Thursday, 9 July 2009

Labour, Tough on Crime, Soft in the Head.

OK its a fair cop, we will both come quietly, we have no choice, they have us bang to rights and as we speak black arrows are being sewn on two over sized grey prison suits and Mrs Clarke and Mrs Dickie are busy baking cakes shaped like files (or files shaped like cakes?)

So heinous is the crime that we have committed that both of us are at this very moment considering our respective positions.

John, is concerned as to whether or not he will ever be able to show his face again in St Peter's Church where as the only atheist church warden in Britain he ably assists in the organising of small arts programmes for the masses.

I, likewise feel it only fair to inform my fellow members of the Woody Guthrie appreciation Society that I may have to relinquish my membership to save them any future embarrassment.

My foes will no doubt take great delight in hearing that last week I was asked to present myself at Campbell Square Police Station, where in the hands of two of the constabulary's finest Senior Fraud Detective Officers I was questioned for an hour and 15 minutes and then duly processed, photographed and fingerprinted ready for Justice to have its wicked way with me.

Thankfully, I was then released, a free man once again, to now await the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service in York who will no doubt ponder over the severity of my offence and whether or not the public will be best served by a trial and a possible financial punishment or our incarceration.

So what was our crime? what evil acts did myself and JD inflict on the good people of Castle Ward.


There, I have said it, admitted my guilt. For those who think I have gone mad, or that the police have equally lost their marbles, I will explain all. I was cautioned under section 110 of the Representation of the People Act, which makes it an offence to send out unsolicited mail during an election which may seek to hide the identity of the sender and/or defame another candidate.

All of our leaflets (bar this one) carried the imprint:

'Printed by
NIV Press 30 Ethel Street, Northampton and Published/Promoted by John Dickie, 2 Western View, Northampton'

The offending leaflet (which was in fact a letter) was sent to 1200 postal voters within the ward asking them for their support, it carried my name, home address, phone number, email, website, and a photo and my personal signature (we were hardly trying to hide my identity) and it did not mention the other candidates. Our other five items of election material were all properly imprinted, and on this occasion there was simply an error of omission on our part, with clearly no ulterior motive or intent.

So surely the Returning Officer, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are all wasting time and your money chasing myself and John around the town and preparing us for our possible time in pokey?

Not so. You see they had no choice, once a complaint had been made and an offence reported they were duty bound to follow it up.

Last Year in the 2008 elections across the UK 26 such offences were processed. 25 resulted in no further action and the one that proceeded to court was part of a much broader breach of the act where offence had been caused to other candidates.

So step forward those brave souls and vigilantes responsible for bringing us to book, or if you prefer step forward those responsible for wasting Police and CPS time and money on frivolous complaints. We give praise to ..........


We know not whether the brave soldiers who grassed us up were from the Regional or Local Party, neither can we guess what their motive was? or what they hoped to gain from their endevour? but we are sure that you are feeling a lot safer in your beds in the knowledge that the peoples party is still willing to be tough on the criminal classes and ready and willing to pounce on the guilty.

In the meantime if I disappear from the blog scene for a while or you hear that I have gone on an unexpected enforced holiday can someone please set up a campaign to:


As keeping myself and John in Pokey for a month or two will cost the taxpayer a fortune.


  1. I think I am actually speechless for once Tony!!! (My Mother will be pleased)

  2. Dennis Picheta10 July 2009 at 11:21


    I was intrigued when I received a facebook invitation to "Free the Castle Ward Two", and did a bit more reading about this. I wrote a response on the group, and would like to copy it here for your reading pleasure. It's mostly in third person, but I hope you can forgive me that.

    PS. I like your writing style - your blog made me smile!


    Whilst I agree that this offence is particularly silly and minor (though I can see why it is in place, and I can understand how this law would be useful when there IS malicious intent in leaving off the imprint etc etc), the fact remains that these two men, however innocent they appear when we apply common sense, DID break the law. A very very minor law, yes. But a law nonetheless.

    I do not, therefore, agree that they should be freed before due process. They're going to be freed anyway; I quote from the blog: "Last Year in the 2008 elections across the UK 26 such offences were processed. 25 resulted in no further action and the one that proceeded to court was part of a much broader breach of the act where offence had been caused to other candidates."

    So, it is fair to assume that - unless there has been a broader breech of the act - no further action will be taken in this case either. Patience is required, but in a couple of months these two will be free to forget things on campaign material once again.

    I've looked up this 'Representation of the People Act 1983', and I think a few comments on this need to be made.

    Firstly, the act is, in a broader sense, important and useful (as Clarke does allude to in his blog re: the one of the 26 who didn't get off). Yes, section 110 does seem a little arbitrary in places, but the fact that this law exists should not be tutted at by anyone who has not read the whole thing. Wikipedia it, and you'll see that there are some important parts. For example, I am very happy with Section 107, which makes it illegal to bribe a candidate to withdraw from an election. Seems fair to me.

    Finally, and this is my biggest bug bear here, in his blog Clarke gets all pissy at Labour (like everyone does in this day and age), like it's going out of fashion (which, clearly, it's not). "THE LABOUR PARTY" is in nice big letters, just in case anyone forgets who the baddies are here.

    I would, therefore, draw your attention to the act which has been breached here. "The Representation of the People Act 1983."

    1983... Not 1997... Thatcher was in power. It's a conservative act. It's nothing to do with Labour. One might argue that Labour have kept this act in, but do you have any idea how difficult it is to amend or abolish laws - especially ones where there are some important bits?

    It's like the pleotropy hypothesis in genetics, which states that one gene can be responsible for more than one thing. Schizophrenia, for example, is linked to creative genius. You can't get rid of one gene, or one law, because of one bad bit. You can't throw the baby out with the bathwater, that's just stupid.

    There are plenty of stupid laws that still exist. In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside. But I'd rather governments were busy doing important things than rewriting old laws.

    In short, the plight of the Castle Ward Two is a drop in the ocean. Sorry Tony, sorry John, but you'll be out soon. You can then rant about this and take some more cheap shots at Labour. Be wise, and use it as a publicity stunt. Work out in prison every day 'till you both look like that guy in Prison Break. You'll get more voters; everyone loves 'The Green Mile', and everyone loves a good scandal to wring their hands over. Enjoy this; it's going to reach a lot more people than your unmarked leaflets ever did...

    I welcome anyone's comments, views or debate...

    (Posted on, 10th July 09)

  3. Dennis,

    Thanks for your comments, and don't worry neither me or John are actually in jail and I doubt as I said that the CPS will do anything other than take a decision to drop the case.

    But my point is that Section 110 is a mess and if the Police are having to investigate 26 cases a year and the CPS are ruling that 25 are purely ommision or error then the act needs changing to save time and money being wasted by over zealous complainants.

    As to the act first being on the statute in 1983, section 110 was amended and went onto the statute in 2000 (under a Labour government, at a time when I was a Labour MP!) Shame on me for not spotting it hidden in the varied tomes of legislation.

    I highlighted the Labour Party because they should now better. When they made the complaint they knew that no action would be taken by the CPS as they knew that it was a minor error and that no attempt to hide identity or defame others was evident.

    So in the knowledge that it would take up the time of two senior Fraud officers and a host of CPS officers over a period of a month to process it at a ridiculous cost, then why did they do it?

    The answer of course is that they feel it is ok to waste police resources as long as it caused myself and John some discomfort. I suppose it was a punishment for us winning again as independents in what was the safest Labour seat in the town?

    If any one was taking cheap shots then there were not fired from our direction.

  4. Much of the electoral legislation is a mess and if in doubt as always you can blame Labour, blame Labour and then if you are short of something to say blame Labour again... To be frank Tony you are a real disappointment. You state publically that you don't know if it was someone regionally or nationally that grassed you up but state directly to me that you did know that no one from you local constituency labour party took any such action.

    It's tough campaigning for Labour at the moment but what gives us resolution is the need for local labour to be supporting the fight against the privatisation of local services leading to drastic job losses and cuts to already inadequate basic local services. I'm proud to be campaigning on that as the clear position of Labour in Northampton.

    A stark contrast to the "not in my back yard" campaigning of the Northampton Independant Voice candidate in St. Crispins division that you supported.

    Labour is clear for what it stands for but are you and the folk that you endorse equally clear?

    Are you clear why the only other candidate you stood was resoundedly beaten by a hard working councillor who really delivers for his local community including the street you live in. A hard working councillor who has given years of his life supporting campaigns that YOU led in the Labour Party in the same way I have done.

    There was I time that I really thought you had the best interests of our town at heart ... it's clear things have moved on.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. OOps sorry anonymous I deleted your post in error!

    (for the record it said (I think) "Surprise surprise Anjona and Tony have fallen out")

    Not at all anonymous, I don't hold grudges or fall out with people. Lifes too short to carry personal gripes or to go through it anonymously!

    Sorry you feel that way Anjona, I personally feel that you are one of a dwindling few who really does still care about the future of the Labour Party in Northampton, but I find this type of petty political point scoring to be pointless.

    For the record my understanding was that the complainant was the agent(Les Marriot)of the candidate (Tess Scott) who stood against me.
    But who put them up to it god alone knows

    Neither live in Northampton South Constituency I believe so your point about the local constituency party is correct but rather uninteresting.

    Northampton Independent Voice had no candidates in the election, it is simply a collective of Independently minded people some of whom stand as candidates.

    As for fighting against privatisation and cuts to local services, the only party absent from last Wednesday's Rally against cuts to the Sheltered Housing schemes was?

    You guessed it, the Labour Party

    And at Cabinet, on Wednesday I spoke against the plans of the Liberal Democrat to outsource and Market Test local services, so did David Palethorpe (Con) and so I am glad to say did Labours Joy Capstick. Meanwhile the leader of the Labour Group Kieth davies sat on his hands at the back of the room and has I understand already agreed to sit on the Market Testing working group!

    I hope the Labour Party do come out fighting, gods teeth its time they did, but on the Borough Council they are totally ineffective and on the County Council they are equally irrelevant to the people in the town and the Labour parliamentary candidate Clyde Loakes is a absolute joke and seems to have disappeared off the scene completely.

    So if someone needs to fill that void and fight for local people and local services then I will, and if the Labour Party want to spend all its time and effort in reporting me to the police for petty offences, and criticising me on blogs then that's fine by me also.

    But I just wish they would take off their blinkers for just a few minutes and realise who their real enemies out there really are.

    You are right things have moved on for me, but as more and more good people get expelled from the Labour Party across the country, and as more and more information comes out about the antics of some of New Labours staunchest supporters, including the Kitchen Queen from Northampton North, then I fear that in parts of the Labour Party then it must feel like groundhog day.

    One last thing, if you want to do any joint work around fighting the cuts to services in the town then I am more than willing to help you or the party out. Lifes too short for indifference, particularly when so much needs doing.

  7. Just goes to show just how much you depended on the likes of Mick Ford when you were still proud to call yourself Labour.

  8. Ouch,

    He would be turning in his grave, god rest his soul if he saw the state the party is now left in.

  9. Dennis Picheta11 July 2009 at 01:02

    You raise some good points Tony, but I wonder where you would draw the line at a waste of police resources and a valid investigation... It seems that, whilst 25 of the 26 cases in 2008 were as harmless as yours, one wasn't. Investigating the smallest offence may lead to the discovery of something bigger, in which case we would all be glad that someone started sniffing.

    For example, imagine you and John were not only respected independent politicians, but also accomplished fraudsters on the side (completely ridiculous and hypothetical of course, but just go with it) - or even worse. If, when investigating your offence under section 110, the police uncovered your other illegal doings, we would all be clapping the government for their luck and commitment. The title of this group would be "Incarcerate the Castle Ward Two for Absolutely Bloody Ages" (not as snappy, but far more suitable under these hypothetical circumstances).

    I also feel that any complaints made to the police by any member of society (Labour or otherwise) should be upheld. Far from upsetting me over waste of resources, this story has somewhat encouraged me that the police do their job, and investigate complaints made. Who are you and I to dictate what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for the police to investigate? It seems churlish to ignore some rules and laws just because we think they are silly, and this is not any basis on which order, structure and a lawful society can exist.

    Again, on the subject of changing the law, I would suggest that with the economy in pieces, with soldiers dying in Afghanistan and with all the children on the earth speaking in unison and about to be fed to an alien lifeform (or was that on Torchwood?), Gordon's probably a bit busy at the moment.

    Maybe the law does need to be re-written, but perhaps not right now?

    One might also suggest that campaigners should check their material properly before sending it out. You could never imagine some of the hideous grammatical errors that came through my letterbox before the European Elections...

    PS. You deleted someone's post?! I think you could be arrested for that, under section 111 of the...

  10. Dennis,
    First of all thank you for putting some humour in your post, some people get far too serious.

    I loved your reference to Torchwood and give me Brown over Cameron anyday if ever we faced a real crisi like that.

    The only thing I would point out is the one case out of 26 that led to a charge was I believe part of a much wider abuse where candidates were defamed. The other 25 were dropped as it could be seen (from the outset) that the missing imprint was through error or through the individual not understanding the electoral law re imprints and therefore there was no intent to commit an offence and no harm done.

    This case I believe came about because of the persistant complaints from a Labour Party Agent who knew no real offence had been committeed but was determined to waste police time and money simply to cause discomfort to an opponent.

  11. Anjona,
    You and David both knowwhy Tony and I and several others are now 'independent'-it was not of our making.You know the history and you both understood the wrong that the Regional party and its minions committed.
    I had expected to end my political days as a retired dues paying party member-so did Marie.We felt that we had done our bit over the years.
    But then along came people like Les Marriott,so frightened that Tony might 'take over the leadership' of the third party on the Council-a post that he felt was his by right-that the whole nasty charade happened!

    So what am I supposed to do/Give up my political activity and wait five years to be graciously readmitted?

    Or simply join that largest political group in the town-former Labour party members?
    Tony has proved to be an effective and powerful spokesman for the people I respresented for so long,unlike the LP plant who is a cypher.
    The Labour group on NBC,with one exception,Joy Capstick, have been hopeless, and when the issue of privatisation of services comes up-Keith Davies thinks that 'market testing'is a good idea!
    Luckily the Lib-Dems have offered him a place on their working party-so that's alright then!
    There is an opportunity to win back ground for radical policies if the labour party on the Council would show some backbone,or better still some social demoratic principles(socialism is probably beyond them!)
    I still admire many old comrades from my almost 40 years in the Northampton Labour movement annd am still impressed by the capacity that some still have to fight for what they believe in!
    NIV isn't the perfect vehicle for leading political change,but at the moment it's the best on offer-far better than the dubious charms of those who have hijacked the Labour party.

  12. Looks like Tony Clarke is experiencing what Labour party members in the London Borough of Waltham Forest have had to for years. Don't underestimate the (alleged) role of a certain Labour PPC in your troubles.

  13. Know how the egional labour party works and 'fiddles the rules'.

    Was a member of a Corb banch which dselected a sitting councillor.

    Region came in and took over the selection process, reinstated the awfull councillor and in the process turfed out the best councillor we had purely because he said there was nothing wrong with the selection process and we were the most democratic branch in the town.

    We asked our constituency party in corby an eas northants o investigate us.

    They found nothing wrong.

    Region told them to keep their noses out.

    We asked the MP to arrange a meeting with the Labour HQ. He said he 'didnt get involved in local politics' (well, WE got him in - still, he got his wish to be a minister so s** us)

    THe best campaigner in the area left over this and the biggest, best and most democratic branch in corby is now all but dormant.

    Region has the rule book, we obeyed it to the letter, THEY threw it out the window every time it suited them.

    Now, no longer labour member. no longer fooled by the rhetoric of phoney politicians out for themselves

  14. Ray,

    Thanks for your comments. You may wish to look back at the post i put on when I started this blog called "Why" East midlands Labour Party are corrupt and break party rules whenever it suits them. I challenged them to deny anything I said in the post, in a court of law if neccasary, but they wont because once they open up that particular can of worms then a lot more will tumble out.

    It is a great shame really because across Northamptonshire and across the Country there are good people still in and out of the Labour Party who a lot of good in them but they are being run by fools who will never see the damage they have done in Northampton and Corby and elsewhere even after they have been defeated.

    But the other two main party's have similar "top down" rule books and procedures. which is why I try now to put the "local" back into local politics and with the support of community and residents groups (todays equivalant of the trade union movements of the late 1800's)we are having an impact.

    As for you minister in Corby, I remember being in the tea room when he got his first appointment someone said "Phil Hope has got a post as a Minister" a call from another table shouted "Unpaid" and then from a third "I hear he is paying them"

    Sums it all up really

  15. Just been reading the post you mentioned.

    Oh so familiar like an echo.

    When asking region 'explain what we did wrong in our selection process' the answer we got was: "we're not telling you but if you do it again we'll step in".

    Think the Racist BNP must have learned party admin from the Labour Party. From what i've read Griffin does exactly the same!




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