A rather surreal Sunday morning yesterday.
It all started on Saturday night with an urgent call from the Lib Dem press office. Could I do an interview with Radio 5 Live tomorrow morning? Yes, OK. A few minutes later the call came through from 5 Live: they were planning a panel discussion to take place on Sunday for broadcast on Monday night (5 not so live).
I’d be on with my regular sparring partner, Labour’s Chuka Umanna, and a yet-to-be indentified Tory, and we were on for 11am in Westminster. A couple of hours later a text came through: time had changed to 12 noon, and the third panellist was celeb candidate David van Day. He’s considering standing in mid-Bedfordshire, having been outraged by Nadine Dorries’ demands for sympathy for persecuted MPs.
Cut to Sunday, and there are five of us (Dino our interviewer, Chuka, me, David van Day and Conservative candidate Tim Archer) sitting in glorious sunshine in the park near the House of Lords, debating MPs expenses, electoral reform and celebrity candidates, while in the middle distance families played frisbee and tourists took photos. All we were missing was the picnic.
Of course, each of us put forward our own party’s solutions – I promoted the Lib Dem proposals for recalls and fair votes as a solution to the corruption coming from safe seats, while Tim is a fan of primaries; but there was also a lot of consensus on the need for wide-ranging reform and more ‘real’ people in politics.
Which brings us to David van Day… He was extremely friendly, un-celebby and enthusiastic, although his approach to expenses (he wouldn’t claim any but would blag support off local businesses instead) raised a few eyebrows. He was also frank that he might not be into the casework side of being an MP. But anything that gets people interested in democracy, and willing to use their vote, is good – so fair play to him.
Our chat should be on Up All Night tonight (or strictly speaking, tomorrow). I’ll post the link when I have it. Then it was back to Islington to join the campaign team out in St Peter’s ward. From Up All Night to out all day…