Open Letter to Mark Flanagan (Notavote / The NOTA Party / The Above & Beyond Party)

Like Dr. Who and Sam Beckett, the group formerly known as Notavote and The NOTA Party has apparently once again morphed into a seemingly different entity. There is now an ‘Above & Beyond Party’ that intends to pick up where they left off after being barred from standing by the Electoral Commission. Below is my open letter to Mark Flanagan, the apparent head honcho. Feel free to share.

***UPDATE*** Apparently, Above & Beyond is in fact Mark Flanagan’s separate, further offshot from Notavote / The NOTA Party… which makes it even worse! Original letter edited slightly to make more sense in light of this.


Dear Mark,

Since its inception in 2012, Adrian Langan’s Notavote / The NOTA Party (now aided and abetted by your offshoot Above & Beyond Party) has consistently sought to cancel out and replace NOTA UK as the primary group campaigning for a formal None of the Above option on UK ballot papers for all future elections.

This is in spite of NOTA UK pre-dating their efforts by two whole years and in spite of the significant progress we have made towards getting NOTA in place for real since our inception in 2010.

Notavote / NOTA party members inadvertent (or concerted, depending on your view point) efforts to undermine the credibility of NOTA in the past have included:

– claiming that their party’s presence on the ballot paper constituted a bonafide NOTA option when it clearly didn’t,

– lying about their origins and claiming to have been set up in 2007 in order to get the jump on us,

– allowing known far right agitators to infiltrate their facebook group at an admin level,

– bullying and ejecting their own members if they spoke up for NOTA UK,

– and, of course, publicly attacking my own personal credibility at various times along the way.

They were recently prevented from standing candidates on a supposedly NOTA platform next May by the Electoral Commission on the grounds that the party name could have confused voters into thinking it is already possible to vote for None of the Above when it isn’t. This deception is in fact exactly what members of the group, a group that you yourself were at the time a part of, had attempted to do.

Your group’s reaction to this news was to encourage your supporters to believe that the banning was the result of a conspiracy to prevent NOTA appearing on the ballot paper. (NOTA UK’s response to this can be seen here: https://nota-uk.org/2014/11/08/nota-banned-as-party-name-by-electoral-commission/ )

I later appealed via our NOTA UK blog for you to finally put this perceived split to bed by publicly endorsing our campaign and acknowledging that your efforts must now be, and always should have been, in support of our campaign rather than in competition to it (see here: https://nota-uk.org/2014/11/28/appeal-to-reason-and-logic-re-the-nota-party/ )

There was no response.

Instead, you have now taken it upon yourself to re-brand the idea as The Above & Beyond Party, identical to its predecessor in all but name, and restated your intention to stand single issue NOTA candidates next May, now complete with a set of proposals to deal with a NOTA ‘win’, once in place, that run directly contrary to NOTA UK proposals that have been formally presented to a parliamentary select committee and accepted into the public record.

So – with all this in mind, please answer the following questions:

1: There is a parliamentary select committee survey and public consultation running until January 9th 2015 that invites members of the public to put forward their views on a set of proposed electoral reforms, including (thanks to NOTA UK’s lobbying) inclusion of an official None of the Above option on the ballot paper. (Survey: http://tinyurl.com/octv8r3 Consultation: http://tinyurl.com/oxboqy4 )

Why have you not mentioned this in your campaign material or made any effort to alert your supporters to this crucial, landmark change of attitude in the corridors of power towards NOTA?

2: Your proposal as to what would happen in the event of a NOTA ‘win’, aside from being completely unworkable, flies in the face of the solid proposal to deal with such a scenario that we have been promoting for years now and that the afore mentioned committee has accepted into the public record. (See here: http://tinyurl.com/mcqywys )

Are you purposely trying to undermine and cancel out the good work and massive progress towards NOTA for real that NOTA UK have achieved in the last four years? And if so, why? In whose interests are you acting, if not all who want to see NOTA on the ballot paper?

These are legitimate questions Mark. Because nothing that you or Adrian are doing is in any way aiding the cause that we supposedly share. By constantly presenting yourself as THE None of the Above movement, complete with strategies and proposals that fly directly in the face of our formally established ones, all you are doing is making all those campaigning for NOTA look like they don’t know what they are doing.

But we do know what we are doing.

The real question is: what exactly are you playing at?

I eagerly await your response.

Yours sincerely,
Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
10/12/14

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One thought on “Open Letter to Mark Flanagan (Notavote / The NOTA Party / The Above & Beyond Party)

  1. theapathymyth December 10, 2014 at 22:41 Reply

    This is all a bit of a distraction from our campaign I know, but just to keep anyone interested in the loop, Mark Flanagan from The Above & Beyond Party (a separate entity from Notavote / The NOTA Party – the Popular People’s Front anybody?) tonight emailed me this:

    “We believe the only way to exert proper change is through the ballot box.

    We believe you think about yourself too much and not about what we are all trying to achieve… radical change at the top.

    We will support your efforts all the way and if we worked together could help each other.

    It is a shame your ego is in the way of co-operation.”

    He then followed this up with a longer email basically repeating the egotism accusation and making it clear that he absolutely does NOT support our efforts, all of which he has one way or another written off as meaningless or wrong. Here’s my response:

    “Mark,

    My letter hit a nerve then.

    “The Above and Beyond Party has nothing to do with The NOTA Party led by Adrian Langan”

    So you mean to tell me that there is now not just one but two misguided NOTA campaign offshoots claiming to be the real deal?

    Terrific. Really helpful, thanks for that.

    The things that you have accused me of in your email me are precisely what you and Adrian Langan have been doing for the past two years Mark. It is self-evident, to anyone looking on, that it is you and Adrian who need to get over yourselves and either get on board with our approach or get out of the way. It is equally obvious that you have a naive and childlike understanding of how things work that urgently needs to change if you are to be of any use to our NOTA campaign.

    The only egos getting in the way here are yours mate.

    Seriously, think about it. What have you actually achieved? Aside from a completely pointless and unnecessary python-esque split, I mean.

    Oh, that’s right – you managed to get yourselves banned by the Electoral Commission for openly misleading voters into thinking your inclusion on the ballot paper would mean voting NOTA was already possible. Brilliant. That really helps our cause doesn’t it, really boosts NOTA’s credibility!

    And now, even after you’ve been thwarted, instead of cutting your losses and figuring perhaps you might have got it wrong, you have arrogantly opted to re-brand yourself and have another go under a new name! Do you have any idea how toxic to our long term chances of getting NOTA on the ballot that is?! Do you not understand public relations at all?!!!

    The reason I am dogmatic in my approach to this has nothing to do with ego. It is because I have put in the necessary hours of research and analysis of how things actually work to know what the correct way to go about getting a game changing electoral reform such as NOTA in place is. It’s got literally nothing to do with self-aggrandisement and everything to do with applying the knowledge and wisdom that I have painstakingly gleaned to the task of achieving NOTA as the first step towards installing actual democracy. Knowledge and wisdom that you and Langan have always lacked, despite me and others who are on the same page as me offering to share it with you repeatedly.

    The fact that you consider the massive inroads that we have made WHERE IT COUNTS as meaningless absolutely betrays your egotistical and blinkered approach to all this.

    NOTA has NEVER before been taken seriously at parliamentary select committee level. THAT is where serious legislative proposals originate and where things can potentially get done. And even if they are just paying us lip service, it doesn’t matter: this is how you achieve credibility and, ultimately, exposure and publicity for a cause such as ours.

    Have you conversed much with people at this level? Have you any Lords or MP’s on side, supportive of your efforts? Any mainstream media journalists?

    No, you do not. What you have is a reputation for dishonesty and an ongoing adolescent fantasy of saving the day and leading a ‘revolution’ from the comfort of your Twitter profile and facebook group.

    IN WHAT WAY ARE YOU ENGAGING WITH THE MACHINERY THAT WE WILL NEED ON SIDE IN ORDER TO EVENTUALLY ACHIEVE ACTUAL NOTA?!!!*

    * rhetorical.

    You aren’t. WE ARE.

    Furthermore, contrary to your bizarre assertion, at no time have I ever claimed the concept of NOTA as my own. I have merely stated, correctly, that the resurgent interest in NOTA since 2010 is largely due to my efforts to build a NOTA movement online. Not out of egotism or a need to take the credit, but out of a clear need to counter the blatantly false propaganda that Notavote / The NOTA Party has put out in the past, misinformation that threatens to derail all of the good work NOTA UK has done so far.

    I won’t have my work and that of others who have helped us get this far tainted by your misguided attempts to steal our thunder and take credit for things that are absolutely nothing to do with you.

    I have offered numerous times to work with you and Adrian. Your refusal to see why our long term approach to achieving NOTA is logically and rationally the correct one has always been the barrier. Clearly, it will remain so until such time as you are able to be honest about the folly of your approach and the damage that it has done, and continues to do, to NOTA’s chances.

    No-one likes to admit when they are wrong. Time is running out though mate. There’s no way that I am ever going to endorse your misguided efforts or stop doing what I am doing and have been doing for the past four years. The onus is on you then, if you actually care about NOTA at all, to get with the program and stop causing problems. There’s a lot at stake here. Without wishing to overstate it, the world is fucked and people’s futures, our children and their children especially, absolutely depend upon campaigns like ours, in conjunction with grass roots movements, being successful.

    So – for the love of God man, put your ego and your need to be right away for five minutes and look at the bigger picture.

    Stan

    PS: Feel free to forward this to Adrian.”

    Like

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