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A victory for fairness, inclusion and common sense

If you follow British politics you will probably be reading this out of interest for my motivations for joining four other recent members of the Labour Party in a High Court action against the party, to stop the exclusion of nearly 130,000 other members in their current leadership election.

There is much to write about this – there are parallels with the fight in America for the democratic representation of Bernie Sanders, for example – but that is for a longer and different discussion.

This statement I hope sets out as succinctly as possible, why we took the action and my views on this historic win for party members and more widely (I believe) for democratic inclusion, fairness and common sense.

“This case was always about fairness and inclusion. The Labour Party has seen the greatest surge in membership of any party in decades; with people joining to support a process of change in this country. A change that is desperately needed, both politically and economically. A change that benefits the many and not just the few.

As a recent Labour Party member and an enthusiastic convert from an almost life-long supporter of the Conservative Party, it was sadly perverse to then find that the NEC decided to exclude myself and nearly a quarter of its party’s membership from fairly taking part in the democratic process of the leadership election. That it decided to exclude so very many from the political process and the ideals of the party itself.

The Labour Party has defended its case on the basis that the promises it made to members were aspirations, rather than a binding agreement; and that its executive committee has a right to change the rules at any time, however it likes, even retroactively. It is deeply ironic that the NEC tried to argue that the illegal manipulation of the party’s rules was necessary in order to prevent manipulation of its political process, whilst then offering voting inclusion to any who could afford the expense of a £25 charge.

This judgement is a vindication that the political process should be fair, democratic and inclusive; that political parties, like any other organisation, must uphold its rules fairly to those who support them. More widely, this is a victory for equality and inclusion. Political parties must keep their promises, just as we all reasonably expect anyone else to in other aspects of our lives.

I am deeply grateful for the support of so many: the donations of over 1,700 people to support the substantial costs in taking this action for democracy, and of course Kate Harrison and all on the legal team that have provided such kind and professional work in this matter.”


Half Light

The half-light makes the billet walls creep closer.
White: the colour of everything and yet nothing.

This time, grey: mundane, meaningless.  Claustrophobic.
Tighter, like the pain in my heart. Pushing, pressing…

“Escape, run!” cries my mind. My heart pulls me back.
“There is hope in new beginnings”, it shouts, “fight on!”

Like a jilted lover, my heart cries in pain. But it know there is
Hope. There will soon be light and beauty in the chaos.

Another dawn. New light: the hope of something different.
My spirit guides me. But yet, tells me not where we go.

My body is tired of the fight. Too many times over the top.
Beyond what would have destroyed other human forms.

Luck: the arm of a brother lifting me from the mud. Helping,
Loving without question every time I fall and fail in my duty.

I’ve fought with courage. The whistle blowing after the tin cup.
A mug filled with the rum deal of luck that has forsaken me.

Left alone in no man’s land. The wire is broken, like my spirit.
My comrades’ lives too, as they fall. I love them more than me.

I have saved them all, in small ways, lifted up with small kindnesses.
And they too have saved me in return with a simple smile of courage.

There is no them, there is no me. No enemy. We are one. Always
Connected in our heart and spirit, lending love where it is needed.

Love: brothers have shown me shown me its nature, pure in form.
Here angels, unsung and unseen, walk among us as we fall.

Friends and strangers now join and become my spirit. For now,
In this bloody battlefield of life, we are but numbers uncounted.

We are many, so different, disparate, but connected as trees in
a forest. For only those that have fought, know this comradeship.

So where on this now deserted battlefield of life am I now?
The mud is silent, but soon the guns will let loose again.

The shells will rain; each shattering crack breaking my will.
Racked side by side and sent skyward by fear, each kills more.

Bodies rot amongst the shell holes of life. Yet here life persists,
In a much-torn field of lies of others that we accept as truth.

All of us with duty and driven by love fight on in desperate tiredness.
We wait for the summer poppies, blood-red and delicate to flower.

Their petals arise so quickly and fade so fast, dropping easily
In the slightest breeze, or in the touch of heaven’s early dew.

Drops of water that, so small, mirror everything at once: in this
We see all hope and despair. All at once in timeless measure.

So many accusations of what we should have done. The guilt
Of a soul who has fought his best, but whose will is broken.

And so, to life’s great question: “What is this for?”  For duty?
For what, for whom do we soldier on? Our broken nature reveals all.

Here alone amongst endless destruction we see nothing but death,
Though we are dead already. Uniformity gives false idols of faith.

Beyond the orders, the fake news, we love ones we will leave.
Behind the lines, in front of the lines: lost and but not forgotten.

For we have willingly signed up for God and country.
Though, where is he now? Nowhere, but in simple touches.

God is in all of us. Yet we fight him at every outpost. Choosing
To see only the devil in those we never will truly know.

But the devil is the angel in us all, giving up eternal bliss to
Give us the greatest love of all: granting all that we wish for.

And for what do we wish? Love, Kindness and faith in others?
Or a battle to never be won with pain and inhumanity for us all?

We have no enemy but ourselves. For the soldier on the other side
Looks like me: his eyes are mine, his heart beats in mirrored time.

But we fight in different uniforms, with anger stirred by lies.
Yet we know the truth as we fall. Desperate, we cry its despair.

The shouts for the mothers that gave us life; the cries for lives filled
With untruths we believed, that took our humanity and our soul.

Yet our spirit knows no such borders. It walks among us,
Picking up our broken bodies; and together we join again as one.

One army of hope, of love: returning to walk silently among all those
Left behind in pain of lies, deceit; to lend a hand, to lend hope.

The hope of love and faith that, through hell, we will find  a heaven
That is here among us all, on a mountain or stormy coast. Always.

Pain is temporary, yet overwhelming, unbearable hell at times.
But we signed to it willingly and with trumpets and drums and pride.

Rejoice in our fate. For we are all dead until we learn to live!
Seek solace and heaven in the love of the man next to you.

Fight on. Fight the fear. Trust those that stand beside you. Trust that
In the end we are all one, without banner, without uniform.

United in love, we lie in a field of birdsong and poppies knowing
That every death brings a fragile beauty that flowers year after year.