TONY JOHNSON: Thin gruel

David Winsper
David Winsper

Gruel is a thinner version of porridge and has historically been a staple of the Western diet, especially for peasants (according to Wikipedia).

Thin gruel however has virtually no substance at all and has been a staple of the Election diet, especially from peasants (according to Wokeypodia).

It’s week 2 of 2019’s general election and the manifesto’s haven’t got any o’s.

Rien ne va plus

As you’ll have seen on page 12 of this week’s Wokingham Paper, nominations closed last Thursday and all four sets of local candidates are now known (or unknown).

And while some may have come from the Land of the Lost Deposit, there’s no stopping the optimists or the hard-workers from entering the fray, now that the cost has changed from around two years pay back in 1919 to a night out for seven people today.

By comparison with previous years, the choice of candidates in Bracknell is similar, but Reading East and Wokingham both have more choice than ever. Opinions vary as to whether candidates have scented political blood in the water  or just want their time under the election spotlights.

Over in Maidenhead things are radically different. The borough council stands to save almost 70% of the candidates’ stage costs – for when the votes are announced in the early hours of Friday December 13th.

Gone are the representatives of the Gremloids, Monster Raving Loony, Just Political, and Give Me Back My Elmo parties, the last of which managed to card just three votes in 2017 – seven less than the number of locals who nominated him.

News from no where, no how

The last week in politics has fairly rushed by.

Conservative candidates have all pledged to support Boris’s Brexit and while Dominic Raab couldn’t set an immigration target, he could say that we will have total control on fishing.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t vote to lose his job and wouldn’t put a figure on post-Brexit EU payments, though he did talk of free dental checks and national water.

Liberal Democrats were busy planting things. Jo Swinson planting a tree in north London was eclipsed by ex-Tory turned Lib Dem hopeful in Kensington who planted his foot firmly in his own mouth by allegedly making a false statement regarding the Labour incumbent. This has now been reported to police as an alleged breach of section 106 of RoPA 1983.

But the election’s been overshadowed by an honourable man’s claim about Pizza Express in Woking. Also by a fire at a six-storey block of student flats in Bolton, where government sources are said to be playing down the cladding as a factor, despite video evidence to the contrary.

One personal apology

An interview with David Winsper (former Brexit candidate for Bracknell) couldn’t be included last week but is worthy of note for more than one reason.

Initially attracted by the Brexit Party Limited’s proposal that they were going to change British politics for good by putting people with real life experience into Westminster, he was naturally disappointed by the leader’s decision to stand 317 candidates down last week.

That disappointment turned to disquiet when the party asked him to stand elsewhere: first in Slough; then in Birmingham Ladywood three days later. This has led him to reconsider whether the party’s use of his time and his money was fair and just.

His clarity and straightforwardness during the interview was refreshing and he offered his personal apology to all who’d showed support before his name was pulled as he felt that he’d let people in Bracknell down.

As he put it, “even when Brexit’s done, there’s still a disconnect between the House of Commons and the people”. An insight that candidates in all seats would do well to understand.

One ray of sunshine

On a more positive note the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, learned of the travel challenges in and around the Reading East constituency this week. During his visit the ministerial motor was outpaced by a pensioner who’d walked between two of the venues.

Asked why residents should be interested in his supporting their local candidate, the minister responded fiscally :

Something that Conservatives have always understood is that it is businesses, large and small, that generate the wealth that powers our economy and our public services. We all rely on these public services. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and if you want good public services they need to be paid for and the sensible way to do that is to have a growing economy where you back business, and that then pays for those public services”.

And suddenly he was gone. More third man than third bridge.

The Last Word

It’s going to be a while until Craig Morley’s’ proposals along with John Redwood’s observations about the political agreement needed for that elusive third Thames crossing are going to be achieved.

So should we fix our broken housing market instead, then use the developer contributions to pay for the bridge ? But more houses means more traffic…

Whoever said there was joined up thinking in government?

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