On Thursday the Reading East constituency was retaken for Labour after being represented for 12 years by Rob Wilson in the Conservative interest. I was quick to congratulate Matt Rodda, the new Labour MP for Reading East, as I am the only person in the world who has ever previously known what it is to represent the Reading East constituency in the Labour interest, and to send him an open letter. That's more than Reading Labour Party did. Their tweets were all about Olivia Bailey, the defeated Labour candidate in Reading West "you should have won"; "all hands to Reading West next time" (hah! I bet!) and from the party only "What can we say? Matt Rodda MP!" clearly signalling the subtext "THAT wasn't supposed to happen". Well, matey boys, it has. Contrast Plymouth, where they also elected a Labour MP for one of the city's constituencies, and party officers and councillors were tweeting in delight and excitement about their new MP (Luke Pollard since you ask, a fine fellow in my limited acquaintance). I am sure they are doing the same in Ipswich and Canterbury, among other places. But in Reading, no.
So, Tony Page, a councillor for approximately 103 years, currently deputy leader of the council, was chosen to issue the customary counterblast to Labour victory in Reading East. He did this by attacking Rob Wilson. Well, I am not going to join him in that. If you get re-elected, twice in Wilson's case, when you just scrape in the first time because the voters are not sure about you, it means you have earned those votes by gaining the trust and confidence of the voters. Hey, Tony? Well, you wouldn't know. You were the Labour candidate in 2005, the compromise candidate who could get support from party members to deselect that pesky Jane Griffiths who keeps winning elections and NOT DOING AS SHE IS TOLD and NOT BEING THE CREATURE OF READING BOROUGH COUNCIL. Well, the Reading East electorate disagreed that year, and chose Rob Wilson. Who is, of course (says Tony Page), a bad person, because he too refused to be the creature of Reading Borough Council. You can read the "story" here. It is in the Reading Chronicle, so it must be true. See this:
Pic Reading Evening Post (so it must be true). Cllr Page continued:
I have every confidence that Mr Rodda will work closely with the council and he has already made that clear."
"Having an MP in Reading who will work with the council as opposed to undermining them is very important."
Is that a threat, Tony? It reads very much like one.
And where, in all this, is the delight and excitement at the election of a Labour MP - because after all it was the election of Labour MPs that denied Theresa May the mandate she hoped for in her snap election? You may well ask. The Observer does, in a big piece today, where they quote Cllrs Tony Jones (whom I do not wish to undermine at this stage) and, you guessed it, Jan Gavin - both of whom fail to enthuse about the election of Matt Rodda. You can read the piece here.
Well, Matt, you do not need them. Great news that you have been elected. A fresh new voice for "Reading, Woodley and Caversham". I wish you all the best, in every way. Step over the tired, corrupt clique of old people on Reading Borough Council and go forward to the future. The scores and scores of mostly young people who campaigned for you want you to do that, and I know you will.