Dirty tricks, no nicks and standards

Marina on an electoral roll and thinking back to those Playboy days

Dear Marina

If one more person calls me to report a pothole, pledge a donation or join something called “the revolution” I’m throwing my phone out the window.

I keep telling them I’ve never heard of you and to f**k off. It was my son who spotted the same name on some leaflet people keep shoving through my door. What’s going on?

Disengaged, East Saltdean, near Brighton

Thank you for getting in touch. Given the number of Focus leaflets delivered through your letter box, it does concern me you’ve never heard of Marina Pepper.

I am one of your local Liberal Democrat councillors standing for re-election on 3rd May for East Saltdean and Telscombe Ward. That’s where you live.

Regarding the phone problem, there are three possibilities. Either we have a simple crossed wire, clever seagulls or somebody enjoys a prank.

Allegations of tampering are currently under investigation so I’d best not elaborate. But suffice to say it has not been lost on my crew that your disarming phone manner will have played an interesting curve ball to the electorate this week.

All calls are now redirected to my mobile until further notice at no extra charge to the caller. And please, in the spirit of sisterhood, register to vote. I notice you are not on the electoral roll. You have until 5.00pm on Wednesday 18th April.

Dear Marina,

Anna Nicole Smith was 39 years old when she died. You are 39 now. Given you're her age and with first-hand experience being in Playboy I thought you might be able to answer a question that's been plaguing me: Who's her baby's daddy?
So far three men are up for the task (or the fortune) of parenting six-month Dannilynn: Howard K. Stern, owner of the sizzling business, Hot Smoochie Lips, Inc., Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, who is already married to Zsa Zsa Gabor, and her former Australian bodyguard, Alexander Denk.
So, please, draw your bunny ears and contemplate which man you are hoping will come out as the victor following DNA tests.

Love H from the US

Playboy Centrefolds don’t wear ears – that’s Playboy Bunnies. They are croupiers and waitresses. We are ….I don’t know what we are……fine specimens of womankind I assume. Anyway, we wear – well, not much at all really. Although I do now, since that is what is expected of proper upstanding members of the community. But not underwear. It’s too warm these days.

Now we’ve cleared that one up, to your question. Who’s the daddy? Who cares? If a bunch of girl men want to carry on like a harem of cash crazed Texan gold diggers in some twisted narrative Hollywood inversion of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, I’m not going to waste time worrying. I have a mountain of Focus leaflets to deliver and a Tory party machine to beat by 3rd May

I wonder if any of the men in question would like to make a donation. They can contact me by clicking here.

Dear Marina

You were recently reported to the Standards Board for England over allegations of your conduct following planning permission being granted for a waste incinerator in Newhaven. Apparently you said opponents to the scheme had “followed the due process and now is the time for direct action.” I understand the complainant interpreted this to mean “a call for civil unrest outside the law.”

What should we expect Councillor Pepper? Riots or a resignation?
RG, Sussex

As the Standards Board has ruled – and I agree – “direct action” can include a multitude of lawful activities. Such as home composting, shopping wisely, leaving excess packaging at supermarkets, re-using, recycling, even demonstrating outside parliament: if you fill out a form and don’t tread on the flowerbeds.

Having said that, a number of great people and movements in history have broken the law to ensure better laws. To name a few: the Suffragettes, Tom Paine, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Ghandi.

If the people of Newhaven and the surrounding area want to change government waste policies and feel their only option – now Ruth Kelly has refused to call in the incinerator planning decision – is to take to the streets and chain themselves to the swing bridge in the centre of town, I can neither condemn nor condone their behaviour. I will however fully understand their sense of frustration.

Gotta go. Did you know I’m standing for election on 3rd May in the ward of East Saltdean and Telscombe? It’s a two horse race between Liberal Democrats and the Incinerator-hugging Tories. If you want to send a donation contact

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
Why not e-mail your problems to askmarina@newstatesman.co.uk?
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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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