This week, EAB published some thoughts by Richard Murphy on our attitudes to the poor. YouGov has produced a survey which suggests that a quarter of us believe the poor don’t deserve to eat properly or to be able to heat their homes. This isn’t a judgment on their being in some way ‘workshy’: they could be working all hours and still be poor. It is the poverty itself which earns the anger and contempt of one in four of us. While the other three might be angry that poverty exists, one of us just detests the poor for being poor.
Murphy goes on to point out that this same figure, one in four, also (by coincidence or otherwise) happens to be the base figure of Conservative Party support.
But it is this one in four, Tories or not, who we have allowed to govern us all these years, with the help of one of the other three of us who has been gullible enough to be sucked into their hatred. To change, we don’t need to convert that one in four – it would be impossible and it’s not necessary. We just have to avoid being the one of the other three who can be led into giving credibility to their brutal contempt for their fellow man.
There have been endless reports of the Tories publishing bogus newspapers, so they can invent for themselves the kind of make-believe headlines they can never get in real life. (So much easier, my dears, then actually doing something about the problems.) In none of them is there any mention of the newspaper being a Tory publication, of course. It is a deliberate and cynical attempt by Tory HQ to mislead the public – like all those previous publications which didn’t mention the Tory party either and were printed in green – hint, hint…
Both examples represent a desperate strategy, and another low point in our political discourse. Remember: a group of Tory plotters actually sat round a table in Westminster with the deliberate intention of hoodwinking us. After 13 years of Tory government in which they have turned Britain into an economic, cultural and moral wasteland, they accept no responsibility for any of it.
There are various titles chosen for these bogus publications, and that chosen for Peterborough on behalf of its MP Paul Bristow is the Peterborough Chronicle.
What reputation the city’s Tories have earned themselves does not readily suggest any knowledge of, or interest in, history. So neither the spotty youths down there in Westminster nor the local Tory myrmidons will have realised that there was once a real Peterborough Chronicle – a thousand years ago. It was an important part of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: which for Tories (who won’t have heard of them) is the tale of how a bunch of economic migrants sailed here in small boats and then took over the country.
So they wouldn’t have realised either that the Peterborough version was usually an anguished outcry against the torture and villainy foisted on a docile public by a brutal, avaricious and unprincipled government.
Confirmation comes of what had been assumed for some time, that Nadine Dorries (Mid Beds) no longer has a constituency office. In fact, the premises previously glorying in that title is now a beauty salon. (Is it called Nadine’s Nails, by any chance?) Following on from complaints from Flitwick, the good people of Shefford have now declared they have had enough of La Dorries too. In an open letter to her, Shefford Town Council declare:
“Residents of Shefford feel that, due to your scant interest in your constituency, your aversion to attending local events and your lack of a maintained constituency office, the local area has been ‘abandoned’.”
One might assume that Ms Dorries’ local Conservative Association would feel they have some responsibility here – after all, it was they who foisted her on the electorate as someone who would work for them and fight for their interests – all under the Tory banner. But we have already been told by the local party chair that: “The Association’s primary function is to secure the return of Conservative candidates at elections”. So, no responsibility for what they do (or don’t do) after being elected, then.
Good people of Mid Beds: do you ever feel you’ve been had?
Meanwhile, the LibDems don’t have the patience of Miss Dorries’ own party, and are planning to do something about it. They have a cunning wheeze to introduce the Dosser Dorries Bill, to suspend her from the Commons for 10 days if she doesn’t attend when parliament returns on 14 September.
That would allow the option of a recall petition by her constituents. If 10% sign it, that would trigger an automatic by-election. The bill is to be introduced by Daisy Cooper, the LDs’ deputy leader and MP for St Albans.
There is a sting in the tail though. The bill has to be passed by the Commons, which means it will need Tory support. Will those MPs be prepared to face the embarrassment of ousting one of their own and thus admit to the charges against her; or be seen by a furious electorate to be backing the odious Dorries, Queen of Sleaze?
In practice, no doubt droves of Tory MPs will find they are washing their hair on the day of the vote. In their absence, of course, the bill would pass anyway.
Priti Patel (Witham) still has it in for her successor at the Home Office, Suella Braverman. The apparent outrage is still about Wethersfield, the former RAF base scheduled to house any number of refugees. It is not actually in Ms Patel’s constituency, though no doubt her own voters get just as inflamed as those in Braintree, in which Wethersfield is situated. That is the seat of the foreign secretary, James Cleverly. No doubt Ms Patel hardly needs an excuse to vent her spleen over the woman who took her job, but refugees is a handy excuse: especially after the cock-ups she made of the problem herself.
This diarist has speculated before about whether this is a last gasp bid by Ms Patel to succeed the hapless Rishi Sunak, though it may also be as a favour to Mr Cleverly. He would find it indelicate to mount an attack on his colleague, the home secretary, and still maintain hopes of keeping his job.
In fact, Braintree is also likely to be in the news very shortly because of its council. Your correspondent is aware that EAB’s Spotlight investigations team are on the case. Mum is apparently the word, but they won’t mind my mentioning it here.
Ipswich is hardly alone in our region in having a bit of a reputation problem. Pecksniff has mentioned it more than once, and clearly the good burghers of the town recognise it too, given the title they have chosen for the project to improve things: ‘Turning our Town Around’. They are to be congratulated on facing up to the problems, but when facing difficult problems people sometimes come up with silly solutions.
The particular problem here involves Arras Square and St Stephens church (now a music venue). The area has a record of drug and alcohol use and, according to police, “using raised tombstones for sexual activity”. (The Conservative Club is probably less than 50 yards away, up a dark alleyway, and the reason it is mentioned here is to point out there is no suggestion of there being any link whatever.)
Among the ideas to combat improper sexual activity put forward by the police, mysteriously, is to “reduce the available seating”. Is there an audience, then? Or, does this imply that the seats are in constant use for this purpose and this would at least reduce the number of fornicatory incidents? Without going into detail, my dears – one knows you would hate that, you tinkers – when passions are aroused isn’t it likely that, if no tombstone is free at that moment, performers may, as it were, double up? One can see this could easily lead to some troubling health and safety concerns, as to how many fornicators (and in quite what contortions) might be accommodated at any one time.
Clearly there would be a need for stern warning signs: “Not more than two acts of copulation to be performed on this bench at any one time”, with a further reference to the by-laws to explain quite which positions are permitted.
But we have to wonder whether the council’s heart is really in it. The company charged with coming up with the new designs for Arras Square is, after all, called Erect Architecture.
In May, EAB revealed exclusively that regulations on dealing with the new proof of identity voting law were being broken. We featured East Suffolk Council particularly, having visited some of their polling stations. The Electoral Commission declared that the numbers turned away for not having proof of identity should be recorded, to establish how the new requirements were affecting voting numbers. East Suffolk were not doing this and so were acting illegally.
It was clear from interviewing members of staff that attempts to head off non-qualified voters before they could be counted were deliberate, with polling station staff being briefed beforehand that it would “save paperwork”.
Now we hear further damning testimony. A voter from Saxmundham tells us they were met at the door by somebody calling themselves ‘the manager’, who asked for ID. “I told him I’d show it to the person issuing the vote slip, but that person said only ‘the manager’ was allowed to check,” we are told. This procedure is quite incorrect. Those not qualified to vote by dint of having no ID have to be recorded by the polling staff: it is they who carry the responsibility of ensuring voting takes place properly and legally and a voter’s ineligibility has to be recorded by them.
“I asked the man what he does if people didn’t have ID. He looked confused, so I helped him out a bit: ‘You record that, right?’ He thought about it for a good few seconds before nodding and assuring me that was absolutely the case.”
There has been one council by-election result this week, which may not as much as blow the froth off a pint of Old Unprintable but looks a surprise anyway. It was in Marshalswick East and Jersey Farm, in St Albans, and the Liberal Democrats (the incumbents) with 46%, Greens (6%) and Labour (5%) all lost a little vote share. The Tories gained a little.
So not dramatic, but still: what can this mean? Is there a Tory fight-back? Are there local factors in play? Has somebody found an honest Tory? If anybody knows, Pecksniff would be interested to hear. Send a DM to @PecksniffsDiary or email [email protected].
“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date”, as spake the bard sorrowfully. But he didn’t have to deal with the media silly season. Lethargy wins out in the end though, and it is lethargy as much as lack of idiocies which has kept this diary shorter than usual. The bar of the Muckrakers is unusually quiet. Frank tries to entertain us with his recitation of the entire catalogue of Stanley Holloway monologues, but otherwise amid the growing silences the only conclusion has been that life needs a better sub editor and a more compelling narrative. One of the wise men wondered with a sigh this week whether it might be possible for ennui to prove fatal, (though admittedly this was halfway through Frank’s spirited rendition of ‘Albert and the Lion’).
But fear not. The party conference season is almost upon us. Matt Hancock and Thérèse Coffey at the Tory bash in their annual karaoke showstopper. Keir Starmer vainly searching Liverpool for a goose he can say ‘boo’ to. Not long to wait now.
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