Animal Welfare - Peace Activism - Environmental Protection - Social Justice - Workers Rights - Regionalism - Democracy
A bit of a Bio
Born in Kent in 1962 I have lived in a number of places across the UK and the Channel Island of Guernsey. One place I lived, the Brooklands Estate in Jaywick, Essex, has been made famous as the most poverty stricken place in England and spawned exaggerated documentaries on benefit claimants. I was raised mainly by my mother, after the failure of hermarriagetomyfather. Despite this and what I suppose was life on the breadline, I wanted for nothing and benefited from a close bonding with other family members, particularly my grandmother and Uncle Bill.
Whilst working in Guernsey in the mid to late 1980's I met my wife Helen. We have lived in Torbay since 1989 where we have raised our two sons. For many years I ran my own gardening business as well as writing garden columns for the Country Gardener and the Torbay Times. Socially I enjoy the great outdoors, motorcycling, football, rugby and motorsport. I have in my time even played Australian Rules Football. Spiritually I am a Unitarian and an open minded progressive Christian. I say 'spiritually' as I would describe myself as more spiritual than tied to any religious thought.
I have been around the political block for a number of years, and stood for election in the ward where I live in Paignton on four separate occasions (1990, 1991, 2011 and 2015). Sadly I was defeated on every occasion but still retain the record for the number of votes cast for a Green party candidate in the ward.
I would describe myself as 'radical' and gain much inspiration from England's radical forefathers such as John Ball, John Lilburne, Gerrard Winstanley, the Chartists and the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Although very much a green thinker, I am not your stereotype 'greenie'. I love motorsport for its entertainment value and the skill of the drivers and engineers. I'm also not a vegan or vegetarian. Some might say this is all very half hearted, but I would disagree. I want a greener world, one where we can all afford to be green. I want a world where there is compassion for animals, even where they may be part of the food chain. I want less traffic on our roads with viable, affordable alternatives - and yes I want cleaner and greener motorsport, hence why I love Formula E.
My Political Journey
our journey through life we all come upon significant moments. The day
we meet our future love, the day we overcome a serious illness or the
day something happens to change our view on things. I suppose our
relationship with politics is no different. For some people this can be
almost a biblical ‘Road to Damascus’ type moment. Although I wouldn’t
say I have reached such a dramatic moment on my political journey, there
have nevertheless been events and times that have shaped my political
TheRiseofThatcher I suppose one of the first of these occasions came in
the early 1980’s, a time when there was a real threat of nuclear war.
Britain had a right wing Tory Government led by Margaret Thatcher, and
the special relationship with America reached new levels with the
election of Ronald Reagan on the other side of the Atlantic. In fact it
was not just a ‘special relationship’, I would call it more of an
Thatcher was known for her
almost hostile, 'handbagging', though I suppose you could call it
bullying manner. As for Reagan, he held the world’s largest arsenal. In
fact I would say the world was in more danger from Reagan holding these
weapons of mass destruction than if Saddam Hussein had actually had any a
couple of decades later.
During this time I listened to the
arguments of CND and became increasingly concerned that the world was
on the brink of nuclear war, especially with two highly influential
right wing leaders with their fingers poised over the button. We were
closer to war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis in the
As well as becoming concerned
at the threat of war I began to look more into the background of why
the world’s superpowers were at each others throats. It
soon became apparent after looking into this exactly what they would be
willing to go to war and sacrifice millions of lives for, and that was
sheer power. Basically the west wished to destroy communism as they saw
it as a threat to the capitalist system. It was not based on any alleged
human rights issues, as the west was supporting its own evil regimes,
which I’m sad to say continues today.
There was also paranoia
within the west that the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies wished
to impose world domination, shrouding every country in the red flag of
communism. Evidence does support these fears to a certain degree, with
Soviet military involvement in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in
1968. However these were internal conflicts within countries allied to
the Warsaw Pact and therefore internal disputes within the Communist
bloc. They were not invasions of the west, and if anything during the
Cold War period the west was equally as guilty of trying to impose
‘puppet regimes’ across the globe as the Soviet’s. It was simply a power
game on the international stage.
also paranoia within the Soviet Union, who probably feared a military
invasion from the west more than we feared an onslaught from the Eastern
Bloc. This was why they invested heavily in military hardware. The same
can be said of North Korea today. However it became apparent after the
fall of communism that the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies did
not have the military capability to launch a successful invasion anyway,
something western governments probably knew.
military fears made me look at the wider picture and the risks involved
in nuclear energy. I looked into the consequences that would arise from
an accident at a nuclear power plant and the long term storage of
nuclear waste. I had in fact lived as a child only a couple of miles
from an atomic power station at Dungeness in Kent, with the school I
attended at Lydd almost on the plants doorstep. I again began to see how
peoples lives were not being considered and that we faced a potential
nuclear holocaust by either military or peaceful means. As we know in
later years such nuclear holocausts never affected Dungeness, but
Also during the 1980’s we saw
Thatcher wage war on the trade unions and the working class in general.
Such government imposed devastation of our industrial heartland had
never been seen before. It can be argued that Thatcher did more damage
to Britain’s manufacturing base than the Luftwaffe ever did during the
Second World War.
One incident always remains in my mind, and
that involves someone in a job centre in Kettering. The man probably in
his late 40’s and was looking on the boards in the job centre for work
the same as I was. As he looked around he began muttering to himself,
which gradually became louder and louder before shouting ‘There’s fuck
all here’. On exiting the job centre he tried to slam the glass door
closed, only to become frustrated that it was one of those slow self
closing hinges. As his efforts to slam the door failed he lashed out at
it with his foot to release the frustration he felt and smashed the
glass. I later found out he had been made redundant from the steel works
in Corby where he had worked all his life and had spent over a year
looking for work. It brought home to me the fact that people were being
used as a commodity which could be hired and fired by bosses to
This incident showed me how
little respect the Tories had for working people. They had no
consideration for the lives of ordinary folk, their families or whether
they could place food on their tables. All they considered was money and
how much their ruling class friends could retain by shutting down
factories here and investing in the lands of cheap labour. It was around
this time I helped out on a picket line at Golden Wonder in Corby and
became a reader of the Morning Star.
Another incident a few years later is another
that always gets to me. It was just after the defeat of the mineworkers
who now faced a bleak future thanks to the Tories and
their friends in the media demonising the miners cause. I was on a ferry
and I always remember the sight of piles of coal on the harbour as we
docked on the continent. I was talking to a man, a former Kentish miner,
and he said to me, ‘You see that coal? That’s from Poland, probably
mined by 14 year old lads in a appalling conditions and its destined for
England’ . In other words that coal represented the loss of his job.
It also represented how low the capitalist system would sink to import
coal mined under almost slave like conditions in Poland whilst making
people redundant and destroying communities here in England. This to me
was extremism – economic extremism. If anyone wishes to see the effects
of this extremism I suggest they watch the drama ‘Our Friends in the
North’ which charters the course of corruption in the police and
politics, and the greed of the capitalist system through the eyes and
experiences of a group of friends.
An Awakening to Racism My
political story continues back in the 80’s where I was unemployed in
Northamptonshire. There was no work, the steel works had closed, the
shoe factories were diminishing at an alarming rate and nobody had money
to hire a young gardener. A lot of my friends were in tussles with the
law at this time. They were not bad lads; in fact I would have trusted
most of them with my life. But as the saying goes ‘The devil will find
work for idle hands to do’. These lads were not idle, just bored with no
prospect of work.
I could see a rut I was slowly slipping
into and decided to try and find work in the Channel Island of Guernsey.
I went there with an ex-girlfriend who fortunately found work behind a
bar in a local hotel, whilst I picked up the phonebook and began to call
local gardening companies. This might sound strange but this was my
first experience of racism. I was phoning various companies and was
asked if I was a Guernseyman. I think my south eastern
(most people would call it London) accent was a bit of a giveaway but I
answered ‘No’, and was told ‘Sorry we only take on Guernsey people’. I
can understand them wishing to protect jobs for local people, but
obviously this was discrimination.
I think until that point I
was never really aware of racism. Okay so there was the National Front
and the Anti Nazi League opposing them back in the 70’s and of course
the Rock Against Racism concerts of the time. I could understand why
some people turned to the more racist parties when spun lies by those
parties and the media, or possibly a bad experience with someone from an
ethnic minority background. Some may even fear the unknown, and turn to
racist parties because their fear different cultures. I can understand
this, and believe these fears and lies need addressing. But after making
those phone calls, it made me realise what it must be like to belong
to an ethnic minority and face racial discrimination and even violence. I
simply had a couple of job applications turned down, whilst ethnic
minorities faced far more serious discrimination, verbal and physical
attacks. This was a real wake up call as to the evils of racism.
Eventually I did find work, and I also found out what an extremist
island in a great many ways Guernsey was. Fortunately there was one
publication of resistance, the Radical Island Press, otherwise known as
the RIP. It was I suppose you can say it was of early eco-socialist
direction, fighting for economic, environmental and social justice.
Opening the Green door My time in Guernsey did strengthen my views on such things as racism,
ecology and animal welfare, as well as social justice. Shortly after my
return to England in 1989 I joined the newly established Torbay branch
of the Green Party. I had considered joining the Labour Party, and
obviously as a Morning Star reader even joining the Communist Party of
Great Britain. However whilst both Labour (at the time) and the
Communist’s were promoting social and economic justice, I felt they were
somehow lacking in campaigning for environmental justice. The Liberal's
were doing this, but I felt were abandoning their radical roots by
merging with the right wing of the Labour Party (SDP). However, my
concern for the environment was based on the fact, if the planet we live
on cannot survive social and economic justice alone becomes immaterial.
To be honest I almost became a member of the Ecology party
(which eventually changed its name to the Green Party) many years
before. An uncle of mine was also very passionate about the environment
and social justice and had brought my attention to the Ecology Party.
Unfortunately where I lived at the time in Norfolk there was no nearby
branch, and so I never joined. Today the Greens are a major force in
Norfolk, so how times have changed!
joined the Greens they were about to surf the crest of a wave of
popularity following a decent showing in the European elections. Sadly
following this success, the right wing media did a complete hatchet job
and launched a smear campaign against the party, something I consider to
be the real reason why support slumped substantially in the years after
I represented the Greens in the
St.Michael’s with Goodrington ward of Paigtnon in the local elections of
1990 and 91, polling decent figures of over 400 and 700 votes
respectively. Following the 1990 results our election agent Jean Allier
stated ‘The Greens have not won a seat this time, but we have arrived
and we will be monitoring and watching others and will win in future’.
My campaigning during these elections and afterwards was based upon
social and environmental issues. After all I was a Morning Star reader,
therefore I had the concerns of ordinary working class people at heart
as much as anything else. Following two failed Liberal and Tory
administrations at the Town Hall, people were beginning to look at the
Greens locally as a real option. We even had a speaker at the anti-poll
tax rally on Paignton Green. The local media also began to show an
interest, and unfortunately one local Green official was quoted as
stating he would like to increase fuel prices by 90p per gallon. For
someone such as myself fighting on pro-working class, pro-environment
ticket, this obviously dented the support I was building up. I think
this was also a key moment in the demise of the local branch, as within a
couple of years its main financial supporter and the majority of its
members had gone. This was such a shame; after all we had fought almost
every ward and a local council by-election and were building decent
support. However it was an experience which demonstrated to me the
dangers of impractical ecological extremist statements and thought
within the party.
Anti Fascist Activity With the demise of what was a very
promising Green Party branch I began to help local anti-racist campaigns
as well as playing a part in the ‘Coal not Dole’ protests. Racism was
not a major problem in Torbay, yet it did have active racists seeking to
establish a strong foothold. As I was living in
Torquay I became a fan of Torquay Utd, and therefore this seemed an
obvious place to prevent the influence of the far right. A group of
committed anti-fascists met on a regular basis and carried out
activities such as fly-posting and leafleting. With the help of this
group I launched an anti-racist fanzine at Torquay Utd called ‘You Wot’.
Though officialdom at United might have applauded our anti-racist
message, I don’t think they were too happy about our revolutionary plans
at the time for getting supporters representatives on the board! Today a
number of clubs have supporters representatives on the board, so I
suppose our ‘revolution’ did have an effect.
campaign was not easy and I received death threats via telephone calls
and through the post, and even had two members of the BNP turn up on my
doorstep. I even received one call saying they were going to come round
burn down my house and rape my wife. Despite reporting these incidents to the police the
threats continued, even after my wife became pregnant.
Trying to Awaken England The
next few years I spent away from politics, raising my young family, but
still keeping abreast of things via the Morning Star. It was not until
2008 when I next became involved in politics; however this was more of
an incursion of mine into a completely different political world, one
which I seriously regret and regard as being a complete waste of time.
This mission, for want of a better word, was to try and bring a sense of
left wing values into those campaigning for an English Parliament and
English independence, an area dominated by Tory views and those of the right.
So what made someone of a green and
socialist background become involved in what some describe as 'English
nationalist' politics? Why didn't I rejoin the Greens, the ongoing
Liberals, the Communist Party - or even Labour? To be honest these are
questions I still ask myself, as I abhor racial and pomp and ceremony
nationalism and its imperialist and racist connections, albeit
supportive of its more civic stance within parties such as Plaid Cymru, the SNP and Mebyon Kernow.
I think the reason why I never rejoined the
Greens was I still felt a little aggrieved at the way the local Green Party branch had disintegrated and the short sightedness of the '90pence
per gallon increase' statement which was made. The Greens were at the
time hardly a voice of radical rebellion. I also saw a niche and a need
for a more left wing, non-Tory direction in the English parliament cause and to
deliver something closer to an English version of Plaid Cymru, the SNP
or Mebyon Kernow. The political direction of the present English parties
were not in that direction, even though some supporters were left and
progressive leaning. I believed with the support of progressive members
and supporters this could be changed and by appealing to other left
leaning and progressive thinkers and voters who supported devolution for England, a new
movement could be created.
To be honest I
thought it would be quite easy for me to become involved and help steer
such groups towards a more leftward, progressive direction. I say this
as unlike many on the left I do consider myself to be a patriot. However
my patriotism is not based on pomp and ceremony or imperialism, but on
radicals who have fought for the liberation of ordinary English people,
such as Wat Tyler, John Bull, the Diggers, Chartists, Tolpuddle Martyrs
and the Suffragettes. I suppose you would call this a radical, peoples
I do believe in self determination of
nations, and believe the future of these islands may be better with four
independent nations (or five if the Cornish opt for independence) still
working co-operatively as part of an Anglo-Celtic Confederation and
with international co-operation. I also believe in regional devolution
for Wessex and other traditional English regions.
I had some
sympathy with the English cause and I am a committed believer in
decentralisation. The devolution settlement was a complete fudge in my
opinion as it delivered a parliament to Scotland and assemblies to Wales
and Northern Ireland, whilst England, and indeed Cornwall were left out
of the equation. As a result of this poorer areas of England and
Cornwall have suffered, as the other nations can shout and claim with a
I also shared some sympathies
with how many feel about the European Union. Apart from employment and consumer
legislation and advances in environmental protection, the EU in its
present structure has done little to benefit ordinary working people. In
fact it is supporting the neo-liberal agenda of low wage economies and
in doing so encouraging massive economic migration and exploitation of
migrant workers. Personally I have nothing against movement of
labour out of choice, but what is being encouraged is movement of
labour out of necessity, which brings about calls of almost uncontrolled
immigration from EU countries.
thought I could argue for a left wing perspective on these issues, and
help bring about a greener, more progressive version of the Scottish
National Party here in England. So what went wrong?
To begin I am an internationalist and definitely not a racial
nationalist, and therefore detested the ‘Little Englander’ mentality.
It’s a mentality that England is far superior to anyone else, that seeks
to abolish human rights and scapegoat foreigners . This is where their
idea of patriotism is completely opposite to my own. Personally I find
the imperialist sense of patriotism essentially offensive to my working
class roots, as tens of thousands of ordinary people fought and died fighting in imperialist wars. I even found numerous people in this field of politics so
narrow minded they were willing to sacrifice the NHS if it brought
about an English Parliament! In fact some never even cared about the
NHS. As a decentralist I also clashed with the views of many people who
just wanted an English Parliament and no further decentralisation.
Then there is the racial element, and a feeling amongst many that
nearly all of this country’s woes are a direct result of immigration.
This, as a committed anti-racist, I also find offensive. Finally, the majority - but by no
means all - of those involved in this field of politics were either
motivated by right wing Conservatism or racial extremism. Almost all
detested the socialist or progressive argument or anything remotely to
the left of the Tories and one prominent party official even told me he
would support merger with the Tories if they were in favour of an
English Parliament! The same Tories that had destroyed our industry. To
me that was not very patriotic.
eventually stand as an English Radical (a party which was supposed to
be based in the historical English radicals such as Wat Tyler, the
Diggers, Tolpuddle Martyrs etc) in the local elections of 2011. I stood
on what many would call a progressive leftist agenda campaigning mainly on local
social justice issues and poling almost 4%. However I did have
frustrations with what I viewed as the party's right wing stance
nationally, especially when it was supposed to be based on English
radicalism and Chartism. I realised my heart was not in fighting for a
cause where people were not sympathetic to my views and where slurs
were made against the left and progressives on an all too frequent
basis. This was definitely not my political home and I was beginning to
feel like a fish out of water.
In the end I would say my
time spent trying to turn the English home rule cause in a more
progressive direction was completely wasted. I would compare it to
banging my head against a brick wall, only on some occasions that would
probably have been far less painful. There were some very good people with some very good ideas but I came to the
conclusion self determination would be of no benefit under the negative influences of Tory
capitalism and racism. Also at the end of the day liberating the people
from economic exploitation is a priority, and simply swapping one
national flag for another completely misses the point.
The Regionalist Road One thing I did look more and more into during my time 'awakening England' was regionalism and the possibility of an Anglo-Celtic Confederation. With much talk of devolution, true regionalsim, that of devolving power to the traditional regions of England is often ignored. Devolution within England would result in an English National Assembly under a federal type of structure. It was a concept I developed and have been a protagonist of for a number of years. My support for regionalism and an Anglo-Celtic Confederation gained a following in Wessex and other regions of England and even within secession movements within the United States.
Community and Green re-engagement My
passion for community based politics was still strong and I decided to
concentrate on local issues with the Community Association I was
helping to establish in the St.Michael’s area of Paignton.
this time a local campaign emerged that threatened Paignton's Victoria
Park, and I thought the local Greens might be interested in supporting
this. As we worked together again I began to look at the Green Party
more closely, and felt it was much better than the party I had left in
the early 1990's. I gave the matter some thought and I decided, after a
gap of approximately 20 years I would rejoin the party. To
be honest I had begun to work closely with the Torbay branch of the
Green Party since the elections and assisted them with a couple of
campaigns. I had befriended the two Green candidates I had fought
against in my ward in May's local elections and it had become apparent green as well as
red blood flowed through my veins.
But within the Greens there
will always be what many call an extreme fluffy strain, as you would expect as the party is a broad church of green thinking. I did try and push for a more social justice stance
within the local branch, but when I suggested the NHS, it was decided objecting to branches being pruned from trees in Victoria
Street was a more important issue. Clearly there was regular
clashes of opinion which made me feel very uncomfortable within the
Trade Unions, Marx and Fightback Having left the Greens after a very brief period, I
helped establish the local Torbay Fightback group, to campaign on
anti-austerity issues and offer a progressive, broad left, cross party
platform to campaign for social, economic and environmental justice and
animal welfare. I was also invited to join Torbay TUC as a GMB delegate and also a delegate to the Devon County Association of Trade Union Councils. Here I have worked alongside the excellent Paul Raybould and Barrie Wood, stalwarts of the trade union and wider labour movement and progressive in thought.
Politically I also decided to join the
Communist Party of Britain (CPB). I had co-operated with local CPB
members for a number of years anyway, I knew them and trusted them, and
shared many of their views. Public perception of the Communist Party
probably draws comparisons to the worst elements of life in the former
Soviet Union. In reality however, the Communist Party of Britain is
simply a genuine socialist party with some very decent, sincere people
amongst its members - and not the sort that wish to drive thousands to the gulag! I think also if people actually took time to
read their manifesto (Britain's Road to Socialism) they would see for
themselves what the party really stands for and probably agree with some of it.
Despite joining the communists, I would not call
myself a devoted Marxist. Admittedly, Marx had some very good ideas, but
I would not endorse every one of them. My attraction to communism is more an organic rather than a Marxist sense, based on looking at communities from our history which had a social-comunistic structure. The long term goal of a true
communist society can be considered very progressive, but how we reach
there or a more progressive society in general (if this is ever
possible) is the key. That key has to be building a better society via
co-operation and working with a wide range of left leaning
progressives, from elements in the Labour Party, other socialists,
Liberal's and Greens. I do not feel the 'dictatorship of the proletariat'is necessarily a good thing either, and this has resulted in elitism and persecution in communist states throughout the world. The biggest problem I found with the Communist Party was the view the party comes first. This meant if I wished to represent the people of my ward in Paignton, it would have to be under the Communist banner, something those in Paignton that had asked me to stand would never accept.
Independent, Greenand the Radical Centre In 2015 I stood as an Independent candidate for Roundham with Hyde and polled 135 votes. I stood on an anti-austerity programme and one of social, enevironmental and economic justice. In fact I was the only genuine anti austerity candidate in the 2015 local elections in Torbay, something I am very proud of.
Since 2015 I have re-engaged once more with the Green Party but still remain quite radical and independently minded, and very supportive of an alliance of the progressive left and left of centre forces. This 'independent mindedness' has alienated me with many on the left, where my concerns about population, support for traditional regionalism, progressive patriotism and an English National Assembly has resulted in me being harranged by certain individuals. Theirviews and actions has been so vindictive and packed with lies it has made me distance and disassocaite myself from that brand and side of politics. It has taught me that some will always look for targets and victims amongst their own allies often in preference to fighting for a better world. Is this something we have not seen after so called revolutions and liberations throughout the world? For these reasons rather than seeing myself as someone on the left, I now see my politics coming from more of a radical and progressive centre. Let's face facts, capitalism is never going to be overthrown without a violent and bloody revolution. Therefore we have to restrain it and chip off it's sharp edges.
Brexit I am someone that has over the years campaigned fiercely against the European Union. This was not from an angle of being anti-European, but from an angle where I disliked the centralised, bureaucratic and often undemocratic way the EU was run. I wanted (and still do) a different Europe, a people's Europe, one of many nations and regions, democratic and co-operative. However the referendum only offered two choices - 1)To Remain: 2) To allow the Tories to take us out. As someone that has always favoured a very much reformed Europe I had to weigh up the options, and felt far too much was at stake to allow the Tories to dictate the terms of our departure. When the push finally came to the shove I felt the interests of the people and the economy were better served fighting for reform from within rather than from outside the EU. I assisted the Remain campaign, and it was clear from the stalls and canvassing sessions I attended, not only how much the issue had divided Britain straight down the middle, but the nastiness it had unleashed. Just as Thatcher seemed to have legitimised greed during her tenure, this referendum almost seemed to have legitimised hatred. On the morning of the referendum result, as I drove to work I passed one of the shelters on Torquay seafront. Sprayed in large letters were the words 'EU Rats Go Home'. This made me physically sick that this referendum, and the lies and the hatred it brought about had resulted in this.
My Stance My political evolvement has given me a more rounded stance, just as experiences in life mould who and what we are. Generally I would say I am passionate about protecting the environment and animal welfare. I want an economy where the focus is not on big business, but on small traders and co-operatives. I believe in policies for ecology and a sustainable world, and not one where our planet is destroyed for profit and where living creatures suffer. I long for world peace and an end to the arms trade and economic empires which cause wars and increase poverty. I support workers rights and legislation to protect consumers. I support trade unions, but oppose the six figure salaried career trade unionists. I want to see regionalism and decentralisation, not just in the UK but across Europe and the world. I want to see a new Europe, a people's Europe, one where there is true democracy and an alliance of nations and regions and not top down diktat to build global economic empires. Above all I want fairness for one and all and our planet.