Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday that was in Bournemouth at the Lib Dem conference featured an interesting and elongated exchange. I was at the show and participated briefly myself as I posted about here but there was a chap there called Mike Greene who made a point early on in the show about the Lib Dem's new so called "Mansion Tax".
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
He pointed out that he just happened to own a house that was worth £1.5 million as it had increased in value over the last few years but that he was unemployed and under the Lib Dem's new rules he would have to pay thousands of pounds extra in council tax if he wanted to get a part time job. Nick Clegg attempted to deal with the question and you can hear the exchange on iPlayer here for about 3 minutes from 41:45.
So I thought that was that. However Ed Fordham, Lib Dem PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn who was sitting very near me leaned over and whispered that Mike used to be a Tory councillor who he had ousted a while back and he was going to tackle him. He informed Victoria about this and then later on (at 1:18:00 on the iPlayer) Mike comes in and has another crack, this time he said he wanted to talk about "honesty and integrity" and about a leaflet that was apparently circulated by the ALDC a few years ago called "Effective Opposition" which appeared to have a few rather underhand suggestions for how to deal with political opponents.
At this point Ed had clearly had enough. He pointed out that Mike had been a Conservative councillor and that if he was really concerned about honesty he could have been straight about that - this received a round of applause. He then advised Mike that if he was going to have a problem with money due to the property tax he should sell his second home on Fitzjohn's Avenue in Hampstead NW3! At this point the audience started booing Mike. Ed also pointed out that Mike's wife is a local Conservative councillor in the cabinet. He quickly dealt with the question about the document by pointing out it was a mistake, it was quickly withdrawn and it was about 12 years ago although Mike is still using it as attack material.
What the audience at home would not have seen but I had a clear view of being directly opposite Mike was how absolutely hilarious he clearly perceived the whole thing. He was laughing heartily when he was caught out and quite obviously could not have cared less that he had been found out not properly representing who he was and where he was coming from. It is obviously all a game to him. A bit later on, Angela Harbutt from Liberal Vision pointed out how bad it was for Mike to have done this, he just laughed again.
I am not going to end this by making a partisan point. I have seen politicians in all parties play games like this and it is pathetic. We are better off without people like Mike in active politics and I hope his current status as an ex-councillor persists.