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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip’s comic turn for Cambridge council now wants Equity rates


Gordon Gillick, a Ukip member of Cambridgeshire County Council, is a character. Last November, he interrupted a talk by three youngsters who had grown up in council care homes to ask them: “How does it feel to be takers from the system?”

Four months earlier he was filmed giving a strange and rambling speech at a county council meeting, in which he said: “Cambridge doesn’t sell anything that’s bulky. People come here. People whisper in their ears, they tell them stories, they tell them the facts, they tell them fairy tales, they teach them to speak English. Off they go again, no packaging, no transport, nothing. They do it all. And if they forget it, it’s their fault they’re stupid.”

Councillor Gillick’s latest contribution to modern political thought was to suggest last week that since council meetings are being filmed, and he is a member of Equity, there should be lights and make-up, and he should be paid for his appearances. “I hope he was joking,” a fellow councillor told the Cambridge News. I wonder if he is listed on Equity’s books as a comedian.

Planning for Ed’s absence

I have no doubt that it is pure coincidence that at the very time when Labour’s opinion poll lead over the Conservatives has disappeared, and Len McCluskey is floating the possibility of setting up a rival party if Labour loses the next election, the party has just put out a political broadcast from which, strangely, Ed Miliband is completely absent.

Blurred legal advice

Dave Rowntree, who was drummer for the Britpop group Blur, has a more mundane job now as a solicitor. In that capacity, he has posted a blog advising the managers or business advisers of young rock stars on what to do if their client rings up to say they are under arrest, which seems to be a common enough occupational hazard.

Basically, the advice is to tell the client to keep calm, say nothing, sign nothing and send for a solicitor, in whom they can have confidence – because, like the man said, “confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur”.

Mutiny in Middle England

Although the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats bump along together in government reasonably well, relations are not always so happy at local level. The Tories in Lewes are furious about what they see as treachery, though to some extent they brought it on themselves.

Last month, they ousted their leader on Lewes Council, James Page, in a close-run vote. He has now defected to the Lib Dems, with the result that the Tories are no longer the biggest party on the council. Councillor Page told the Sussex Express: “The Tory ideology of small state seems to have translated locally to small minds, small ideas and a blind obedience to doctrine.”

Rob Blackman, who supplanted him as council leader, says his defection is a “complete betrayal”. Norman Baker, the local Lib Dem MP, who is also a Home Office minister, says that he is delighted.