Matt Beeching, the Northern Ireland-based Labour party member on a hunger protest for the last week and on whom we reported at the start of his actions, has announced he is ending his protest. His statement reads as follows:
“As of 10am this morning (25/07/2017) I have decided to end my hunger protest after visiting the doctor. I was informed of a condition that could bring my life to an early end if I should carry on, so carrying on, on that basis seemed not to have any benefit at all. It was also based on family opinions and issues.
I want to make it clear once again that the decision to carry out this protest was my decision alone and I did not consult anyone from Labour Party Northern Ireland (LPNI) or Labour Party (LP). Nor did anyone suggest or encourage me to such action.
I would like to thank my family for their support and of course concern, and my partner for looking after me and encouraging me to eat throughout. I would like to thank those that supported me and also those that tried to persuade me to stop. I would not expect anything less. I want to also thank Max Webster and all those involved with Political Provocateur for the coverage, but also supporting me in getting the message out and also advising me on media issues.
I also want to thank Labour Party in Northern Ireland as individuals as they have been nothing but courteous and concerned for my welfare. Despite everything I want to extend my thanks to my contact at Labour Party HQ for their courtesy and concern for my wellbeing throughout.
Also to the people that did not support me, I have no animosity towards them at all and respect their opinions. I would also like to send a message to those that are considering or thinking of leaving LPNI because of this protest. I won’t apologise for the actions I have taken but I am disappointed and sorry that those individuals have decided to, or have contemplated, stepping down from the party. Please don’t resign, carry on the fight because we need you, and the people we speak for need you more than ever. Tory/DUP austerity must continue to be challenged.
This protest is now over but the fight for the right for Labour Party members in Northern Ireland to stand as candidates is far from over, I am more determined than ever. There are some activities that LPNI have planned for the Labour Party conference including an LPNI fringe event so if you are going as a delegate or visitor please come along and show your support. Even though I will not be there I will be fully behind it and support it as much as possible. So once conference is over and the review is over I will discuss further actions, if it’s needed, that do not involve mine or anyone’s health being put in jeopardy. But until then I will continue to challenge the Labour Party’s position on this issue wherever and whenever possible.
For those of you that are Labour Party members may I ask you to bring this issue up in your CLP meetings and perhaps propose a motion that supports LPNI right to stand candidates in Northern Ireland and then make it public. Speak with your conference delegates and support the LPNI fringe event. We need your help.
So it reads. At Political Provocateur we are naturally rather relieved that he has decided to take this course of action. It was obvious from his live video broadcasts he was suffering and that his health was deteriorating quickly. Even more relieved are his loved ones, his family and his friends. We wish him a speedy return to full health.
It is hoped that the wider Labour movement has taken note of his actions, and of the reasoning behind them, and that the party will now perhaps, as Matt alludes to, start to look at their wider role in Northern Ireland with fresh eyes.
When I initially spoke to Matt and asked him about the extra money being funnelled into the province thanks to the Tory/DUP alliance, he was scornful. “Money given to extend broadband coverage is three times more than mental health services recieve. That’s how much the Tories care.” It is hoped that against such a backdrop his protest and its legacy amounts to more than just a personal stand from a fringe member. We need people like Matt and the Labour party needs people like Matt. I just hope they realise it also.
Max Webster is the Editor of Political Provocateur