Easter holidays when I was a teenager were sometimes spent at NUT conference, sharing a hotel room with my mum and her fellow teacher husband (that made him my stepfather, right?) who were delegates. In the daytime I stayed in the hotel room and watched the snooker and developed an unhealthy interest in pallid men in waistcoats who have spent their lifetimes in windowless rooms knocking balls about on the baize or sipping whisky and smoking nervously in the corner awaiting their next turn.
In the evening my mum and I and sometimes my stepfather hiked to watch Kurosawa films at the local arthouse cinema or a filmshow about the military repression in El Salvador. Happy days.
These conferences were usually held at the seaside but I saw little of the beach or the waves or, indeed, the sun.
In the nextdoor - smokefilled - hotel room, cabals of leftists met to argue over the text of a risographed bulletin for the next day. My mother tended to laugh at such people, yet she was always at the head of any walkout from the conference hall over some sellout by the leadership.
Anyway, I digress. We lived briefly in a small country village. Not a lot went on, as you can imagine (apart from sowing seed, spraying, ploughing, baling, raking, harrowing and muck spreading, etc, but we didn't have any direct involvement in any of that).
One evening the local Baptist church held a public meeting with a speaker talking about the religious repression (probably not much improved since) in the USSR. The Baptists and other non-orthodox Christians had to smuggle in (their version of) the Bible to their flock.
Attending this meeting wasn't just something to do on an otherwise (?!) boring evening in Marden. This was something my mother was genuinely exercised by. She was usually anti-war as well, my mum. Even against the Iraq War, although she had, and still does have, a lot of time for Tony Blair. Which. I. Just. Don't. Get.
(Editor: Brian Coleman?) My mother went to live in Greece for 16 years during my young adulthood. She has been back 10 years or so (my not-so-young adulthood) and announced this weekend that she has again got the measure of how things are in the UK politically and thinks it is time she rejoined the Labour Party. No prompting from me, honest.
I in my turn told her about our political landscape here in Barnet. We have an overlapping concern in the shape of Boris Johnson who is pushing his estuary airport (aka Boris Island) in the Thames estuary, which is likely to impact badly on the natural habitats of north Kent. My mum now lives in Rochester and opposes the airport scheme.
I told her all about Johnson's running-mate Brian Coleman, his being a most egregious example of a boorish, pompous, venal and self-regarding politician. So bad that he makes other boorish, pompous, venal and self-regarding politicans, even other Tories, look good (yes, that bad).
"But we hope to dislodge him on 3 May," I said at the end of all this, and sat back, job done. "When is the 3 May, by the way?"
"Less than four weeks away," my mother said.
"Oh, that's rather soon."
Now it is three weeks tomorrow! Have we done enough? All we people of a varying range of political opinions who hope to defeat Brian Coleman in the election for London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden?
Roger Tichborne at the "Barnet Eye" blog has a piece on Coleman today, which talks about Coleman's rudeness about disabled people, and reminds people how much he is getting paid through his Assembly posts.
Along with his £53,000 salary, he gets his travel expense account to dinners all around [the] Country. He also gets £26,000 a year for the bolt on job of chair of the London Fire and Emergency services authority.Roger then lists all of the other candidates.
If you think that he is doing a marvellous job and think he's well worth the £79,000 + expenses he gets for these two part time jobbies, then he's your man. If like me, you think that someone who has no regard and consideration for the disabled and the infirm and is prepared to insult them in a Council meeting, is totally inappropriate, then make sure you get out and vote for someone else.
I want you to vote for Labour's Andrew Dismore - or not to vote against him. Dismore is the candidate who can beat Brian Coleman. He was a popular and hardworking MP in Hendon. I believe Dismore lost the general election seat because of the general swing against the Labour government but also because of a nasty campaign run by MPACUK against him, not because he was a bad candidate. Matthew Offord's majority is just 106!
- If you usually vote Labour please get out and vote on Thursday 3 May! Tell friends, relatives, workmates, neighbours to get out and vote!
- If you wouldn't usually vote Labour and might be persuaded to please check Andrew Dismore's campaign website and see what he is saying.
- If you usually vote Conservative or another party and might be thinking of not voting for Brian Coleman, but want convincing that by so doing you won't be letting in a monster (!), again, please visit Andrew Dismore's campaign website. I'm sure he will be prepared to answer any particular worries you have.