Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Accusations - response to criticism re LGBT hustings

I've received an accusation by a commentator who has called themselves "Fed up with Fib Dems" who states:

"I am very disappointed that the operator of this blog allowed an anonymous post to be written which was so blatantly from a Lib Dem. The LGBT business forum meeting was a disgrace - the organiser, who is on Lib Dem leaflets, deliberately told Mark the wrong time."

The commentator is referring to this post here. I did make clear on the guest post that was posted that I would be happy to receive guest responses from other commentators at the LGBT hustings. Nobody has emailed me with an alternative version of events, so I have no other material to offer. The commentator made no mention of their own political affiliation within the guest post and I can't quite see what marks the guest out as a Lib Dem (rather than Tory, English Democrat, Green or non-affiliated).

I will be conducting investigations into the allegations that a "wrong time" was sent deliberately to Mark Harrison. That is a serious allegation. The poster which was sent to me and other local blogs stated the time quite clearly here. However, I will need to investigate what private correspondence was sent to the speakers from the organiser, so it would be useful to see any emails or letters sent to Mark Harrison (and to confirm that he thinks he was misled).

In addition the commentator states:
"And the idea that Lambeth Council can ignore a bid from a church group is ridiculous - imagine the uproar if they refused to deal with Muslims, or the Catholic Church, both of which have aborrent views on gay people."

Obviously, I think this discussion should stay on the post upon which it started. There are a whole variety of different viewpoints on the matter of the former Lilian Baylis site and I've covered the topic in the past myself. I understand that the whole point of hustings is to hear the views of various candidates, so I will leave all commentators here to argue about the points of the debate. My only remark is that it might be more straightforward if people were to use established login names, rather than continue to refer to themselves as "anonymous".

The commentator also states:
"As for the last post, that is just pathetic. Mark has been attending Penwith Manor TRA meetings for months, not just during the byelection campaign - as he has for all estates. Unlike John Roberts, who only rediscovered his 'passion' for the area after being selected as the Lib Dem candidate...

Spare me future Lib Dem bleatings please 3 wheeled one."

In an attempt to demonstrate that this blog really attempts to be non-partisan, I've turned this comment into a post of its own. Personally, I have no idea how one could objectively compare Mark Harrison and John Robert's commitments in the area since they've both good good track records locally, but I did try by requesting answers from the candidates on a set of questions. Both Labour and Lib Dem candidates have done a considerable amount of work on different committees. However, if you remember, I did address all 5 candidates on the matter of their previous work in the area on question 2, here. Here are the two answers that the political candidates provided:

Question 2:
What, if any, organisation(s) have you been involved with which demonstrate your commitment to the area, and how long have you lived/worked locally?

Mark Harrison:
* I've lived on the Ethelred Estate for nearly five years.

* I serve on the Ethelred TMO Board; The Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum Board; and The Friends of Vauxhall Spring Gardens Board.

* I am a member of the Kennington Association and attend Safer Neighbouhood Team meetings.

* I attend other residents meetings like those of the Vauxhall Five, Vauxhall Gardens and Penwith Manor.

* With neighbours I am working to investigate setting up a community garden on Lambeth Walk.

*As Labour Action Team Member for the past two years I have helped arrange several community events, including a meeting on guns and gangs with the SE1 United Youth Group, and community coffee mornings for people to meet their neighbours and councillors.

John Roberts:
* I have lived locally on the Ethelred Estate (just off Black Prince Road) for over 15 years and have been involved with a wide range of local organisations, including:

- Vauxhall City Farm – I chaired the Trustees body for 7 years and helped save it from closure 2 years ago.
- Friends of Spring Gardens – I am a member and helped the campaign to save the open space when there were plans to build on it.
- Ethelred Estate Tenant Management Organisation – I have been a resident member of this right from the start in 1999.

* I have been a member of KOV forum since the start and a member of Kennington Association.

* I regularly support the local fetes in the area and you can generally see me in the kitchen making the tea and sandwiches.

* Last year I volunteered for the Ethiopian millennium celebrations at Kennington Park and spent the day in the children’s lost and found tent. It was a great day - and fortunately only a few children were lost.

* As a first aider I also help out and volunteer to support other fun days and art events including the Vauxhall festival where you could see me wearing my first aid tabard.

* Friends of Durning Library – I supported the fight to keep this open when the Labour run council wanted to close it down.

* As a former member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, for four and half years I channelled 200k worth of funding through the community police fund to numerous local projects, to help support people make a difference to their local community. We funded SE1 united, a local youth group, to develop the leadership programme, black and lgbt history month as well as inter faith football and other sports activities. I was the person that secured funding for cctv at the LGBT clubs in and around spring gardens and at Vauxhall city farm. My tackling crime track record is well known through out the council and police. I also worked with local police to get funding for extra police officers here in Princes ward, after a strong of violent attacks and rise in crime. I also got funding for a mobile police station after a rise in attacks in the Spring Gardens area..

* My team and I have already reported dozens of local cases of graffiti, dumped rubbish and vandalism to the council – if they are not tackled, it all adds up to making the area feel neglected and unloved.


Anonymous said...


It is such a shame that you have received an accusation about your blog. Thank you for providing the opportunity for us all.

Given the hustings were brought together at the last minute, your blog has given everyone a chance to have their say about eh Prince's Ward by-election.

I think it is a shame the Fib Dems cannot disclose his/her identity. Doesn't that go against everything that they are complaining about to you?

I think it is a shame that politics focuses on discrediting the other candidates and outright lies about credentials rather than being honest and really listening to the issues of the people that are about to elect. And most importantly - how the Councilor WILL effect change and resolve some of the long standing issues across Prince's Ward.

I noticed that the literature from certain parties has been particularly vicious and fictitious and targeted at John. If nothing else, it would seem that he is the front runner and that this tactic is always used when a prospective candidate is panicking they will not win.

So, I await the insults from Fib Dems telling me I am still pathetic but at least I have the balls to let people know who I am.

Thanks Tri for giving SE11 a place to comment on the issues that affect us. If we all know the truth, then the lies do not hold ground.

Mark Harrison said...

I really think this whole discussion has been exhausted as far as it can be- especially as people are conducting themselves in a highly partisan way which isn't actually illumninating much. I'd like to think I've shown myself willing to engage constructively in debate and discussion both on this blog and at hustings.

For the record- I am not accusing the organiser of the LGBT hustings of deliberately telling me the wrong starting time. However, for whatever reason, I was told by email that the hustings started at 7:30pm. I was then strongly criticised by anonymous commentators on this blog for being late.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you - exhausting to say the least. But any nasty, bitchy campaign will always be just that for everyone as it generates negative feedback rather than positive.

However, could you please confirm the number of times you have been to the Penwith Manor TRA meetings?

I think you owe it to all the people you're asking to support you to be honest.

That is all any of us want. We surely have the right to that dont we?

Thanks Mark. I look forward to your reply.

Three wheeled one said...

For the record, I think it should be said that both Mark Harrison (Labour) and Joe Healy (Green) are to be commended for their constructive participation in the debate on this blog.

I'm aware that there are all sorts of anonymous commentators posting comments, but only three people (Mark, Joe and Steve) who have been publicly prepared to stand by their comments. Many thanks, and I welcome the use of only one alias under which to conduct discussion.

Sid Boggle said...

Mark Harrison sez: "I really think this whole discussion has been exhausted as far as it can be- especially as people are conducting themselves in a highly partisan way which isn't actually illumninating much"

An appropriate commentary on your campaign, I would say. Can you say the smears and inaccuracies aimed at Jon Roberts are ethical and/or appropriate?

One question. Where do you see yourself in 4 years time? Standing for a second term or looking for a parliamentary seat somewhere?

cheekybuddha said...

Hi - I was one of the 'anonymous' posters and apparently the 'hostile questioner' - just so you all know. I initially posted as anonymous simply because I couldn't remember my password - my apologies if that caused such offense.

With regards to some of the other comments, I would like to say that I was challenging the Labour candidate on their party's record on LGBT rights within the Borough.

As mentioned on my post, I gave a list of areas where the Lambeth Labour Party have failed the LGBT Community in Lambeth and Mark was unable to speak on behalf of the party he is representing because he was totally unaware of these issues. As far as he was concerned everything is 'hunky dory' with regards to LGBT issues in Lambeth. That's fine, however if he'd actually admitted to some of the failings, then I would have been easier on him.

However, there are MANY failings that I could mention but won't go over it again (unless you want me to) ;0)

That said, he also blatantly decided to say that this Labour Government had 'single handedly' given us freedoms and equality in the UK. To my knowledge, a lot of that was to do with the fact that European Legislation ensured we were able to have those rights.

Mark was also challenged with his views re: Old Lilian Baylis site. He was the only candidate who was out of agreement with the rest of those there, so of course he was going to be challenged - wouldn't you be if you were in his shoes.

That said, I am appalled at the latest materials to be sent out trying to say that John (the LibDem candidate) does not live in the ward - knowing full well that he's lived there THREE TIMES longer than Mark (the Labour candidate).

This is not party political as I also had a go at the English Democrat candidate but didn't have a go at the LibDem or Conservative as they're not currently the Lambeth administration so my questions were to the party who are currently not serving the Lambeth LGBT community as they should be.

Anyway, I'll sign off now and wish you all luck.


David said...

Your commentator states:
"And the idea that Lambeth Council can ignore a bid from a church group is ridiculous - imagine the uproar if they refused to deal with Muslims, or the Catholic Church, both of which have aborrent views on gay people."

Of course the council cannot ignore or fail to support church groups. I feel that Lambeth Council must be careful to minimise procuring services from groups that will result in harm to other groups. This organisation will be situated to the edge of what many consider Vauxhall Gay Village. If the council supports them then it needs to ensure that this support and situating them in this area does not harm the existing LGBT community. There is real potential for problems for community cohesion if this church preaches against LGBT people or attempts to lobby to have businesses closed down or to preach to LGBT people using the area or to incite hatred and criticism of the local LGBT community. The report launched by the council recently looking at the needs of Lambeths LGBT citizens "Lambeth Matters" found that it was a common perception that LGBT people felt the council supported faith and cultural groups who were homo/transphobic and felt that Lambeth should be more proactive in neither supporting nor funding organisations that hold homo/transphobic views. It recommends that "The Council must consider its position if supporting and investing in the needs of one community to the detriment of another".

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