Once upon a time a LibDem fretted about paving stones and similar parochial issues. That was Ms Featherstone’s wont before she was enstooled as MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
Time passes: she has now risen to the Olympian foothills as a PuS.
As many have found before, this empowers not a jot, but acts as a silencer. As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, to express views which would not offend the higher deities. The awful example of David Willetts (and he an attender at the divine higher council) this very Sunday must be a constant reminder. Speak out of turn: get sliced off at the knees.
Now, Ms Featherstone’s local rag, the Ham & High, has awarded her a regular column, in rotation with the other local MPs. Her last effort was a waffle about the burdens of office. In Malcolm’s view, it had absolutely no relevance to her constituency duties.
This provoked a froth-splattered invective to the editor of the Ham & High:
Well, we cynics have always noted where the political bias lay.
That said, 66 column centimeters of unpaid editorial being granted to Ms Featherstone for a ConDem party political, with no obvious local reference, is a trifle OTT, don’t you think?
In due course, a decent reply came forth:
Hello Malcolm – are you referring to the column on page 17? It usually appears on page 18 and rotates between politicians of various hues.
Across our editions we have regular slots, among others, made available to Glenda Jackson (Labour) Mark Field (Cons) Karen Buck (Cons) and Lynne Feathersone (Lib Dems). They all have one thing in common – they are sitting MPs and the columns give them an opportunity to address constituents.
There the matter would have rested had Malcolm not been elsewhere for a few days, and looked at the local newspaper there. Which provoked this:
You are correct on one point: “the columns give them [M.P.s] an opportunity to address constituents”. Invariably that is what they should do: address constituents on constituency affairs.
So far, so predictable, as was your response: so much so that it needed a prompt (see next paragraph) to recover it from the Trash.
I have just read an admirable example of the genre by Andrew Jones, MP, for the Harrogate Advertiser. In his allotted space, he manages to hat-tip four towns in his patch, reflect on two local issues (closure of an agency dealing with problems of addiction, and a mental health day centre), and report back on one of his main campaign issues (improved rail links).
Unlike the column to which I still take offence.
Now, it has to be noted it takes a lot for Malcolm favourably to acknowledge any Tory.
To his credit, Geoff Martin of the Ham & High is a true mensch. He had a further response:
your point about the content of the article is a reasonable one to make but that’s more a reflection on the politician’s priorities than it is on the newspaper. And I don’t think our readers are disinterested in someone’s view of, or insight into, the bigger picture. I think they are intelligent enough to judge any article on its own merits.
Which is a wholly honourable position. Except:
Does that mean the Ham & High has no editorial control over the content? In which case, should that not be made explicit?