You Deserve Better

My First Hustings

OK, a slightly misleading title in that this wasn’t my first hustings as a candidate nor was it technically my first hustings as a spectator.  In my defence, the last one I attended was for my student union presidency in about 2003, so it’s fair to say that it has been a while.  It’s also fair to say that this did not disappoint. You can see the whole proceedings here (as embedding has been disabled, you have to click on the link). Elephant in the Room This hustings events got off to an interesting start, when noted conspiracy theorist, Piers Corbyn, loudly asked why only four candidates were on stage of the seventeen in total.  The (rather sensible) answer was that having all candidates on stage would be bedlam, while only having the parties with the four largest predicted vote shares made a sensible compromise between information and time commitment. Sadly this was not the end of the saga, as Corbyn and his acolytes insisted on interrupting loudly and regularly, to the point where the moderator had to say that “this isn’t going to work” and he was threatened with removal if he didn’t let the candidates speak freely. The culmination of this abysmal behaviour was a woman who stood up to screech all sorts of conspiracy theories about vaccines, Kier Starmer and his supposed paedophile ring, chem trails, 5G, etc.  Frankly this was an unwelcome addition to an event with limited time, so I and others were very happy to see her ejected by security. After this, Piers Corbyn tried to rabble-rouse further during the candidate Q&A, but everyone was by then completely fed up of his group’s antics and rightly ignored him. Now on to my thoughts on the actual candidates (Piers Corbyn is listed as a candidate, but his behaviour really solidifies the view in my mind that he is a joke candidate, nothing more). Steve Tuckwell My impression of Steve Tuckwell was one of a defeated person trying to make the most of the situation he finds himself in.  He was unable to answer the simple question of “Is Boris Johnson a Liar?” with a simple straight answer, and he seemed desperate to conflate this by-election with ULEZ, something over which the local MP has no direct power, only some influence (ULEZ is the purview of the Greater London Assembly and the Mayor of London, not local councils or MPs).  More to the point, three of the four candidates on stage for this hustings were opposed to the current ULEZ plans, so I am at a loss as to who he thinks this would be a winning strategy against. Overall, Steve seemed like a nice guy, but one who has been conned into thinking that the Conservatives are the answer.  Unfortunately I think his party have put him into place purely to be a scapegoat, in that they know that the seat is lost to them due to Boris Johnson’s behaviour, and they know that whoever they put into the candidacy will bear the brunt of the ill-will that should rightly be directed at Johnson himself. In short, Tuckwell did not come across as a credible candidate with any real ideas beyond “keeping going with Conservative plans” (loosely paraphrased based on his responses to various questions – he didn’t actually state that this was his position). Sarah Green Sarah Green came across to me as very well informed and caring.  She generally gave very considered answers to questions put to her by the moderators or audience, and I genuinely got the impression from her that she cared not only about the science but also the people. My concern about Sarah Green is that her party is starting in a distant fourth place, securing only 2% of the vote in 2019.  Given my counterpart, Blaise Baquiche, is starting from over 6%, he is the most likely progressive candidate to actually win. Green spoke on the subject of HS2 a few times, including a very interesting figure that a mere 7 weeks of HS2’s budget in 2023 would be enough to close the funding gap for Hillingdon Hospital, sorely in need of renovation.  She also mentioned something that I was not previously aware of, namely that Hillingdon is the only London Borough that does not regularly supply data on air quality and water cleanliness to the central data amalgamators, which seems to be a huge oversight by the Council (on which Steve Tuckwell currently sits, incidentally). Danny Beales Of all the candidates, I thought Danny Beales had the most polished speaking skills and stage presence.  He held some fairly popular views on Heathrow’s third runway (opposed), ULEZ (opposed in its current form), and fixing Hillingdon hospital (for), but there was little said here that made him stand out from the other candidates. I did ask a question – I believe the final question of the hustings – on what democracy meant to the candidates and how their parties supported democracy in getting them to where they are.  This was a bit of a low blow, because I happen to know that Beales does not support Proportional Representation – the only form of election that actually results in true representative democracy – and was placed there by his party after they overruled the democratically elected candidate in Uxbridge & South Ruislip.  As such, Beales is only here because his party deliberately decided to ignore representative democracy, which in my view tarnishes any good he might otherwise want to do. Blaise Baquiche Cards on the table, I went to the hustings as a supporter of Blaise Baquiche.  Indeed, I was sitting in the front row with his brother and Jonathan Banks, the leader of our local Liberal Democrats.  Nevertheless, I was impressed by Blaise in terms of both public speaking skills and stage presence, and thought he did an excellent job of getting his points across. Certainly he managed to get a round of applause from the audience for

David Simmonds Doesn’t Care

Today saw a really important debate and then vote in the House of Commons, namely a debate on how to respond to the privileges committee investigation into Boris Johnson and his serial lies.  Here’s why I think that David Simmonds doesn’t care. Why Was This Important? This boils down to a fundamental tenet of democracy, namely that politicians addressing the House must tell the truth, which allows everyone to rationally decide whether to support them or not.  Boris Johnson flouted this rule by lying repeatedly and brazenly about all manner of issues.  In the end, his own party forced him to resign, but frankly it took them far too long, and members of the Conservative Party like David Simmonds must take some of the blame for allowing this reprobate to continue in a position of power for far longer than he should have. Results of the vote by party. Those who actually bothered to show up, that is. Nevertheless, this was an opportunity for redemption.  If David Simmonds had bothered to actually turn up to the debate, had listened to the passionate speeches on both sides of the House, had listened to the testimony of MPs who talked about their constituents who missed loved ones’ funerals because of the rules, he would have heard about the sacrifices that the country made while Johnson was partying and lying about partying to the House.  On listening to those speeches, he then could have made an informed choice on whether to support, reject or abstain from the vote. He didn’t. He didn’t even turn up. He didn’t care to listen to the multitude of stories from MPs about constituents of theirs who suffered through Covid. In my view, this is callous uncaring on show. In the end, only seven MPs voted against the proposed measures from the privileges committee.  Seven.  This was overwhelming in every sense of the word, and  it is disgusting that an elected representative from the neighbouring constituency to Uxbridge & South Ruislip would feel it is even remotely appropriate to skip such an important debate and the subsequent vote. I sincerely hope that all residents of Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner write to David Simmonds and tell him that you want him to resign given he has shown that he just doesn’t care about parliamentary integrity.  He doesn’t care about what a senior Conservative was up to in the neighbouring constituency. In short, he doesn’t care about you. David Simmonds Doesn’t Care – I Do I am a huge believer in honesty, openness and transparency in politics, and I want to see politicians held to the highest standards of integrity.  Seeing someone miss such a vital debate makes me really angry, as it is tantamount to claiming that the person in question – in this case David Simmonds – doesn’t care about integrity at all.  To me that’s unacceptable.  Hopefully it is to you too. I want to be your next MP.  I want to be part of the solution to the increasing problem of mistrust for politicians, and I want to be absolutely above reproach in everything I do on your behalf. I want you to be able to be proud of your MP, and right now I think that’s impossible. Hazeena A – Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner ResidentIan, thank you once again for your support. It means a lot. Thank you so much for [creating this petition] and so amazingly quickly!!! You did a brilliant job on both the blog and petition. Some of the NHS staff were even impressed with the speed at which you addressed this, and I have had varying positive comments from friends who have read your post.Sheena Y, former co-workerHaving worked with Ian I can say that I found him incredibly transparent and honest which I think would be rare and much needed in today political arena. He is also very clever, direct and a great communicator.Andy H, brotherIan is a very smart individual, but more importantly is honest and truly cares about people. He is an unselfish individual and would absolutely have the public’s best interests at heart.Luca M, fellow speakers’ club memberI met Ian a few months ago for the first time and straight away I felt comfortable with him and I thought: “OK I would trust that guy”.Click HereFrancisco V, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friendThroughout the 12 years I have known Ian, he has always demonstrated to be very bright, kind and upright. I’ve seen all of these attributes in his personal life, for instance, in our sport association he volunteered as treasurer where he improved the overall system and costs as well as championing charitable giving & generous donations. He’ll definitely make a difference in a bigger role in politics.Irene H, motherYou have the moral integrity and high standards in all aspects of the requirements of your potential constituents. You will stand up to injustice and defend those deemed to have had injustice against them. You are committed to environmental change and to look after the less well off in society. Graham C, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friendFirst and foremost, your personal ethos of kindness and care for others is your top qualification. That you are also highly driven with a need to be productive, and understand very complex matters such as financial systems, makes you stand out. AnonymousYou are one of the most principled people that I know. You are committed to making changes that support the most vulnerable in our society and you don’t give up when you know you’re fighting for what’s right.Helen C, AuntIntegrity. Unlike the rest of us who are disillusioned with the lack of honesty, morals, and the unfair and outdated ‘public schoolboy network’ displayed by this government, you have decided to stand up and make a difference.Miles H, former co-workerHaving known Ian for a number of years during which we worked closely as Financial Advisers, I am confident that he would make an excellent MP. Ian is an intelligent

List of Kangaroos

Today was a momentous day, in that the Committee of Privileges released their findings into Boris Johnson’s conduct during and after the Covid lockdown scandals, otherwise known as Partygate.  This resulted in a recommended 90-day suspension from Parliament, which is utterly unprecedented.  Had he not stepped down on receiving an advanced copy of this report, he would without doubt have been subject to a recall petition, and without a doubt in my mind he would have been fired by the electorate. Nevertheless, there are a number of supporters of his still spouting utter nonsense about this process and defending his actions.  The most common claim from such people is that this is a “kangaroo court”, so I have decided that such people should be referred to as kangaroos in future. A kangaroo in the wild. In the sections below, I want to name and shame the people who have continued defending him after this report was published.  Before then, there was an excuse, but now that the findings are public, there isn’t.  So I present to you my list of kangaroos. Members of Parliament The following members of parliament have come out in support of Johnson’s lies, and are therefore designated as kangaroos in my mind.  This list also includes anyone who has publicly stated that they intent to abstain from the vote supporting the report and its findings: Another kangaroo in the wild. Brendan Clarke-Smith, Conservative MP for Bassetlaw. Andrea Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley & Outwood. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North Somerset. Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. James Duddridge, Conservative MP for Rochford & Southend East. Mark Jenkinson, Conservative MP for Workington. Stewart Jackson, Conservative peer and former MP. Marco Longhi, Conservative MP for Dudley North. Paul Bristow, Conservative MP for Peterborough. Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen. Liz Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk. Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield. Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire. Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath. Peter Cruddas, Conservative peer. Bill Cash, Conservative MP for Stone. Mark Jenkinson, Conservative MP for Workington. Rishi Sunak, PM and Conservative MP for Richmond (Yorks). Lia Nici, Conservative MP for Great Grimsby. Nicholas Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley. Joy Morrissey, Conservative MP for Beaconsfield. Karl McCartney, Conservative MP for Lincoln. Adam Holloway, Conservative MP for Gravesham. Heather Wheeler, Conservative MP for South Derbyshire. Those special seven (well, six after the Labour voter who was forced to vote against this proposal by calling for a vote in the first place) who actually voted against this report’s findings: Bill Cash Nick Fletcher Adam Holloway Karl McCartney Joy Morrissey Heather Wheeler Those who couldn’t even bother turning up to the debate: Adam Afriyie, Conservative MP for Windsor. Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford. Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashfield Stuart Anderson, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey Caroline Ansell, Conservative MP for Eastbourne Sarah Atherton, Conservative MP for Wrexham Victoria Atkins, Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle Gareth Bacon, Conservative MP for Orpington Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk Kemi Badenoch, Conservative MP for Saffron Walden Shaun Bailey, Conservative MP for West Bromwich West Siobhan Baillie, Conservative MP for Stroud Steve Barclay, Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire Simon Baynes, Conservative MP for Clwyd South Paul Beresford, Conservative MP for Mole Valley Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen Saqib Bhatti, Conservative MP for Meriden Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield Suella Braverman, Conservative MP for Fareham Jack Brereton, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent South Paul Bristow, Conservative MP for Peterborough Sara Britcliffe, Conservative MP for Hyndburn Alex Burghart, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West Rob Butler, Conservative MP for Aylesbury Alun Cairns, Conservative MP for Vale of Glamorgan East James Cartlidge, Conservative MP for South Suffolk Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes Rehman Chishti, Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham Christopher Chope, Conservative MP for Christchurch Cleveland Chris Clarkson, Conservative MP for Heywood and Middleton James Cleverly, Conservative MP for Braintree Dr Thérèse Coffey, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe Alberto Costa, Conservative MP for South Leicestershire Robert Courts, Conservative MP for Witney Claire Coutinho, Conservative MP for East Surrey Virginia Crosbie, Conservative MP for Ynys Môn Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford James Daly, Conservative MP for Bury North Dr James Davies, Conservative MP for Vale of Clwyd Gareth Davies, Conservative MP for Grantham and Stamford Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley Dehenna Davison, Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland Newquay Caroline Dinenage, Conservative MP for Gosport Sarah Dines, Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales Leo Docherty, Conservative MP for Aldershot East Michelle Donelan, Conservative MP for Chippenham Green Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Oliver Dowden, Conservative MP for Hertsmere Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset James Duddridge, Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodford Mark Eastwood, Conservative MP for Dewsbury Michael Ellis, Conservative MP for Northampton North Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth David Evennett, Conservative MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West Green Katherine Fletcher, Conservative MP for South Ribble Sidcup Kevin Foster, Conservative MP for Torbay Dr Liam Fox, Conservative MP for North Somerset Mark Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford Lucy Frazer, Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Louie French, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Marcus Fysh, Conservative MP for Yeovil Weald Mark Garnier, Conservative MP for Wyre Forest Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden John Glen, Conservative MP for Salisbury

The Most Important Issue in UK Politics

What is the most Important Issue in UK Politics

It’s fair to say that UK politics has a lot of problems right now, and those who know me probably know that I believe many of those issues surround the Conservative party. But what is the most important issue in UK politics right now? The Conservatives Going straight to the meat of my argument, my view is that the Conservative Party is a symptom, not the cause, of our biggest problem. Now, before you think this is me excusing their behaviour, I am absolutely not.  What they have done to the country is reprehensible, collapsing the NHS, increasing inequality, putting us on the brink of recession through mad tax cutting schemes, and that’s only three issues off the top of my  head.  They have proved time and time again that they are unsuitable for leadership, yet our system allows them to lead as though the majority of the country wants them. We don’t So why do they currently have a majority? Our Broken System How is our system broken, and how is this the most important issue in UK politics? To answer that we have to go back to the system we have of electing representatives.  We call that “First Past The Post” (FPTP), which is a callback to the original racing origins of the term.  In other words, for a given vote under the FPTP, the person who gets the most votes wins. Conceptually this works, especially where there are only two candidates in a race, but the problems start to become apparent when you extend this to more than two candidates and more than one constituency. More Than Two Candidates Let’s look at a theoretical constituency with three strong candidates, Alice, Bob and Connie.  Let’s take the most absurd example, when each of them gets exactly one third of the vote (assuming the constituency is 70,000 people, that means each gets around 23,333 votes).  What happens now? Well, if we assume they have genuinely equal shares of the votes, the winner is selected by a game of chance.  For two candidates this means tossing a coin to see who wins, for three presumably it would involve rolling a die or drawing lots. If Alice wins, the aftermath of this is that voters for both Bob and Connie will have voted in an exactly symmetrical manner to Alice’s voters, but their candidates will have lost.  They will have no representation of their views in Parliament. Clearly this example is vanishingly unlikely, but let’s look at a slightly more likely outcome.  In this case, Alice gets 25,000 votes, Bob gets 20,000 and Connie gets 15,000.  What happens now? At the face of it, it’s clear that Alice should win, but what does this mean for the constituency as a whole?  If Bob and Connie have very similar manifestos that differ on only a few small but important issues, then their combined vote share would be 35,000, far more than Alice received.  But Alice would be declared the winner, and only her political views would be represented in Parliament. This gets even worse when we consider more than one constituency. More Than One Constituency Let’s introduce a different constituency alongside the one above, this one with candidates Andrew, Bridget and Connor.  Respectively they are from the same parties as Alice, Bob and Connie.  In this constituency, Bridget wins comfortable, taking 30,000 votes to Connor’s 20,000 and Andrew’s 10,000.  Importantly, the two constituencies have case the same number of total votes as follows: Hopefully the issues start to become really clear here.  If we assume that the system is set up so that each constituency returns one MP, then parties A and B each get one MP.  However, the problems arise when you start to look at the total number of votes across both constituencies. In this example, B is the clear winner with 50,000 total votes compared to 35,000 each for the runners up.  B only gets one MP though, the same as A.  C gets no MPs despite doing exactly as well as A across the constituencies.  In essence, anyone voting for C loses their representation not because their choice was unpopular but because of a quirk in the distribution of votes.  This effect gets worse when you start looking across the whole country.  In the case of the UK as a whole, we have 650 constituencies up for grabs, and in 2019 our general election results were as follows: It is fairly hard to argue that the last few years have been anything other than an abject disaster from a governance position, and it is likewise very clear that the claims of an overwhelming majority are ludicrous at best.  There is no universe in which a 43.6% vote share could be considered a majority, and yet that is precisely what the current system allows for. Our system is designed to put the least objectionable party into total power at any time, and this system is broken.  It directly leads to adversarial politics and the desire to immediately undo the key policies of the previous government upon taking office.  This means that key aspects of society such as the NHS or Education become political footballs rather than something politicians work to develop for the whole country. What Can We Do Better? At outset it might feel like changing politics is a huge undertaking, and in many respects it is.  But there is a simple solution which will have a multitude of benefits, namely a change to proportional representation. There are a number of nuances to this approach to elections, but the simple summary is that under any system of proportional representation, seats are awarded to parties in accordance with their actual share of the votes.  In the 2019 General Election, for example, the Conservatives would have 43.6% of the seats rather than 56.2%.  They would still be the largest party in parliament, but they would not command a majority and could not therefore simply push through any legislation they

It’s On!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the famously-absentee Member of Parliament for my neighbouring constituency of Uxbridge & South Ruislip resigned in what I can only describe as a fit of pique.  He had been facing the judgement of the committee of privileges over his conduct surrounding Partygate, and the expectation at the moment is that the report – which was given to him in advance of his resignation – contained a recommendation to suspend him for long enough to trigger a recall petition. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, he’s now gone, so there is a by-election coming in Uxbridge & South Ruislip. Luckily we have a candidate who has been active in the area for a long time in Blaise Baquiche.  Blaise is a hugely passionate candidate, and he and I have been working together on our campaigns for a while now.  I have certainly been impressed by his dedication to fairness and integrity, and I wholeheartedly support his campaign to be an MP for Hillingdon. Blaise’s Beliefs Blaise with me and London Assembly member Hina Bokhari Blaise is a committed environmentalist.  Importantly, he sees this as an opportunity for Britain to make use of our incredible natural resources in the form of solar, wind and tidal energy to become self-sufficient for energy generation, perhaps even a net exporter.  This can only be a positive for the country given the problems we have seen recently with the international price of gas and the control that Russia has on a large proportion of our supply. Blaise, like me, also wants to see an end to the wholly unnecessary dumping of raw sewage into our country’s rivers and coastal waters.  We have sufficient technology available to us already to make this sort of action unnecessary, but the government right now puts water company profits ahead of the environment, and that attitude must change if we want to leave the country habitable for our children. His environmental beliefs means that there are certain things he sees as necessary evils, for example the proposed expansion of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone.  However, like me, he feels that the support being offered to non-compliant drivers is not sufficient at this time, therefore he would oppose the ULEZ expansion in its current form. How Can You Help? If you’d like to lend a hand in Blaise’s campaign to be an MP, there are a few things you can do to help: We’re not in the restricted period for spending and donations yet (though check the date, as this is correct at the time of publication but will change when the date of the by-election is confirmed), so if you’d like to make a donation, now would be a great time.  Our donation form is here.  We’ll soon be limited on how much we can take, so fill your boots now and help us fight for Uxbridge & South Ruislip.  Whatever you donate, we will spend on sending the major parties that allow the current system to propagate a message. We’re going to need volunteers FAST.  If you can lend a hand by coming and helping Blaise spread the word, that would be great and we’d love to see you.  Our volunteer page is here.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the country or even the world – we can make use of remote volunteers just as easily as local ones. Tell friends and family who might also want to help out.  They can donate, volunteer, or just put up posters around where they live. Blaise with me and one of our volunteers in Eastcote earlier this year. Above all, remember that this vote will require more ID than any other election we have had in Hillingdon before, so it is going to be worth checking with friends and family that they have arranged a form of valid ID or a postal vote in plenty of time. However you choose to help, Blaise and I are very grateful indeed, and we hope to see you on the campaign trail! Bonus Video Just as a bonus, here’s a video of Blaise explaining a bit more about his campaign and his motivations.  It’s really powerful stuff! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QArQG_tBmc&pp=ygUPYmxhaXNlIGJhcXVpY2hl

A Wasted Vote?

Is a vote for the Liberal Democrats a wasted vote? No, it’s a very positive step.

Express Route to the Lowest Common Denominator

I spent four hours in a car yesterday, so was already in a pretty foul mood. When I reached my destination, I saw that my messages contained a really ugly article by the Express. This concerns a fellow Liberal Democrat candidate, Katy Sykes, and I have had the pleasure of being on a panel show with Katy in the last few months. At no point did I think the accusations sounded like her usual persona at all, so I thought I would go back to her to get the real story. The Offending Article To call this an article would, in my view, be overly generous. It isn’t. It’s a very biased hit piece. Noteably, the Express did not bother to ask Katy for her side of the story before going to print with this garbage, so naturally it was entirely one-sided. Don’t believe me, though, judge for yourself: In 2013 Ms Sykes said: “Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I really really want to kill something.” Two months later she posted: “You better fn have nine lives coz I fn have eight knives.” She also threatened: “One more person calls me a weirdo or filthy c*** then I think I’m going to rip their vocal cords out and use them to slice their knackers off.” Ms Sykes posted in May 2013: “I hate the fg northeast, why is it I seem to attract the fg b*d scum everywhere I go, feel like either hurting them or killing myself.” Frankly, it is brutal that the Express trawled through Katy’s old posts like this to find anything that could possibly be held against her. We have all said things we didn’t mean online, and the fact that Katy has not been in the news for “ripping out someone’s vocal cords and using them to slice their knackers off” would certainly imply to me that this was an example of someone venting, not making actual legitimate death threats. Transparent Faux Outrage In response to finding these comments, naturally the responsible thing to do as a serious journalist would be to message Katy asking for an interview to discuss the comments. Naturally that’s what the Express failed to do. In fact, they went straight to a Conservative MP, Simon Clarke, for his view. His statements were: Approached by the Express for a reaction, local Conservative MP Simon Clarke said the posts from Nikita Sykes are “horrifying”. He said: “These quotes are horrifying, most especially in their repeated references to, and threats of, extreme violence. “It is very obvious Ms Sykes is totally unsuitable for public office and I hope the Liberal Democrats will act immediately to withdraw her candidacy – she ought never to have been allowed to stand in the first place. “I hope she can now find the help she clearly needs.” Simon Clarke Clearly Mr Clarke is new to the internet if he thinks that comments like that are horrifying (if he needs an education, then a quick visit to Reddit introducing himself as a Conservative MP will likely show him what horrifying really is!). I personally wonder what sort of environment he has found himself cushioned in where freedom to vent on social media has been so badly curtailed, especially as he is in the party that boasts about freedom to cause offence with their bigoted views. More to the point, the idea that this is a threat at all is entirely unfounded. A threat is directed against a person or group of people, and arguably it must be perceived as potentially real. Venting online and talking about wanting to harm or even kill “someone” is not a threat, it is merely venting. Now, you could argue that the language was inappropriate, especially if the meaning was actually literal. But in order to do that, you would have to actually approach the person who uttered those words and expressed those views, and you would need to be satisfied that a) they were actually meant to be a credible threat (they weren’t) and b) that they represent current views (they don’t). In short, this isn’t journalism, it’s a thinly-veiled hit piece against a candidate who made a number of statements a decade ago that she now doesn’t identify with. For fairness, I must mention that the article states that Katy was contacted for comment, but she tells a different story and says that the paper never actually made any effort to get in touch with her. To my mind, I am more inclined to believe Katy here, as most of us candidates have numerous ways for people to get in touch with us, and it is very unlikely that we would miss an opportunity to speak to the press. Conclusion This article really irritated me for a number of reasons: It’s easy to find out what views a candidate has these days. As an example, if anyone wants to find out what I advocate, they can look at my manifesto. They certainly don’t need to go back through my social media history looking for moments which don’t necessarily still represent my views today. By our nature we are a changing species, and as James O’Brien states “there’s no point in having a mind if you never change it.” The Express should be ashamed of themselves. This article isn’t journalism, it’s a pathetic hit piece that tries to take advantage of someone’s poor mental state from a decade ago as an attack on them now. Simon Clarke should be ashamed of himself. He took this opportunity to pass judgement on someone now based on a series of venting posts made during a period of mental fragility a decade ago. Rather than doing the right thing and reprimanding the “journalist”, he took the opportunity to attack someone for daring to have been vulnerable in the past. Anyone who reads the Express should consider buying another paper. If this is the quality of their journalism, then their paper is fit only to be used if you run