No legacy is so rich as honesty ~ William Shakespeare
Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people. ~ Spencer Johnson
It may sound like a cliche, or a banal aphorism, but such is the caustic nature of politics these days that it might be worth remembering that we really should expect our politicians to tell us the truth – and that the public whose votes are requested should have a right to expect that from their political leaders, or those who hope to be political leaders.
Maybe it has something to do with the brutality of austerity, the chaos of Brexit, or the influence of Presidents and Prime Ministers who treat the truth like a hand-me-down pair of old shoes, but honesty seems in short supply from our leaders right now – and as a disability and equal rights campaigner, I know just how badly lies end up oppressing the marginalised when the truth no longer matters to our political and community leaders.
It ought to matter, then, that those who seek to represent us in Parliament set a higher standard than that. The consequences of dishonest political leadership are rarely paid by the politicians, but by the most vulnerable, the poorest and the most marginalised. And that begins by telling the voters, truthfully, who you are.
It was a simple enough question, which could have been answered quickly – why is the Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate in Colchester, Martin Goss, calling himself the Liberal Democrat ‘Parliamentary Spokesperson’ instead of ‘candidate’, when (as far as I know) absolutely no other candidate for the next General Election refers to themselves that way – not even the ones who are currently sitting MP’s.
I have checked on some other LibDem candidates, and they all use the word ‘candidate’ to describe themselves, so it doesn’t appear to be some sort of national policy by the Liberal Democrats. In that case – what makes Mr Goss so special, or different, that he can call himself ‘parliamentary spokesperson’? Because my curiosity was peaked, I asked him via social media – he didn’t respond, and I waited a while and tried again. (And I made sure I was being polite about it).
He blocked me.
This, I’m afraid, only made me more curious – if the reasons for Mr Goss calling himself something other than a ‘candidate’ were transparent, why be so coy? Why avoid simply answering the question. I tried the local LibDem leader and local LibDem party – again, no response. In one attempt to avoid answering the question, Mr Goss tried to imply I was using the campaign account for @eactnowuk for political purposes – apparently oblivious to the fact that the campaign of which I am co-founder was set up for explicitly political purposes. (Slightly beside the point, but Mr Goss appears to have a hard time with the idea that disabled people don’t have equal rights because of politics).
He did, very briefly today, surface via email when I errantly used the word ‘representative’, perhaps hoping for a ‘gotcha’ moment, and demanding proof from me. He’s been less eager to respond after my apologising for any confusion and posting that apology publicly.
No, I don’t think that Mr Goss incorrectly using the word ‘spokesperson’ will deny disabled people rights – but I do think that if Mr Goss is unable to be transparent about this, what else would he be prepared to be less than transparent about?
It is a simple question Mr Goss: why do you – and you alone of all of the other candidates across the country – refer to yourself as a parliamentary spokesperson? Do you regularly go to parliament to consult with the parliamentary party? If so, does that interfere with the role that you have been elected to – that of local borough councillor?
Or is it somewhat less prosaic than that – is it simply, and as I strongly suspect, that your ego got the better of you, and you don’t have the integrity required to be honest with yourself, far less the voters of Colchester?
And who knows, you may even have answered that question by the time a General Election is finally called, but if you haven’t, you can be assured that I will be at every hustings, asking that question as many times as it takes for you to answer it.
UPDATE: Yesterday morning I received a reply to an email which I sent to Martin Goss, the Liberal Democrat party and others, about the use of the term ‘parliamentary spokesperson’ (his facebook campaign page is listed under that title). He was sorry to hear that my chronic pain issues continue, and then turned his attention to the political campaign group EActNOWUK, of which I am co-founder. He criticised using our email for political purposes, (something something, impartial, something), and said it would be more appropriate to use my personal twitter (which I initially had, and he’d blocked me rather than answer me, so).
He went on to criticise me for not providing ‘legal reasons’ for why he could not refer to himself as a spokesperson, and to explain the following in relation to the use of the term of ‘parliamentary spokesperson:
The team used “Parliamentary Spokesperson” is perfectly legitimate to use and in any correspondence other than using a completely different term up until now, you’ve not actually pointed out how factually or legally this term is actually incorrect.I am indeed a spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in Colchester for all Parliamentary related matters.I am also the adopted Parliamentary Candidate for Colchester and have been since late 2018 where Colchester members voted to select me overwhelmingly.
1. What are your main functions, tasks, duties and responsibilities as a ‘parliamentary spokesperson’?2. How often are you required to attend parliament?3 Who do you work and liaise with at parliament, what type of questions and issues are discussed and how often do you report back to your constituents (not just fellow LibDem party members)?4. Since I can’t find another LibDem candidate who refers to themselves as you do, and cannot find any reference in LibDem literature or online information about parliamentary candidates being called anything other than that, was this your idea, was it discussed with the national party leadership, and who helped set up any formal structures with the parliamentary party that would enable you to carry out that function?These are serious questions, and as somebody who wants to earn the votes of the people of Colchester I am sure you will have no problem in answering them fully and transparently.