Monday, 29 September 2008

Make A Mark

Mark Clarke and I have not always agreed, but he is even my friend of that Facebook of which the young people speak, and I find this outpouring of scorned-womanliness deeply distasteful. Who is really behind it, and why?

I have some suggestions:

- Those who resent Mark's selection by an open primary instead of by some cabal or other;

- Those who resent that Mark is local to the constituency;

- Those who resent that Mark is "only Durham";

- Those who see Mark as the young sort of black, since he is visibly mixed-race, and since the West Indian side of his background includes Dame Eugenia Charles, late Prime Minister of Dominica, rather than whatever collection of yardies or gangsta rappers the people now running all three parties think that blacks are fashionable for being; and

- Those who object, for reasons of their own, to Mark's strong stand against prostitution.

Any one of these is more than credible.

Mark should hit back hard, both on open primaries and on prostitution. Regular readers will know my views on each.

In the course of each Parliament, each party should submit a shortlist of the two candidates nominated by the most branches (including those of affiliated organisations where applicable) to a binding ballot of the whole electorate at constituency level for the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, and at national level for the Leader.

All the ballots for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate should be held on the same day, and all the ballots for Leader should be held on the same day. Each of these ballots should be held at public expense at the request of five per cent or more of registered voters in the constituency or the country, as appropriate.

Each candidate in each of these ballots should have a tax-free campaigning allowance out of public funds, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation. The name of that organisation should appear on the ballot paper after that of the candidate. There should be a ban on all other campaign funding, and on all campaign spending above twice that allowance.

Likewise, in the course of each Parliament, each party should submit to a binding ballot of the whole electorate the ten policies proposed by the most branches (including those of affiliated organisations where applicable), with voters entitled to vote for up to two, and with the highest-scoring seven guaranteed inclusion in the next General Election Manifesto. All of those ballots should be held on the same day, and each of them should be held at public expense at the request of five per cent or more of registered voters in the country.

The official campaign for each policy should have a tax-free campaign allowance, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation. The name of that organisation should appear on the ballot paper after that of the policy. And there should be a ban on all other campaign funding, and on all campaign spending above twice that allowance.

Meanwhile, by all means let it be made a criminal offence for any person above the age of consent (which should be raised to 18) to buy, or attempt to buy, sex. And let it also be made be made a criminal offence, with an equal sentence, for any person above that age to sell, or attempt to sell, sex. Since the former are usually men and the latter usually women, are women morally and intellectually equal to men, or not? And how much longer must we endure the "free" market, which cannot be at all without being in prostitution, pornography, drugs, the lot?


  1. Are you the david Lindsay and the british People's Alliance which is currently putting posters up all over the student's union in bristol? Good for you, good idea to attract freshers

  2. I have never been to Bristol in my life. My loss, I'm sure.

  3. Sure, but do you have a regional office or organiser or someone down here then?

  4. Alfie is exaggerating slightly I think, but I have seen a couple up.

  5. Actually, we've been having a bit of trouble cracking the West Country, even though it holds out great possibilities for us. So anyone interested, do please get in touch.

    Now, back on topic, please.

  6. You seem to be doing quite well in the South West. I'm at UEA, by contrast, and we don't seem to have anything here. Any activity in the East Midlands region?

  7. Isn't UEA in East Anglia, or am I just showing my age?

    Anyway, do email me.

    Now, people, back on topic.

  8. Have you ever thought of doing some for of discussion group or open threads so that supporters from across different regions can talk about things, on the BPA website maybe? You can't run everything from this blog you know. And it seems a bit harsh to be angrily cutting off a good discussion about BPA regional prospects when people are here and talking about it. Maybe you could allow a bit of flexibility?

  9. As I said, anyone interested, feel free to email me, and I'll see what we can get going.

    I really do want to hear from whoever is active at Bristol, for a start.

    Now, can we *please* get back on-topic? Thank you.

  10. But why must we? You have active supporters here online who want to talk to each other. We can't be expected to run all our discussions past you. We want to talk to each other. This is currently the only forum open to do so. What else are we meant to do?

  11. Get in touch, Anna - I'll set up an email list and look into setting up a dicussion site.

    Now, back on topic, PLEASE.

  12. On-topic: maybe the woman who was on the receiving end of Mr Clarke's ungallant and unpleasant behaviour really did decide that he needed his come-uppance, and really did believe that he was an unfit person to be an MP.

    Having met him at university, her story is, after all, entirely plausible.

  13. Really?

    As I said, Mark and I have not always seen eye-to-eye. But a prostitute frequenter whose main local campaign is against prostitution? You might not like Mark, but you can't accuse him of being stupid.

  14. Whatever. I'm really irritated that you want to exert such a centralist control over your supporters. You have missed the point that Obama learned about how to create a vibrant online network of young people - its about using what supporters naturally flock to, rather than setting up new models, especially those centrally controlled by the party leadership

  15. Ann, whoever is acting at Bristool is just getting on with it. Why can't you?

    If you set up a forum or or something, then I'll link to it from here, and the BPA site might well link to it, too.

    We would like to be kept inside the loop, though.

    I'm not putting up anything else off-topic.

  16. Having met Mark, I most certainly can accuse him of being stupid. And so I wouldn't put that past him.

    But leaving that to one side, and disregarding the arguments about whether he ever slept with a prostitute (Ms Gill never claimed to have witnessed this, after all), the account of how he treated Ms Gill sounds entirely in character. As does the headline's claim that he "is a deceitful womaniser who isn't fit to be an MP". Succinctly put. And could anyone who met him in Durham really argue?

  17. Mark was a one-woman man when I knew him. And if it were just a matter of a history of womanising, economy with the truth, or both, then this would not be a story.

    The story here is that Mark's powerful local campaign against prostitution sits alongside his own recourse to prostitutes.

    No evidence for this has been produced, yet a two-page newspaper article has been followed up (just Google Mark Clarke of you don't believe me) by several blog posts today.

  18. You and Clarke were never such big mates in those days. Like you I often disagreed very strongly with him. Like you I campaigned against him in elections.

    But you are right about this. I'm almost certain he's state school. He's certainly Durham, not Oxbridge. His parents bought their council house. His black side is normal, respectable West Indian, not "street". He won an open primary as a local candidate. And he is obviously a social conservative even where that interferes with the operation of the free market.

    So he has to go.

  19. State school? Hardly. He went to Dulwich College, an independent school in south London.

  20. Still, hardly Eton, is it? Or one of London's pseudo-comprehensive Lenin High Schools attended by the likes of the Miliband brothers and the little Blairs?

    Actually, I knew where he went to school, but everything else that Anonymous 18:01 says is spot on.

    So, who will be the next to be picked off? I'm betting on Shaun Bailey, London black community leader and Tory PPC for Hammersmith.

    He can never quite bring himself to admit that he is economically of the Left, but such are in fact the views that he expresses, call them what he will.

    And he is fulsome in his self-proclaimed social conservatism, sounding for all the world like the old white working class round here. Or, no doubt, in Hammersmith.

    No wonder Cameron has distanced himself from the Tatler piece. I thought it was awful when I first saw it. But I'm beginning to wonder: if Cameron takes out several of those featured, then it would look like a signal that he was not in hock to the Tatler set. But it would in fact have exactly the opposite effect.

  21. He's not on Facebook.

  22. Not as of today, no. Probably been told to lie low. More fool him for doing so, but it illustrates that the Tory high command wants rid of him.

    It forwarded the names to Tatler, it then denied any connection to the article, and it obviously thinks that picking off the people featured in that article will make Cameron look not so much of a toff (or, to use a University of Durham term, rah) after all.

    So Mark won't be the last.

    Why is he standing for this. "This isn't a court of law." "It's not yet." Whatever happened to him?