Sunday, 7 October 2012

Buyer beware OR The strange case of Grant Shapps

For a while, (some of) the Barnet Bloggers have sort of had the ear of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles - albeit he inexplicably turned down a request to come to tea with (some of) us at Cafe Buzz in North Finchley.

(Last time a top Tory politician hit a Barnet high street he was mobbed by some very unsavoury types, so I can understand his reluctance.)

Eric Pickles could be relied on to grasp the significance of the uselessness of the Barnet Tory administration, and throw their deeds back in their faces, without ever actually - as far as I know - contacting any of the bloggers directly. It was all done at a discreet distance. After all, the bloggers are, as well as being completely correct about most things happening in Barnet politics, the political enemy (political with a small p).

We bloggers - some of us - were not above appealing also to one of Pickles' ministers at the DCLG, Grant Shapps, contacting him on Twitter and so on.

In David Cameron's recent reshuffle, Shapps became Conservative Party chair.

Grant Shapps is a relatively local boy. I know little about him, but I never imagined that he had the gravitas of Pickles. Whatever one thinks of Pickles, as far as I know, he grew up in a fairly modest family, and joined the Conservatives in disgust at Russian interference in the Prague Spring - or maybe that's just a colourful myth he tells about himself. Well, it has a ring of truth. Anyway, he did the wrong thing but for good reasons.

In a Telegraph interview in 2009 he says he read Marx and Trotsky in his teenage years. "I was a pretty serious young chap. For my 14th birthday I got Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution as a present — and I read the damn thing."

And why not, Eric? It's a bloody good read!

The unfolding revelations about Grant Shapps show that he certainly is capable of telling colourful myths. We must all know by now, what he would probably rather we didn't, that he has made his fortune selling crap books on the internet, posing as a marketing guru, and going under an assumed name, Michael Green.

However legal or otherwise Shapps' various businesses have been - some are now under investigation by various authorities - it has to be embarrassing to be exposed for having made your fortune by selling crap to gullible people. Legal? Maybe. But ethical? No. And honorable? Definitely not!

On the eve of the Conservative Party conference Shapps has given a generally rather sour-sounding interview to the Telegraph. It ends on what's supposed to be an upbeat note, but rings hollow:
"The day of the reshuffle I went to see the Prime Minister in Downing Street, and today I can reveal precisely what he said. 'Grant, you’ve got one task as chairman, get out there and kick-start our campaign, rally the troops, take the fight to Labour and help us win in 2015," he said."
Got to be regretting that now.

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