… about speed and straight lines of communication. It strikes me that as the world has grown up the shortest distance between two points has somehow got shorter. I was thinking about this as I strode out one freezing morning along the byway which runs parallel to the railway between Royston and Ashwell – the ancient Icknield Way.
In the lea of the hills on which Therfield Heath lies, the railway runs straight and true. Next to it, the A505 has not a single kink. The telephone lines follow a linear path too. I have no doubt that, somewhere beneath the tarmac, gravel, sod and scrub, fibre-optic impulses whizz their supersonic way in straight lines arriving breathlessly at their destinations almost before they departed.
No extra space is commandeered and, crucially, no second is lost – unless, of course, there is the wrong kind of snow. Or there’s a crash, often euphemistically called an accident, as though the perpetrator hadn’t been texting as they drove, or distracting themselves some other way, or falling asleep at the wheel because of the pace of their massively busy lives. Or the server has crashed.
As I walked I began to think about the cost of all this mania for speed and directness. We can all relate to those poor people whose lives have been taken over by Blackberrys and iPhones. The technological revolution is here to stay and we have all got to speed up or drop out. We talk to each other less and text and email each other more than was the case in the bygone era – whenever that golden era was. If it ever was.
As we sit on trains, fuming at their tardiness, or sit, motionless, on a traffic clogged dual carriageway, we count the lost seconds in terms of the significant impact of the delay.
The simple pleasure such as walking down a pleasant path to one’s destination has been compromised by the intersections with busy roads and usurped by other, more frantic means of getting there.
But perhaps these are not costs at all. Perhaps they are just indicators of progress. I love getting to London in 35 minutes on the train. I love having broadband Internet access in my tranquil village so that I can watch programmes I have missed in astonishing HD. And frankly, if I want to go for a walk, what’s wrong with taking a circuitous route?
2: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about shops. Specifically, empty shops. More specifically, empty shops which once had been occupied. There are very, very many of them. The television proclaims that in Wales 18.5% of all shops stand vacant and idle. London’s figure is 9.5% with the West Midlands topping the league at 18.5%.
The variation is significant and I’m trying to understand it and relate it to my own little patch. My impression is that many shops in Royston are shut. Similarly Letchworth and Baldock appear to be unable to keep their shop rosters full. Each town’s historic core seems to be withering, starved of its lifeblood, whilst siege is being laid to its outskirts by the big guns of well known chains of supermarkets and other warehoused pile-em-high-n-sell-em-cheap concerns with ever increasingly fanciful names like Bedulike and Ladderama.
Yet let us take the villages of Ashwell and Bassingbourn. The former, whilst its pubs are cast down into the Slough of Despond, seems not to have a single retail premises standing empty. The village supports a butcher, a baker, a general store, a post office, a greengrocery, a hair salon, a chemist, an estate agent and a number of other businesses to be found squirrelled away in barn conversions. Bassingbourn has fewer shops but, to the naked eye, no property opportunities for thrusting retail entrepreneurs.
So to what does this all of this portend? A resurgence in the village economy? It would be nice to think so and, to a degree, it is comforting to know that some villages are still able to support a vibrant retail infrastructure. The cynic in me whispers that this is only a temporary lull before there is a further degradation of local supply. Increased suburbanisation of our locality, proliferation of out of town retail will gradually drain even more life from both our towns and villages until … well, until what?
I cannot help but think that there is an opportunity to redefine the character of our town and village centres. I was surprised when Royston kicked up such a fuss about the arrival of Costa Coffee. A place where people can meet and socialise is no bad thing at the heart of a community. Although there are valid objections to the mass colonisation by the international conglomerates, is there not an opportunity for local initiatives to spring up.?
Shops cannot, perhaps, continue to exist using the traditional model of 20th century operation. It shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a new and vibrant model of community usage for the 21st century. The challenge is there before us. We should meet it head on.
3: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about new houses. Prompted by the arrival on my doorstep of a letter from … well I don’t know who it was from as it was unsigned. Some rampant activists I presume. Except that unlike most activists these folk don’t want to change the world. Quite the reverse in fact. They don’t want anything to change.
But I’m getting ahead of myself a little. There is a proposal to build thirty-three new houses on the beautiful Claybush Hill above Ashwell. This appears to be in addition to the forty-five new homes already either approved or at the pre-planning stage.
The letter is a call to arms to defeat the proposal by bombarding the planning authority with objections on the grounds of intrusion on the landscape and exceeding the capacity of the village services. The school is mentioned, as is the sewerage system. Odd bedfellows I thought.
The counter argument is that people have to live somewhere and, as the agricultural industry declines in this country, why not develop the land from which the rural economy is conspicuously failing to earn a living?
But of course, it’s not that simple. What we are dealing with here are really intractable problems. The potential development of our green and pleasant land raises emotive issues surrounding national identity, the population explosion, and the inherent right of the individual to live where he or she wants to live. The much-heralded influx of further Europeans migrants adds fuel to the flames of controversy and what initially seemed to be a local issue becomes one of national and international resonance.
The trouble is that, for the fair-minded, there is no immediate solution. The absolute positions of the Not In My Back Yard-ers and the It’s the Only Answer-ers are both untenable. Good old British compromise seems to be the way it will have to go. Perhaps fewer houses will be built, mollifying some and enraging others. Nothing will really change. Yes, the view will be slightly spoiled. Yes, there will be pressure on the village infrastructure. But we’ll all rub along again once the fuss has died down.
By reaching this compromise we will however be solving nothing. We’ll simply be laying down a further stock of intractable problems for our sons and daughters. The population of the planet is reproducing at a massively alarming rate and consumption of natural resources is out of control. Is there anyone brave enough or capable enough to attempt, like Canute, to stem the tide? Or is that attempt, like Canute’s, ultimately doomed to failure?
As I write this I look out of my window up towards Claybush Hill, the site of the proposed development. The irony of the road marking is stark. Between two ancient buildings, the oldest in the village, is a narrow lane. On the tarmac is written “No Entry”.
4: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about the Arts. It’s the ever so slightly pretentious terminology used by those who work in the professional creative industries for what they do. The capital A is important to them. It gives the activity political credibility. Like the H in Housing, the D in Defence or the E in Education. It makes the activity feel important, worthy. The problem is that, unlike the three comparators, the Arts is not a statutory service. No government, whether on a national or a local level is obliged to provide them or to cause them to be provided.
For many years now the local authorities on our patch have been able to point, with some justification, to the proximity of Cambridge and London and the proliferation of Arts opportunities in those places, to justify the lack of facilities on our own doorstep. Now, with public expenditure under the cosh, North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council are no doubt breathing heartfelt sighs of relief that they don’t have to justify such a non-statutory spend.
From the relative security of a community which has no professional Arts provision it is instructive to look at those communities which are losing theirs. Somerset County Council has ceased to provide any money at all to fund the Arts. One theatre has already closed, depriving the county town of a much-cherished service.
So should we be smug and think how lucky we are in having nothing to lose? Or should we be wondering what we are missing and what we have been missing for a very long time?
Royston, Baldock and Letchworth have a pitifully small number of professional Arts institutions which are able to provide our communities with that vital cultural counterbalance to those ever speedier, target-driven, value for money lives which we all live. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if the amateur scene is vibrant. Who needs those flouncy professionals in their cravats swanning around calling each other darling and displaying far too much tactile familiarity in public?
Yet there is an overwhelming feeling that as disinvestment in society becomes an ever-increasing reality and as the state shrinks and local authorities struggle to maintain their own credibility, we need the Arts more than ever. They entertain, they divert, they stimulate and they provoke. They provide original ideas. They are dissident, they are seditious, they are joyful, they are occasionally disgusting. More than anything they are a running commentary on how we choose to live our lives and on how we choose the people who tell us how to live our lives.
Perhaps now is the time for North Hertfordshire District Council to be in the vanguard and do something dynamic like provide a new Arts facility for us all to enjoy. Some hope!
5: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about invaders from Mars. The stuff of childhood nightmares induced by the images accompanying the release, perhaps, of the Jeff Wayne/Richard Burton version of the H G Wells classic “The War of the Worlds” all those years ago. I remember the red eye, the death ray, the inexorable march across our green and pleasant land and the total destruction of everything which we hold dear. I remember and I shiver involuntarily. I can’t help it.
A fantasy of course. It could never happen. There is no life on Mars, despite the very recent geological finds. Yet there is an emerging phenomenon that is making me look nervously about me as I traverse the countryside. Tall, unworldly, colonising, huge arms, supported on one massive leg. Already a danger to low flying aircraft and who knows what else in the future? Yes I’m speaking about wind turbines of course.
As Royston casts nervous glances towards Litlington and the proposal to site wind-harvesting turbines on the flat of the plain, I am at war with myself. On the one side sits my stupid, childhood irrational fear of the invading colossuses. On the other is my passionately held belief that as a society we have greedily consumed so many of the earth’s resources that we have done it and ourselves irrevocable damage. We have laid down a stock of problems with which succeeding generations will have to grapple. We are duty bound to investigate potential solutions to those problems now so that our children’s task will be microcosmically easier.
Thus wind farms, solar energy, nuclear and wave power are all options that we should feel obliged to explore, trial and then utilise if they prove effective. And what of the ‘blot on the landscape’ merchants? Those folk who want to preserve England’s countryside in aspic. Is what they aspire to be preserved, in any case, anything but the result of centuries of change? We, as a generation, have lost the right to dig in our toes and resist. It is we who have already precipitated climate change, mass over-population and the rapine of fossil fuels and other natural resources. We may not like the fact that we’ll be able to see the monsters from the road, the railway and probably the Heath at Therfield but we have only ourselves to blame.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate it when I drive through the Fens or up the A11 towards Six Mile Bottom and see the field acre-devouring monsters. I hate the notion of more farms being turned over for their use. I am instinctively against them coming to Litlington. But just like my childhood fears of Martian invaders this is irrational. They won’t kill me and if they help reverse the degradation of our planet I’m all for them.
6: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about accountability. Actually I was really thinking about corruption but it’s best to whisper that word quietly because it tends to ruffle feathers. Especially if the accusation is leveled at Government or its contractors. But hold on a second or two, I seem to remember seeing an article in last week’s Crow … Yes, there it is hidden away on page nine. The headline declares that there are ‘Claims of record falsification by former council contractors’.
Conveniently for Hertfordshire County Council the law appears to have been contravened not by any Council employee but by an employee of the highways contractor Amey LaFarge – if it has been contravened of course. Which it might not have been. What they have or haven’t done is shrouded in a mist of non-specificity. Probably something to do with it all being under investigation by the police – again. Yes we’re going round this loop for the second time it seems.
We know that some employees of Amey LaFarge have already been investigated for falsification of records, use of inferior materials and false closing down of jobs. According to Councillor Chris White, who is getting quite hot under the collar about it, the cost is likely to be in the millions. That’s quite serious isn’t it?
What is slightly odd is that the County Council has already undertaken an investigation, the results of which were reported to the police who told them that it was a civil not a criminal matter. Interestingly, nowhere does it say what the result of that initial investigation actually was. One can only presume that having referred it to the police there must have been something awry.
It doesn’t really add up does it? Millions of pounds gone missing, an investigation carried out and the results reported to the police who wash their hands of the affair and give it back to the County Council who say that the police are investigating the situation once more. It feels like an endless loop of buck passing.
We elect our Councillors to be accountable to us. In turn they should be holding Council employees accountable. In their turn all external contractors should also be held accountable. It’s not rocket science is it? And anyone who has had any dealings with a Local Authority is only too aware of how draconian they normally are with anything from non-payment of parking fines to serious mismanagement of public money.
So what’s going on here? If the roads in Hertfordshire are substandard because someone’s got their fingers in the till, if someone is walking away with millions of pounds of public money, if records are being falsified, if there has already been an investigation, who is being held accountable?
Not the police, their job is to investigate and not to take the rap. Amey LaFarge? Certainly it was one of their people who was and possibly still is under investigation. They, sadly, feel unable to comment because of the second investigation. So there is only HCC left. Come on chaps, step up to the plate and tell us what has been going on and what you’re going to do about it.
7: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about McDonalds. Well it’s coming, like it or not. Soon what used to be the Little Chef and more recently the car wash site will blazon some triteness about ‘lovin’ it’ across the North Hertfordshire landscape. Come to think of it the blinking lights atop the new Litlington wind turbines will probably combine with the orange neon glare emanating from the new Drive Thru’ [oh whatever happened to the ‘ough’?] to create a little oasis of garish light on the town’s outskirts. No doubt there will be a litter problem. There’ll probably be a traffic problem as the young people discover that the site is too far to walk and will have to persuade the old people to drive them there.
Hold on, hold on! Isn’t there something a little odd going on? Royston town centre, if we are to believe the prophets of doom, is in its final death throes. There are many retail properties standing empty. Surely Ronald should bring his calorie-laden, carbohydrate-filled offer to the centre of town thereby re-invigorating the area with the mellifluous sound of young people’s voices prattling of their pleasure, whilst their elders sit glowering behind their net curtains muttering about the way ‘things have gone down’ in the days since they were young.
Ah no. That would upset the fish-fryers and other purveyors of other choice exportable hot food! The take-away industry in the town would suffer should the double arch be erected anywhere within walking distance of the town centre. So how could anyone propose such a damaging thing? Possession, after all, is nine tenths of the law.
An intractable problem seems to face us. Drawbacks everywhere. Yet the proposal brings the prospect of sixty or more full and part time jobs with it. So what to do? Out of town development with its collateral damage or in-town development with its concomitant problems and confrontation with vested interest? The little battle is being fought, or has been fought, in many small rural towns across the land. The one thing that is sure is that whilst communities may or may not get it right in terms of location, the one party that never loses is MacDonalds.
In Royston it’s obviously a done deal and there is little point in speculating about a different future but the world is an odd sort of a place when the community cannot find any sanction other than allowing the lesser of two evils. Perhaps development should only be allowed if the planning gain associated with such an application was known about and openly debated. If Ronald wants to service us all on a regular basis with food that is probably not great for us what is he going to give us in exchange?
If Royston is in need of re-invigoration what is it that we really need and want? What would drive our self-respect higher? What would occupy our young people more? What do other demographic sectors of the local society crave in order to help change the town’s image and reverse its declining fortunes? Is Macdonalds really the answer? Has the community been consulted and has Ronald been asked to think about supplying an alternative or additional civic facility ?
Perhaps he has and perhaps he will do so and everyone will be happy. But somewhere in the recesses of what used to pass for my brain I wonder if there is really a need for an out of town fast food service on a road which already has the same facility at Baldock services as well as one a mere twenty miles away at Duxford. Surely no-one can be that greedy? Except Ronald himself of course.
8: I WAS JUST THINKING …
…about austerity. As the Chairwoman [her choice of word not mine] of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust resigns due to the failure of the service to achieve the required response times, she, as people tend to do these days, quotes the cutbacks in public expenditure as one of the root causes of the problem. This is inevitable at a time when we are all being instructed to tighten our belts and modify our expectation of what the state can deliver adequately. The bankers, the politicians, the economists have made a hash of things and the state looks to the populace to make amends for their mistakes. It may be unfair. It may be reprehensible. But it is a fact of current life.
So the Age of Austerity is upon us. Just as other generations have lived through ages characterised by more positive adjectival qualification – the Golden Age, the Age of Reason, the Age of the Enlightenment etc. – ours is a grubby, greedy, self-interested little Age. The dictionary definition of the word Austerity gives us the choice of shortage, scarcity, hardship, poverty, lack, undersupply and restriction. No wonder we live in such depressed times when everything is about want. We were taught to want by Mrs. Thatcher and now, the people we have trusted with our financial wellbeing having been found wanting, we are in want under Mr. Cameron.
Yet the dictionary also offers self-denial as a synonym for austerity. This is decidedly awkward. The implication is that we are in charge of our own destiny. It has been so convenient to blame everyone else for our current misfortunes. We can bash the politicians because they are bashable. Indeed isn’t that what they’re mostly there for? We can bash the bankers because the politicians bash them and double bashing is a] fun and b] distances us and exonerates us from any kind of responsibility. We are but poor, put-upon, innocent victims of a cut-throat world we do not really understand. Are we not?
Simply, no. We need to ponder about the level of our expectation. We expect the state to provide for more and more of our needs and more and more of our wants. Hospitals, schools, street lighting, dropping bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan, flowers on roundabouts, football pitches, museums, theatres, dog waste clearance [have you noticed the new phenomenon of carelessly abandoned little plastic bags with topknots in hedges?], pot-hole filling, care for the elderly and at risk, police, fire and, of course, emergency ambulance services. The list is literally endless and ever-extending as our reliance on ‘them’ to provide grows exponentially. But have we been prepared to exercise a bit of self-denial to moderate the growth of our expectation? Do we look past the conscience-salving donations we make to good causes to the root cause of our problem? I think not.
The state is primarily there to make and effect laws. At our behest it has gradually accreted responsibility for providing what is regarded as social necessity. As the balance of payments becomes a contradiction in terms, it must be time to readdress our priorities and moderate our level of expectation. The Age of Austerity is an unwelcome but natural descendant from a previous Age of Greed.
9: I WAS JUST THINKING …
…about the politics of grief and the grief of politics. Inevitably, far too many column inches have been devoted to the recent demise of a once all-powerful colossus. Tributes have, no doubt, been flooding in to wherever tributes flood. There have probably been an equal number of negative words written and spoken. Depending on your view and on your experiences of the 1980s, you will either mourn Baroness Thatcher’s passing or join in the chorus of ‘Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead’. And, whatever your view, you will doubtless feel quite deeply about her, especially if you lived through her premiership.
In our region, apart from Andrew Lansley, Oliver Heald and Les Baker, very few of us will actually have had anything to do with the Iron Lady. We will all have have laboured under her policies, we will all have experienced the much-vaunted benefits of her tenure of the nation’s top political job but none of us actually knew her. Yet as an eighty-seven year old grandmother breathed her last every one of us reacted.
Margaret Thatcher was unarguably the single most effective leader this country has either enjoyed or endured. One of her continuing legacies is the one that has imbued the individual citizen of this nation with a sense of their own entitlement. This has bred self-reliance and self-determination. It also has bred a rank selfishness and lack of respect for anyone else’s property, person or reputation.
The scale of the reaction to the Blessed Margaret’s death has been enormous both in its trumpeted significance and in the extremity of its range. Whilst some folk have spoken in hushed and reverent tones about her political achievements others have literally danced on pictures of her face. The respect and tastefully decorous decency of previous eras, swept away on a tide of Thatcherism, have failed to protect its eponymous creator from its own excesses.
Never, before 1979, would the kind of boorishness which sees celebratory street parties have been tolerated. A brief cynical side-swipe, ‘thank goodness that’s over with’ kind of thing, perhaps. A dusting down, a taking stock, maybe even a ‘never again’ but then on with life. Now we feel justified in a glut of reactive behaviours. We are entitled, thanks to Maggie.
Simultaneously, however, while her family grieves as only a family can, the human cost of what she achieved becomes clear. Think what you will about Carol and Mark [and, frankly, who doesn’t?] they are having to mourn in the public eye. And that eye is at the heart of a vicious storm of political opinion. In the ex-colliery desert towns of north, in the wastelands of what used to be the heart of industrial England, any respect which may have been due to her family has been subsumed into a fully self-justified stream of vitriolic invective. In the affluent south of the country the round-voweled beneficiaries of some of her policies treat her passing as a national tragedy.
Neither point of view is entirely wrong nor is it completely right. But now, as we are being asked to contribute eight million pounds to see her mortal remains paraded before the nation, the grief of politics is, to my mind, clearly eclipsing the politics of grief.
10: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about Running – the capital is intentional. It seems to be very much in the public consciousness at the moment what with the horrific events in Boston, the massive London Marathon, the Royston Fun Run and those well-intentioned folk who periodically jog past my window in pursuit of fitness and inner self-satisfaction .
We divide into two camps. Those-of-us-that-do and those-of-us-that-don’t. Those-of-us-that- don’t cast envious, sideways glances at the svelte-limbed, healthy-glowing faces of those-of-us-that-do. Running is so very obviously good for you. Physically and spiritually. It was Chris Brasher, the father of the London Marathon who said "To believe this story you must believe that the human race can be one joyous family, working together, laughing together, achieving the impossible.” And he was right. Believe in the story and you can benefit yourself whilst benefitting others. From the high profile city marathons to the little local fun runs the selflessness of the participants is a constant reminder of our ability to achieve extraordinary things. The money raised for a plethora of charities is testament to the philanthropic power of Running. And when something awful happens as it did in Boston, the Running community closes ranks and supports its own constituents. The perpetrators of the atrocity picked on the wrong community. They are resilient, brave and generous human beings who, as soon as one week after Boston, had reunited in London to carry on their work.
Yet those-of-us-that-do look at those-of-us-that-don’t lounging by our firesides sipping tea and eating toasted muffins with something akin to fury. Heart pumping, breath catching, eyes blinded by the horizontal rain, they can be excused for wondering why on earth they are out there pounding the streets in all weathers. I know because I used to be a Runner. Perhaps I exaggerate. I used to put one foot in front of the other slightly more rapidly than a walker. As I limped about the lanes and tracks of North Hertfordshire my face reddened as my breath quickened. My knees degenerated as my musculature hardened. Only my Dalmatian, Bailey, who accompanied me on my daily torture, understood my pain but he was particularly unsympathetic. He could see a sixteen-mile training run as nothing more than a gentle stretch. Before I knew it I’d given up with a whimper and without having been able to join the those-of-us-that-do community. Missing out on the ability to participate in Brasher’s ‘story’ my charitable deeds are restricted to doing good deeds, donating to several well-chosen charities and sitting potato-like on my couch, phone in hand, in front of Children in Need and similar money-giving fests. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, but it’s not Running.
The essence of Running is something to do with a liberality of character and a freedom of spirit that is a unique attribute of that particular community. The massive crowds that lined the streets of London in the aftermath of Boston were a response from the heart of the community and everyone who appreciates what that community stands for. So my admiration and applause goes to Royston folk Kelly Smith, Guy Musson, Laura Thompson, Amanda Rutter and the tens of thousands like them who have taken themselves to the very edge of endurance to help others endure whatever life is throwing at them.
11: I WAS JUST THINKING …
… about Front Page News. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think what I write should be front page news. Far from it. But, and I have to be a mite careful here as I really shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds me, I was wondering what on earth the Crow was thinking when it agreed to feature UK Independence Party on the front cover of last week’s edition. Yes, yes, I know it says Advertising Feature in a nice little purple band above the article [purple, along with yellow, being the UKIP colours] but it certainly feels like an endorsement of the party by the paper. It couldn’t really be, could it? Surely not.
UKIP? Aren’t they that party that suggests that the root of this nation’s problems is the influx of European Community immigrants? Isn’t UKIP the party suggesting that if we stop immigration all our problems will be sorted? Isn’t that a policy dangerously close to those of other exclusionist groups who are generally thought of as being a ‘bad thing’? I must obviously be wrong. Things must have changed and I must have missed them changing. Maybe that nice Mr. Farage has found the secret to reverse the economic meltdown and the drastic reduction in social services that has eluded everyone else, without manning the barricades in order to repulse all of those wicked Bulgarians and Romanians. My distaste at the selling off of the front page may then have been precipitate.
The only way to find out whether I was wrong or not was to take a deep breath and read what UKIP were saying in their Front Page Advertising Feature. So I sat down and read it. It wasn’t very long. Well I don’t suppose they have that much to say. The nice Mr. Hughes and the equally nice Mr. Robbins, the two UKIP representatives standing for County Council elections on May 2nd, start by telling us how disappointed they are in the Coalition’s failure to address the mess left by the last Labour Government. This felt promising as maybe the secret to a reversal of the parlous state of the nation was to be contained in the succeeding paragraphs.
With mounting excitement I read on. Messrs. Hughes and Robbins, I read, believe that our young people are pressurised and facing unparalleled levels of student debt and youth unemployment. Well, yes. But we knew that didn’t we. What was the secret to relieving them of the pressure and reducing their debt? Read on. Our standard of living has fallen apparently as our food and travel costs have risen. Yes, yes. Come on. Where’s the answer? Pensions have been devalued and retirement ages delayed [can you actually delay a retirement age?]. The list is very recognisable and I expected they’d talk about the value of my savings [not that I’ve got any] and negative interest rates any moment. Oh yes, there it was.
And then, suddenly, there it is. An insidious sideswipe at the Bulgarians and Romanians and we are told, categorically and in inflammatory fashion, that our ‘very way of life is under attack’.
No, no, no. I’m looking for an answer, not a hypothesis about what may, or probably may not, happen. So Nigel, Mark and Peter, where’s the clever answer to all of the problems? I look again. It’s not there. Some stuff about libertarianism and small Government. Some stuff about ‘non-whipping’ policy – best passed over without comment - and the Advertising Feature ends by saying that because they don’t use the bloc-voting system UKIP is best for North Herts.
I shouldn’t read Advertising Features written by political parties. It only raises my blood pressure. But I just wish it hadn’t been so prominent in the paper. Because people might believe what they read in the paper and then where would we be?