Peter Rhodes on a Lib-Dem quandary, an average puzzle and reintroducing a massive eagle

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Ed Davey – EU dilemma
Ed Davey – EU dilemma

The royal estate at Sandringham is said to welcome a plan to introduce white-tailed eagles nearby. In Scotland where this “rewilding” has begun, these massive eagles with an eight-foot wingspan have been accused of snatching healthy young lambs from the hillsides. What will they prey upon in a tourist-rich environment like Sandringham?

The average weight of a new-born lamb is about 3.5kg. That's about the weight of a Yorkshire terrier. And if you want a real avian nightmare, 3.5kg is also the average weight of a newborn baby. Anybody seen little Kevin . . ?

Allow me to misquote the old maxim: There are statistics, damn statistics and averages. Consider the new report by the Bank of England proving that during the pandemic, average wages have actually risen. How can this be? It is the result of lots of low-paid workers losing their jobs and therefore having no wages. Take those low wages out of the equation and the average wage of those remaining in work (i.e. higher-paid workers) is bound to rise. So average wages have gone up but nobody is any better off. Just nod and try to look wise.

What are the odds against the Liberal Democratic Party contesting the next General Election as a united party? Already, a fault line is developing between those who accept Brexit has happened and those who will fight tooth and nail for Britain to rejoin the EU. Their leader, Sir Ed Davey, told the BBC's Andrew Marr: “We are not a re-join party, but we are a very pro-European party.” His party's official position at last year's Conference, is to support UK membership of the EU “in the long term.” George Potter, a Lib-Dem councillor in Surrey denounces Davey's position as “a complete contradiction of party policy.” Let the snarling begin.

Owing to Covid-19, which will still be around three months from now, May's local-council election will require voters to bring their own pen or pencil to mark the ballot paper. No change there, at least for conspiracy-theorists who always take their own ballpoint because if you use the pencil provided, “They” (some unspecified, shadowy, ballot-rigging cabal) will erase your cross and change your vote.

Let us hope most parish councils are happier forums than the chaotic meeting at Handforth, Cheshire, which went viral last week. I have a soft spot for these little councils, having cut my reporting teeth on them all those years ago. I recall one meeting where it was agreed that a new children's swing would be provided in the local park. “Right,” said the chairman. “Anybody got a shovel?” “I've got two shovels and a sledgehammer,” offered his deputy.

In the next couple of minutes, without committing a penny of public money, those parish councillors pooled their equipment, dropped all the politics and turned themselves into a playground working party for the common good. I like to think that parochial spirit endures.

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