My personal statement

I want to be the best person that I can be, using all my God-given and nurture-generated, attributes, whether I am at home or at work. At home, I want to be a dad who is around as much as possible (and available should an emergency present itself) as well as being able to financially provide in both the short and longterm.

I want justice. I want to give birth to a company. I want to control my destiny. To make a journey. To maintain the highest standard of integrity with all my inter-personal dealings. To stop manager-caused anxiety. I want to provide an outstanding, cheap and fast legal service to those who have been wronged.

I want to work smarter: to work close to home, in an area I adore, at a pace that I choose, when I want. I don’t crave vast riches; I just want to be rewarded fairly.

I want to work in relative quiet. I want to properly research legal issues. I want to write a book. I want to be able to mould future lawyers. I want to be part of a team in which all staff don’t mind coming to work; where the staff share in the success of the enterprise – be that with financial rewards or with other dividends such as good career development.

I want to be dynamic. To be creative. To improve my presentation and advocacy skills. To develop other skills. To grow as a human. To become more rounded.

I want to use the law firm for political ends, in terms of helping the needy or by raising my own standing so that I can help the needy from my privileged position.

Too often the little guy, who finds himself embroiled in a dispute, is either priced out of obtaining legal advice, pays for lawyers he can barely afford or has appointed lawyers, whom he didn’t properly choose.


Local Tory-Imposed Austerity

Conservative Councillor Skidmore, of Ripon, celebrated our council’s 16.7 per cent drop in funding by telling our local paper:

“Everybody is feeling the same pain, perhaps some more than others, but we have got to put the sovereign debt issue to bed and the only way of doing that is to stop spending,” he said.

“It’s like if you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat – stop eating cream cakes.”

Such economically backward thinking is going to cause a crisis; such a poor analogy. If you want to lose some weight, how about you do some exercise? Similarly, if you want to stimulate the economy, so that more people are in employment and the tax take increases, do some spending.

The Tory lie that this country is like a household seems to resonate with the public. But when a household cuts it’s spending, it doesn’t have to think about the wider economy. But when a Government cuts spending the net effect is the depression of the economy. The Tories, arch-clingers-on to the past, are making the same mistakes that were made in the 1930s.

And what makes me particularly angry with the likes of Councillor Skidmore is that he implies that he doesn’t want to see a reduction in the council budget, but this is political raison d’être: to reduce, by any means possible, the effectiveness of the state.

So, no crocodile tears, councillor; the people will see straight through you in the end. You know that the cuts are ideological. This is what you came into politics for.


The Lords Resistance Army

Let me entertain you with an alcohol-caused, name-dropping anecdote. A few months ago, at the Labour Regional Conference in Leeds, at an hour well past Anne Widdecombe’s bedtime, I was at the bar next to Paul Routledge.

‘Mr Routledge,’ I said, ‘You should write an article about my CLP.’

‘Where’s that then?’ he said, curmudgeonly.

‘Harrogate and Knaresborough,’ I said, much too happily.

Mr Routledge sank his pint, wiped his mouth and said: ‘That shouldn’t take too long.’

Very funny. Not true, though. Let me return to this.

The other day, like every other Labour Party member, I received an email from a Lord: I hope that this never happens again. The Lord was, of course, Mandelson. That same day, I found that most of the billboards in my town of Harrogate had been bought by the Tories. To compound my misery, over the last few weeks, my wife and I have received innumerable Tory leaflets, all printed in Peterborough. My poor wife has even received direct mailings from the Queen’s relative, Cameron, and, what made her really cringe, was a letter from Mandelson’s holiday chum, Osbourne.

What is now clear is that, with the Tories chucking so much money at the election in my town, it’s highly likely that another Lord – Ashcroft – is bankrolling it. And if conclusive evidence was needed, last week, Ashcroft’s sponsor, 14-pint Hague, was up here, too. We’re becoming like a 19th Century rotten borough.

For those unfamiliar with my town, Harrogate is the home of the other BNP MEP and former leader of the National Front, Andrew Brons. Ours is a prosperous North Yorkshire spa town – with a spring so good that Marx came here in 1873 to ‘take the waters’; had he decided to make Harrogate home, Das Kapital would never have been written, but his kids wouldn’t have died so young.

Since 1997, our MP has been the begrudgingly popular Lib Dem, Phil Willis, who is standing down this time bequeathing a 7,000 majority to his aide. But why is Ashcroft targeting what looks like a safe Lib Dem seat? Because Harrogate is a bellwether: when we go blue – because we never go red – the country goes blue. Norman ‘high-unemployment-is-a-price-worth-paying’ Lamont, now-Lord, tried standing here. Lord Lamont lost in 1997, never to be seen again. This time’s Tory challenger is, like Cameron, a marketing executive, and leader of the mean Tory-run council.

But how can Ashcroft buy an election? Because Labour has its sponsors, too. Ever since Ecklestone’s cheque wasn’t cashed, New Labour has been obsessed with the super-rich. And with New Labour’s deliberate destruction of our base, we’ve had no choice but to hire ourselves out, with another Lord – Levy – charged with raising the dosh.

In the same way that, after 18 Tory years, the country reflected their malicious design, so, too, today, to a lesser degree, does this country reflect the New Labour project. After thirteen years of parliamentary carte blanche, we could have sorted out party funding to make sure that rich men can never buy an election for the Tories again; and it’s for this reason that my wrath is not directed at Ashcroft, but at New Labour. We could have stopped Ashcroft buying my town’s seat.

Somehow, those in the higher echelons of our party must have swallowed the Lib Dem’s manifesto lie that the trade union funding of Labour is comparable with that of Ashcroft. It isn’t. We should be proud that so many trade unionists choose to support Labour. The unions are our foundations; we become unstuck when we forget the origins of our movement.

Come on, we should have had a Labour Government bent on democratic reform. Let’s face it, Labour’s main expenses culprits and those recently ensnared by Channel 4 – Hewitt, Hoon and Byers – are all Blairites. And, lately, with safe seats up for grabs, the democratic mechanisms in our party have been trampled on by the top to ensure a shoe-in for a minister’s buddy – like Mandelson’s mate in Stoke. My party card states that we are ‘a democratic socialist party’. Not anymore.

What’s more, Labour’s high priest – Maddelson – an undeniably intelligent strategist, who once understood the media, hasn’t grasped that elections are popularity contests, and he isn’t popular in our party, let alone with the electorate. For political anoraks of the left, our bedroom walls should be plastered with posters of our political heroes of the day: they are not.

So, Mr Routledge, what is worth knowing about my CLP, is that our members have good politics, good judgement and we are resisting Lords, whatever their political affiliations.

I close with this, the Burmese people, who I am particularly fond of, have an apt expression for a time like this: Only your real friends tell you when your face is a dirty. Britain isn’t broken, but the Labour Party certainly is.

Andrew Gray is the Chair of Harrogate and Knaresborough CLP, and the views expressed here are his own.



I find the recent Wikileaks saga most conflicting. The data dump will have the effect that diplomats will rarely write candidly for fear that their words will end up in The Guardian. Diplomats are the oil in the international system. It is impossible to know what damage, if any, has been done or will be done.

On the flip side, we should never forget the first Wikileaks release, Collateral Murder, available here. If you haven’t seen it, I can tell you that it is footage of the pilots of a US Apache helicopter executing civilians and journalists. When the US authorities were asked how two reporters had died, the US lied and then obfuscated. Thankfully, the footage was leaked and those who lost loved ones will know the truth: they were mown down by trigger-happy Americans in an illegal, immoral war.

Make your own mind up of the video: you should know what our combatants are doing in your name; the pornography of war should be seen. If you support the war, you should see the impact of your actions.

So, the Wikileaks releases has made it harder for our representatives to mislead, and who can be against that?