My friends who have gotten into politics & two crazy stories. Here’s #1.

Posted on October 9, 2014

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It’s been a weird week.

Story #1

On Monday I spent three hours talking on the phone to one of my long time best mates Vicki, who’s recently gotten into politics. We might go ages without talking, but we’re always thinking about each other and can just pick up the phone and talk like we only spoke yesterday.

Vicki was an impressive Labour parliamentary candidate – a through and through working class girl, with two kids (one severely disabled) and a younger brother and sister of similar age to her eldest son (15/16) who she became legal guardian to earlier this year when her young Mum (in her 50s) tragically died suddenly. Growing up, Vicki dropped out of school at 15 after falling off the path a bit (understandably) when her best friend died of Lukemia, and by 18 she was pregnant with Harry and living in a one bed council flat .

When Harry was older, she did a college access course, got GSCEs and then A Levels and then got a place at one of the UK’s top universities studying Psychology. She fell pregnant again, and struggled to hold both university down and a child that was turning out to have developmental needs. Her full time job and career then became being a parent.

Fast forward a few years, and a bit of local campaigning, delivering some powerful speeches at rallys about the bedroom tax, and she got herself voted in as Parliamentary Candidate for Labour.

In a well held Tory town, she was unlikely to win, but people were getting excited. Here was someone they could relate to. A person who spoke her mind, was brave enough to say the things most people wouldn’t dream of, and had an energy and charimastic passion that meant when she knocked on your door, you found yourself listening.

Her journey to the campaign trail started out with her fighting for the things she believes in, mainly disability rights, young carers and Palestine.

I think Vicki realised she had a powerful voice when she won a two-year long court case against her county council, to get them to pay for her disabled daughter to go to a special private school for children with similar needs as hers. Saskia was coming back from her local school, who claimed to be set up for supporting children with disabilities, saying:

‘mummy, I just want to die. No one at school talks to me, and the teachers think i’m a nuisance. I might be better off just not being here’.

But the local school weren’t coping. And they were just leaving Saskia every day sat in her wheelchair in the classroom whilst all the other normal kids played outside during school breaks.

Everyone in the council told her to drop the case as she would definitely wouldn’t win, and manipulatively told Vicki “the pressure will get too much”, but she carried on anyway and put up a great fight which ended up with the council reluctantly having to pay £30,000 a year for her daughter’s specialist schooling, as well as eventually paying for an adapted bus to pick her up and take her to school in her wheelchair, saving Vicki three hours of driving every day.

As well as that, Vicki and Harry were asked to be ambassadors for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Princess Anne’s charity that fights for the rights of carers, and provides respite for them during difficult times. I remember her telling me about a standing ovation they both got one night at a gala dinner full of high net worth CEOs and business leaders, and how someone senior within Deutsche Bank had sat next to her during the meal and said she was a ‘breath of fresh air’.

This year, in only a matter of weeks this time, as she knew the system inside out – Vicki fought to get another disabled boy (similarly with cerebral palsey and other needs) into the same private school as Saskia – paid for by the council. This is the same school, that David Cameron’s son Ivan went to, who sadly passed away several years ago. I remember reading about that and crying on the tube, as I could relate because of my relationship with Vicki and her family. But I hope that puts in perspective how prestigious this school is, and therefore how unpenetrable it is for people who don’t have the funds to pay for the £30,000 a year fees. So many unrepresented children and families who know nothing other than to accept what they’re told and put up with the status quo, so many disadvantaged children who aren’t getting the best opportunities they could be.

Vicki was able to fight – and it wasn’t easy – but through her determination and belief that she and her family have basic human rights, she has been able to provide the best for her child and for someone else’s child now too.

The detail in my head of how she ended up parliamentary candidate is sketchy due to me being overseas in the summer during much of these developments, but when I got back I had been sent a link to a newspaper article telling me Vicki had been suspended for posting anti-zionist tweets.

Which is where it just starts getting ridiculous.

Two other Labour parliamentary candidates were suspended for writing homophobic and racists tweets but weren’t forced to resign like she was. Which begs the question, is it worse to be anti-zionist, than it is to be racist or homophobic?

Really though, Vicki was told to resign because of funding.

Labour Friends of Israel donate hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Labour party. They can’t be seen as having anti-Israel parliamentary candidates basically. She admits what she said could have phrased her tweets differently (which I totally agree) but her public statement was cut down by Labour to just a few words. All she needed was some media training and support to know how to smarter with language and her position of power, but they don’t care enough as there is a shit storm going on in the party and she’d never have won her seat anyway so it wasn’t worthy of investment.

But she got used. Used by the Tory press to dampen Labour’s name on the day of Labour conference, which frustrates me as that includes the same newspaper I used to work for. The same newspaper who suspended me for saying something on social media. Irony? Coincidence?

Anyway, this post is getting a bit long.

I’ll carry on the rest of the story in PART 2.

I just felt this story needed to be told. The facts might not all be 100% correct as I’m relying on my weak memory and a good 20 years of friendship!

And of course, there is so much more to this story…. I’ll get to it another time.

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Posted in: Stories, The Truth