Peter Rhodes: Election spending, Scottish politics and more creeping fivers.
AFTER a reader complained about the tendency of the new £5 note to creep out of his shirt pockets, another reader informs me that no gentleman would ever dream of wearing a shirt with a pocket. What is the etiquette these days?
THERE is, of course, guidance on the internet on this burning issue. One contributor complains about the smallness of his shirt pocket: “I cannot fit my slide-rule in there.” A slide rule, for gawd's sake? It is a reminder that some stuff on the web is getting very old.
ELECTIONS should be fought on a level playing field and if electoral-spending rules have been broken by Tories, then Tory heads must roll. However, this is not a one-party crime and the £70,000 fine imposed on the Tories a few days ago is not unique. Labour was fined £20,000 for undeclared election spending in the 2015 campaign and I don't recall the media making much of a fuss about it. Incidentally, when Labour was fined last October, a party spokesman said: “Labour has co-operated fully with the Electoral Commission.” When the Tories were fined last week a party spokesman said the party had “complied fully with the Electoral Commission’s investigation.” They pinch each other's policies. They pinch each other's excuses.
THE unspoken assumption in the election-expenses row is that importing a load of Whitehall's finest into your constituency gives you some sort of electoral advantage. Imagine this. You are a Tory candidate fighting a marginal seat. It's winnable, but only just. And then your phone rings. It is Conservative HQ with the message: “Boris will be arriving in the battle bus tomorrow.” Does your heart leap, or sink? Would you actually pay out of your own fighting fund to keep Boris away?
I SUGGESTED last week that when the authorities crushed a lorry belonging to a pair of fly-tippers, it would have been a good idea to leave the tippers inside. A reader very sensibly points out that a crushed lorry containing two squashed scallies would constitute “contaminated waste” and would cost the taxpayers a fortune to deal with. Damn the small print.
“TWO squashed scallies.” Try saying that quickly.
I PROMISE to ration myself on Scottish politics. I find it all fascinating but it is the one subject guaranteed to turn off my Sassenach readers. I have had many emails and messages about last week's items on fly-tipping and dog poo but not a word from anyone about Scotland's referendum row. As far as most English are concerned, Scotland is a far-away country of which they know little, and care less. It is somewhere they may visit once or twice in a lifetime. It irritates the hell out of the Scots but the truth is that millions of English families are more familiar with Alicante or Orlando than they are with Scotland.
A GUARDIAN website announces proudly: “I'm doing a PhD on the subject of neoliberal statues.” Which gives a new twist to an old joke. What do you say to someone with a PhD on the subject of neoliberal statues? “Big Mac, please.”Subscribe to our Newsletter