Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Tory knives are out and scapegoats have been chosen

It is in the Tory way to be sharpening knives to plunge into the back of a leader who has failed them but, at this time of impending delicate Brexit talks, it seems that from a strategic point of view to go after Theresa Mayhem in true Julius Caesar style violence would be to cause more instability in an already unstable situation.  New scapegoats have had to be found and, this time at least, the poor, sick and disabled can’t be blamed.

According to the BBC (and who else would know better than the Tory’s Biased Broadcasting Corporation), Theresa Mayhem was forced into sacking Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, two of her closest advisors, or face a leadership challenge.

This is, of course, the ‘official’ story.  I don’t believe for one minute that the Tories would mount a leadership challenge at this time as, if they do make the deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, on whatever basis it is, a leadership challenge would destabilise the party during Brexit negotiations.

The truth is closer to a scenario in which Theresa Mayhem wishes to pass the buck for the Tory failure to increase their majority or even maintain what they had so Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill were chosen as sacrificial lambs to placate the party and the UK’s Tory voters.  They go and carry the can for the significant failure in the General Election, leaving Theresa Mayhem’s hands clean of guilt.

It may well be true that Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill provided terrible advice with regards to holding a General Election in the first place and what should be in the Tory manifesto but the ultimate truth is…

And I don’t think your party will forget that beautiful truth and, when they do strike, their knives will be razor-sharp.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Tory junk mail – Team Jackie replies

I have to say that I didn’t expect a response, let alone such a prompt one, to my e-mail from Jackie Doyle-Price’s campaign team (she has spent the last four years ignoring me when I was being polite to her) so imagine my surprise when I received the following reply:

Love you too

Ben @ Team Jackie

Campaign to Re-Elect Jackie Doyle-Price

Don’t believe me?  Here’s a screen capture of the e-mail:

The e-mail gave me a much-needed laugh at a time when the UK is on the brink of apocalypse should the vote go terribly wrong today.  Well, if the Tories retain control and Jackie Doyle-Price retains her seat as well, I don’t have a lot to lose so in for a penny, in for a pound, I sent this reply:

Well I know you probably don't, Ben@ Team Jackie, but I know Jackie does.  Her constant flirting with me is plain to see.  She can't help herself even though she ignored me for the past four years.  On Monday, her naive and coquettish feelings for me rose to the surface again at the hustings but I'm afraid they are not reciprocated so if you could ask her to stop all the flirting I'd appreciate it.

I don’t know if I’ll get any more replies but at least I had some fun today.  I know if the Tories remain in power and she keeps her seat that I’ve just painted a huge target on my back but what the Hell?

If you haven’t seen the initial e-mail and my reply, you can find it here:

Tory junk mail

Here’s the full text of an e-mail I found in my Junk Mail folder this morning from my local Tory Parliamentary candidate.

Dear ,

There is just 1 day to go now until the General Election.

Theresa May called this election for one reason; to enable the Government to deliver Brexit. 

We want to deliver on the instruction given by the British people.  At the moment, we can’t.  The House of Lords will block all plans to leave the EU.  Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats are all threatening to block any deal.  So Theresa May is asking for the strong endorsement of the public so she can lead us out of the European Union.

In truth, if the Conservatives lose just 6 seats, our majority is lost.  Thurrock is one of those six.  Put simply, if I do not win there is every chance that Theresa May will not win this election. So, if you want us to leave the European Union with the best possible deal for Britain there is only one way to cast your vote, and that is for me.

We have taken a historically significant decision and it is important that we get it right.  I hope we have been able to persuade you that Theresa May is best placed to lead Britain this time.

I have never been shy about asking for money from Government. Over the last seven years as your Member of Parliament I have secured:

£5m for Purfleet regeneration
£11m for Grays town centre
£100m for 2 new schools and 5 more on the way
£800k fund a training facility in Tilbury for service veterans
£100m for junction 30 improvements
£80m A13 road widening
£10m to support Gurkha veterans

I am only person who can raise Thurrock’s demands- directly with Theresa May, and the people that matter to get the best for Grays and the UK as we leave the EU.

The risk of Jeremy Corbyn leading the Government is too great - vote Conservative tomorrow and show your support at

Best Wishes

Jackie Doyle-Price
The Conservative Party Candidate

As you can see, Ms Doyle-Price’s campaign team didn’t even bother to fill in the salutation properly and to prove I’m not making this up, here’s a screen capture of the e-mail:

Here’s my reply:

Fuck off!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Thurrock Hustings – The Aftermath

Here’s the full text of a blog entry that I submitted to Your Thurrock but that wasn’t posted.  Enjoy!

So, the candidates faced the public and, amazingly, Jackie Doyle-Price didn’t do a Theresa May and hide behind the curtains like a child watching Doctor Who.  Despite my complete and utter abhorrence of her as a close-minded, poor excuse for a representative for Thurrock, I have to say that I admired her for attending.  She may have tried to ignore my questions for the last four years but, last night, she had no option but to give some kind of answers (even if they were the typical non-answers you expect from her).

I submitted two questions prior to last night so I seemed to dominate the questioning which was never my intent as I assumed that I might get one of the two asked and I would have been fine with that.  Actually, to be honest, I thought I wouldn’t get any asked because I had to give my name when I submitted the questions and I was sure someone would have objected to having those questions asked so it was a win for me if only one had been asked.  I was, however, prepared with more questions for the open floor just in case there was a lull in the questions from the audience which is why I ended up asking three questions in total.

The first question that I posed was one on “difficult decisions” and “hard choices” and I have to say that, as you may have heard on the video coverage elsewhere here on Your Thurrock[1], I didn’t think that it was properly answered by most of the candidates.  Jackie Doyle-Price went straight for the oft-trod Tory mantra that didn’t address the heart of the question which was – what was her personal definition of those terms.  Kevin McNamara and Tim Aker similarly failed to give personal definitions and it was left to John Kent to provide at least a partial answer in terms of personal definition (although his answer did include electioneering content).

Whilst such electioneering content is expected in answers, it is, after all, an election, it concerns me that candidates couldn’t give a personal answer to something when that was what the question explicitly asked for.  Knowing a candidate’s beliefs and values is key to deciding whether they would be a good representative for Thurrock as a whole.  For me, John Kent was the only person to offer that insight into himself as a person.

My second question was about mental health.  Although I didn’t specify I was after personal views on the subject, a misstep on my part, that’s what I was after along with the candidate’s party line on what they would do to improve the mental health services.  All of the candidates seemed to agree on the importance of recognising mental health to be as important as physical health which should be recognised as a really good thing for those of us who have mental ill-health or may potentially have it in the future, however, not everyone was telling the truth when they answered.

The truth is that to be a good interviewer or interrogator, one must have a reasonable idea of the sort of answer you’re going to get or even know exactly what the interviewee will say and, when asking my question on mental health, I knew exactly what one of the candidates would say and a reasonably good idea of another candidate’s response.

Jackie Doyle-Price was bound to say that mental health is important (well, all of them did) but this does not reflect her past record when I approached her on the subject.  She was dismissive of my concerns for the mental health service users which do include me but was of a wider concern for the mental health service user community.  I have proof of this attitude in the form of letters, signed by her and on her letter-headed paper from Parliament.  She may have changed her mind in the meantime but I’ve seen no evidence of this and therefore must conclude that she’s following the party line on mental health simply because she has to.

John Kent was the other candidate I had an idea of what response he would give.  I knew Mr Kent when we were both served on the Board of Governors at Thurrock Adult Community College.  Mr Kent was the Chair of the Board during our shared time of service and he was extremely supportive of me in my role despite the fact that I can be challenging to work with due to my mental health condition and showed great compassion for me and what I have to live with every day of my life.  He was bound to show the same compassionate nature towards others with similar problems.

I had no idea of the responses I’d get from Tim Aker and Kevin McNamara but I was suitably impressed with their answers, however, as I have no insight to their personal views on the subject, I have to wonder if they were just telling me what I wanted to hear.  If I had not made the misstep of not asking for their personal views on mental health, I could make a better judgement of their answers but I will allow both of them the benefit of the doubt and remain impressed with their answers.

My final question was about the Naylor Report.  Many people would not know anything about the report and even more would not even countenance reading such a boring, dryly written tome but it is important for such reports to be within the scope of knowledge of prospective candidates.  I asked the question because I wanted a wider audience to know about the report and who supports it although, personally, the answers given by the candidates was of little import to me.

I don’t know if John Kent knew of the report or not but I was offered, thanks to him, a chance to reveal the gist of the report which is basically the privatisation of chunks of the NHS by forcing cash-strapped NHS Trusts to sell off land and buildings (e.g. hospitals) to gain access to Treasury funding (i.e. public funding) for vital equipment purchases such as MRI scanners, up-to-date incubators for premature babies and so on.  The recommendation is that public funds will only be given to the Trusts on a £2 for every £1 raised in the sale of assets basis which basically means that public money will be used to privatise the NHS.

Labour’s position on the NHS is clear so I knew the response I’d get from John Kent but I was more interested in the answers given by the other candidates.

Kevin McNamara and Tim Aker gave reasonable good answers on this with proposals that would fund extra investment or at least show the kind of emphasis on the NHS we need if it is to remain a world class public service.  The NHS is a vital service that affects many lives and it is certainly in crisis although whether that crisis is a natural phenomenon or an orchestrated crisis is a matter of opinion.

I was most looking forward to Jackie Doyle-Price’s reaction to the question and the face she pulled as I gave the gist of the Naylor Report to the assembled audience was priceless and well worth the feelings of anxiety and physical sickness I felt even being around so many people.  She said that she didn’t “recognise the narrative” which she obviously would given that part of my question was to say whether her party supported the recommendations in the report.

As with the question on mental health, I already knew Jackie Doyle-Price’s answer before she gave it.  She tried to obfuscate by saying that she didn’t have a clue what I was on about regarding the £2 for every £1 raised through the sale of assets bribe and she didn’t say whether the Tories support the Naylor Report.

To be fair to Ms Doyle-Price, none of the other candidates explicitly answered that point either but their positive comments on funding the NHS and keeping it as a public service give an implied answer that their parties don’t support the Naylor Report.  However, Ms Doyle-Price had reason not to answer that part of the question because Theresa May, in a recent BBC interview, stated that the Tories support the Naylor Report which is probably why the report has been almost universally ignored in press coverage.

Ms Doyle-Price stated that “NHS trusts should be free to sell that land if they want”.  This is all well and good but that’s not what the Naylor Report suggests.  It actually suggests that NHS Trusts should be forced to sell assets to get access to public funds for equipment purchases.  That does not gel with Ms Doyle-Price’s statement that NHS Trusts can sell land “if they want”.

All in all, it was an interesting night but not one that has changed how I will vote in the election on Thursday but I will say again, despite my dislike of Jackie Doyle-Price, I have to admire her for attending.  If only she had treated me and my concerns a little better, actually engaged with me as a constituent, perhaps I wouldn’t view her with such distaste.

I’ll leave you with the three unasked questions I had left to ask and ones I think should be answered by all the candidates before polling day:

1) If you win, you will be Thurrock’s representative in Parliament.  Do you: only represent the views of those who agree with your party’s line OR attempt to represent all views even those you disagree with?

2) This hustings is the first time most of us will have actually seen the candidates.  Why should anyone vote for someone who doesn’t work for our vote?

3) Will you be: Thurrock’s representative in Westminster OR your party’s representative in Thurrock?

Quite frankly, I don’t care who you vote for (although I have my own preferred candidate) but do go out and vote on Thursday!