THIS ISLAND LIFE
LET no-one say the Island is not at the very epicentre of British political intrigue. It appears little happens within the corridors of Westminster without our little community playing a pivotal role.
Take the Liberal Democrats’ recent cock-eyed attempt to get rid of its leader, Nick Clegg, for example.
The coup (if it can be dignified with such a description) was led by one of the party’s own representatives in the House of Lords, who funded a poll in Clegg’s own constituency to prove how unpopular he was.
But this was not just the sneaky machinations of any old nobleman. This was the work of Lord Oakeshott — and not just any old Lord Oakeshott.
This was Lord Oakeshott of SEAGROVE BAY no less who, after his skulduggery became public knowledge, shuffled away from Westminster "with a heavy heart" (and a much lighter wallet).
'I am taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats,’ he announced.
How could the cad do such a thing? His departure leaves an entire beach at Seaview without representation in the Upper Chamber only a year before the next general election.
Whatever happened to loyalty? Whence democracy?
Will the Quentins and Cassandras be forced to frolic in their dinghies and picnic in the brisk south-easters this summer without being under the comforting aegis of baronial patronage?
The least his lordship could have done was follow the example of most Lib Dems on the Island Council, and become an Independent, for the sake of political expediency if nothing else.
After all, declaring oneself to be politically unencumbered, and then gathering together with other likeminded turncoats, has become trendy to the point of contagion on the Island.
The world was Oakeshott’s oyster (or Seagrove Bay crab). He could have been installed as President of the Oxymorons and his coat of arms ceremonially borne into the council chamber at the start of every meeting.
Instead, his conspiratorial ways have ended in self-imposed exile, but contained within this classic Whitehall farce is a sweet irony.
Oakeshott may have gone about his business in a high-handed manner, yet his reasons for talking the actions he did were sound.
He said Nick Clegg had dire ratings year after year in many respectable polls. He was right.
He said the Lib Dems’ only hope of regaining some credibility at the ballot box next year after the carnage of the local and European elections was to elect a new leader. He was right.
He said the party was heading for disaster if Clegg remained in place. He was right.
One day (probably when it is too late) the Lib Democratic elite will realise that though they may have disapproved of the messenger and his manner, his message was spot on.
Secret bus journeys to the book signing
It was good to meet some readers at the County Press Shop in Newport the other Saturday, when co-author Angela Snow and I were signing copies of God’s Own Acre: History of Havenstreet and Ashey.
The 160 photos therein created a lot of interest — but several purchasers had other things on their mind.
The Southern Vectis hierarchy might like to take cover at this point.
One woman urged me to 'tell that chap at Southern Vectis’ that some of his employees drive far too quickly and a chap said he had written to general manager, Matt Kitchin, about another matter entirely and received the same, word-for-word, meaningless, mealy-mouthed, jargonised, stereotypical reply I had received following my near-death experience. Since then all communication between him and Mr Kitchin had ended (not that it had really started) so he wanted to make his point via this column.
I had to laugh at another bloke, who said he had travelled to the book signing by bus 'but I didn’t tell the driver where I was going in case he booted me off!’
Dusty old tales at the crease
When Jim Pidgeon puts his mind to it, he tells a good tale.
There we were, Malc Lawrence, Roy Winter and I, settling down for our first match of the season at Steephill, when the old boy shuffled over looking a bit crestfallen.
'What a morning I’ve had,’ he said mournfully, and of course, it being the first encounter of the summer and our being out of touch with his mischievous ways, we all fell for it. "Why, what happened?’ asked Malc.
"Well, I decided to clear out my shed and I hadn’t done it for years. Right at the back was this full rack of Dusty Springfield albums and CDs, and I threw them all away. But I wish I hadn’t now.’
'Why?" asked Roy.
'Coz I just don’t know what to do with my shelf,’ came the reply.