Interesting first post……..when will the saga continue?
As always: I’m sure it was my fault, and not the book’s fault, that I abandoned it. (Except when it was the book’s fault). And also: “Abandoned” doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t come back to some of these books. (One of them even ended up on a list I made earlier this […]
I have just published a book with the above title. For the moment it is only available on Amazon Kindle, but a paper version should arrive in a week or so.
The book is an attempt to explain a constant experience of feeling different to most people.
“Variety is the spice of life”, as the old saying says. Across many years, with a lot of multi-tasking, I have played the roles of writer, public servant, political activist, something in the City, minor television personality, very amateur footballer, raconteur, publicist, winner of table tennis plus disco dancing competitions, and English eccentric.
Most of this activity has taken place in obscurity, but there have been numerous moments of public recognition, at intervals across several decades.
There is usually more than one side to a story.
In contrast to the upbeat impression I like to convey, the book stems from my dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Asperger Syndrome. I have been gripped by many obsessions, alongside a range of enthusiasms. The writing is an attempt to provide insight into the thought processes of somebody with a mental health condition, or combination, which can be defined as Obsessive Compulsive Asperger.
In one respect, my book is different to any other that I have read. The passage of time is something that features constantly in my thoughts. References in the text to dates during my lifetime are highlighted in bold. Words linked to my feelings of anxiety also appear in bold. This may not make for the easiest reading, but it does reflect the experience I have of focussing on dates and sources of anxiety.
Another obsession is the search for something magical – perhaps unobtainable. Amidst frequent difficulty with mental health, I am blessed with wonderful moments of happiness – as beautiful and fragile as the life of a butterfly.
I hope this has been of interest to readers. The plan is for this to be the first in a series of posts about the experiences that have led to the book.
Thank you for reading
I have not Blogged here about the Labour Purge for several weeks, but I have had a piece on the subject featured by Labour Insider.
Since I wrote that piece, many other members of the party have also had their suspension lifted, but with a warning. There are still many party members suspended, one of whom, Glynis Millward, is taking legal action.
The Purged and recently Unpurged continue to work together to challenge the process, with some of the detail set out on the Blog below.
As for my case, the Information Commissioner’s Office are looking at a Data Protection complaint I have raised regarding the Labour Party, and I have taken legal advice. I continue to correspond by email with Labour HQ, but their legal team seem unable to respond in detail to valid points. Here is a summary I sent to Labour HQ on November 7:
Hello (yet again) Labour Legal
Your email of November 4 is another example of the Labour Party evading issues surrounding my suspension.
There are numerous unresolved issues from my previous emails to yourselves.
The most pressing points – in the view of myself and my legal advisor – requiring a response at the moment are:
1 For the third time I have been sent evidence that I did not Retweet the message relating to Angela Eagle. You claim “This retweet has since been removed from your twitter, however the Labour Party is in possession of evidence that it was once there (namely for a period following 6:48pm on Thursday 30th June 2016)”. Why has this evidence not been sent to me? Why is it not included in your responses to my Subject Access Request? How was the evidence obtained – was it a human or computerised process? How long do you think the alleged Retweet was on my timeline?
2 My email of September 6 said:
“My Twitter profile states “ReTweet not always endorsement”. I often Retweet things I do not necessarily agree with, as part of the sharing of information on Twitter, and I know many other people do likewise. I cannot see why the Labour Party is using resources trawling social media, looking for evidence of alleged abuse, that can be used to suspend members, when that alleged abuse took place prior to the publication of the rules for the leadership election. Such trawling of social media is contrary to a recommendation of the Chakrabarti report. In view of this, the suspension of myself, in the mistaken belief that I had Retweeted derogatory comments about Angela Eagle, would be particularly unfair”.
Why have you not responded to this point? Please respond now.
3 I do not agree with your decision to protect the confidentiality of the person/s who made the original allegation, given that I believe it to be a malicious and unfounded allegation. I presume the Labour Party has some written record of the allegation, and therefore request that this is sent to me, along with an explanation of its absence from the SAR response.
4 I have been a Labour Party candidate in local elections on 10 occasions. Why is there no material about this in the SAR response? What other types of material are missing?
5 Please issue another letter, offering a clear apology for the incorrect decision to suspend me from the Labour Party.
After sending six emails, and having three lengthy telephone conversations with Labour headquarters, since receiving the “evidence” for my suspension more than a month ago, the long-promised written reply to my challenge finally arrived two days ago.
As I had asked a series of specific questions, I thought I might get specific answers, but all that the helpful Compliance colleagues managed was a few standard sentences, one of which claims to remove my right to appeal:
Apologies for the delay in responding to you.
Your Subject Access Request has been posted to you and should be with you within a week.
There is no ability to appeal an administrative suspension. Suspensions are put in place while an investigation is carried out therefore you will have the opportunity to put your case across as part of this investigation. You will be contacted shortly regarding this.
Having given myself 24 hours to calm down, I tried another patient and diplomatic appeal, which I emailed yesterday. I do not know if there will be any meaningful response from party HQ, but at least I have more evidence of my trying in good faith to resolve the issue – when the party finally address the case:
Thank you for replying.
I maintain that this process has been mishandled, and am disappointed that nobody in Compliance or Legal seems able to respond in detail to the points made in my series of emails below.
My email of September 8 reports telephone conversations in which Compliance and Legal said they would look at my response to the evidence, and lift the suspension if they agreed with me that I had not Retweeted the relevant messages. Why has this not happened?
I have been suspended for 7 weeks, and lack a right of appeal. The party has failed to meet its obligations under the Equality Act, and the situation is harming my mental health.
Your email states “you will be contacted shortly” about the investigation, but I have been told this several times across 7 weeks without anything happening. Please can you be more precise about a timescale?
I am copying this email, for information, to Jennie Formby, who has taken up my case within the NEC, and Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council. I have worked, and campaigned, with Jennie and Simon for several years, and they have both expressed a wish that the suspension be lifted, enabling me to return to Labour Party activity.
Please can somebody see sense, and lift this mistaken suspension?
It is now day 50 of my suspension from the Labour Party. I still lack evidence to substantiate the reason for the suspension, or any prospect of an appeal hearing.
The party machine continue to frustrate efforts to tackle this.
Having received an email inviting me to a meeting of Southampton and Romsey Labour Party, I sent the reply below yesterday.
I have been suspended from the Labour Party for 7 weeks due to unsubstantiated allegations that I have broken party rules. Despite numerous telephone calls and emails to party headquarters, I have not been given a timescale for an appeal hearing. Party HQ are aware this is having an adverse effect on my health, but refuse to deal with the matter.
Given that thousands of other party members nationally are in the same position, I wish an opportunity to raise the matter at the next All Members Meeting. Please can you advise who I should contact to get the suspensions issue added to the agenda.
I received the response below, banning me from the meeting I had been invited to attend, and refusing to allow discussion of the Labour purge (whereas many Constituency Labour Parties have passed motions asking for an end to the purge)
Dear Andrew – Ken has passed me your email below.
I shan’t be putting this as an item for All Members Meeting for the following two reasons.
Firstly, as you are currently suspended, you are not permitted to attend any Labour Party meetings.
Secondly, even if you were, as previously advised in my email of early September, the local party has no say on your suspension or the timing, or outcome of, the national party’s consideration of the matter giving rise to the suspension. This is a matter for you to resolve directly with party HQ. I appreciate you may have been waiting a while but, if you feel you are being unfairly treated by the national party, you may wish to consider getting some independent advice. The local party cannot, and will not, interfere in the process.
I hope that clarifies why the matter will not be discussed at the All Members Meeting. If you have any issue with my reply, I suggest you contact Louise McGee, the Labour South East Regional Director, on email@example.com.
Chair of Southampton & Romsey Labour Party
I sent the following email to the Regional Director, but I doubt she will be in any hurry to reply.
Please see emails below.
The lack of support from a local party I have worked hard for over many years is very disappointing.
I left telephone messages with your office on October 7 and again today, asking for a call back to discuss a timetable for my appeal, but this has not happened.
If I am prevented from attending meetings – in apparent contravention of the Labour rule book – I wonder why I received the email at the start of this chain inviting me to a meeting. I have also received other recent emails inviting me to Labour events.
Please can I have a prompt response to the points I have raised.
Yesterday I raised a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office about a series of Data Protection breaches by the Labour Party.
It is now 44 days since I was suspended from the Labour Party on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations, and I still have not been told when my appeal might be heard. I have sent yet another chaser email to party HQ today.
In contrast to the silence from party HQ, many of those suspended from the party remain committed to an open discussion of the Labour Purge. I therefore set out below the points I made in my complaint to the ICO:
I wish the ICO to assess the case, and confirm that the Labour Party has breached the Data Protection Act in its dealings with myself. My case is similar to that of thousands of other party members, who have been arbitrarily suspended by a group at Labour headquarters, in a purge of people wishing to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. The suspension letters are signed by Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party. I expect the ICO to find exactly which people in the Labour Party are guilty of this action, and issue a large fine – I understand the maximum possible fine is £500,000.
The Labour Party has breached Data Protection law in three respects;
1 I submitted a Subject Access Request on August 27 2016, which was 40 days ago. They have not provided the requested information in the required timescale.
2 I have been suspended from the Labour Party, and prevented from voting in the recent leadership election, on the basis of malicious and unfounded allegations about comments I made on Twitter. The “evidence” provided by the Labour Party does not match the allegations, but they have refused to address my appeal, and correct their mistake. I have provided the organisation with my name and email address, in order for them to communicate with me. They have misused this data in order to trawl through my Twitter account looking for evidence to suspend me. I did not authorise the organisation to misuse my data in this way, and they have not advised me that this would happen.
3 The organisation has failed to deal with my Subject Access Request, and appeal against suspension, in a reasonable timescale. They are aware that I struggle with Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long term mental health conditions. I have asked them to prioritise my appeal in view of this, but they refuse to offer any timescale. This means that the continued misuse of my data by the organisation is causing me damage, distress, and mental pain.
Weaving a tapestry, the Lady of Shalott
Visions reflected through a glass onion
Catch a glimpse of a fair maiden
Her feet sore from bunions
Fixing a hole in the ozone
Nearly ending the verse, that’s your lot
Making mayhem in a kitchen, the Lady of Shalott
Wonderland and nature offer such a lot
Pig and pepper, and the piper at the gates of dawn
Getting tired, they start to yawn
Fix your mind on what we might eat for tea
Perhaps a fish no longer swimming in the sea
Weaving a tapestry, the Lady of Shalott
Wonderland and nature offer a lot
Caterpillar, chrysalis, metamorphosis, butterfly
Sit and watch it flutter by
Fix your mind on the beauty in the sky
This is a short poem, not sure why
Making mayhem at a party, a lady wearing a hat
Another wisecrack, how do you do that?
Hatter, Hare, and Dormouse, sat here since dawn
Getting tired, were you asleep, or is it just a yawn?
Fix your mind on what you might want for tea
Perhaps a crumpet – do you fancy me?
Relaxing in a garden on a sunny Summer day
Alice is the lady in a blue dress
Eating an ice cream before it melts in a mess
Feeling dreamy, feeling hot on a hot day
Fixing her mind on what a gardener might say
Thoughts getting longer – do you fancy me?
I have now been Blogging for nearly a month about the detail of suspension of thousands of members of the Labour Party.
My local BBC radio station have interviewed me about this. Link below – piece starts 1 hour and 5 minutes into programme. In my home city of Southampton, in contrast to my being prevented from voting in the leadership election after 32 years of Labour membership, a local councillor who left Labour to join another party last year actually got a vote. Vetting of the process by Labour HQ is a disgrace.
I have today sent the latest in my series of emails to the Labour Party – following up on that sent on September 13 (link below).
I still have not received the courtesy of a reply to the series of emails below. It is now 30 days since I was suspended from the Labour Party on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.
Please can somebody deal with this matter.
A moment later I received:
This is an automatic reply
Thank you for your email.
Governance and Legal Unit staff are now working at Annual Conference in Liverpool. We will respond when the unit re-opens on 29 September.
Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Iain McNicol on behalf of The Labour Party, both at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT Website: http://www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0345 092 2299.
In summary, party HQ have abdicated any responsibility – until 6 days from now – for continuing their (very slow and obstructive) work on looking at incorrect suspensions of thousands of loyal members purged for wishing to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
There has been much speculation about the size of the purge. The official figures from the Labour Party, summarised in Tweet below, show that 207,500 full members of the party did not get a ballot. Even if 129,000 of these are the registered supporter voters, there is still a shortfall of 78,500. This is vote rigging on an industrial scale.
Today at 5.00 pm was the closing date for requesting reissue of a Labour leadership ballot. This was 5 days later than the original timetable – due to Labour HQ accepting there have been problems.
The main problem is the Labour Purge, with the party HQ deliberately mismanaging the ballot over the last 4 weeks. They have suspended thousands of Corbyn supporters, depriving them of a vote, while unaccountably delaying the issue of ballots to countless other members and registered supporters.
To summarise, for the benefit of new readers, this is day 27 of my suspension, for allegedly Retweeting two messages, with the party’s evidence for this not actually proving their case. I have made a series of telephone calls, and sent lengthy emails, but they refuse to look at my appeal.
Todays deadline appears to mean the end of any chance of my voting.
The last few days have seen many reports on social media of new people being purged. At the start of September, the Daily Mirror reported about 7,000 party members were suspended – the figure has clearly grown since then.
Pamela Fitzpatrick, one of the very few people (I only know of two others) whose suspension has been lifted recently, has today Tweeted that she has still not received her ballot. Pamela has been assured it will arrive by midnight tomorrow, but Labour HQ have a strange concept of time.
What happens next?
We can discount any chance of a last minute outbreak of fairness from the Chicken Coup plotters, and thousands of loyal party members will miss out on the vote they are entitled to.
Assuming that Corbyn is re-elected, we can hope that the newly-elected NEC will lift the suspensions. There have been suggestions that this should be followed by the unsuspended members being given their votes back, which can be retrospectively added to whatever gerrymandered tally Iain McNicol announces.
As for the future of the party, and possible unity, I cannot see those who have been purged easily forgiving the plotters. The plotters have treated loyal comrades in an appalling way, and tried to destroy Labour Party democracy.