Limerick Reviews and Summaries
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
On the P4 to Lewisham, passing Casino Avenue... it always comes back to here.
Although it had already dawned on me a couple of weeks ago, it's sad that it's taken me until now to realise what must be south-east London blogging's worst-kept "secret".
If you see a slightly confused man who doesn't seem to know where he's going bumbling about on the streets of Greenwich, it's probably Nick Raynsford. Nick has been MP for Greenwich and Woolwich for some time now, but his most recent term has been marked by its combination of disinterest in local issues and blatant lobbying on behalf of the construction industry.
How could they not include the fact that Nick Raynsford was in fact born with a silver spoon in his mouth as Wyvill Richard Nicolls Raynsford? Why fail to mention that he grew up in Milton Manor? And that he was educated at the uber-posh private Repton School?
I'm sure the Labour Party will wish to correct these blaring omissions at the earliest opportunity. I mean, I'd hate for Raynsford to attempt to campaign on the basis of Labour's working class roots without making his own background totally transparent.
Voting is a laborious, but important task. Deciding whom to vote for is not to be determined lightly. However, all too often we end up voting for a party slate.
Does it honestly make sense to vote for three Conservative councillors because you like the look of David Cameron on tv? Should you really be voting for three Green councillors because you hate all the main parties? Can you honestly justify selecting three Lib Dems as a protest vote? And, er, will anyone be voting for all three Labour candidates?
No! You will be on the hunt for alternative means for selecting your candidates. And here are my thoughts:
We want candidates who really understand our ward and our particular issues. East Greenwich has suffered in recent years, thanks to a useless MP who's been permanently in hock to the building trade and a council who doesn't give a stuff about us, all that guff about "The heart of East Greenwich" notwithstanding.
Presumably people who actually live nearby should have a better understanding of our issues than those who don't. So here's a handy dandy map of our ward and where the respective candidates live:
So full marks to the Lib Dems who have managed to choose three candidates who live in the ward. The Conservatives have two, but their third - Toks Bailey - is so far east she's almost outside the borough. Labour have, strictly speaking, only one. But Mary Mills is only just on the "wrong" side of the tracks and we won't count it against her. And the Greens have no-one in the ward. That's hardly surprising given how bad our air quality is.
A tough one, I realise. How ready are each of the candidates to be a councillor? Well, Mary Mills and Dick Quibell have little to prove here, having been councillors already (and in Mary's case, for ages). Miranda Williams is Labour stand-in for Chris Roberts who chickened out of standing for re-election because he knows, deep down, that this country hates Labour's guts and he'd probably lose his seat. Miranda looks like a Labour patsy, which absolutely Will Not Do.
I can't say I know much about the Conservatives, but you can find a bio of each of them here. They all seem to have good Greenwichy roots.
Alex Cunliffe is a lawyer. However, unless the Lib Dems have a positive glut of people named Alex Cunliffe, he's also their PPC for Erith and Thamesmead. He really ought to commit to one job or another, don't you think? I'm sorry, I couldn't find anything else about the other Lib Dems either on Google or on the Lib Dems website - doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
The Green party slate is here. Again, good on the Greens for (like the Conservatives) putting up a special page just for us Peninsulans.
I like the Internet. Candidates who can demonstrate a strong online presence will impress me more than those who don't.
The hands down winner here is the Green Party's Darryl Chamberlain who writes a simply excellent blog called 853. It's a fantastic insight into what it's like to live here in Greenwich. He's also very active on Twitter. Next in line is, er, not-so-youthful Mary Mills (shame on you young'uns!). Mary is brilliant at responding to e-mails on anything at any hour of the day or night. She also has her own blog and is active on Twitter.
Charlie Easton has a pretty nice looking, if partisan, blog called Gypsy Moth. It would have been nice for it to have been a bit more local and less Conservative though. But his heart's clearly in East Greenwich.
I'm not aware that the others have much Internet presence to shout about.
Well that's your lot. I think I know whom I'm voting for, but could easily change my mind if the candidates stop by the house for a chat.
Please feel free to feed back your thoughts to me at email@example.com.
So Labour has a new strategy - try to embarrass the Conservatives. Their preferred weapon of choice is Daniel Hannan, UK MEP and darling of the American right, who has a rather amusing habit of saying incredibly sensible and completely batty things - often in the same sentence. Like so much of what Labour chooses to do, their plan is stupid:
(1) Every time the media refers to the latest thing Hannan has said (today's utterance is that he apparently admires Enoch Powell - yeah, well so what, one can admire someone without endorsing absolutely every statement they ever made), they have to remind us precisely who he is. And Hannan is still most famous as the man who eloquently and effectively made Gordon Brown cry when he tore strip after strip off the one-eyed Jock bastard in a European Parliament speech. So that's the clip they use. Not quite the message Labour wanted to endorse, methinks.
(2) Even worse, Hannan is very useful to Cameron. Hannan's extreme views on certain issues will make him very appealing to wavering Conservative voters who might be thinking of voting UKIP because they think Cameron is a Tony Blair wannabe. Seeing Hannan might be enough to keep them in the fold. Yet Cameron can easily dismiss Hannan as a 'mad aunt in the attic' sort of character. He's not an MP, he's an MEP, so it's possible to pretend he's not a Conservative while quite obviously allowing him to be one.
I rather suspect that in drawing attention to Hannan, Labour are playing with fire. You play with matches, you get burned.
This will truly put all their sustainability rhetoric to the test. They had better clean up every single last piece of litter behind them, or they will be exposed as a bunch of middle-class, pampered, spoiled jumped-up hypocritical brats.
I hereby pledge that if they don't clean up behind themselves to my satisfaction, I shall drown a panda in toxic waste to teach them all a lesson.
That said, I'm also mindful of the awful violence at yesterday's football match between West Ham and Millwall. It's vital that we find a way to neutralise the tensions between these teams' supporters and reconcile their differences.
I propose that we achieve this by finding them a common enemy, against which all supporters can unite. And what do football fans hate more than other teams' football fans?
That's right - hippies. So let's get all the fans down to Blackheath so they can k--k the s--t out of some climate change protesters.
In the name of peace, naturally.
From an e-mail to a dear friend, but probably also bloggable:
There is much amusement here at the American hysteria over the very idea of socialised healthcare. Not that all the concerns are rubbish, but many of the arguments are. Best of all is the suggestion that we should be thankful that Professor Stephen Hawking doesn't live in the UK, because someone with his disabilities should surely have been left to die on the NHS. Dear SH felt moved to point out that (a) he does in fact live in the UK, (b) he has lived in the UK all his life, (c) he has received excellent treatment on the NHS throughout his life and (d) he was treated only in April this year at the (NHS) Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge! Healthcare is one of those things that is demanded most by the very young, very old and very poor, three groups that, by and large, don't have massive resources to call upon. It would, to my rather unsocialist brain at least, seem ripe for socialisation to ensure that the money is available to these groups when they need it, just as - say - roads are.
The cynic in me suggests that the real concern among the American right is that the US might find a way to cut its overall healthcare costs (15% of GDP) down to the level of UK healthcare spending (8%). Just how we can cover our entire population for about half as much as it costs the US to cover 80% of its population is left as an exercise for the reader. You may also wish to consider what the US might spend the potential $1trn saving on healthcare on!