Seventeen days left and things are getting weirder. This is good. The national media are popping up everywhere. Only yesterday. after having my hair trimmed back from it’s Tory floppy-fringe into a more dour Orwell cut, I walked into one of the chief political writers for The Economist. While I don’t suppose the hot economic topics after May (will Wilkos rack up their prices when they reopen? Are Beeston library fines punitive?) will much tickle the fancy of such publications post-election, it’s nice to be the centre of attention from that most navel gazing of capitals, London.
The 2010 campaign, when I was a little known, barely published local writer, unmarried, a big boozer and smoker who’d hammer back a couple of bottles of wine and 20 Lamberts while tapping out the latest screed; well, that campaign was weird, weird and fun. This one has been a little lacklustre, both nationally and locally, possibly due to the fixed date. It’s probably better for democracy, but I miss when election dates were a mystery until a few weeks before. Similarly, I’m sure that PR is a much better system, but I love First Past the Post for it’s sheer drama on election night. We have an absurd system. I hate myself for loving it so much. I’m also married now, after meeting my wife after the 2010 campaign. I quit smoking soon after, and boozing after that, and now write for actual money rather than, to quote Byron ‘…to empty my mind, [else] I go mad’.
Here’s a few snippets of stuff that fell into my purview recently:
LYING LITIGATING SPIV VISITS LYING LITIGATING SOUBZ
Yes, everyone’s favourite liar, conman and smirking idiot Grant Shapps came to Beeston the other day to, ahem, boost Soubry’s flagging campaign. Shapps, you’ll recall, is the chair of the Conservative Party and a guy so profoundly idiotic he has two have three names to accommodate his malign buffoonery. Masquerading as ‘Sebastian Fox’ (Christ, is any name for Tory?) or ‘Michael Green’, Shapps sold software on the internet promising untold riches. Of course, it was all balls,with the get-rich schemes eventually being deemed illegal and chucked off the internet. Still he continued, despite being an MP. When a constituent questioned this, Shapps threw a hissy-fit and sent his lawyers after the guy. Problem is, Shapps was then counter-sued by the guy, and now looks like being hauled through the courts for making egregious legal threats. Perfect he should team up with Soubz, really. *update: since writing this, Shapps has got into deeper poo after it was revealed he’d been naughtily editing not just his own Wikipedia entry, but several fellow senior Tories as well. Ooops….
Much has been made of Cameron being too frit to debate on TV to a wide audience, instead endorsing our long term view that he is a total mass-debater by getting as many party leaders in between himself and Miliband. Yet his treatment of local journalists is proving to be pretty shit as well. When he was recently here, The Nottingham Post asked for an interview. The PM’s team demanded three questions only, all to be sent over 24 hours before the meeting. This is pretty weird treatment: if you’re so confident of your record and future plans, why not show it?
It gets worse. They were then told the PM would only answer one of the pre-selected questions, and when the reporter tried to ask about local issues, including ones on the NHS struggling here, he refused to answer.
It’s not just Nottingham he has done this to. All over the country, he has been denying access from local press, instead demanding they print out whatever party line Lynton Crosby wants him to spew in the ears of journalists. While the non-dom newspaper proprietors on the nationals try and paint Miliband as Satan ( that ‘North London intellectual’ thing they put out… am I the only one thinking this is just code for ‘jew’?), the local press are getting increasingly frustrated at the Tories and their candidates. Cameron used to work in PR, astonishingly.
This treatment of journalists is hopefully something that Soubry, as a former member of the National Union of Journalists, should be apoplectic with rage about. She bills herself as a champion of free speech after all.
Yet her own position here is looking weak. Over the last few years, her definition has been tenuous at best. She refused to write a column for the Beeston Express when she found out other politicians had been invited to contribute, shrieking out a bizarre diatribe about it becoming a left-wing rag (????). She kicked whole swathes of people off her mailing list, until the local press sniffed around the story where they were miraculously reinstated.
She has thrown uncountable legal threats at me, getting her partner Neil DaviDson to send threatening letters demanding I pay £1,500 + VAT (though the Solicitors Regulatory Association make it clear such up-front demands are not legal). When I stand up to the demand, and refuse to withdraw my comments, she gets the scummy Broxtowe Blue (ran by a chap over in her real home, Gedling) to attack me instead. Nasty party indeed.
BRAMCOTE TODAY: LIB DEM MOUTHPIECE?
I really like Bramcote Today. It has acted as a great source of discussion and information for some time. Yet lately it seems to have decided to drop impartiality, and print some rather choice stuff. The latest to catch my eye was a slightly frothing one regarding the SNP manifesto. Weird, I didn’t think that they were standing anyone, or haggis was on the menu at the Top House. Reading on, it was a warning of the implications of a government involving the SNP. Weird, I thought that the people voting SNP were actual UK voters, and if that’s what Scotland votes for, they deserve to have a voice. But whatever. It was still a bizarre topic to have spout off in a hyper-provincial blog.
If Bramcote Today is independent, as this blog is, then fine, I apologise. But I seem to remember it being funded by money gifted from the Lib Dems via the council (each councillor can ‘donate’ a sum of money to a local group). If this is true, this would be misappropriation of council funds, it seems. There was already a case a few months back when Independent Councillor Richard Macrae sent me an exchange he had with the moderators on the site. Seemingly, they’d refused to post comments he’d made regarding David Watts, Lib Dem councillor for Broxtowe. The grounds for this were ‘Watts has threatened to sue us if we do that’. A rather topsy-turvy way of doing journalism that: usually you print and then if the subject is annoyed and wants to sue, you either remove or challenge. You don’t have an editorial policy that screens out criticism just in case it might be subject to legal action.
Now, I concede I don’t know too much about the way Bramcote Today works, so would be happy if someone could put me right. Cheers.
I’m hoping to post daily now on here as the election enters it’s final fortnight. But I would love some help, and extra plurality of views would be good too. If you’d like me to host an article on here, draft me a precis at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you asap.