I first knew of the existence of Baroness D’Souza, Speaker of the House of Lords when she appeared on a special “Democracy Day” edition of Woman’s Hour, broadcasted on BBC 4 on January 20 this year.
Listening to the program, I was prompted to contact the Tony Blair appointed, seemingly independent-thinking peer on the basis of her background as a human rights activist and her work in the field of development, noted by herself and the program host Jane Garvey.
On January 29 I sent the Lord speaker an email inquiring what support she or other peers may be able to offer me in my struggle against a long-running campaign of character assassination, economic sabotage and related human rights abuses by the Barbados government.
However, up to the time of publishing this article, I have had no response from Baroness D’Souza.
Despite the House of Lord’s reputation as a relatively undemocratic, establishment-interests-serving institution, I find the Lord Speaker’s silence profoundly puzzling and perplexing.
The reasons for my perplexity include,
- the House of Lord’s role in facilitating legal challenges to conservative conventions (for example, “airing” arguments in support of legalizing gay marriage and assisted dying
- the relative independence of Baroness D’Souza, a former cross-bench peer – rather like the relative independence of Barbadian economist Sir Frank Alleyne and Queen’s Counsel Ezra Alleyne, and
- Baroness D’Souza’s human rights activism and development work, which may well have involved work with Barbadians (like Sir Frank) and other Caribbean citizens and therefore making my dilemma one with which she might have some familiarity
To the best of my recollection, when Baroness D’Souza came to my attention almost 8 months ago, the fact that she was a top-billed guest on the feminist-flag-flying Woman’s Hour seemed to me to be of little consequence.
Indeed I have only the vaguest “memory” of the “possibility” of even noticing that detail.
After all, this was a Democracy Day special edition.
It did not occur to me that Baroness D’Souza’s human rights work might be concerned with defending and championing the rights of female humans only or primarily.
However, eight months of silence by this eloquent Lord Speaker office holder have forced me to consider this possibility – and others.
Eight months of silence by her House of Lords office, broken only yesterday (August 17) when I called and spoke to someone on her staff named “Ed”, has forced me to consider the possibility that my access to Baroness D’Souza – as a United Kingdom tax payer and human being – may have been blocked by her or someone intent on ensuring that the Barbados government’s relative stranglehold on my liberty and suppression of my voice continues.
Having done a bit of research into Frances Gertrude Claire D’Souza’s background, I also consider that she is a very busy person.
But do any of her House of Lords’, university lecturing, parenting (and grand-parenting) or other roles individually or collectively justify her eight months’ silence, virtually ignoring my appeal for assistance.
Could she or a member of her staff have not at least dropped me a note, saying she was inundated with work and perhaps referred me to another public servant.
Just yesterday, again on Woman’s Hour, providentially, I heard Baroness D’Souza’s peer Michelle Mone OBE speaking about how much work the House of Lords does.
But from where I stand, that’s at least as much of a reason to collaborate with me and others “outside the system”, relatively speaking, as any reason that may be offered to ignore, snub or otherwise exclude us.
I was actually looking forward to working with the Lord Speaker to amplify her and others views and voices in relation to a number of matters other than my complaint against the Barbados government.
I may not have the resources of the BBC, but I am known to have achieved significant social change simply by advocating the need for it by word-of-mouth.
Among other things, the inclusion of an extract from my book The Bible: Beauty and Terror Reconciled in the Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions (2013, University of Illinois) attests to this fact.
And I was particularly hoping to work with Baroness D’Souza to challenge simplistic, antagonistic ideas about science and religion and showing where these two fields actually complement each other when they overlap.
And since learning of Baroness D’Souza’s intriguing marital track record, just yesterday, I thought that she and I might together “air” some ideas about the complexity of legal marriage arrangements.
It seems to me that engaging with a member of the public like me and others whom she and others in Parliament are sworn to serve could only add to Baroness D’Souza’s and other Lords and MPs democracy advancing ambitions.
I’m actually planning to give Jeffrey Donaldson MP a call, to see how I can contribute to that Democratic Ulster Unionist member’s democracy promoting ambitions.
Just today I heard him on Radio 4 extolling the virtues of peaceful, parliament employing programs of change, rather than violence promoting revolutionary ones.
Now, unless I have misunderstood what the “assisted dying” debate is about, I am going to assume that Baroness D’Souza is not one of those who are apparently intent on seeing me slit my wrist or otherwise giving up on life because of politically motivated chicanery and wider social marginalization.
I am going to assume that the Lord Speaker does not share Barbadians Esther Phillips’, Margaret Gill’s, Hamilton Lashley’s or others’ self-evident, silence-employing ambition to have my name removed from any public or private record that recognizes my significant achievements.
Until I have conclusive evidence otherwise, I am going to assume that the Lord Speaker’s denunciation of the scandalous conduct of her recently disgraced colleague Lord Sewell was not a hypocritical deception.
Ed said that he or someone else in the Lord Speaker’s office will be getting in touch with me if Baroness D’Souza is unable to do so herself.
I hope this happens soon.
As I am sure Baroness D’Souza knows, justice denied is the same as justice delayed.
To be continued…