Reflecting on the actions and comments of Francis Maude, Ben Duncan and Dawn Barnett

This week I reflect on three politicians who have captured the headlines for words and actions.

The first is Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Member and MP for Horsham, who encouraged people to store spare petrol supplies in their garage. Other than the danger associated with storing a highly flammable material, it showed how out of touch he is with ordinary people. Just 22% of households have garages. His comments were part of a truly pathetic attempt by the Conservatives to create a diversion to Pasty-gate, the Granny Tax, and other failures from the budget, not least the tax give away to the rich.

Tragically and inevitably someone has got seriously hurt. Maude should resign and Cameron should apologise for his comments and those of his government colleagues over the ‘fuel crisis’.

The second politician is local Green councillor, Ben Duncan, over his four-letter outburst about pasties. Today he has apologised after he realised that local baker, Forfars, which has a shop in his ward, is set to lose £250,000 because of the new tax on pasties and pies.

Ben Duncan said he was just joking: “I’m amazed anyone took my comment seriously and do apologise if it caused any offence. It was a joke that was responding to the news because it’s not the only thing going on in the world. The point I was trying to make was that the debate about pasties is distracting from larger issues.

“Clearly I sympathise with any business that is suffering from the appallingly unfair budget. I would love to go and visit the bakery and sample some of their vegan goods.”

But Ben Duncan is inviting ‘open season’ on himself with a further ill-advised tweet quoted by today’s Argus: “You’ve got to be so careful on Twitter – scumbag journos are watching your every move!”

Even Christopher Hawtree distanced himself from Ben Duncan’s unguarded comments, saying that Ben Duncan is “the Green’s Prince Philip”.

It is said that in politics, worse than being accused of incompetence, is to be ridiculed. I think that councillor Hawtree has just ridiculed his Green colleague.

My third and final comment relates to Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett. Police had to ask her to leave a site in her ward and next to where she lives where an unofficial travellers camp has been set up. Police advised her to go home for her own safety.

It may come as surprise to my three regular readers, Biker Dave, Momma Grizzly and Doris, as well as to my latest follower, the Enigmatic Flo, that I will continue to defend councillor Barnett, although I have fundamental differences with her on the issue of travellers.

I don’t know whether councillor Barnett was doing anything to provoke a breach of the peace. I believe that councillors must be able to go about their business without hindrance, particularly in the ward they represent. If councillor Barnett’s safety was at risk, the police must put in place measures to protect her.

She should be allowed to visit the site of the travellers and her well being must be safeguarded. If she was to commit an offence (and I doubt she would) then the police should take action against her. Her mere presence is not cause to ask her to go home.

Perhaps councillor Duncan, as the Cabinet Member for Public Protection, will use his good offices to ensure that a fellow councillor can go freely about her business .

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4 Responses

  1. I think that, such is the way that words read on the screen, BPB does not appreciate that my likening Ben Duncan to Prince Philip was banter – but Ben got the joke. Ben’s able to laugh at himself (as can Prince Philip).

    In Hove and Kemp Town today I have found people chortling at the fuss over this, and a sense that it was done with a more open, if an – er – freewheelin’ approach than John Prescott’s opportunistic doling out of free pasties on Western Road.

    And who goes to John Prescott for dietary advice?

    Well, pasties are certainly ironic publicity for the launch of the latest portion of the Food Strategy in a fortnight.

  2. I might add that last December during the Budget stalls discussions on George Street, Hove, I pointed out to residents that the proposed weekly increase for an average household was less than it costs to buy a packet of crisps in the branch of Greggs opposite the stall: those Walker’s crisps are 62p.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like crisps but I sure ain’t paying 62p for those.

  3. I think Ben Duncan is a journalist, so I guess ‘scumbag journos’ may have been another joke, though the Greens might be advised to get some gaffer tape to bind up his twitter hand.

    Re. Dawn Barnett: I believe the police action was for her own safety. Sorry, but no-one can take the law into their own hands, and if she’s unhappy about police response times, she should perhaps look at the cuts to the force being made by her own government.

  4. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

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