Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tatchell Stands Down as Green Candidate

I might disagree with him on most things but there is no doubt that Peter Tatchell adds something to our national life. I was sad, therefore to learn today that he has decided he has to stand down as a Green Party candidate in Oxford Eastat the election, due to health reasons. Here's the statement he has just released.

"It is with great regret and reluctance that I am standing down as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East. My brain injuries from the Mugabe and Moscow bashings mean that I would not be able to campaign effectively in the general election or do the duties required of an MP, if I was elected," human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell announced today.

"It would not be right for me to seek election if I could not do the job of an MP to the high standards that I want and that Oxford East voters have a right to expect.

"If I was elected, I could manage the parliamentary duties or the constituency work. But my health is not strong enough for me to do both.

"This is huge disappointment and frustration. Oxford East is a target Green seat. In the county elections in June, the Greens were neck-and-neck with the Liberal Democrats as the main challenger to Labour. The European elections saw the Greens win in Oxford East, well ahead of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories.

"The brain damage caused by Mugabe's thugs in Brussels in 2001 and by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007 has been compounded by head injuries in an accident while I was campaigning in Devon in July. A bus on which I was travelling swerved and braked sharply. I was thrown forward, hitting my head on a metal handrail.

"The injuries don't stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things. My memory, concentration, balance and coordination have been adversley affected. I can't campaign at the pace I used to.

"I was selected as the Green Party candidate for Oxford East in April 2007. A month later, I was badly beaten around the head by neo-Nazis during an attempted Gay Pride parade in Moscow.

"This exacerbated the brain damage caused when I was bashed unconscious by President Mugabe's bodyguards in Brussels in 2001, after attempting to make a citizen's arrest of the Zimbabwean leader on charges of torture.

"Following the Moscow assault, I never rested and recuperated. I carried on campaigning, with a very heavy schedule of commitments in Oxford East. After several months, I was severely exhausted. This stress and exhaustion probably intensified the damage and thwarted my recovery.

"I have postponed making this announcement for several months, in the hope that I might get better and be able to carry on as the Green candidate. Unfortunately, my condition has not improved. If anything, it is worse.

"There is, however, a glimmer of hope for the future. The medical advice is that if I slow down and reduce my workload my condition may improve in a year or so. On the downside, I am unlikely to ever recover fully. Some of the damage is probably permanent.

"I don't regret a thing. Getting a thrashing and brain injuries was not what I had expected or wanted. But I was aware of the risks. Taking risks is sometimes necessary, in order to challenge injustice. My beatings had the positive effect of helping draw international attention to the violent, repressive nature of the Russian and Zimbabwean regimes. I'm glad of that.

"My physical inconveniences are nothing by comparison to the far worse beatings inflicted on human rights defenders in countries like Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, Sudan and Burma. These heroic activists often end up jailed or dead. I count myself lucky.

"The Oxford Green Party expects to select a new parliamentary candidate in January. That person will have my wholehearted support. I intend to campaign with them during the general election.

"I would like to thank members of Oxford Green Party for their immense kindness, support, and generosity during my two and a half years as their candidate. It has been a pleasure working with the Oxford Greens and I wish them future success," said Mr Tatchell.

Whatever one thinks of some of his views and stances, you cannot deny that Peter Tatchell is a courageous and brave man.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

Tatchell is one of the bravest men in political life this decade.

If others had his commitment to justice and truth this country would be a wonderfully different place.

I am sorry he has been so badly injured that he cannot take a larger part in public life.

It's very sad.

Unknown said...

This is sad - I would like to see him in Parliament. Who else would have dared to try a public citizens arrest on Mugabe? The guy has guts and is a fighter for justice.

Old Holborn said...

Brave men do not campaign to sleep with 14 year old boys.

Unknown said...

Yes, I remember when Tatchell and Fred Fairbrass went to spread politcal correctness in gay friendly Russia.

As I recall, they both got a serious good hiding.

Yes, he is a brave man - and pitifully stupid.

Anonymous said...

This is a pity. Isn't he a good candidate for the Lords? He'd be free of constituency work and could manage his workload, and I think his is the kind of unique, specialist voice the Lords can allow to be expressed.

Something makes me doubt he'd accept, unfortunately.

Keith Elliott said...

Old Holborn that is a complete misrepresentation of his views.

My understanding of his take on this, and as it happens I don't agree with him, is that it is wrong to criminalise 14 and 15 year olds who have sex and that hence, an age of consent of 14 is appropriate.

Edward Sutherland said...

Iain, like you there's a lot about Ian Tatchell that I disagree with. But the man has real courage taking on the vile Mugabe and the Moscow homophobic thugs. I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery and can rapidly rejoin the Greens- much as I disagree with most of their policies!

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Holborn

I have to take issue with you. I think it takes an immensely brave man to campaign for that. I vehemently disagree with it, and am confident that most people would concur; thus to campaign for such a reliably unsympathetic cause requires the almost suicidal bravery of a Tatchell.

Indeed, I am out of sympathy with almost everything for which Peter Tatchell has stood over the years. He is, however, one of the most courageous men in public life, one who is prepared to both say and debate, calmly and logically, the generally unpopular.

It would be startlingly liberal, and constructive, for David Cameron to bung him up to the Lords as soon as he's got his feet under the table at No. 10. Peter Tatchell performs for the country the uncomfortable tasks that Frank Field does for the Labour Party. We need him to hold the country's face up to the mirror, and point out the blemishes which we would not otherwise be able (or willing) to see unaided.

Unsworth said...

Courageous and brave, yes. But some might also regard his actions as reckless and foolhardy. Nonetheless, he is at least a man of his own convictions - and that is rare these days.

Jimmy said...

It's a shame he couldn't have had some of this respect from the right in '83, but then that's always the way.

James Mackenzie said...

He's one of my few heros, and I'm deeply disappointed to see him stand down.

I also can't think of an issue where I disagree with him, either.

neonoctafish said...

In an age populated by political worms prepared to say and do anything to gain popularity and get elected, Peter Tatchell must be respected for truly having the courage of his convictions, regardless of one's agreement (or not).

Anonymous said...

Anyone who gets beaten up by Mugabe thugs - for trying to arrest him - deservers our sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Sad. A worthy friend or opponent who would have added much to parliament.

Best wishes for recovering - as far as is possible in such cases.

Anonymous said...

Tachell is a very brave man - and a pioneer. His suffering hasn't been in vain though. He's paved the way for others to fight injustice where they find it. Respect.

Anonymous said...

If he marched down the Falls Road on the 12th of July wearing a Sash, then I might consider him brave. Until then, he is merely just another English eccentric.

Anonymous said...

Why does an MP have to be a single person?

From what I've read, those who take it seriously are all massively overloaded - no weekends of their own, etc.

It is not good for the quality of their work to overload them so heavily.

MPs need less work, or they need a partner to take some of the work.

Anonymous said...

> My understanding of his take on
> this, and as it happens I don't
> agree with him, is that it is
> wrong to criminalise 14 and 15
> year olds who have sex and that
> hence, an age of consent of 14 is
> appropriate.

A view I read about this was that children - and we're talking normal children, who have a normal upbringing, e.g. the vast majority - should simply have sex when they do.

It comes naturally at different ages and in different situations to different people.

Having a law to prevent people from doing something until the same arbitrary fixed age is unfree and harmful, harmful both for being unfree and for interfering with normal sexual development.

Cynic said...

and honest.

Far more deserves a place in the Lords than all the Labour Toadies who have been placed there. I assume he simply cannot pay for it.

Terry Hamblin said...

Brave like a suicide bomber and just as misguided. I have never met him and he might be personally charming, but from what I have read about him, one of the nastiest men in Britain. Perhaps he has just had a bad press.

Matthew Dear said...

I agree - I dislike most of his views but I am in utter admiration of his bravery, courage, and commitment to his beliefs.

I should have liked to see him in Parliament, and I wish him well with his health concerns.

Old Holborn said...

When did brain damage ever deter a politician?

Kidz Klub Bradford said...

I concur with majority of the comments. There is so much to admire about his commitment & passion. What a shame that such qualities are wasted on such misguided causes.

I have no doubt that if he had a certain religious faith (the one of peace!) he would have strapped himself in semtex years ago.

Unknown said...

Well I have met him more than once and the suggestion that he's a nasty man is absolutely untrue and ridiculous. I've even seen him debate against the hard left at some ghastly student event and he was the voice of polite reason.

He has been entirely consistent and honest as far as I can tell, just traduced in the gutter press sometimes as "the most evil man in Britain" just for daring to express his opinion.

He has (ironically) been the victim of a different kind of political correctness and crushing of free speech, the original kind about the "love that dare not speak its name"

He's not faultless (who is?) but he is so lied about and misrepresented I find myself sticking up for him.