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23rd July 2024 7:15 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

And the vote goes to…

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At its simplest, the range of our political issues, specifically in Lambourn, is pretty narrow, and mainly the normal local, rural ones. We are in the Newbury constituency, so there is probably a large experiential gap between Newbury and, to a lesser extent, Hungerford and our little town. Our issues are those of the countryside, not the town. The lack of connectivity, poor public transport, appalling roads, fuel costs because we all must use the roads more, lack of supporting and integrated infrastructure such as sewage, power, schooling, GPs, Hospitals and ill-conceived or absent planning. Yes, the big town has all those things – but they are in the main full. We have a specific problem with the River Lambourn, a rare natural chalk stream, being constantly dumped on by Thames Water, which has also failed to mend the main pipe breakages or enlarge the sewage works in line with all the housing developments. Who would have guessed? No Shit Sherlock as the saying goes in the ‘hood. Then we have to consider the needs of cereal and livestock farmers, those who shoot and participate in equestrianism of one sort or another, and the local thoroughbred industry—which includes not simply racehorse training but all the ancillary services. In addition, our proximity to Membury on the M4 has resulted in a growing local logistics industry, increasing the risk to the horses and often walking on the verges, stable staff moving from yard to gallops. These are all complex issues that cannot be decided by a one-size-fits-all urban-centric political ideology. Rather, they require a local approach in which the incumbent is prepared to put aside their party’s cant and do what is best for their constituents.

Dear old Max Hastings has made his views very clear in the Times. This time, he’s voting Labour because; “the need for change trumps self-interest” or even scepticism about the Labour manifesto. There is also a yearning to deal the current Tory party a blow “sufficiently devastating that in opposition it might come to its senses, and rediscover both competence and a moral compass”. I feel much the same in that respect, but Max is also a fan of giving 16-year-olds a vote.

Can we just briefly give this subject the tiniest gulp of the air of common sense? If you’re 16 under New New Labour v2.4, you will be given the vote and thus ultimately decide how much tax I should pay or whether I get any pension. However, you can’t get a driver’s licence or apply for a motorcycle licence. You must still have an appropriate adult present when you’re interviewed by police, but you can have sex. You can’t, however, have a Tattoo, have your body pierced, watch certain films or play certain games, get paid the full national minimum wage, be called for Jury Service, buy a pint in a pub, get married or live with someone without parental consent, or stand as an MP or Councillor. You cannot buy a fireworks, but you can vote for a party that wants to go to war with China and Russia. You cannot apply for a passport with parental consent or use Adult services unless you have learning difficulties or disabilities. You are, however, still entitled to free full-time education at school. On ridiculously moral grounds, you’re a child if you sell porny pix to a BBC journalist, but an adult when it comes to voting for a manifesto containing press censorship. As a leading analyst told me there is a bright side depending on your perspective … teenagers are amongst the vanguard of the rise of the radical right in Europe, as opposed to the brainwashed woke University students in their 20s. The American colonies sought independence on the grounds of no taxation without representation. I am equally of the view that you cannot be given representation until you are regularly paying taxation.

So what choice do I have? In lovely Lambourn, the answer is seven.

Labour Party (Liz Bell); Liberal Democrats (Lee Raymond James Dillon); Conservative (Laura Farris); Green Party (Steve Masters); Reform UK (Doug Terry); UKIP (Gary Edward Johnson); Freedom Alliance (Earl Jesse)

The polls suggest that the present incumbent, Laura Farris, will be replaced by a Liberal Democrat called Dillon. I can’t vote Liberal. At its simplest, Dillon’s leader is a gurning fool whose ability to twist his face into an impression of Mike Yarwood doing an impression of Patrick Moore is frightening. He and his party have employed publicists and communicators of such low ability that I despair at their lack of electoral grasp. They will be thrilled when they get 65+ seats and like the tailors of the emperor’s clothes will believe it is because of their skills and policies rather than the fact there were limited choices. Their manifesto is a political disgrace, and if you can’t get that bit right, why would I bother to support you? Add to that – as if gurning bungee-jumping wasn’t enough – their historic disastrous Conservative coalition which still haunts. During that time, their current leader was so busy gurning that he was oblivious to the plight of the sub-postmasters. Simultaneously, their former leader was negotiating how to become a multi-zillionaire by utilising his ideal dissembling skills for one of the most corrupting and dangerous influences in the 21st century.

Then I have our Nige, but I honestly can’t vote Reform. As I have mentioned before, I regard Reform as simply too divisive. While I see Farage as a great political operator with incisive moments of common sense within his speeches, I cannot see the whole, which worries me. I don’t understand how Tice has moved aside, why the party has a share structure or how Farage gets paid. I also can’t vote for UKIP or Freedom Alliance; one is pointless, and the other has a sufficient lack of impact that I might as well not bother.

So, then I have a choice of two. Labour has done nothing but tell me that I am bad. I drink, I gamble, I have a garden and am thus a landowner, I smoked, I am overweight, I don’t support the relentless crushing of 90% of the population by the other 10% who are not only demanding special treatment, but removing many of my rights for fear that they might infringe theirs. I miss coursing, I love national hunt racing, and three-day eventing. I eat the food that people I know shot and I belong to a Gentleman’s Club in St James. Were it not for my tummy, back and leg, I would leap to my feet considerably more often whenever a Lady enters the room or says goodbye. I hug people inappropriately, and I know many sexist and old Jewish jokes. Empires and Colonies are simply part of our history rather than an epoch for which I should feel guilty 200 years later.

I am thus an enemy of New New Labour v2.4 who wants an end to joy. It will kill laughter and all fun. Labour policies towards the even vaguely middle class will make the concept of sombre look like a Cold Play finale at Glasto. The poor will remain poor, and the rich will leave. The NHS, with the same scientific certainty that all widened motorways will always fill with traffic, will consume ever-increasing sums of money. The same scientific certainty that has always seen the failure of every socialist experiment in history is that we will become increasingly less productive and less efficient. But it will not be our fault, but rather that we are statistically sicker than the population of the Congo in 1867.

Labour will make it impossible to shoot vermin, stop cattle TB, or cull deer. They will make owning a horse prohibitive and posh voices illegal. They will kill the language and culture of this country on the grounds of inclusiveness, and disagreement with the all-powerful state will be viewed as a crime against diversity. There will still be potholes, as a reminder of what happens when you vote Tory. Soon, Neighbours will be encouraged to call a number to report anti-social behaviours. See It, Say It, Sorted, and who’d like to live in that House? It’s empty because they have been rehoused in Alderney. I want to find a market-maker for this prediction. Momentum will return and Starmer will be gone, and Rayner will stand aloft. Let’s call it February 2026.

That leaves me with Laura. Everyone says she has been a very good local MP. If she has a fault, it is the same for all Tory party members.

Not one of them dared to say over the last fourteen years, “Stop – you’re destroying the country by becoming a pale blue imitation of Blair, and that has nothing to do with being a conservative.” Not one of them walked across the floor to the cross benches and declared how the Tories have destroyed the economy, weakened our defences, failed to be bold with the NHS, failed to ensure the Civil Service works to the will of the elected  Government, failed to prevent corruption, failed to punish those in the party acting in their self-interest rather than in that of the Public and failed to deliver a coherent, workable and sensible environmental policy that saw new builds incorporate new technologies by law, or came up with a carbon neutral AND consumer cost burden neutral green policy.

So I suppose I have to vote for Laura, but that is a losing choice, so it’s not a choice.

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