Friday, March 08, 2013

My fourth Whipped column for Ad Lib

Here is my latest column from the new Liberal Democrat magazine Ad Lib.

It seems I never got round to posting the third Whipped here, but the interesting question is whether I shall manage a fifth one when there is nothing to laugh about in our MPs being whipped to vote for secret courts.

Whipped: From the desk of the Junior Whip

“Do you want to find out how politics really works?” asked the Chief Whip.

“Oh yes,” I replied. “That’s just what I hoped for when I got this job.”

“There’s a train to Eastleigh leaving Waterloo in 30 minutes. Be on it.”

I am writing this under the end of a hedge near Hedge End. My shoes are holed, my hands are black with ink and a Jack Russell has eaten my last canvass card.

Yet I was happy to get away. A resignation and a censuring: it was too much for me. (And if you haven’t been censured by a Scotsman, you never been censured.)

It got worse. The Chief Whip was determined the Tories would lose their vote on constituency boundaries. He even called in Jenny Willott, who was four days from giving birth. He had me standing by with plenty of hot water and Wikipedia. “You’ve seen Call the Midwife, laddie. How hard can it be?”

Now I wish I had stayed in Westminster. The only mercy is that we went for a short campaign – the Chief Whip did not want the Tories to have months to throw money at the seat. Having met their candidate, I wonder if he was right. The more the public see of her, the better we shall do.

So I know how politics really works – and I don’t like it. I never want to see another by-election, and if I become an MP I shall apply for the Chiltern Hundreds. And keep them.

Because I like the idea of being Crown Steward and Bailiff of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham. I fancy a life pottering around collecting the rents from trim brick and flint farmhouses set among beech woods, rolling chalk hills and steep- valleys.

But I must stop now. That Jack Russell has just sniffed me out.

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