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Glenda Jackson resignation calls are a mere distraction

PUBLISHED: 12:02 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:25 07 September 2010

IN AN effort to limit the damage of former councillor Phil Thompson s attempt to run his constituency affairs from Tucson, Arizona, Liberal Democrat supporters are making an interesting comparison with MP Glenda Jackson s similarly recent blunder. She use

IN AN effort to limit the damage of former councillor Phil Thompson's attempt to run his constituency affairs from Tucson, Arizona, Liberal Democrat supporters are making an interesting comparison with MP Glenda Jackson's similarly recent blunder. She used taxpayers' cash to fund her Community First magazine. There is a similarity in that both 'misdemeanours' were brought into the public domain by the Ham&High, but sadly for the Lib Dems that's where any valid comparison ends.

In the case of Ms Jackson, we drew her attention to a possible mistake in contravening convoluted parliamentary procedures. She then investigated the matter, found she was in the wrong and issued an immediate apology.

There was no need to draw Mr Thompson's attention to the fact that he was undertaking his council work from Arizona. That's where he was when we spoke to him by telephone, already ensconced in university life in Tucson and insisting to our surprise that he could continue to carry out his council duties from 5,500 miles away.

In this he had the support of many Lib Dem colleagues who went on the record with words of encouragement for his trans-Atlantic venture. It was only as a result of the ensuing public furore that he changed his mind and resigned. That's a very different situation from the one in which the area's MP found herself and while the episode was an embarrassing one for Ms Jackson, no-one who is capable of setting their party political views to the side would seriously suggest that this was a resigning matter.

And while it is fair enough to draw attention to Phil Thompson's achievements while representing Kentish Town, it is a simple rule of politics that much good can be undone by a single act of folly when the ire of constituents is provoked. As one correspondent stated, the Phil Thompson saga was the talk of the town. By comparison, MP Glenda Jackson's gaffe barely registered on the political Richter Scale.

That's why Cllr Thompson had to resign, and why a genuine apology from Glenda Jackson suffices.

q Phil Thompson's resignation will result in a by-election, but Hampstead ward voters should not forget that one is taking place today following environmental chief Mike Greene's decision to seek bigger things in Bournemouth.

Mr Greene's plans came unstuck, but there is an opportunity for Ham&High readers to cast a vote for his replacement today, in this, the week of the Labour Party conference. It will be interesting to see what effect the Brown factor will have - if any - on the intentions of local voters. Probably not much. Where these candidates are concerned, it is their grasp of local issues and their determination to tackle them which will win support. Exactly as it should be.

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