Politicians should ‘shush’ as library row turns nasty

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint had quite a pop at mayor Peter Davies after he “stormed out” (her words) of a heated public meeting on Bawtry Library.

“I do feel the Mayor embarrassed himself at the Bawtry public meeting,” she said.

“When an elected Mayor tells residents who are fighting to save an important public asset that he doesn’t know anything about it – how can they trust the quality of that decision?”

Well, I’ve got a question for Ms Flint. When an elected MP bangs on at length about a public meeting that she wasn’t at, how can we trust the quality of her opinion?

Because Ms Flint was not at the meeting. She was in Westminster, voting against the privatisation of forests, so sent husband-cum-spin-doctor Phil Cole on her behalf.

Not that you’d necessarily know that from the press release, penned by Mr Cole, from which the above quotes are taken. His wife’s absence is buried in the “Notes to Editors” section at the bottom.

The Free Press was at this meeting, by the way. So we can confirm that Mr Davies did cause quite a stir by saying he didn’t know where Bawtry library was and had never borrowed a library book.

He did indeed walk out of the meeting early. Strangely, though, Ms Flint’s missive doesn’t mention that he did so because he felt the meeting had been “hijacked” by Mr Cole for political ends.

Can’t imagine where he got that idea from.

I’ve met many of the campaigners fighting to save their libraries. They’re decent, hardworking people and deserve better than to be used for political point-scoring.

New Labour failed at the ballot box, at least in part, because people became heartily sick of the spin doctor culture that cheapened political debate. Those days are over, we’re told. But perhaps some people are yet to get the memo.