Who pissed on the parade?

Non-stop rain, an imprisoned cow and a Cameron that's actually in power

Dear Auntie Marina,

Ever since the Tories won the local election, it's done nothing but
rain. This certainly wasn't mentioned on their election leaflets. I
preferred your weather. Is this something I can refer to the Electoral
Complaints Commission?

Yours,
That bloke up the hill, Whitehawk, Brighton

In October 2006 at the annual Conservative Party Conference David Cameron laid out his fair weather policies. He said: "We can only become the party of the centre ground by renouncing rain and the causes of rain."

At a dry indoor location the spliffing toff continued: "It is no long possible for a socially responsible, moderate, modern party to hanker for the old days of rain. More sunshine, less rain is what the modern world is about."

Dave added: "Being for sun and against rain is what the modern Conservative party is about. That is after all why I voted to send our troops to Iraq. More sunshine and less rain is what the modern world is about."

So yes, I think you have an excellent case against the Tories who, once again, have proved what a prize bunch of showers they truly are. They say one thing to get elected, but once in office lose no sleep over raining on the electorate’s parade. Let’s go get ‘em boy! You mop, I’ll squeeze.

Dear Marina

Like this is sooooooo unfair. Jail is no place for a lady of my impekable (sic) social cred. The judge simply failed to understand their has to be one rule for us and one for them otherwise why would night clubs have VIP lounges? With your excellent campaigning skills I have to overlook your humble beginnings to beg of you help get me out this hell hole.

Paris Hilton, Century Reginal Detention Fasillity, LA, California

My dear girl, have you any idea how many lives are destroyed and families torn apart through grief because cows like you drive while drunk? You are extremely lucky, young lady, to have pulled off the biggest PR coup of your 'career' without killing anybody - including yourself.

Apparently a photo of you in jail "finding Jesus in a foetal position with a half-eaten bologna sandwich" would be worth $200,000 - more than double that "if you can see the tears". I assume this refers to you, not Jesus.

In your position I would hold out for a close-up lesbo gang bang sex sequence captured on a mobile phone. Got to be worth a cool million at least. More if it’s you leading the assault and you’re clever with online advertising.

You could use your time in jail to improve your woefully inadequate literacy skills thus standing you in good stead for the inevitable book deals on your release. But you’re probably better off concentrating on smuggling in a mobile phone. Get back in touch if you need a ghost writer. In the meantime, learn a lesson girlfriend!

Dear Marina

It’s not easy having Dave as a brother. Even at Eton he was cooler, braver and more popular. I would never have dared do some of the things he’s gotten away with. But now I’ve showed him. Future prime minister he may be. But I’m the chair, the treasurer, the secretary and the clerk of Peasemore Parish Council. Can I at long last feel equal?

Alex C, Peasemore

Parish meetings must be fascinating. How parishioners must smile, as you open up a debate with yourself and fastidiously minute your every word. But who notes your apologies when you’re away in Notters advising Dave? And why a secretary and a clerk?

Such challenges for modern Britain are mirrored – or should that be smoke and mirrored – on my own local town council. Dave certainly didn’t allow a shortage of candidates here to get in the way of his boast of fielding more candidates than rival parties.

I have this image from the count in my head that won’t go away: a cluster of suits sporting blue rosettes, each bearing a white elephant pissing green pee into the wind. I think that’s what they were. There was so much jostling and hand shaking with weird finger moves – not to mention the appalling number of Tory votes piling up at the count - it was all most confusing for me.

But I digress. Basically the Tories won 36 places out of 39. Sounds good. Yet when you go through the names you realise there are only 24 actual Tories. They doubled up and in three cases tripled up as candidates. We now have Tory representatives from outside the area, sitting on two town councils, the district council and in two cases are the county councillors as well. That’s two men holding eight positions of office between them. One would have to ask: is our multi-layered local government system now crap on every level?

With your wildly superior and privileged background I will assume you are supremely able to cope on behalf of the people of Peasemore.

But here in Telscombe Town – well, if you like brick-a-brac and tat come along to our meetings and browse. There’s no shortage of white elephants.

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.
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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.