the investigating officer know when they contact you of any reasonable adjustments you require and why will do their best to accommodate these.

All the best,

Labour Suspension Telephone Call

Yesterday I felt a positive, having obtained detail of the Labour suspension appeal process. Today has brought a bizarre and frustrating development, as I telephoned party HQ. The email I sent after the call will form a large part of this post.

On a brighter note, many people are sharing links to this series of Blog posts on Twitter and Facebook.

My Blog posts have been viewed 6,400 times in just 5 days.

One lady has kindly told John McDonnell on Twitter that “Andrew Godsell has been working tirelessly to get suspension appeal info”.

So that is where I am on day 7 of the suspension – more to follow, but here is the email.

 

Hello

Further to emails below I have today telephoned, and spoken to X in the compliance department.

I said I had been suspended from the Labour Party, and been advised that if I telephoned I would be told the reason for the suspension.

X said the reason is on the suspension letter.

I said the letter only mentioned allegations about comments on Twitter, and I understood, from guidance sent to NEC members, that if I telephoned I would be told the exact detail of which comments had led to the suspension.

X said this would be emailed to me, probably two days from now.

I said I was frustrated that after several emails and telephone calls in recent days I was still not being given the opportunity to look at the exact detail, believing this could be sent as soon as I called. I asked if there was a manager, or anybody else I could speak to, to get the detail today.

X said there was not anybody else there who would tell me anything different to what she had said, and there was not a manager available.

I said I was not happy with that, after 32 years of loyal party membership, during which I had stood as a Labour candidate for local council elections several times, I had been suspended due to allegations about Twitter comments. I had phoned as I had been advised to do, and was now met with more delay.

X said she would check with a colleague.

A moment later, X said she had spoken to a manager, who said the detail would be emailed to me in three or four days.

I asked X why the timescale had moved from 2 days to 3 or 4 days, and how she had been told this by a manager when there was not a manager there.

I again asked to speak to a manager, but X now returned to telling me there was not a manager there. X added she had been told not to pass the call to a manager.

I asked for the name of the person who advised X that I could not speak to a manager.

X said she would not tell me the name of that person, and would not take the call any further, whereupon she put the phone down.

All of this leaves me feeling increasingly frustrated and upset. I suffer from Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the unjustified actions of the Labour Party in suspending me are currently making my condition worse. I have been unable to focus on anything apart from battling against suspension for several days. I have been contacted by other Labour Party members with mental health conditions, who share my anxiety on this issue. I am also aware that complaints about misuse of data by the party have been submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

I am copying this email to Y, a member of the National Executive Committee.

Please can I have a prompt reply from somebody advising how this will be resolved.

Thank you

 

Suspended from the Labour Party Day 4

We have built a mass movement Labour Party, with around 600,000 members, ready to defeat the Tories, but a small group of people at the headquarters are suspending people, removing their vote in the leadership election, causing a lot of resentment and demoralisation.

Back again, with another update.

On Twitter I have described this as Day 4 of suspension by the Labour NEC from the Big Brother House.

There has been much Tweeting today, sharing ideas and support with other people fighting the Labour Party purge. Things are being planned with other purged supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

My initial Blog post about suspension has been viewed over a thousand times in 48 hours.

Following on from the appeal against suspension, I have sent another email to the General Secretary of the Labour Party today – as follows:

Mr McNicol 

Further to my email below, I wish to make a subject access request in accordance with section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1988 

Please can you advise the process for my obtaining copies of all the searchable material the Labour Party holds on myself. 

I am particularly interested in finding out the specific detail of the allegations that led to my suspension, the person/s who made allegations, and the process whereby they were considered before you suspended me from the Labour Party.

Thank you

I shall return soon, hopefully with more progress.

 

 

#Toryelectionfraud – a quick summary of the most important points

Anna-Soubry-MP-and-the-Conservative-Battle-Bus

During recent weeks numerous police forces around England have been investigating the Conservative Party over alleged fraud, on the basis of allegations that campaigning expenses at the 2015 General Election were not declared in line with the law. Expensive campaigning in 26 marginal constituencies, won by the Conservatives, was not declared as an expense in those constituencies, being instead reported as part of their national campaign. Much of the evidence that has come to light stems from an in-depth investigation by Channel 4 News. Some national newpapers have taken up the story. The BBC news, under the pro-Tory editorship of Laura Kuenssberg, has largely tried to ignore a developing scandal of probable electoral fraud, which happened last year on a scale not seen since the Rotten Boroughs of the nineteenth century.

There has been lively debate, and sharing of information, on Twitter, with tens of thousands of Tweets posted using the hashtag #Toryelectionfraud.

The purpose of this Blog post is to provide a summary of developments, with links to the significant online information. I intend to return with updates at intervals, but here is a quick starter.

People’s Electoral Commission campaign by the Daily Mirror – webpage has images of Tory MP expenses and a timeline of events in the investigation so many of us are joining

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/part-daily-mirror-peoples-electoral-8041095

Tory boasts about their long-term plan to win marginals in 2015, with a £300,000 central budget

http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2015/06/the-computers-that-crashed-and-the-campaign-that-didnt-the-story-of-the-tory-stealth-operation-that-outwitted-labour.html

February 29 2016 Daily Mirror details of 24 Conservative MPs exceeding expenses limits

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/busted-24-tories-how-broke-7467603#ICID=sharebar_twitter

Summary from Channel 4, on April 20, of their investigation to that point. At the end of the webpage there is a link to another piece with more detail.

http://www.channel4.com/news/battlebus-conservatives-admit-election-expenses

Electoral Commission statement, April 28

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/electoral-commission-statement-on-allegations-regarding-conservative-party-spending-return-for-2015-general-election3

Alison Hernandez, Tory Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, being investigated by police for her role as agent at 2015 election, refuses to stand down

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-36246634

On May 6, the day after polling for local, mayoral, and PCC elections, BBC “break”?? news of multiple police investigations into Conservative expenses

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36231138

Multiple police investigations, summary by Mark Pack May 9. The number has since grown to 19 police forces investigating 28 MPs.

http://www.markpack.org.uk/139895/conservative-mps-election-expenses-investigation-police/

The David Cameron letters – Canary May 13http://www.thecanary.co/2016/05/13/explosive-new-evidence-suggests-david-cameron-broke-election-laws-win-2015/

May 13 Lib Dems want police to investigate 2015 letter from David Cameron targeted at marginal Torbay, Devon, but not declared as local spend.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/police-called-in-to-investigate-david-cameron-letters-as-election-fraud-probe-grows-a7027446.html

A similar letter from Cameron was used by Conservatives in Southampton Itchen, a marginal they gained from Labour.  I twice asked Royston Smith, now Conservative MP for the constituency, if this was declared as local spend, but he did not reply. His election agent has previously blocked me on Twitter. It appears the cost was not declared locally, and I have forwarded Smith’s expenses return to Hampshire Police, asking them to investigate.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-spells-name-tory-5480315

In 2015 Royston Smith was investigated by the police for passing confidential information held by the Conservatives about voters to UKIP, as part of an apparent joint effort between the parties to defeat Labour in Southampton Itchen

http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/13371038.City_families_fury_over_personal_details__leaked__to_UKIP_pre_election/?ref=rss

Andrew Neil mentions developments, and Conservatives argue on their own website about dubious legality, May13 onwards

http://www.conservativehome.com/video/2016/05/watch-andrew-neil-on-police-investigations-into-claims-of-conservative-election-fraud.html

Summary from New Statesman May 17

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/05/explained-conservative-election-expenses-saga

David Cameron admits Conservative Party may have made “misdeclarations” in their expenses. He also says “IN THE END I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING” May 22

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-admits-tories-misdeclared-8024843

Scottish National Party report the Conservative Party to the Metropolitan Police, May 22

https://petewishart.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/the-tory-party-must-be-investigated-on-election-fraud-charge/

Tories challenge investigation of their expenses in Thanet May 24 http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-police-goes-to-court-96365/

The David Cameron letters – Zelo Street May 25

http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/tory-expenses-letter-bombs.html?_sm_au_=iPVtM7MPDQ00VSP4

The best source on Twitter is Eoin

https://twitter.com/LabourEoin

Another tireless Twitter campaigner is Rachael, linking the expenses issue to Tory MPs cutting disability benefits, with some imaginative graphics

https://twitter.com/Rachael_Swindon

 

 

 

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