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.
Why not e-mail your problems to askmarina@newstatesman.co.uk?
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Leave campaigners are doing down Britain's influence in Europe

As the third biggest country, Britain has huge clout in the EU.

Last week the Leave campaign's Priti Patel took to the airwaves to bang on about the perils of EU regulation, claiming it is doing untold damage to small businesses in the UK. Let's put aside for one minute the fact that eight in ten small firms actually want to stay in the EU because of the huge benefits it brings in terms of trade and investment. Or the fact that the EU has cut red tape by around a quarter in recent years and is committed to doing more. Because the really startling thing Patel said was that these rules come to us "without the British government having a say." That might be forgivable coming from an obscure backbencher or UKIP activist. But as a government minister, Priti Patel knows full well that the UK has a major influence over all EU legislation. Indeed, she sits round the table when EU laws are being agreed.

Don't take it from me, take it from Patel herself. Last August, in an official letter to the House of Lords on upcoming EU employment legislation, the minister boasted she had "worked closely with MEPs to influence the proposal and successfully protected and advanced our interests." And just a few months ago in February she told MPs that the government is engaging in EU negotiations "to ensure that the proposals reflect UK priorities." So either she's been duping the Parliament by exaggerating how much influence she has in Brussels. Or, as is perhaps more likely, she's trying to pull the wool over the British people's eyes and perpetuate a favourite myth of the eurosceptics: that the UK has no say over EU rules.

As the third biggest country, Britain has huge clout in Europe. We have the most votes in the EU Council alongside France, Germany and Italy, where we are on the winning side 87 per cent of the time. The UK also has a tenth of all MEPs and the chairs of three influential European Parliament committees (although admittedly UKIP and Tory sceptics do their best to turn their belief the UK has no influence in Europe into a self-fulfilling prophecy). UKIP MEPs aside, the Brits are widely respected by European counterparts for their common sense and expertise in areas like diplomacy, finance and defence. And to the horror of the French, it is English that has become the accepted lingua franca in the corridors of power in Brussels.

So it's no surprise that the UK has been the driving force behind some of the biggest developments in Europe in recent decades, including the creation of the single market and the enlargement of the EU to Eastern Europe. The UK has also led the way on scrapping mobile roaming charges from next year, and is now setting the agenda on EU proposals that will make it easier to trade online and to access online streaming services like BBC iPlayer or Netflix when travelling abroad. The irony is that the Europe of today which Eurosceptics love to hate is very much a British creation.

The Leave campaign like to deride anyone who warns of the risks of leaving the EU as "talking down Britain." But by denying the obvious, that the UK has a major role in shaping EU decisions, they are the ones guilty of doing our country down. It's time we stood up to their defeatist narrative and made the case for Britain's role in Europe. I am a proud patriot who wants the best for my country, and that is why like many I will be passionately making the case to remain in the EU. Now is not the time to leave, it's time to lead.