From Jason Elliott
I would just like to go on record as saying that I think its a terrible shame that the Labour National Executive have dropped Janet Oosthuysen as prospective parliamentary candidate.
I think Chris McCafferty has been a very good MP, but now she's retiring and the times, they are a changing, and with them the type of politician our society needs. Just look at Barack Obama's comments about a period of "greed and irresponsibility" and "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age" in his inauguration speech to see that my view is not unique. (Not that I'm blaming the recession on Chris!)
In a political culture where many Westminster MPs are still fighting to keep details of their expenses hidden, I find it very difficult to believe that the only motive for Janet's deselection was that she broke her boyfriend's car wing mirror during a domestic dispute; a matter for which she was not even charged.
Considering the backgrounds of politicians and "world leaders" since history began, I had always assumed a willingness to break a few rules was a prerequisite so, if anything, this incident was rather tame. (Anyone remember Lord Archer?)
Personally, although I certainly differ on a number of issues to Janet, I have always found her innovative, hard working, of great integrity and a true champion of the disadvantaged and the underdog (I last spoke to her whilst on the march for Gaza last Friday) so, in my opinion, I believe the Labour party have made a mistake here.
On a good note, at least for the moment, the Calder Valley and Westminster's loss is Hebden Bridge's gain, as Janet will be around, rolling up her sleeves and getting on with her work in the local community, and remaining able to speak her mind freely without having to tow too much of a party line.
From Janice S
Jason - I agree. I don't know Janet very well but I'm very impressed with her commitment to the local community. At the hustings, all three candidates had their good points but Janet was the only one who acknowledged the different issues facing all the areas of the Calder Valley. I thought she would have done very well at Westminster representing her constituents. Although we will benefit from having her in Hebden Bridge, I hope she will be given another chance to stand as the local Labour candidate in the future.
From Ron Taylor
I, too, am dismayed by the decision to dump Janet. Disgusted as well. I seems as though we can have war criminals in Parliament and in government but not someone who has slightly damaged a car.
Shame on you, Labour
From Mick Piggott
When it appeared that Janet would be our Labour parliamentary candidate I thought that I might be able to bring myelf to vote Labour again. I would have voted for the candidate, rather than the party. She seems to have some decent Labour values.
My whole family have been Labour members, supporters and voters since the party was formed from the Labour Representation Committee in 1905. My maternal grandfather, Joe Ball, was a founding member.
Now, given 'New Labour's disgusting record over the last 12 years in government (lying to justify invasion of Iraq, attacks on civil liberties, allowing the horrors visited on us by the banks, etc etc) none of us can bring ourselves to vote Labour again. It would take a return to Old Labour values to enable us to do so.
Now that we are to have a member of the discredited Blair clan dumped upon us in Calder Valley, our not voting Labour has become a certainty. How can we bring ourselves to vote for a party which is now Tory in all but name?
There is no way we could ever vote Tory, in any circumstances, but now, given their record, voting Labour, for us, would be a self-polluting act. If it means not voting at all, so be it. We may be criticised for failing to use our hard-fought-for voting rights; but the fault is entirely that of New Labour, for their many crimes. And that of the Labour MPs who failed to oppose the worst excesses of New Labour, or even supported them. Our own MP voted for 42-day detention. I can not forgive her for that.
From Graham Barker
Would Janet consider standing as an independent Labour candidate? I'm sure there are plenty of people who want to vote for a good Labour candidate without having to endorse the more unpalatable policies of the current Labour government.
From Jason Elliott
That's an interesting idea Graham.
So interesting I have decided to run a poll at where anyone can have their say, anonomously of course!
From Nigel Byfield
Hang on a minute! The way this thread is running is suggesting that Ms Oosthuysen has been ditched because of her socialist credentials and it's some sort of New Labour conspiracy.
My understanding is that she was dropped because she lamped some ex's car.
Would our posters be as sympathetic towards a footballer or celebrity who inflicted criminal damage in a fit of lover's pique.
I suspect not.
From Rev Tony Buglass
I'm very disappointed at Janet's rejection by the NEC. I think she'd have made a very good MP, as someone who is clearly committed to the community and with a good track record. Yes, she now has a criminal record - but it pales into insignificance alongside Lord Archer. I think the NEC has got the whole thing out of proportion, in order to avoid the tabloids having an obvious target, and so have dumped the best person.
If she stands, I'll probably vote for her, but I fear it would split the Labour vote and let the Tories in.
Why do political parties always kick their own backsides...?
From Janet Oosthuysen
Many thanks for the contributions on this thread. It's been good to read at a difficult time.
Nigel is right of course. The ostensible reason I was not endorsed by the NEC is due the caution I have for criminal damage. The reason many people think that it's to do with something else is that the NEC had that information in August and as I have said many lies have been circulated about both that incident and other things since.
The incident which lead to the caution has never been properly explained in the public arena and never will be. Suffice it to say things are never that simple.
It's something I deeply regretted within minutes of doing it, and still do. But the only thing you can do in such situations is fess up and take the consequences. Which I did. The reporting of the incident in the press have been distorted to say the least! Anyway, inshallah.
Whatever the situation, I do believe I was right to stand, and I believe also I would have made an honest, principled and fair MP.
I wo'nt stand as an independent, and never wanted to as it would split the Labour vote and there is a socialist Green candidate for those who want that option.
I stood as a Labour candidate because I believed that I would be a good representative of the Labour values I have always believed in and I have expressed on these pages before - peaceful, ethical solutions to foreign policy, for taxation that creates equality, for decent housing for all people, for living wages, for a proper and effective green agenda, for a voice for working people. But I always saw myself as a representative, not as such a superb human being that I would stand as myself!!
But I do want to say "thank you" too to all the many many people who have been in touch with me, and taken part in Jason's poll. The main lessons I have learnt from this process is that you know who your friends are, that being inside a press story and knowing the truth shows you how many distortions there are, and that principles and goodwill are not enough to make it in what is a dirty business. But is doesnt mean you give up on your ideals. After all, like Tony Benn said, once you forget about Westminster you can concentrate on real politics.....
From Jason Elliott
In view of Janet's comments here I have decided to close the poll I have been running.
However, these are the results, in order of highest first, to the question "Should Janet Oosthuysen stand as an independent at the next General Election?"
No, it'll split Labour and let the Tories in for sure - 42%
Yes, and I'm likely to vote for her - 40%
No, Craig Whittaker has it sown up - 7%
No, I will be voting Green if someone stands - 4%
Yes, but I doubt I'll vote for her - 4%
No, Hilary Myers has it for the Lib Dems - 0%
Who cares? Politicians are all the same - 0%
I'm too lazy to vote, except for X-Factor of course! - 0%
From Brian Oosthuysen
Janet, my daughter, is a woman I have been proud of all her life. I am an "Old" labour county councillor in Gloucestershire and I was delighted when she told her mum and me she was standing for the seat in Calder Valley. I know she would have improved that weary old bastion of male privilege in Westminster no end and I was very shocked when she told us of the machinations that led to her being de-selected. It wasn't because of that scratch on the car. Dear God, Jaqui Smith's husband has brought the Labour party into much worse odour than Janet ever will do, simply because she is a highly-principled woman, who erred once and regretted it ever since.
You in the area are very lucky to have such a principled woman working for you.
From Graham Barker
Pigs will be flying before Stephanie Booth gets elected and a lot has happened since Janet said she wouldn't stand as an independent. I wonder if she would now reconsider so that Calderdale has a genuine Labour candidate? Yes it will split the Labour vote, but perhaps it needs splitting. And I think there's a very good chance that Janet would get many more votes than Ms Booth.