It has realy started in earnest now. Before the election was called, we had booked halls for the meeting schedule which you have seen. One of these was Hellesdon High School this Friday, 10 July.
The school has now phoned to say the Governors have decided not to permit my meeting -despite Nick Clegg having already held a by-election meeting there.
This is not just unfair, it is illegal. The Electoral Commissions rules state:
6.1 Once an election is called, candidates are legally entitled to use publicly funded schools and other public meeting rooms for election meetings free of .charge…..
It is happening again exactly as it did in Blackburn, where I was never permitted my entitlement to public rooms. Exactly as in Blackburn, I have followed Electoral Commission guidance and complained to the Returning Officer, who has done nothing. Returning Officers, as with Colin Bland here, are usually the chief executive of the local authority, and as such are normally party loyalists of the governing party. In our current state of politics, I don’t trust them at all.
In fact the Returning Officer Colin Bland has now told the school they are not legally entitled to bar candidates, and the school have apologised for not being aware of the legal position. So we are back on. A small but pleasant victory.
It is also worth adding that, while maintaining my distrust of returning officers, particularly chief executives of Labour councils in Labour rotten boroughs, here Colin Bland appears to be doing the right thing so far.
I am also being excluded from candidates’ hustings. The first is a debate on the future of education. I am far more qualified on this than any other candidate. The debate is being organised by the Univerisities and Colleges Union (UCU). This time the excuse for banning me is that I did not score highly in a poll which was conducted before I was a candidate and in which my name was not mentioned!
Lisa tells me you are enquiring about our event this Thursday. I took the decision to invite only those candidates shown by our poll to have a chance of winning the seat.
It is nothing personal, or any reflection – either positive or negative – on your platform and I wish you all the best for your campaign.
I have really had enough.
That is not acceptable. Your poll was conducted before I declared my candidacy and as you know well, I was not included in your poll.
As you also know well, at every bookmakers I am currently on shorter odds than the Lib Dems, just behind the Greens and overhauling them in the odds day by day.
As you know, I am the Rector of the University of Dundee and I have a much higher profile on education issues than any of the other candidates in Norwich North. I am also an honorary fellow of the University of Lancaster.
I have played a leading role in anti-cuts campaigns in Scotland’s universities in close liaison with the UCU, and have defended UCU members in individual cases on University Court. For someone who has voluntarily given so much to UCU members, to be kicked in the teeth like this by the UCU over an education debate is completely outrageous.
I will take direct action to take my rightful place in your debate, and you will need to call the police physically to prevent me.
I think the UCU having one of their higher profile allies arrested should be a fascinating spectacle for all. It would be much better if you were prepared to speak to me. I am on 07979 691085.
They will also need to ask the police to act illegally in stopping me from speaking at Hellesdon High. I have taken enough of this.