Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When Reg Keys Met Tony Blair

Last night the BBC aired the story of Reg Keys. It followed his sombre and heroic struggle to oust Tony Blair from his elected Sedgefield (North-East England) constituency.

Reg's son Tom was murdered rather brutally by a lynch mob in Iraq, while on duty as a Red-Cap soldier. After Tom's death, Reg firmly believes his son, and four of his comrades had died for no other reason than terrible lies, and that we all have been cunningly betrayed by Tony Blair.

Of course Reg had no money to campaign himself as an Independant MP out on a mission to reclaim Sedgefield constituency from Blair. But he was greatly assisted by donations, and time from members of the public, former labour MPs, wounded soldiers and International journalists.

It was deeply moving at times to watch Reg approach the public in densely popular Labour country, to tell the story of his son's pointless and preventable death.

To my surprise he got an excellent reception from a lot of people. It was also satisfying to know that even folk in Blair's own constituency don't want him in power.

Of course a lot of folks had no time for Reg at all. In some cases Tory MPs were probably more welcome. Reg took this pretty well too I think.

One guy rather straightly told him, "Get over it mate.... If he was in Iraq then that's what happens... He was a soldier".

Fair enough?

No, I don't think it is btw.

For the simple fact that Tom had NO REASON to be in Iraq. The world was indeed lied to, there's no apologising for that. How can there be?

The problem with the general public (IMHO) is that although most folks accept the fact we were all lied to, they simply don't give a damn either-way. Apathetic, stoned and routinery.

It's like that famous JFK statistic; 50% of people believe he was assassinated by the US secret government, and the other 50% couldn't give a toss.

You can add the insider job of 911 into that viewpoint probably too.

But getting back to Reg.

At the end of his campaign, he pulled a total of 4,252 votes. That's one tenth of the total available. Blair got around 50%.

This was important for a humble man with no previous political experience in his life. He was even nervous if his Brummy accent would make him sound less credible. (In other words, he doesn't speak like the stereotypical Oxford politician that the entire world identifies as, British...)

He did well.

For me the greatest moment in the campaign was when he got to address the Sedgefield public at the voting event on the big day; Blair was there with his wife, and so were all the cameras to see Blair's big crowning moment. But not before Reg had his say.

I hope in my heart that one day the prime minister will be able to say sorry. He will say sorry to the families of the bereaved and one day the prime minister will feel able to visit wounded soldiers in hospital.

Fighting this campaign has not been an easy task for me, but I had to do it for my son Thomas ... who was sent to war under extremely controversial circumstances.

If this war had been justified by international law, I would have grieved but not campaigned. If weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, again I would have grieved but not campaigned.

I think Reg accepts he can't change the world. But he can share his feelings, his discoveries and his humanity with the rest of the world, which is what he did.

If only everyone could have the energy to state the truth as much as Reg did. And that it did not take the death of a son or daughter, to fuel that real effort to learn and share knowledge about this apathetic (at times) existence.


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