Ahead of the Football Lads Alliance event in Manchester on the 19th May, Shy Society’s Matt Lynch sat down with Trevor Coult MC, deputy leader of the Democrats and Veterans Party (DV Party).
The Democrats and Veterans Party only launched on the 9th February 2018 and for a party only a few weeks old, they managed to stand a number of candidates in the recent local elections, doing surprisingly well. Trevor, who was awarded the Military Cross by the Queen in 2006 after 10 operational tours with the British Army, is ecstatic with the result.
“We didn’t originally have any intention of standing in these local elections this time round,” Trevor tells me. “Our focus was the next general election and any by-elections, but we had quite a few people saying they wanted to stand so we said okay, we’re going to stand paper candidates in some areas, we’ll get people to canvass in some areas and other areas we’ll get people to go around door-knocking. We looked at the statistics to determine all that.
“As a result, in 62 wards we came second. We beat UKIP in every single seat we contested.”
The party seems to have done particularly well in Labour-held areas, signifying an appeal with working-class voters that may be disillusioned with the current Labour leadership and their move towards the far-left. For example, in Barnsley DV Party candidates Vic Felton and Trevor Smith both came second behind Labour, beating all other mainstream parties.
The focus now shifts to the Lewisham East by-election, where candidate Massimo Di Mambro will stand as their first potential Member of Parliament.The seat is also being contested by For Britain leader, Anne Marie Waters, who contested the seat as a member of UKIP in 2015, securing nine per cent of the vote.
Trevor reveals he will be standing for election in Colchester, an area he knows well. Trevor battles his PTSD to travel around the country helping others and will do the same when he stands for election.
“I lived in Colchester for 5 years when I was working in the Brigades there, but when I got PTSD and they wanted me to go somewhere quiet, they moved me up the road to Ipswich. It’s quiet and peaceful and it’s good for my mental health,” he said.
“With my PTSD I hate coming into big cities, but at the end of the day you’ve got to do it if you want to move things forward. If you’ve got a mental health issue with PTSD you can’t sit there and say: ‘well I don’t feel well’ because you’ve got to try to get up off your backside and try to fix it. If you know there’s an issue, the first thing is identifying it, then going and helping. Once you start helping others you realise that it helps you to help others as well.”
To avoid the pitfalls of other parties that are seen as single-issue or dependent on individual personalities, Trevor reveals that DV Party leader John Rees-Evans will not stand for election and that they’ve been approached by a number of household names who they’ve rejected from joining the party. “It’s not a party of ego and ego’s won’t last very long in our party.”
Will DV Party collaborate or use tactical voting?
When asked if the party would consider collaborating with other parties, Trevor said: “I’ve been asked numerous times over the last week whether DV Party would collaborate with UKIP or For Britain and the answer is no. We don’t like what they stand for. We wish them well, but we don’t like what they stand for. We can’t keep our honest integrity if we collaborated with them.
“There’s a possibility with the Green Party or the Lib Dems but I don’t make that decision, that would be a decision made by our board if we were to do that. Personally, if it’s to get rid of the current badness then it’s better getting rid of badness, but to replace it with other badness is not the way we want to go. For example, I don’t think the DV Party would ever think of challenging the Conservative Party’s Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s seat. Why? Because she’s a bloody good MP and to get rid of her would be stupid. We need to look at things logically, which makes the country better.
“We’ll go for Anna Soubry’s seat, she only won by a small majority. Amber Rudd, we’re going to target her seat too. There’s a number of seats we’ve already identified.”
Making use of technology
The DV Party says it is technologically streets ahead with their membership systems and apps for remote working, with some meetings being held online and this will be key to their direct democracy model.
“We have a system called “DV Direct” and when members join the party, they get their membership card and they can go to DV direct, which is a tool which no other party has,” Trevor says. “You can go on and type ‘Manchester’ and select an MP, then ten things come up summarising their integrity, honesty, whether they are pro-leave or remain? Ten things about that MP. Are they loyal? How many seats did they win by? Can we target that seat? We already have that system for the whole of the UK. We’ve already identified circa 20 seats that we know we can realistically win using this data.
“What we need to do now is increase our membership. If our membership increases by fifty per cent, that money goes into our pot and that money gets split amongst each of our candidates for their election. It can make a massive difference.”
Their website also has tools for veterans to get help on a range of issues, including legal assistance. Recently Trevor announced on Facebook: “We have a great guy who has just joined our Party, “Brigadier B” – who is an expert in Military law and keen to take on other ministers!”
Political correctness in the army
As one of more than 2,500 soldiers who has been released from the Army in the last five years after developing PTSD, I asked Trevor about political correctness seeping into the Army and especially around the new recruitment campaign highlighting “it’s ok to cry”. I asked whether this campaign will help better understand mental health in the military or potentially recruit the wrong type of person, resulting in a worse PTSD problem in the future?
“It’s unhelpful to have those advertisements on TV and it gives the wrong impression.
“A commander in the military does not show his emotions to his younger men. If those men see him crying, who do they turn to when they’re feeling down? It’s the wrong thing to put out. What they should be doing is promoting things like adventure training, skydiving, mountain climbing, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or adventure training in Canada, seeing the world. That’s message young people want to see.”
With the war in Afghanistan and Iraq which Trevor spent over three years involved in and with the recent strikes in Syria and potential conflict with Iran, I wanted to hear what he thought about future military intervention.
“The way I logically look at the planet is North, East, South and West. You can’t westernise the whole planet. People don’t want westernising, they want to be left alone,” he says.
“We can’t keep thinking we’re the world police. We’re not the world police. We need to leave people alone. Whether we like it or not, sometimes it’s better to leave dictators in charge. If you take away a dictator, he’s keeping all those different terrorist groups, different people pinned down. Okay, it’s not the way we do things, but it’s how they do things. We can’t just go over there and go ‘we don’t like how you’re doing things’ because that’s not how we run our democracy. They don’t have democracy. It works. You take away that and you try to put in a member of Parliament, everything just goes mental. You need to leave people alone.
“A lot of conflicts could have been avoided and have resulted in millions of refugees flooding into Europe. Brexit happened because of Germany dictating how many refugees we had to take. It wasn’t that we didn’t want refugees, it’s that we didn’t want other countries dictating the numbers.
“If we cause conflicts abroad we bloody well should take refugees in, if we’re causing all the damage, but we’re not getting proper refugees anymore. We’re now getting economic migrants, which means they are now crossing six or seven countries to come to Britain because our benefits are so fantastic.
“In a way, I don’t blame them I would be coming across if I was in their position. But at the end of the day we need to realise we can’t keep doing this. SAS veteran Bob Curry couldn’t get a house because he didn’t have the correct paperwork, but there are people coming in with no paperwork and getting houses, so we need to start looking at things logically and we need to bring common sense back to politics, we really do. That’s what we want to bring back through direct democracy, that’s bringing back common sense.”
Why Direct Democracy works
Trevor says: “You don’t need a policy for every single thing. We need policies for things that matter. You don’t need policies for things that don’t concern us.”
The party doesn’t have a policy until members tell them what the policy is. That’s the strength of direct democracy, in Trevor’s eyes.
He continues: “I’m a firm believer that we currently have a system where our politicians put things down make it law and then tell us what’s going to happen. When really we should be saying ‘we’re sick of this, we vote you in and you go and fix it.’ So that’s what we want to try.
“You have Remain MPs where their constituencies voted leave, they could be removed under direct democracy.
“You’re a member of parliament. You represent your constituents. Your constituents all voted leave and you went completely against them for your own benefit. That’s wrong, completely wrong. Under direct democracy, those constituents could vote them out and they’d be unemployed. That’s what we need to bring in. MP’s forget that they work for us.”
House of Lords
As a champion of direct democracy, the DV Party would seek to abolish the House of Lords in favour of an elected parallel Parliament. “This legacy of hereditary peers needs to go. There’s a petition at the minute that has over 150,000 signatures, which aims to reform or abolish the House of Lords. If they won’t reform it, then the people want to abolish it. We’ll do that if DV Party get into power and I think we will eventually.”
On ‘dirty politics’ and online abuse
“I did an online Q&A session where people were asking me questions, and someone said to me ‘what’s your party’s view on abortion?’
“I said we don’t have a policy, not because we don’t want to but because it’s up to our members through direct democracy to tell us. However, if you’re asking me personally, we shouldn’t have a policy on something that doesn’t involve us. If a woman wants to keep her baby, she keeps it and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t. It has nothing to do with men, nothing to do with policies and nothing to do with law. I said let’s move on next question and all of a sudden I got loads of messages calling me Hitler, because Hitler liked to kill babies. I said really? What type of people do we have in our society to come up with such nonsense?
“I’ve got PTSD, so when people troll you online with abuse, sometimes I’ve responded to it.
“I’ve got people telling me ‘just let them’. I struggle to get my head around it. Why? Why should I let them? I’ve also noticed that when people call you names and try to destroy you, that apparently because you’re in politics now, you’re supposed to let that go. Politics is quite vile. I’m in politics to try to fix veteran’s welfare and if I can get that fixed, I will happily walk away from this.
“You can’t really label veterans as racists. In the military we’ve all worked with people of different races and we all get on and we make a good team. It’s not about racism, it’s about reality. I did four operations in Afghanistan and spent three years there. My interpreter from there is now living in America after he got blown up. He was blown up in 2008 and we tried to get him into the UK. Our Government refused him entry, so he ended up going to live in Washington. We did the same thing with the Ghurka’s and we need to fix that.
“We work with Muslims who help homeless veterans. People don’t know about that.
“Even without being an elected MP, there’s a lot of things I’m trying to do to put pressure on current MP’s to try to fix and I’ll do whatever I can. If I have to push them and push them I’ll do it. I’ve done it with Johnny Mercer and Tobias Ellwood.
“There’s a lot of good ministers out there, but they just need to be pushed in the right direction. We try to focus on what we’re going to do and how we’re going to achieve it. If you attack any other party, you fall in the same trap they are all in. We want to be able to have adult conversations.
“The way we see it is that if we’re good enough to fight for our country and die for our country, then we should be bloody well good enough to lead our country.
“We’ve got a great team with a positive message. We need to get it out there.”
Trevor Coult MC, who has completed tours in the likes of Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait, was speaking with Matt Lynch exclusively for Shy Society.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain