Tatchell stands down as Green candidate

2:03 pm - December 16th 2009

by Don Paskini    

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Sad news this, Peter Tatchell has announced that he is stepping down as the Green Party’s candidate for Oxford East on medical advice, because of injuries from beatings he suffered from a clash with minders of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in Brussels in 2001 and during a demonstration in Moscow in 2007 supporting gay rights.

Mr Tatchell said: “It is with great regret and reluctance that I am standing down as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East. My brain injuries from the Mugabe and Moscow bashings mean that I would not be able to campaign effectively in the general election or do the duties required of an MP, if I was elected. The brain damage caused by Mugabe’s thugs in Brussels in 2001 and by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007 has been compounded by head injuries in an accident while I was campaigning in Devon in July. A bus on which I was travelling swerved and braked sharply. I was thrown forward, hitting my head on a metal handrail.

The injuries don’t stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things. My memory, concentration, balance and coordination have been adversley affected. I can’t campaign at the pace I used to. I was selected as the Green Party candidate for Oxford East in April 2007. A month later, I was badly beaten around the head by neo-Nazis during an attempted Gay Pride parade in Moscow. This exacerbated the brain damage caused when I was bashed unconscious by President Mugabe’s bodyguards in Brussels in 2001, after attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean leader on charges of torture.

Following the Moscow assault, I never rested and recuperated. I carried on campaigning, with a very heavy schedule of commitments in Oxford East. After several months, I was severely exhausted. This stress and exhaustion probably intensified the damage and thwarted my recovery. I have postponed making this announcement for several months, in the hope that I might get better and be able to carry on as the Green candidate. Unfortunately, my condition has not improved. If anything, it is worse.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope for the future. The medical advice is that if I slow down and reduce my workload my condition may improve in a year or so. On the downside, I am unlikely to ever recover fully. Some of the damage is probably permanent.”

Best wishes to Peter from all of us at Liberal Conspiracy, and hope to see him recover and be able to continue his campaigning for human rights.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments

Although I would never vote Green in 100000000 years, I am very sorry to hear this.

A great campaigner.

Damn, really sorry to hear this too. Peter Tatchell is a brilliant campaigner and an idealist. I hope he recovers soon.

What a shame. He’s always been one of my favourite political figures. And it’s unbelievable that he’s never been an MP either.

Very sad news for an already zombified British political landscape.
I wish him prompt recovery.

He is wasted in the Green Party.

I disagree with him on much but wholly respect him as an individual trying to do right by the world.

Sad story, I hadn’t known the beatings had been that bad.

Despite my disagreement with his politics, an admirable guy – has the courage of his convictions and always tries to be fair.

(Of course, if he agreed with me, Lib Con would be celebrating his beatings and posting the videos)

This is sad news indeed. It feels a little distasteful to be the first to bring up the subject of the succession, but…

let’s hope that some real Green stars put themselves forward for the vacancy, and the Oxford Greens select a candidate than will win what is an eminently winnable seat. I think the net should be cast wide for the very best figures in the wider Green movement with the widest popular appeal.

May I humbly suggest George Monbiot?

Bloody hell Laban, you don’t half keep banging on with regards to your own pet peeves, piggy backing grotesquely on the back of unconnected posts.


Echoing what others have said, this is very sad news. A great shame he didn’t win in Bermondsey, and whilst I’d have wanted to see him resoundingly beaten by Labour in Oxford East, he’s someone I’ve nonetheless got a lot of respect for. What’s most worthy of respect in my opinion is the way despite the personal abuse he has received time and time again, he has always drawn attention to other people who are suffering oppression and abuse and attempted to amplify their voice.

To add to the above. I’m having a hard time finding a source however, there’s one action I recall (and I can of course be wrong about this, as ever).

A preacher of “Teh gays shouldn’t be allowed to do that” was being prosecuted. Tatchell turned up and said, in evidence, that while what teh preacher was saying was wrong, immoral, a violation of civil rights, it would be a greater violation of said civil rights to charge someone for speaking their mind. Teh freedom means that everyone is allowed to do just that, speak their mind.

I may have this wrong, for which I apologise, but I don’t think I have except in detail.

I admire him for exactly that: civil liberties are civil liberties. No ifs, no buts, no “not if you offend me”.

Very American in a way (as I also consider myself in this sense)…..we hold these truths to be self evident…..n’ the rest of you can entirely fuck off.

An entirely admirable attitude…..

I was thinking sadly that there isn’t any replacement for Peter Tatchell. His patent honesty and dedication to protesting injustice has even won the tabloids round. But he may recover from his head injuries. People do, though it can take quite a long time. In a year or two he may be able to campaign again.

Despite being a political opponent he is someone I can admire; scrupulously honest, courageous and tenacious in the fight for human rights. I’m not sure how Peter would have dealt with the electoral pact with George Galloway’s Respect Party. Leading Respect members made some seriously outrageous comments about him, even threatening violence, secure in the knowledge Peter does not use the libel courts on moral grounds.http://www.petertatchell.net/politics/adamyosef.htm

It is sad that anyone should become a victim of violence and I’m sorry that Peter Tatchell’s ambitions have suffered as a result.

However it was precisely he willingness to put himself personally in the line of fire as his primary campaigning strategy which marked out why he was incapable of being an effective representative of the public, while equally in reverse Tatchell’s association with partisan politics neutered his ability to appeal to a wider audience.

I find it odd to say the least that he realistically thought voters in Oxford East would be impressed by his ability to speak up for their concerns when he might be lying in a hospital in Moscow or wherever and his disregard for the responsibilities he hoped to assume shows why he was badly qualified to be an MP.

For his own sake, his party’s sake and on behalf of the people he campaigns to help I hope he has finally woken up to this realisation.

I hadn’t known until today that he sustained such serious injuries. It is indeed sad news.

Like others, I disagree with some of his views but I have always admired him for his integrity, his willingness to speak up for even those who would not do the same for him (as Tim W said above), and his courage in leading from the front.

I wish him all the best.

15. Stuart White

I’m very sad to hear this. Peter was at the excellent Green Fair in Oxford this past Saturday, an annual event which the Oxford Greens put on for the community in the run up to the holidays. I hope he is able to return to campaigning in the future.

I comletely disagree with thomas @ 13: though I would have campaigned against Peter in Oxford East (as a LP member), I think we need MPs who have the courage of their convictions. On none of the occasions when Peter was beaten up was he himself engaged in violent activity or activity of any kind which in any way warranted the violence he received. The logical implication of thomas’s argument is that our MPs should allow their own activism to be dictated by the predelictions towards unjustified violence by others – in other words, that MPs should watch out for likely bullies…and give in to their intimidation.

I didn’t realise Mugabe’s thugs hurt him so badly. I may be a right-wing wingnut, but I wish him well.

The case that Tim Worstall was referring to above was that of the late Harry Hammond. The Tatchell view :

“The conviction of Harry Hammond for displaying a placard criticising homosexuality is a grotesque misuse of the Public Order Act. His placard was offensive to gay people; that is not, however, a legitimate reason to suppress his right to protest and turn him into a criminal. Freedom of speech is so precious that it must be defended, even when we disagree with the sentiments expressed. Other than direct incitements to violence, there is no justification for criminalising words and opinions.

If Mr Hammond appeals, I would gladly testify in favour of his conviction being overturned.”

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  4. Garry Dent

    Liberal Conspiracy » Tatchell stands down as Green candidate http://bit.ly/7AfiMr

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    Good (though for sad reasons). RT @libcon: Tatchell stands down as Green candidate http://bit.ly/7AfiMr

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    Liberal Conspiracy » Tatchell stands down as Green candidate http://bit.ly/7AfiMr

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    RT @libcon Tatchell stands down as Green candidate http://bit.ly/7lbqUJ

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