Holidays bring danger for politicians

THIS is the time of year when it's much safer being a political journalist than it is being a politician.Because holidays can be very dangerous for politicians – just ask former Tory Party chairman David Davis.

THIS is the time of year when it's much safer being a political journalist than it is being a politician.

Because holidays can be very dangerous for politicians – just ask former Tory Party chairman David Davis.

A couple of weeks in Florida was marred only by the fact that he was sacked from his party's second most important job and given the take-it or leave-it option of shadowing John Prescott.

Of course a few years ago we were treated to the spectacle of Mr Prescott himself throwing his weight around while the Blairs were out of the country (and let's face it he has some weight to throw around).

Personally, I'm reasonably confident that no one will be sacking me or or trying to do my job while I'm away.

At least I hope that's not what the editor has in mind!

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WHEN the news came out that production may be ceasing at Ransomes in Ipswich, we started looking through old documents about the company.

I couldn't resist a note that was sent out to employees (or workmen as they were described then) back in 1841 as an election was being called.

It warns its workers not to accept bribes in return for votes – and says that anyone accepting a bribe to vote for a particular candidate would be sacked.

What surprises me is that they felt it necessary to warn their employees – because only men who lived in a certain size of house were entitled to vote.

Historians estimate that only one in seven men had the vote – and of course it would be another 80 years before women could vote.

IT used to be said that East Anglia was cut off from the rest of the country on three sides by the North Sea and on the fourth by British Rail.

Maybe that should now be revised – the fourth side is now cut off quite effectively by the M25 now, it seems.

I'e never been a great fan of the A12 and London's orbital motorway – and until I went on holiday this year I hadn't used it for many years.

Driving to and from Dover, I was struck by how good the roads were the other side of the Dartford crossing – and how dreadful the A12 is with no prospect of imminent improvement.

By far the worst section of the journey is the roundabout between the A12 and M25 which is festooned with so many traffic lights that it stops the traffic dead for up to 45 minutes – just because so many vehicles use it.

I've never been able to understand the logic of shoving lights on roundabouts anyway, it never seems to have anything to do with improving traffic flow – it just brings traffic to a halt!

I fully understand that transport planners would rather we didn't drive to London along the A12 – that's sensible and I would never consider driving to the capital. But if you're trying to get to Kent – and the Medway area is hardly unreachable for a day-trip from Suffolk – railways are totally impractical.

So why should we have to put up with a dreadful road to the M25 and an impenetrable junction?

There is a long-term study looking at transport links between Ipswich and London – both road and rail.

The infrastructure of both need substantial improvement – the A12 needs to be re-engineered in areas between Colchester and Chelmsford and in the Brentwood area.

And the junction with the M25 needs to be completely rebuilt and the lights removed.

I really don't think those improvements will encourage thousands of us to leap in our cars and drive to London – but it would improve our links with the rest of the country.

Presumably the London-based road planners don't want us polluting their backyard – but at least it must keep them out of Constable Country and away from our delightful coast!

I KNOW I should let sleeping dogs lie, but I have to make a further comment on the Jane Chambers/Chris Newbury row that blew up at the end of last month.

Mrs Chambers accused the council of failing to accept people with disabilities and treating her differently because she has to use crutches or a wheelchair – she was annoyed that she had been separated from other council members during the Queen's visit to Ipswich.

Since then I've heard from senior Labour councillors – and senior officials at Civic Centre – who have said how special arrangements had been made to give Mrs Chambers a good view of the royal visit.

I can understand they feel aggrieved that they had done all they could think of and still got criticised.

But that's the point Mrs Chambers was trying to make. People with disabilities don't want to be patronised and told they are getting better treatment than everyone else.

They want to be treated the same as their peers. They don't want to be kept in a separate pen – even if it is better than that of their colleagues.

Dealing disability issues isn't something that can be easily addressed by setting up an accessibility working party – it needs people to reassess their attitude to the issue.

It means making it possible for everyone to be treated equally – not better or worse than their peers.

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