This week’s polls tell us that almost three quarters of voters would like real change, but feel it isn’t on offer. More than half wish there were somebody else to vote for.
Yet still Labour’s apologists insist they know what they’re doing; which to be fair is an allegation never alleged as far as one knows against the Liberal Democrats. Local LibDem activists keep doing their thing, but from the top floor at Vincent Square comes there not a dickybird.
Actually, this week your diarist has been privy to one of the most sacred (and secret) texts of the party, one that very few of its own members have actually been allowed to read. It’s the one that sets out its ideology.
Part of that ideology – displayed in illuminated lettering – is that “nobody shall be enslaved by conformity”. This is, at first reading, somewhat baffling. Does it mean your elected LibDem councillors happily drive through red lights, or throw to the winds the idea that they should change their underwear every day? It is a somewhat unusual objective for a political party, though no less welcome for that. (Except for changing the underwear, obvs.) Be assured, Mr P will quiz closely all LibDem contacts over the next couple of weeks.
That isn’t of course to suggest that nobody on the ground in Labour or the LibDems knows what they are doing; just that back at HQ it’s quite possible no-one has realised they are doing it. (There are certain tensions between local activists and their bureaucracy in both parties.) Anyway, as proof that there is life during the summer recess, last week and just too late for our deadline, we received the result of the Freebridge by election in Kings Lynn. It was for a vacant seat on Norfolk County Council. The result is remarkable, even in these days of the collapsing Tory vote.
LibDem Councillor John Crofts took the seat from the Tories, vanquishing what had been a Tory stronghold. Their vote share fell from 64% to 30%. Labour came last and it seems didn’t put out a single leaflet. Was this as part of a tacit agreement to give the LibDems a free run? An honourable decision if so, but since Labour would never dream of admitting they might stand aside, we can’t know.
The other possibility is that the local party is moribund and had neither the will nor the resources to fight it. So perhaps it was a bit of both.
Speaking of Kings Lynn, readers may recall Pecksniff reporting on an unsavoury case involving Councillor Shimit Patel, a member of West Norfolk Council, and allegations of misconduct in his public office. Councillor Patel even reportedly admitted the allegations, though nobody knew what they were because the ruling Tory group on the council refused to disclose them. Press and public were barred from the hearing. That was in December 2021, and the council put off a decision on the matter till a month later, 31 January 2022. Further claims about the way councillors had dealt with the matter led to the chair of their inquiry standing down. But so serious were the allegations considered that the police began a criminal investigation.
Time passed. The council did not report back, nor did the police, and still the allegations remained secret. There were rumours among local politicians that the police had just bottled it.
It is now August 2023, and this week we learn that the police have at last brought the investigation to a close,
having just bottled it due to lack of evidence…
Meanwhile, Cllr Patel is no longer a member of West Norfolk Council, so the council’s inquiry has long since been abandoned.
Mr Patel was the subject of serious allegations, which he reportedly admitted, though we were not allowed to know what they were. But they were so serious that police undertook an investigation. We can’t know how they did it, whether councillors ever handed over evidence, nor whether police were aware, but preferred to let sleeping dogs lie.
Because it’s a secret.
Last week little Oliver Dowden (Hertsmere and apparently our deputy prime minister) attended the loading of wind turbine parts onto a ship at somewhere called Able Seaton Port (me neither), bound for the Dogger Bank wind farm.
He was there apparently to launch, it says here, a document: a ‘risk register‘ by all accounts. The turbine parts weren’t manufactured here, just shipped through, but – by god! – bits of some of them were made from British steel! That seemed to be the extent of British involvement. Surely this wasn’t a vain and pointless attempt by the DPM to try and give the impression his government had anything to do with it?
Much more likely that Ollie still had a box unticked in his Boy’s Book of British Ports, and its completion now means he can write off for his free window sticker.
Last week, Tom Hunt (Ipswich) and it seems our resident right wing motormouth, was complaining about leftie lawyers helping refugees. And apparently these stop-at-nothing traitors to our country have chosen to do it through that most underhand weapon, the law.
Underhand because it’s binding and it represents by definition the proper conduct expected in this country. So there’s no get-out clause, whatever the Express says. Then this week, Mr Hunt attacked the BBC and by implication those members of the public it interviewed, for once again failing properly to represent his prejudices. Two were interviewed, and neither agreed with him. This can only be because of BBC bias or – perhaps worse – bias by the public too.
He really should get out more, and not spend all his time exchanging spleen with the Ipswich Conservatives.
As we have observed before, writing about Tom Hunt is like getting sh*t on your shoe. (It remains to be seen whether that will get past the editor. We’re more than halfway through so she may be on her second bottle by now.) Anyway, you just can’t get rid of our man Hunt. As already observed, he has been busy on the telly this week. He used an interview on GBNews with Lee Anderson, also the deputy chair of the Tory party, to make wild and untrue allegations about his Labour opponent at the next general election, Jack Abbott. (The allegations could only be made on GBNews because any other broadcaster would have demanded Mr Hunt retract them.)
He claimed Mr Abbott had attended a “pro-open borders rally” in Ipswich. The rally to which he refers was actually organised by a number of far-right groups, including neo-nazis and other fascist organisations. It was in opposition to Ipswich offering accommodation to asylum seekers and was openly supported by Mr Hunt. Mr Abbott was among the group who arrived to demonstrate about the invitation to fascists to appear on the town’s streets.
Mr Hunt’s false allegations were exclusively debunked by EAB in April, in “Exclusive! Claims by refugee row MP of “no far-right link” disproved”, after which he has never dared make them again. Until GBNews gave him air space.
When not busy cosying up to fascists with Tom Hunt. this week Lee Anderson told asylum seekers to “f*ck off back to France”, and Keir Starmer has been criticised for not condemning the remarks. Pecksniff has little time for gesture politics, which this clearly is. Not only are Mr Anderson’s remarks contemptible and bring public discourse to a new low, but they are supported by his party leadership since they keep the news cycle agog at anything immigration-related.
(They still hope to make inroads into public opinion via this route, even though for months the polls have been showing that on this, like everything else, the voters prefer Labour.)
So, this diarist does not attack Keir Starmer for failing to join in the mudslinging. His role ought to be to keep the public’s attention on serious and strategic politics. Only he doesn’t seem to be doing that much, either.
Did someone mention Brexit?
Now here is a wonderful, good news story. (No, seriously.) Colchester City Council is a ‘city of sanctuary’, one of a number in this region – Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Luton and Norwich – and Bedfordshire is a county of sanctuary. The idea is to build “a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK”.
Colchester Council leader Councillor David King said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Afghan people who supported and served with British forces against the Taliban. They put their lives on the line to help us, and it is right we should do everything we can to help them rebuild their lives.”
The concept of sanctuary is about as old as civilisation itself, the idea that we recognise and respect each other’s humanity. Without that recognition we live in misery and chaos.
Tom Hunt and his colleagues express contempt for sanctuary and, in doing so, for civilisation itself. What they are doing holding any positions in public life is a question which will necessarily confront voters at the ballot box.
Yet still we are prepared to let them in. No, not refugees. My dears, do try to keep up. Pecksniff (29 July) drew readers’ attention to the appearance on the short list of possible Tory parliamentary candidates in West Suffolk of one Nick Timothy.
There is no need to reiterate here what we revealed then, except to point out that, as senior adviser to Theresa May when she was prime minister, he was one of the most powerful and poisonous advocates of Brexit. She was in fact his mouthpiece, and most of her decisions were his.
When first announced as a hopeful for West Suffolk he seemed a shoo-in, given his public status. Needless to say, when confronted by several wannabe MPs, one or two of whom might even want to face reality and move the party out of its present mire, the party chose the candidate who most represented the lunacies, delusions and catastrophes of the past. Mr Timothy got the gig.
This week openDemocracy reported that the Carlton Club, the elite Tories-only club in London, has been accepting ‘dark money’ as an apparently perfectly legal money launderer between wealthy foreign donors (who can’t make direct donations themselves) and Tory MPs. The fact that the club donates money in this way has been known for some time. Pecksniff (13 January this year) revealed that Tom Hunt has received £5,000 in this way. There has been no proof that it came from foreign donors but given this week’s revelations, readers may wish to draw their own conclusions.
Therese Coffey remains an enigma. What is her appeal to her electorate? Labour has named her constituency of Suffolk Coastal as one of its ‘development’ seats, which it might win in a good year. (Bury St Edmunds and No-Show Jo Churchill is another.) But with the Tories predicted by some polls as likely to win less than 100 seats, what more are they waiting for?
On the other hand, announcing the development seats is an easy way for Labour of firing a shot across the Greens’ bows in an area where they are becoming a threat, and perhaps gives the impression that the party is giving them more attention than it is. Electoral Calculus still has Dr Coffey clinging on at the next election. Labour could edge Bury, though this has been a Greens target seat. Boundary changes have confused calculations somewhat.
There have been rumours for some time that Therese Coffey may not stand for re-election, though it’s difficult to dissociate them from wishful thinking. If any reader has some more tangible rumour, Pecksniff would be pleased to hear it – or gossip or verifiable fact from any seat in our region. Suffolk Coastal though holds a special place in our attentions, and your diarist would be pleased to receive any political news from candidates or others. Write to [email protected], or tweet a direct message to @PecksniffsDiary.