Dyspraxia Awareness Week

Yesterday, I wrote this thing. (I’ve probably miswritten something, and I think it will develop as a thing, but it is now what it is now.) Today, I’m told it’s Dyspraxia Awareness Week:

I’m dyspraxic; or maybe I have dyspraxia. I haven’t decided yet, and I might change my mind after I do.

It’s also called developmental coordination disorder. It’s not a disorder, it’s a fresh expression of order.

If you do some research about it, please bear in mind not every individual has every “symptom”, and I don’t have all of mine all the time.

Basically, my body and brain (and/or mind, spirit &c) don’t work exactly how other people (or even I) expect them to, but that doesn’t really mean I’m atypical because is there even such a thing as typical?

I don’t have difficulty learning unless you’re a lazy teacher (or possibly your environment — I’m looking at you, Higher Education! — restricts your teaching).

I have traits of other “conditions” too, but my diagnosis is dyspraxia.

My diagnosis is recent (I’m still figuring it out), but I’ve always been dyspraxic really.

I am disabled. That is to say, I am often subject to factors external and internal that disable me. (Research the social model of disability if you’ve not heard of it.)

I don’t ‘suffer’ from dyspraxia — there’s nothing ‘wrong with me’ — our all-loving G*d created me like this. You’re welcome to take it up with Her.

Labour leadership: compromise?

An humble suggestion regarding leadership of the Labour Party:

Dear Angela and Jeremy,

I wonder, before an official leadership challenge is announced (if the media is correct that Angela intends to), could you two consider again a new compromise? I assume you have talked about this; perhaps you have already considered what I suggest. If so, sorry to waste your time.

Jeremy was elected with a huge mandate by us the Party membership on a platform of ‘new politics’; Angela clearly has or will have the majority backing of the PLP. Could you two agree on a ‘new politics’ way of doing leadership?

I suggest you could agree to be co-equal co-leaders. It’s been done by a political party before. I suspect it’s not constitutionally possible within the Party or parliament yet, but that can be changed after a period of informally working as such — showing that it can and will work. Personally, I rather get the impression that each of you has the character to make such an arrangement work. (Actually, tell you what, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we always had at least one woman as a leader of the Party? That sounds like the sort of party Labour should be.)

Think of the headlines: senior Labour Party MPs act like reasonable grown-ups! New politics! Imagine the support from across the party, not least Jeremy’s legion ‘new politics’ supporters. Could you two take a move to unite rather than conquer? Could you show us the leadership the people need right now: unity over division, duty over ambition, and the people’s wellbeing over the Party’s internal bickering.

I would be happy to hear back from either or both of you (or your people), but I expect you’ll be too busy, which is fair enough.


Dan Barnes-Davies
Labour and Unite member

(I have also emailed this to Angela and Jeremy)


Here is a thing I wrote for a portfolio at the end of my recent long placement. Written as if addressed to that placement’s community, it is nonetheless topical, so I wonder whether anyone might find it interesting:

I’m a foreigner in these parts.
I grew up in north Essex, and more recently I call myself a Londoner. I’m not from here. Yet despite this, or maybe because of it, I have been made very welcome. The welcome I’ve found in Old Trafford — at the centre and the church, and ‘round about the area — has been, warm, genuine and friendly. I have noticed, to my delight, that this is nothing remarkable here.
This area is one of constant welcome and farewell. For a long time, this has been a place of migration. That’s a word I almost hesitated to use. Yet in Old Trafford you know how wonderful it is to be able to welcome all sorts of different people into your community. You see the benefits of rich diversity and enthusiastically embrace it. My time experiencing this first hand makes me all the more sad about the way migration is often talked about. I saw a large poster on the way into Manchester recently, near Salford Central. It bore a picture of a UK passport, turned into an open door, and the words ‘Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU’. The text seems to be reasonably accurate: Turkey’s population is over 79 million, and they are in the process of joining the EU (although this process started in 2005 and still has a Very Long Way to go). We know what the implication of the poster is: that staying in the EU will allow a large number of foreigners to ‘come over here’, which would be Dangerous. This sort of idea is so common now, that if each of us thinks about it we’ve quite probably all thought like this before, even if only briefly. I once heard a woman (whose parents, I knew, migrated here from the Caribbean), say to someone, about an Asian newcomer who was vexing her, “they think they own this country”. The common narrative about migration makes it so easy to forget ourselves, and to think like this.
The question I would like to ask of this would be: who does own this country? As far back as we know, all my family has been born in England or Wales. Do we really think that I have any more claim to this country than that vexed woman? Then why would she have any more claim than the Asian newcomer? When you think about it, the idea that I have any more right to any part of this country by virtue of where I was born (or worse, where my ancestors were born) doesn’t make much sense. The relatively modern idea of nation-states and nationality, if it ever made sense, doesn’t any more. I suppose the idea of nationality is mostly that groups of similar people would rule themselves. Well, what counts as similar? Would even your street constitute one nation? Why should I, a man from north Essex, have any more right to live in Salford than a woman from Tehran might?
The idea of a ‘scapegoat’ comes from a ritual practised in ancient times in the Jewish Temple, where the sins of all the community would be symbolically heaped upon a goat and it would be exiled from the town. Today migrants are our scapegoats: too many people is why the NHS is struggling to cope, too many foreigners is why there aren’t enough jobs and somehow also why the social security system is crumbling. Do we really believe this is entirely true? That the NHS’s problems aren’t something to do with systematic asset-stripping and privitisation? That our social security isn’t crumbling because it is woefully underfunded while multinational companies and multimillionaires pay shocklingly little tax?
Should we think of someone as ‘not us’ because they come from a different place? You have the opportunity to make a good decision — you have the pleasure of welcoming lots of newcomers in Old Trafford. You know what their lives are like. You see even a little of how they are treated. Many of you have lived those lives, or your parents have. Long may the loving community I’ve seen here continue to celebrate our common humanity.