Monday, May 02, 2005

Who let the dog out?

I now have my first election wound: a small nick on my right ankle, put there by an irate (Tory?) Yorkshire Terrier who took exception to my delivery-round of Lib Dem leaflets in the nearby hamlet of Llanigon. I happily admit to a 'Big dog, no leaflet' policy, but this bastard looked small enough to ignore. How wrong I was.

Such was my return to the electoral coalface, after slightly more glamorous engagements in Cambridge and Birmingham. For the former, I was part of a 4-person panel with top novelist Alison Pearson, top political scientist Kieron O'Hara (whose book After Blair: Conservatism Beyond Thatcher is recommended without qualification, even in hardback), and top Tory frontbencher Andrew Lansley. AL seemed like a nice chap, an impression only furthered by the fact that he voted against attacking Iraq on account of a staunch belief in International Law. He did, however, talk the usual twaddle about the need to marketise the public services, and attempted to claim that M.Howard's lovely policy announcements on screening immigrants for disease were born out of a sincere concern for 'public health issues'.

In vain, I suggested that behind every policy initiative lurks a calculation: who will this play well with? And the answer here, surely, was: 'Nasty bigots who equate foreigners with dirt and illness.' He denied it for the best part of 10 minutes, though looked distinctly uneasy when doing so.

In B'ham, I made a fleeting contribution to the regional bit of the Politics Show, standing on a canal bank next to a branded BBC barge, watched by lunching families and BMX youths. I was talking about Iraq and its possible role in what top presenter Adrian Goldberg called 'the multicultural Midlands'. And off I went: 'Trust... Birmingham Yardley... last year's byelections... Gisela Stuart...the tories have no room to talk, oh no.' Might have sold me some books, I suppose. And though I only found out later, the prog went out on a big screen near Central Library.

After such glamour, it was good to get back on the campaign trail. It was even nicer to watch at least 2 people actually reading their 4-page Lib Dem 'newspapers', seemingly disguised so the gullible might believe they've been handed a genuine local rag. The one in the constituency of Hereford is called Hereford Matters, and contains such headlines as 'Kennedy family baby joy'; across the border in Brecon & Radnorshire, I hand out the Brecon & Radnorshire Post - whose splashes include 'Roger Williams applauds new innovative police initiative' and 'Ambulance cover inadequate, says Roger Williams'.

Now I want 'Rampant Yorkshire Terriers deserve ASBOs, says Roger Williams'.

While I'm here, we have but three days until the political equivalent of Christmas. We want to keep the site running, in some form, and invite your comments and suggestions as part of a very New Labour Consulation process. Only ours may actually count for something.