It is the duty of every one of us to hold democratically elected representatives to account. It is of even greater importance to hold those who make election promises to account and ensure they deliver on those promises.
Just because its become the norm for MPs to break promises, doesn’t mean that’s right or acceptable. MPs should not be allowed to break their election promises with impunity.
In 2010, when Caroline Nokes MP and the Conservative Party made various election commitments to Fathers4Justice – including a commitment to introduce Shared Parenting during the term of this Parliament – we told them that we would hold them to account on behalf of the families we represent. http://romsey.conservativesintouch.com/news/216/
We have been true to our word, regardless of the cost to the campaign and our family. What is the purpose of democracy, if MPs are unaccountable?
When in 2013, the MP broke those promises and supported the discredited Children & Families Bill – which did not include a single one of their election commitments – a bitter dispute ensued. Despite the acrimony, we invited Caroline Nokes to attend the Shared Parenting Debate in Parliament held by George Galloway MP in June 2013 which was attended by 10 of her constituents. She refused.
When asked to sign Early Day Motion 210 supporting Shared Parenting http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/210, she refused.
When asked to meet us to try and resolve the matter, she wrote to us to tell us that she was refusing to represent ‘you, your wife, your children, her parents, either now or at any time in the future.’ We subsequently discovered that as there is no job description for MPs, they can do what they like. Period.
So instead of engaging in democratic debate, Nokes resorted to playing the cheapest trick in the book: the ‘female victim’ card and false allegations. Tricks familiar to anyone who has been in the family courts. Using a series of baseless allegations, Nokes constructed a smear campaign based upon her fictional allegations. She accused Fathers4Justice of visiting her house because ‘some grass had been flattened’, that her car had been tracked and she was in fear of her life.
Of course, if there had been any truth to this, anyone responsible would have been arrested quicker than you could say ‘broken promises’. Yet there is NO police investigation, there have been NO arrests, NO charges and no PIN notices issued. This is of course a familiar refrain.
As an old bomber commander once said, you know you are getting close to the target when you start getting flack.
This smear tactic is regularly used by the establishment against F4J, not least in 2006 when we were linked to a plot to kidnap the then Prime Minister’s son, Leo Blair. Again, there were no names, no arrests, just baseless allegations.
Smear is the last resort of a desperate establishment. When all else fails, when faced with the truth, smear. And boy, have we been smeared. Our reputation hovers somewhere between the Taliban and ISIS. It’s only a matter of time before we are accused of head-chopping.
Now the MP is furiously trying to bury the truth beneath a pile of false allegations that have only surfaced now, when she has been forced to admit her role in the attack on my home on 20/2/14 after 7-months of denials and lies to her constituents.
She is one of the defendants in a civil action we have brought in the High Court and faces allegations that she brought a man with a violent past to my home, where children were present, where he spoke to my 8-year-old son and took photographs of him, tried to force his way into my home, then left before returning to punch me to the ground and savagely bite my landlord. All the while the MP was waiting to collect him once he had finished his attack.
Since then, my family have been driven out of our home by anonymous hate mail letters threatening to have social services remove our children which reference the MP, our car has been attacked and the MPs friend Adrian Yalland has stalked and targeted our family, son, his school and our business on social media. The final straw was the following through of a threat to contact social services about the welfare of our children and the lack of Police action to meaningfully investigate any of these matters – including anti-Irish death threats. This effectively left our family at serious risk of further attack.
Yet, in all of this, we must never lose sight of where this started, and where this needs to finish.
The bigger picture is not about Caroline Nokes MP, or even my family. It is about building a political consensus to support a legal presumption of 50/50 shared parenting and that’s we have been working tirelessly to do over the last 12 months with huge success – 104 MPs from all parties now support shared parenting and UKIP have just included it in their election manifesto. To those that think the Nokes dispute is a distraction, we understand this point of view, but you cannot allow MPs to behave as if they are above accountability, or worse still, above the law.
Fathers4Justice started with my family and it continues with my family and children. The political is personal.
We have paid a heavy price for our principles, but we must continue to battle a rotten, venal, political mafia, protected by the establishment and never surrender to Nazi style thuggery and intimidation.
The attacks on my family, are attacks on every family in Fathers4Justice and I will never, ever, stop campaigning until we secure shared parenting for every family in this country and put an end to the monstrous and cruel system of family justice that MPs like Caroline Nokes have allowed to fester, unchecked, destroying families.
Their betrayal of Britain’s fathers and families will never be forgotten.
Matt O’Connor, Founder, Fathers4Justice