Kenneth Roy's editorial asks a question ('Who said liberals were nice?) that verges on the rhetorical. Nobody who worked in politics in the 1980s, as did I, or I suspect in any other era, would ever subscribe to the view that Liberals were nice. Yes, I appreciate that I am using a capital L, but I do so without apology.
Anyone who ever campaigned against them, or their SDP chums before they all saw the advantages of shedding a few principles each and merging, will tell you that there were few tricks, dirty or otherwise, to which they would not resort. Lying, bullying, cajoling were commonplace, and their infamous 'canvass returns' came from the imagination of their campaign staff and never from the doorstep.
The truth is that few of us were nice. Many of us were downright nasty, and they were the ones who tended to win.
One of the nicest people I ever met in politics was the late Screaming Lord, David Sutch, no liberal himself. He was a winner in his own way. Having bet on himself at generous odds to poll more than 300 votes in the Darlington by-election, his campaign message was simple, 'Bet on me, vote for me and make yourself a few quid'. 374 people did, and David went home happy.
His election rallies were held in a pub called the Old Dun Cow, and involved his band. Once I heard him claim, 'There were more people in the shit-house at my meeting last night than the SDP had in the hall at theirs'. Having attended both events, I knew this to be true.
How strange that, as I read Kenneth Roy's editorial ('Would you lift a finger to save Britain's mainstream press?), I should have beside me yesterday’s Telegraph, complete with a 'form' with which to object to Section 40.
It begins, 'I am a member of the public/lawyer/academic (delete as appropriate) and I would like to take part in this consultation.' Are lawyers and academics also not members of the public?
On 18 November you published a comment piece by Jamie Duff entitled 'A story about my nephew Jack', in which he bemoans the impact of big money on football, using a personal example of correspondence with Manchester City FC. I don't doubt Jamie's experience for a minute, but I can provide an alternative view based on my contact with the club.
Like Jamie's nephew, my son also recently began supporting Manchester City – I think he liked the pale blue colours and the name Sergio Aguero. For his 11th birthday I bought two tickets for City v Chelsea on 3 December.
A couple of weeks before the match I received an email from Manchester City offering to print our names in the match programme alongside those of other first-time visitors to the club. Then, a few days later, another email with an invitation to attend a free 'City Family Day' – this involved a tour of the club's (very impressive) academy facilities, meeting youth and women's team players and the chance to take part in lots of fun activities on their indoor pitches.
My son thoroughly enjoyed our visit – took part in the well-run activities, got his face painted for free, was amazed to see his name in print in the programme. (Unfortunately for him, the team played poorly and were well beaten, although, for Scottish football fans, anything else would have been misleading.) A few days before Christmas, he received an emailed greetings card from City player Kevin de Bruyne.
None of this is intended to argue that big money hasn't had a negative impact on the beautiful game. It does, however, shed an altogether more positive light on a club which prides itself on its engagement with fans and its contribution to communities.
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