Anarchist wants Tory MP Ottaway to tell the truth

Ever since he called out the police when less than a dozen peaceful constituents attended his monthly surgery, Croydon South MP’s “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway has been spinning a line to cover his embarrassment. Here, JON BIGGER says it is time his MP came clean

“Sir” Richard Ottaway’s attitude to 38 Degrees, the widely admired petition group, tells us a lot about how politics works in this country.

"Sir" Tricky Dicky Ottaway: If you really must contact him, don't be an inconvenience

“Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway: If you really must contact him, don’t be an inconvenience

In one self-justifying interview, the Croydon South MP labelled them “notorious”, in another, he called them “confrontational”. This was his idea of a response to the issues raised when a group of constituents, including me, arrived at the Croydon South MP’s office for a scheduled monthly surgery to hand in a petition on the Gagging Bill.

38 Degrees, as with other grassroots lobbying organisations, uses internet technology to allow constituents a very easy way of interacting with politicians. A few clicks of the mouse and you can write to your MP about the issues that you care about.

The first time I used this method to contact Ottaway was as a trades union member worried about losing my public sector job.

The idea behind using this tactic is clear. If an MP gets several emails on the same subject by concerned constituents then maybe, just maybe, they’ll take up the issue.

This is all far too annoying for Ottaway. He mentioned in one interview that all these approaches from his constituents clog up his email inbox. He said that it is therefore less effective than an individual simply coming to see him.

This is a great insight into the mind of one of our local politicians. Act as a group, and he doesn’t want to know. But act as an individual and he’ll listen. Or so he says.

This is full of class politics. The overriding dominant ideological influence in British politics is neoliberalism. It’s most associated with Thatcherism and while it can’t be bottled into a single phrase, Thatcher’s “There’s no such thing as society” helps explain it.

The individual is supreme. It’s the individual that drives the economy by moving their money or their labour where it helps them most, or at least that’s the theory. But when it makes sense to combine together, neoliberals don’t want to know. That’s society and community and it just won’t do.

Look what happens when people decide it’s in their interest collectively to strike for better wages, rather than look individually for a better paid job. And look what happened to a modest group of constituents with a common cause when we went to Ottaway’s office. The police were called.

So combining together via a petition website to lobby your ruling-class MP is to be discouraged, according to Ottaway. Meanwhile, multi-national companies and professional lobby groups are always pressing MPs for help which will aid them in their quest for ever greater profits.

Companies are increasingly being seen as individuals in this context, labelled “corporate personhood” in neoliberal speak.

The register of MPs interests can tell us a lot about our MPs. In Ottaway’s case, you can see he’s had a lot of gifts and trips paid for by people and organisations who, presumably, get something out of the relationship.

The issue of a smoking ban in cars which have child passengers first cropped up in 2011. Ottaway received a pair of tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show, worth more than £1,100, from Japan Tobacco International around the time he voted against such a ban. Maybe that was a coincidence. We can’t find anywhere that shows Japan Tobacco International as a Croydon South constituent. The House of Commons lists them as being based in Weybridge.

In his article criticising 38 Degrees, Ottaway suggested that his office had called the police because they knew that I was attending and that they knew that I was an anarchist. He calls me a “youthful anarchist”. I’m 38, so I was overjoyed at that.

But Ottaway’s account of events does not seem to tally with actual events.

I only decided to attend the surgery 20 minutes beforehand. If I didn’t know definitely that I was going to go to my own MP’s regular monthly surgery, then how could he?

anarchy symbolYet 10 minutes later, when I met up with the 38 Degrees group, I was told the police were already at his office. Ottaway did not know that I was coming.

I spoke to the police as they were leaving, and they didn’t seem to regard me with any suspicion. Ottaway even stood next to me when he came out of his office. There was no talk of anarchism.

Yet since the incident, in which his own behaviour was less than reasonable and beyond ridiculous, he has tried to portray me as a possible danger, and potentially violent.

It is disgraceful for him to suggest the things that he has. He didn’t know I was attending and his office didn’t call the police because of me. He should correct his stance at the earliest opportunity.

  • Read more from Jon Bigger on his own blog here. Jon Bigger is standing as the Class War candidate in Croydon South at the 2015 General Election. “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway won’t be standing for re-election, because even the local Conservatives refused to sanction him standing again following revelations in 2009 about his expenses claims 

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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6 Responses to Anarchist wants Tory MP Ottaway to tell the truth

  1. mraemiller says:

    The ruling class are never more dangerous than when they are doing impressions of human beings. So does “Class War” still believe that violence is a necessary part of the “class struggle” in this new fluffy incarnation or what? If so they cant really moan that someone called the PoPo. Has Ian Bone renounced his interesting statements that started “While not giving unqualified support to the IRA…” etc Or what? I notice he is still the fact of the latest in the long line of schismatic sects going under the slogan “Class War”. Still what can you do with people who think that they invented the word Anarchy and it has nothing to do with Stephen and Matilda… but …er… what is their policy on violent protest these days?

  2. Jon Bigger says:

    Each candidate will approach their campaign differently. For me the greatest weapon in the class war is the brain. I intend to use whatever I’ve got in that department to highlight how we’re being attacked by the ruling class. If you’re expecting violence from me you’re going to be really disappointed. I prefer humour any day.

    But I will be robust in challenging powerful interests. I will do it to highlight how our society could work better. I think we deserve better.

    I apologise for not answering every point but I can only speak for myself. One final point though – don’t doubt what has been gained in the past by protest. Direct action gets results and without it we would have seen little progress over the decades.

    • mraemiller says:

      “For me the greatest weapon in the class war is the brain. I intend to use whatever I’ve got in that department”

      Ah the headbutt… you cannot attach yourself to an “organisation” that promotes physical violence and then claim that you share no moral resposibility for the promotion of that point of view.

      “Direct action gets results and without it we would have seen little progress over the decades”

      Your use of the phrase “Direct Action” is disingenuous as there is violent direct action, non-violent direct action and self defence during protest. It is not actually that difficult to draw an ideological distinction between these most of the time. Class War believes in violent direct action, doesn’t it? Or does it?

      One wonders exactly what the 100 odd activists who turned out infront of the home of David Cameron in a “Bash the Rich” event in 2007 did achieve – other than to prove that the “loony left” is alive and unwell.

  3. Jon Bigger says:

    I’m not personally interested in violence but I understand that anarchism has a particular reputation.

    I would point out the range of powers available to the state; they use those powers. Students in London have been campaigning for months against police violence and daily reports come in from Barton Moss in Greater Manchester of brutality by the cops against anti-fracking protesters.

    If you want to criticise groups for violence I hope you’re writing to the Met and Greater Manchester Police as well as here.

    I can only repeat what I wrote before that the brain is the best weapon in the class war.

    • mraemiller says:

      ” If you want to criticise groups for violence I hope you’re writing to the Met and Greater Manchester Police as well as here.”

      That is an ad hominem attack along the lines of accusing the questioner of not being interested in institutional injustice …but it isnt an answer to my question which is what is Class War’s policy on violence… And has it changed from the good old days? Your purporting to not be interested in the plicy is of no importance either. You are stnding on their policy platform… So it should not be too difficult to explain it… Or do you just parrot slogans? You wouldnt expect Ottaway to stand on a Conservative platform and not be able to explain it. Well okay you would be it doesnt absolve him from collective responsibility.

  4. Jon Bigger says:

    Like I said earlier I’m only speaking for myself and I’m only responsible for my actions. Class War policies are still being debated and established. The one thing that has been agreed so far is the maximum autonomy of local candidates to campaign in the style they want to and on the issues they think will have the biggest impact. That’s why I’m focusing on my approach in my answers.

    I wasn’t deliberately trying to get all ad hominem on your ass. Really, though do send a letter to Greater Manchester Police demanding that they stop the violence. You obviously care about it as an issue.

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