Some time last week I had a long chat with a lovely lady called Margaret Keenan, producer of the Sunday Supplement , hosted by Vaughan Roderick on BBC Radio Wales at 8am on Sundays.
The previous week I had been offered a short soundbite on Sunday Politics Wales (BBC1). I was happy with that….. until I discovered that all of the other five candidates had been invited into the TV studio for the debate, I mean , my goodness, the studio would have looked good, with a bit of pink to brighten proceedings. I obviously had something to say about this ….
Hey Loons, did you watch #SundayPolitics? Don’t know why they didn’t invite me on like the others! #ThinkPink #BreconandRadnor #byelection #election #ForTheManicNotTheFew. Full episode on #iplayer @DoddsJane @DesParkinson #tomosdavies #ChrisDavies @rhodrilewis5 pic.twitter.com/43BV9QHTnn
— Lady Lily The Pink (@Berni_Benton) July 16, 2019
…. and as a result, I received the call.
Like I said, Margaret and I had a long chat because of my tweet and I was invited to attend the live airing of the Sunday Supplement from Brecon Castle 8-9 am on 21st July. After much discussion and too-ing and fro-ing, I left them to play the soundbite recorded for the show the previous week (it’s there around the 25 minute mark)
Thank you again for the invitation to the show. I would happily come along if I felt it would add value rather than detract from the debate. Please play my soundbite, and if there is an opportunity, perhaps someone could read this. It’s a little something ‘what I wrote’ (I think I’m misquoting Morcambe and Wise !)
Stating to Margaret that the Loony Party were a highly visual party and that was largely lost on radio(!) so with a limited time to debate I felt it important that the ‘serious’ parties got their points across. Mine being,
If, after listening to all the other candidates, you still don’t know what to think, then on 1st August, why not, Vote Pink.
Having listened to the broadcast I think maybe a bit of serious loonyism on air might have been good for it. I certainly had plenty to say in the privacy of my own breakfast room as I listened back on catchup!
Obviously the debate began with the topic of Brexit…..About 17:50 in, Tomos Davies (Labour) quotes Monster Raving Loony Member, Tilly Twitcher’s question to the panel from the Brecon, (Wales for Europe) Hustings and some discussion ensues
At 30:40 for a while they talk about the loss of rural banks. Now I remember campaigning very hard, alongside our local Llanwrtyd community with the support of Kirsty Williams (Libdem) before our Barclays was closed. It was, and remains a disgrace. Community banks are more than about the banking services they provide, they help with the issue of loneliness and social inclusion amongst several social groups , and banks are a disgrace to look only at their bottom line. They should also care for their customers. It’s about 20 years too soon, there are still a generation of people who don’t use computers, don’t want to bank on their phone and need access to a real person.
We retained our cash point but it’s frequently out of money or broken and they take ages to refill/fix it ( I assume so that they will then be able to skew some stats and stat how little the machine is used to justify taking it away – I betcha, watch this space)
Then Chris Davies (Tory) talks about the importance of post offices. OMG yes.! Yet I remember the battle we had to secure post offices services here in LW after the post mistress took a retirement package and our PO closed. We had to accept a mobile service otherwise the long-standing Post Mistress would have lost her golden handshake…. we were basically blackmailed. After the fact and the glaring inadequacies of a mobile PO, the contract for a Post Office Local went to our local garage. We now have the best Post Office services we’ve ever had. A PO open 7 days a week 8am-9pm most days too and offering a great selection of banking services. However, several of our elderly constituents are very concerned as the the DWP plans to stop pensioners getting their pension paid into their post office accounts from 2021 and force everyone to have payments into bank accounts. I can tell you , they are furious about this. I mean honestly if you’re asking your Loony Party Representative to take up your cause , you really must lack faith in the ‘serious’ parties. And I will take up the cause. This solution is no good in rural Wales where 80% of our banks are closed. Builth have lost Santander, Natwest, HSBC leaving a lone Barclays. They’ve also lost their PO. Llandovery has seen the closure of Natwest, Barclays, HSBC and now have no bank at all.
Rural communities are struggling. Banking services are essential for tourism especially as many sole traders , small cafes, farmers markets etc, do not take card payments. We need working cash points as a minimum so tourists from cities can withdraw money. And with black spots in broadband services , don’t tell these small business to invest in internet based card payment machines… they often can’t get a signal, the machine costs would result in the need to inflate prices and for sole traders on minimal margins they often can’t risk, or have nowhere to absorb these costs. So the closure of banks and POs affects, tourism, social wellbeing, small businesses and more….
At 33 mins Liz (UKIP) start talking about tourism and how she used to run a restaurant and have international tourism! When I first moved to LW I worked for CELT (Community Enterprise for Llanwrtyd Tourism) this was linked to Welsh Tourist Board and staff were trained to a certain standard to offer tourism information about ALL of Wales to visitors. Yet the Welsh Assembly closed down almost ALL its tourist offices based on the ability and trend to book beds on-line and directly. QED there was no requirement for local tourist officers! I disagreed. Strongly. Have you ever been confronted by a visitor from London who you have warned that the place they are arriving in is small, rural, limited in shops? They have absolutely no concept of what that means! Until they arrive. A tourist office might not be able to make a direct income from a bed booking service. But its services certainly increase the economy of the locality. Being a TO in a rural location you can advise visitors on all the best local secrets, shops, pubs, beauty spots etc and help increase their £ spend in your area. Where they might have just passed through they might instead stay for the day or book for a night or two more (Ok not using the TO to do that, but their mobile devises), but still keeping their £ notes in our economy. Yes tourism is in decline, but the Welsh Assembly closed all the bloody tourist offices. I personally gave up my day job and opened a craft shop purely so I could house a voluntary tourist office and talk to visitors once they were here. I think it was invaluable. We now have two independent / voluntary places in the village offering tourist information (The Neuadd Arms Hotel and The Heritage Centre) The point is rural communities are having to find different and varying ways to deliver tourist information. Quality of service, opening hours, availability etc therefore vary across locations. ….and most have to run the service using volunteers from within their community. There is no training, no cross referencing across locations, no joined up service for visitors.
TRUST IN POLITICIANS (AND THE LACK THEREOF)
Things get even more heated from 42:40. Of course politicians are no longer trusted! I’ve written loads of blog posts (there’s a whole category for the serious stuff!) and (now) hustings statements about it. Politicians, once they reach the upper echelons of Westminster seem to have their morality core surgically removed and replaced by a self-servitude chip. The ability of our governing system to separate itself from the rest of us, abide by a different set of rule, and even, it seems, laws, is astounding. Ten years ago we had an expenses scandal beyond belief…. hardly anyone got sacked, a few politicians had to refund a few quid, a couple apologised. Many claimed they’d made ‘genuine mistakes’ : ” I forgot my mortgage ran out 3 years ago, sorry I still kept claiming against it”. As far as I remember ignorance is not an excuse in a court of law.
….We all want our own duck house, trouser press, porn stash….it’s just most of us realise we should pay for them ourselves, out of our own pocket. Second homes when they live 5 minutes away; free TV licences (grrr).
If I become an MP my first job is to issue everyone with a trouser press (it’s there in my B&R By-election Manicfesto). Politicians have always acted like the rules for the masses don’t apply to them, it’s just in recent years they’ve been more blatant about it; ‘nah nicky nah nah, and there’s nothing you can do about it either!’.
I was going to employ my grandson to manage campaign finances… he’s a whizz with an abacus! But there was uproar, apparently it might be seen as nepotism.
OK sometimes maybe the job role is real and maybe the best person for that role is your daughter/son/wife/husband and maybe the salary is commensurate with the role…. but maybe it isn’t.
How can we trust a group of people who are a law unto themselves. Justifying salary freezes to nurses, police etc because of austerity whilst handing themselves a 10% pay rise. Self-servitude at its finest.
Now I know Chris Davies didn’t financial gain from his fraudulent creation of invoices. But it was more than a mistake. The judge clearly said as much. Now I do feel pretty sorry for him. In the scheme of scheming and cheating his case is pretty small fry; but in any other sector, falsifying invoice would get you sacked. Instead, he had the choice to leave or stay. The result? We have the time and cost of a recall petition (approx half a million great british pound notes if Peterborough is anything to go by); and then after 19% of the electorate voted with their feet and stubby little pencils, we have the cost and disruption of a by-election . Another example of different rules for the political class.
Did you know, in this by-election we (candidates) are allowed to spend up to £100,000 on campaigning?! I know!!!!- personally I can’t get my hands on that sort of money .. plus a bit for extras the details of which I can’t quite remember. Now the Libdems have taken full advantage of this budgetary constraint and single-handedly destroyed any entire rainforest in the excessive production of leaflets/fliers/letters/mailshots…. I wish I’d kept them all , I could have used them in the log burner to keep me warm most of next winter 😉 . So much paper! And again, from what I’ve been told , it’s alienating the electorate.
It’s funny thing being a Loony , people talk to me. From every camp. It’s refreshing. I’m enjoying it. I’m also learning so much.
Want to know why I joined this campaign? It wasn’t because I don’t care. I care very much. It was because I was fed up of being angry. Angry at the ineffectiveness of our governance; of the infighting; of the protection of party power above the wellbeing of the populace; of the point scoring; of the blatant hypocrisy; the outright lies; the mismanagement; and the failures of a system ‘not fit for purpose’ . I was fed up of ranting. As a Loony, I can use my voice; be satirical; raise awareness; and give voice to the disenfranchised, without using anger but by donning on my cloak and hat of pinkness; putting on a smile; and speaking my mind. No party line; no protection of position; no personal financial gain.
I am growing as a person. I am learning a lot and I am meeting the most fabulously, fantastic, and ordinarily extraordinary people. I didn’t expect to be growing from this experience, but I am. And I hope my own growth is helping give voice to some of you out there who feel have no voice. Roll on 1st August. Lets get this party started!
This is the statement I sent in, it expands from my soundbite: –
A statement From Lady lily The Pink of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party
Before I start please could you the listener try to imagine this being read by an overtly pink clad , slightly plump, often confused, largely winging it, but generally smiling lady, in a floppy pink top hat….
I’m sorry I’m not there in the studio. I was invited, for which I am very grateful and I would have happily attended but, as I keep telling everyone, I’m not a politician, I’m a loony. I also rely quite a lot on visuals! And radio is not so great for that. What it is fabulous for is concentrating the listeners mind. This morning you (hopefully) have 5 serious politicians with you, all vying to get their message across and win your vote.
I have a message too. Please use your vote.
Like a large proportion of the electorate I’m angry. Angry at the failings, the loopholes and the all too often self-serving system of governance we currently have. And I’m fed up of being angry, so I’m trying to tackle things in a different way. I’m not a real politician. I’m not even a real Lady 😉 . I am however a real Loony. And I’m using comedy, satire and fancy dress in an attempt to get us all heard. I try to make it witty. It doesn’t mean I take it lightly. I don’t think our situation if funny, but I do (often) think it’s a joke.
I’m standing (sitting, slouching, occasionally leaning) in this by-election campaign to give voice to those who have the right to vote yet who feel there is no point in voting. For whatever reason; frustration, anger, disillusionment or confusion. Or maybe they just think that the system is failing them. Thousands of people in the B&R community will think it’s not worth the effort of voting. I’m here to say “YES IT IS”. What’s pointless is not voting or spoiling you ballot paper. Only crosses in boxes get counted. Everything else gets ignored. If you want change you have to vote for it.
So I’m asking you all to vote.
Preferably not for me.
But until our system changes a vote for me is the only way to say, “I want none of the above”
So I’m here (or rather, not here) to ask you to listen to the so-called serious parties, (not only their words but their actions), and hopefully identify one of them who you feel predominantly represents you. However, if, after hearing everything they have to say, watching them in action, and reading their (sometimes overtly abundant) literature; you still feel that none of them represent you, then please, vote for me!
I’m standing to offer the disenfranchised electorate, a ‘none of the above’. Please use your vote on 1st August and if you still don’t know what to think, vote Pink. Sometimes insanity is the only thing that makes sense.
You can download Sundays show by following this link, and then you’ll have it on your computer for posterity! Alternatively, until the 20th August you can listen to it on catch up following the same link