My friendly neighbourhood Lib Dems have put some campaign literature through my door.
In a covering note, they intimate that they don’t understand why I can’t understand why everyone votes for them round here. The leaflet features a dozen pictures of our Lib Dem parish councillor doing good works in a variety of settings.
Here, he poses in a green field with the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate — a persistent young chap I’ve had to ask to leave my front step on more than one occasion. There, he poses on the high street at a traffic black spot where he has discovered there are secret plans to install a roundabout. Lawks a mercy! Thank goodness our local man is on the ball, has caught the big cheeses at their usual game of being up to no good, and saved us from having one of those murderous, newfangled roundabouts in our village.
Beneath that, there is a picture of him outside a neighbouring parish rooms with the exciting news that a joint neighbourhood plan for this village and other nearby ones is being drawn up. Another picture depicts him on a bench at a horticultural attraction in one of these villages, and there follows this decree: ‘By the time you read this, we will have had a village meeting to discuss the reformation of the parish meeting with residents of (the other) village.
‘Our first move will need to be reconstituting the democratic village forum which comes in the form of a parish meeting with a chairman and clerk appointed at the helm of this. This will enable things to move forward…’
I’m willing to bet the only thing that’s moving forward is the Lib Dem march for pettifogging power. Clearly, they are branching out, expanding their empire in their own inimitable style to create a parish council of parish councils. Baffling new layers upon layers of bureaucracy aimed at governing swings and roundabouts will soon be unfurled in all their glory, no doubt.
Personally, it confuses me how anyone has a power trip by arguing about picnic benches, but evidently they do.
Back to the covering note: I don’t understand why the Libs can’t understand why I can’t understand why they get so many votes. So let me be clear: I don’t get why people in this village cannot see through Lib Dem doublespeak. Nationally, they call for 50,000 Syrian refugees to be let in, but locally they campaign to block every single proposal for house-building anywhere near them.
And while refusing planning permission for pretty much everything, they seem to have no opinion whatsoever on certain homes having extensions that the planning department at the borough council bizarrely has no record of. ‘That is a phantom Velux you are looking at,’ one official told me.
And even if you don’t mind hypocrisy, I don’t get why anyone thinks a vote for the Libs is harmless. They plaster the area with placards declaring their avowed intent to remain in the green belt, but wage a tiresome sort of class warfare by banning horse-riding from the roads around the green.
In other words, if the Libs are really asking what’s not to like about their regime, then I am bound to say, everything.
The thrust of the note they have put through my door seems to be that because they have won votes, ergo they are a good thing. But I’m not sure the history of politics is going to bear them out on this.
Yes, my nose is out of joint. But having campaigned against town-hall neocommunism until my hair stood on end when I lived in south London, I never thought I would move to Surrey and find myself grappling with a small panel of locals who think they are governing the People’s Republic of Mole Valley.
I thought parking wardens on commission, bin police, ‘natural play spaces’, and trees with artwork on them depicting trees was bad enough. But what did I know? This village is making me long for the lunacy of Lambeth.
Parish politics is a whole other ball game. I mean it. I’m pretty sure they’ve got rules on ball games. They’ve got rules on everything and if they haven’t they’re in the process of making them. Having caused a rumpus by stacking building materials outside my house, I received an email from the clerk. The parish council is reviewing its policy on renovation projects: ‘I will let you know what the outcomes are.’
I felt like saying, ‘Do you have to? I’ve only got another 30–40 years left on this planet. I don’t really want to spend any more time than I already have discovering how much of a nuisance retired vegetarians can make of themselves.’ But I didn’t. I said: ‘Oh, yes, please do!’