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Hatton v Mayweather was a picnic compared to Feltz v Roberts

PUBLISHED: 16:53 17 December 2007 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 September 2010

I was among the many millions who didn t set my alarm for the early hours of Sunday morning, having refused to pay Sky television an extortionate sum for the dubious privilege of watching Ricky Hatton being beaten to a pulp by Floyd Mayweather in a Las Ve

I was among the many millions who didn't set my alarm for the early hours of Sunday morning, having refused to pay Sky television an extortionate sum for the dubious privilege of watching Ricky Hatton being beaten to a pulp by Floyd Mayweather in a Las Vegas casino.

Never mind, an even bigger showdown was looming on Monday morning - at a much more convenient hour and all for free!

In the blue corner, resident of these parts and broadcaster extraordinaire Vanessa Feltz, famed for never pulling her punches and capable of demolishing an unwary opponent without breaking sweat. In the red corner, former council leader Dame Jane Roberts, who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee all through her undefeated reign in the Camden political arena.

These formidable women came together at BBC London's Marylebone studios on Monday morning to discuss proposals for encouraging people to vote. Not, you might justifiably argue, the most invigorating of subjects, but the confrontation was riveting.

Dame Jane, chairwoman of the Councillors Commission, was there to explain the quango's proposals. No stranger to the art of spin and shadow boxing, she must have anticipated the need to fend off a few gently probing jabs from her BBC host.

Instead, what she encountered was a full frontal assault for which she seemed entirely unprepared.

From the moment she suggested that voters were a bit stupid because they, ahem, didn't understand the system, didn't know how to put their 'X' on a slip and into the bargain were also largely ignorant of what local authorities do, she was on the defensive, pinned against the ropes by a fearsome avalanche of rapier-like thrusts and devastating body blows which must have left her wondering why she hadn't just stayed in bed.

When Dame Jane parried the attack by suggesting there should be a bit more razzmatazz about local elections and then suggested ways in which voting could be linked to gambling, the contest was all but over.

Ms Feltz duly delivered her knock-out punch, writing off the work of Dame Jane's commission as ''a product of the chattering classes condemning the rest of us to ignorance''.

Contest over. Job done, as Floyd Mayweather might have put it. A resounding victory for common sense against the conspirational forces of organised lunacy.

And not a single sane person listening to the interview would have disagreed with the verdict.

Geoff Martin

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