Spending less time with your family...

Wouldn't we like our politicians more if they didn't treat us like children? Wouldn't we like them m

I hate politicians. They are idiots. Pretty much without exception. One has a vague feeling that there might have been some more honourable ones, in some bygone era, but in reality those George Washingtons and Mahatma Gandhis and William Gladstones were probably as hollow and rotten and transparent (not a good combination, as their festering emptiness is on full view to the world) as the ones we've got now.

As I went to bed last night I decided that I hated Ruth Kelly more than any living person. It's not just that she is religious and thus opposes stem-cell research and total equality for homosexuals, though those are both good reasons. It's because of her bare-faced cheek at claiming that her decision to step down from the cabinet so she can "spend more time with her family" is not motivated by any other political agenda.

It seems she even acknowledged that the "more time with the family" thing was generally a euphemism used by people who were in fact making political capital out of their actions. But she really wasn't doing that. She was doing it because she genuinely wanted to spend more time with her family.

And yet, if that was the case, don't you think the timing of her announcement was rather foolish. Sure, she's stepping down to spend more time with her family, but decides to make that public the day after Gordon Brown makes the speech in which he attempts to save his chubby arse. (Oh would that we could actually organise the boot for outgoing Prime Ministers - I think it would make democracy a lot more popular if we were all involved in the firing as well as the hiring).

How stupid does she think we are? I hate anyone who so blatantly tries to pass off a lie, whether it's a politician or a newspaper editor whose front page promises us a comedy guide written by top TV star Catherine Tate, when we're bound to immediately discover on purchase that she only wrote the introduction and the rest of it was written by some nobody called Richard Herring (interestingly today the front cover heralded the Memoir and Biography Guide as "Introduced by Antonia Fraser" so they've obviously realised they were insulting their readers' intelligence - though they do use a photo of Keira Knightley in her latest film role to try and suck in the celebrity loving idiots).

It's obvious that the timing of the resignation means that there is more to this than her spending time with her family and yet she insists that it isn't, even in the face of overwhelming common sense. It is just a lie. She knows it's a lie. We know it's a lie. Why don't politicians tell the truth and stop treating us like idiots? This is why we hate them.

If she just said, "I'm stepping down because Gordon Brown is going to demote me in any case and I'm trying to do him some damage just as he looked like he might bounce back a bit and think that if he's still PM come the election I will lose my seat. And he does that really stupid thing with his mouth every time he speaks and it scares the shit out of me. And he had to get his wife to introduce his speech, which is only one step away from getting his mum to do it, saying, "Stop being nasty to my boy, he's doing his best. If I find anyone plotting against him I will be having a word with their mums,"" then we'd respect the sinister, pudge faced, granny-haired Opus Dei member.

But everyone has to play this game of pretending that the obvious isn't happening. So she calls Gordon Brown as "a towering figure", which no one thinks or believes, unless the tower is the leaning Tower of Pisa or one of the World Trade Centre Towers, literally seconds before it came crashing to the ground. I look at his stupid, wan, pouting face and can't even believe he is the Prime Minister. Does everyone else still think that Tony Blair is in charge? Because I really have to slap myself to remember that he isn't. Brown just doesn't have the bearing. Maybe none of us have given him the chance, but he still looks like someone who has accidentally stumbled into the role like Peter Sellers in "Being There" (though less effective) or King Ralph.

And of course though I hate Ruth Kelly (and can't believe that I am older than her - though this is pretty much true of anyone with a proper job), Brown is just as much to blame for hiding his lies in a perspex display case. He obviously was going to get rid of Kelly, but will never say that, even though we all know it. He might claim he was talking about David Cameron when he said it was "no time for a novice", but he really meant David Milliband. He knows it. We know it. Why doesn't he admit it? Wouldn't we like our politicians more if they didn't treat us like children? Wouldn't we like them more if they were candid? What does Gordon Brown really have to lose at this point? If he said "David Milliband is a scary eyed Brutus trying to stab me in the back and Ruth Kelly is a stupid Christian twat. I'm in charge and they can all fuck off!" wouldn't we suddenly have a new found respect for him? Wouldn't we think, "Hey let's give old King Ralph a chance"?" He's going down in flames anyway, why not go down as the politician who suddenly cut out all the bullshit and told it like it was. He might just survive.

In the meantime, presuming he doesn't do that, I am just waiting to see how long after Brown is overthrown it will take for Ruth Kelly to announce that she's realised that her family is quite annoying and she's going to spend less time with them after all. I think it will be less than ten minutes.

Richard Herring began writing and performing comedy when he was 14. His career since Oxford has included a successful partnership with Stewart Lee and his hit one-man show Talking Cock
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Metro mayors can help Labour return to government

Labour champions in the new city regions can help their party at the national level too.

2017 will mark the inaugural elections of directly-elected metro mayors across England. In all cases, these mayor and cabinet combined authorities are situated in Labour heartlands, and as such Labour should look confidently at winning the whole slate.

Beyond the good press winning again will generate, these offices provide an avenue for Labour to showcase good governance, and imperatively, provide vocal opposition to the constraints of local government by Tory cuts.

The introduction of the Mayor of London in 2000 has provided a blueprint for how the media can provide a platform for media-friendly leadership. It has also demonstrated the ease that the office allows for attribution of successes to that individual and party – or misappropriated in context of Boris Bikes and to a lesser extent the London Olympics.

While without the same extent of the powers of the sui generis mayor of the capital, the prospect of additional metro-mayors provide an opportunity for replicating these successes while providing experience for Labour big-hitters to develop themselves in government. This opportunity hasn’t gone unnoticed, and after Sadiq Khan’s victory in London has shown that the role can grow beyond the limitations – perceived or otherwise - of the Corbyn shadow cabinet while strengthening team Labour’s credibility by actually being in power.

Shadow Health Secretary and former leadership candidate Andy Burnham’s announcement last week for Greater Manchester was the first big hitter to make his intention known. The rising star of Luciana Berger, another member of Labour’s health team, is known to be considering a run in the Liverpool City Region. Could we also see them joined by the juggernaut of Liam Byrne in the West Midlands, or next-generation Catherine McKinnell in the North East?

If we can get a pantheon of champions elected across these city regions, to what extent can this have an influence on national elections? These new metro areas represent around 11.5 million people, rising to over 20 million if you include Sadiq’s Greater London. While no doubt that is an impressive audience that our Labour pantheon are able to demonstrate leadership to, there are limitations. 80 of the 94 existing Westminster seats who are covered under the jurisdiction of the new metro-mayors are already Labour seats. While imperative to solidify our current base for any potential further electoral decline, in order to maximise the impact that this team can have on Labour’s resurgence there needs to be visibility beyond residents.

The impact of business is one example where such influence can be extended. Andy Burnham for example has outlined his case to make Greater Manchester the creative capital of the UK. According to the ONS about 150,000 people commute into Greater Manchester, which is two constituency’s worth of people that can be directly influenced by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Despite these calculations and similar ones that can be made in other city-regions, the real opportunity with selecting the right Labour candidates is the media impact these champion mayors can make on the national debate. This projects the influence from the relatively-safe Labour regions across the country. This is particularly important to press the blame of any tightening of belts in local fiscal policy on the national Tory government’s cuts. We need individuals who have characteristics of cabinet-level experience, inspiring leadership, high profile campaigning experience and tough talking opposition credentials to support the national party leadership put the Tory’s on the narrative back foot.

That is not to say there are not fine local council leaders and technocrats who’s experience and governance experience at vital to Labour producing local successes. But the media don’t really care who number two is, and these individuals are best serving the national agenda for the party if they support A-listers who can shine a bright spotlight on our successes and Tory mismanagement.

If Jeremy Corbyn and the party are able to topple the Conservatives come next election, then all the better that we have a diverse team playing their part both on the front bench and in the pantheon of metro-mayors. If despite our best efforts Jeremy’s leadership falls short, then we will have experienced leaders in waiting who have been able to afford some distance from the front-bench, untainted and able to take the party’s plan B forward.