Sunday, February 15, 2009

This is not campaigning, honest

The part of West London I live in is on the move again, politically speaking. In the next General Election we shall be part of the new (or renewed) constituency of Hammersmith, though our Labour candidate will be the present MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush, Andy Slaughter.

As one can see from his biography he is a fairly typical Labour MP who is, at present, rather worried about losing his position as Hammersmith is something of a marginal. To be perfectly honest, I was not really aware of my MP’s identity because the long-standing one, Clive Soley, had been kicked upstairs given a peerage and the new one was too busy sucking up to the leadership.

Then, about a year ago, Andy Slaughter appeared on my radar screen. He it was, who was particularly riled by the IWantAReferendum campaign and became incoherent with venom in his debate with Derek Scott, who chaired it. Here is a more detailed account of this man’s imbecility and dishonesty (oh yes, one can display both).

Mr Slaughter subsequently started making all sorts of appearances around the area, clearly worried about the forthcoming election. For example, he wanted to stop the speedy reconstruction of Shepherds Bush Central Line station, arguing that it should not be closed completely for several months but that the building should be done around the passengers.

Inconvenient thought that closure was, the alternative, as proposed by Mr Slaughter, would have been a complete nightmare and would have prolonged the reconstruction (it was much more than a refurbishment) by many months, if not years.

He has been vocal in his opposition to the hugely successful Westfield Centre (much disliked by Guardian writers, I am glad to say), even calling a protest meeting well after it had opened. I almost went just to find out whether Mr Slaughter was suggesting the closure of the whole place with hundreds of people being made redundant and the whole area being turned into a derelict site. Since that meeting we have not heard a great deal about Westfield from our esteemed MP.

Now he is kind of in the news again, having resigned as PPS to the egregious Lord Malloch-Brown, former bag-carrier to UN SecGen Kofi Annan and George Soros, over the proposed third runway for Heathrow. To be honest, I did not even know Mr Slaughter had achieved such heights in his political career.

How did I find out? Well, a letter arrived on House of Commons paper, inside a House of Commons envelope with the House of Commons stamp on it. It informed me, as a voter, of Mr Slaugher’s amazingly honourable stance. Presumably, this went to all voters in the new Hammersmith constituency. Or did it go to his existing constituency, who are of little interest to Mr Slaugher now? In any case, I doubt if any of them knew that he had been in the government or cared much. We do not elect MPs in order that they should be in government.

The question one has to ask, in view of recent discussions, is this a justified way of spending House of Commons postage and stationery allowance? Is Mr Slaughter not using or abusing his office in order to electioneer ahead of the allowed time?

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