Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews; Noisy airhorns, dirty protests, and what will become of the young election workers?

How to win friends and influence people. Two months ago, security staff at a job centre near our office went on strike, complaining their pay did not reflect the amount of abuse they were subjected to from the public.

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At the time, I was mildly sympathetic. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what a minority of the punters may be like, and nobody should have to tolerate abuse as they go about their jobs.

But that was then. Now, I’m feeling tempted to go down there and dish out a bit of abuse myself.

Why? Because in recent weeks they have taken to sounding air horns and sirens incessantly throughout the mornings they are on strike. Four mornings in a row this week. The cacophony will disrupt the thousands of people in the vicinity. I hate to think what effect it must have on anybody who suffers with autism.

Listen brothers, your dispute is with your employer, not us. If you want the public on your side, keep the noise down.

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Besides, if you want to stage a proper protest, take a leaf out the book of the French. In Paris, people are voicing their displeasure at the cost of staging the Olympic by taking a poop in the River Seine.

At least that shows a bit of imagination.

Indeed, I think instead of getting the hump, the Paris city authorities should take the view that ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, and make aquatic defecation into an Olympic sport. I suspect its something a British team would be quite good at.

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Forgive me for not going big on the General Election here. I know it’s the biggest story in town, but there is plenty of coverage elsewhere in the paper. And after seven weeks of following politicians around, I could really do with a breather. And I suspect many of you feel the same.

One question that did cross my mind, though, was what will become of the army of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young party officials who travel the length of the country, carrying the politicians' bags? I wonder whether, five or 10 years from now, these energetic and idealistic folk will retain their vivacity and optimism, or will they have been ground down with a weary cynicism as they discover the compromises that go with office, and how little influence politicians really wield.

I only ask because I remember one such individual when then Tory leader William Hague visited a computer business 24 years ago. A petite, thrusting young thing, dashing about with a clipboard, earnestly explaining the leader’s ambitions.

The thing that made her memorable was her unusual name: Priti Patel.