Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lembit, Humph, Paddick, Cameron and the Toryboys

It has been a pretty manic week so a lot of mus/zings rolled into one. I have already forgotten what happened on Monday and Tuesday (except for falling over trying to find the entrance to the Marriot at West India Quay on Monday must have been the flat shoes, my feet just aren't used to them!), but Wednesday I had the great pleasure of being a panellist on the Bedford Schools Question Time. Great fun though I am still pondering whether being regarded as motherly is a good or a bad thing? Quite a barney with Toryboy Richard Fuller, though one of his supporters thought he went too far in attacking me. I bovvered?! Actually, I get on with him very well, outside of such events he is always charming and clearly understands the way to my heart is as simple as offering to carry my suitcase (!)

Thursday's highlight (apart of course for my divisional away day) was a promises auction in Bedford with the one and only Lembit. Actually, shouldn't that be the highlight of the week/month/year/century?????? Lembit managed to extract over £2,000 from the good burghers of Bedford (among us our own local celebrity Mike Smithson from Political Betting), also persuading one unsuspecting soul to part with £160 for me to cook them a meal (OK, I did have to promise to dance on the table as well to get the price up!). But somehow I also managed to part with a similar amount of money.........

Friday evening I met up with pal Charlotte. En route I read an interesting interview with Brian Paddick, Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate. I was horrified to learn that one of his headline policies is to privatise the running of the tube...........since when has that been Lib Dem policy? Is anyone advising him? Are mayoral candidates exempt from the normal allegiance to Lib Dem policy? Has something slipped under the radar and we missed it? But, however dreadful London Transport can be, what masquerades as our national rail service has to be worse. First Capital Connect, run by a certain Elaine Holt, presumably having ousted Thameslink promising the earth, is terrible. The trains are sometimes too hot, but usually too cold. Dirty, crowded, squashed and uncomfortable. On Friday I arrived in time for the 00.03 train.......but the board showed 00.38, no notice of a cancellation. I checked the timetable, no change. So, up I trotted to the concourse to find out what was happening. A helpful station manager informed me the 00.03 was running.........why wasn't it on the board? Apparently because the board is run from Germany.......hmmmm, so they clearly don't necessarily know what is going on in London. I then had to scoot down to catch it. Please, when will we wake up and smell the coffee....the old mantra public bad, private good, that has dominated public policy for a generation had lead to far worse, not far better, services. I arrived home to the sad news of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton. I am a Radio 4 geek and Humph, as chair of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, is one of my all time heroes. OK, he was a good age, but for so many of us he has been such a fixture in our lives - he will be sadly missed.

And on to Cameron..........hmmm. I have been out in Essex today, where I have met the odd Tory, but more disturbingly the odd Tory who, if they had a choice, would vote BNP. Cameron is on a roll, but it wasn't that long ago (last summer?) when he was almost on his last legs. In my humble opinion, his rapid elevation has little to do with his ability and far more to do with Brown's inability. He has laid out his stall with such breadth that it is impossible to know exactly what he does stand for. In preparation for my Question Time this week I paid a little visit to the Tory's website looking for policies............ah yes, Tory policies, what do they look like, would they know if one jumped up and bit them in the bottom? What does it say for our beleaguered electorate that they think the Tories would make a better hash of the NHS and schools, with NO ACTUAL POLICIES?! Sorry, I jest, they do have 3 GREEN papers. Now last time I looked - Green meant for consultation? Absolutely nothing on the environment (Zac G eat your heart out) despite the high profile "taskforce". And, tax, now there's a thought, nothing about how or whether any sums add up. No wonder they were at a loss to be able to answer the question about how they would find the money to reintroduce the 10p rate for the poor they now, astonishingly, find so deserving!

So, all will be revealed in the early hours of Friday morning. My prediction? Labour - dire dire dire, local little hurrahs but generally on the slide. Tory - teeny weeny gains, mainly down to disillusion with Labour and local difficulties on the part of their opponents, but net losses to us. Lib Dems - local losses (partly due to our legendary lack of discipline, but also due to an innate faith in the efficacy of change) but in some areas, significant gains.

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