Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Andrew Stunell’s Hot Potato

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 19th January, 2011

Andrew Stunell, Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (and LibDem MP for Hazel Grove), returned to his South-West London roots this evening when he spoke to a Richmond Liberal Democrats Potato and Politics in the Vestry Hall in Paradise Road. He laid out the achievements that the Liberal Democrat partners in the Coaliti0n Government had scored, but this did not stop the audience of local party members putting some pretty tough questions to him, particularly relating to social housing, planning, benefits and health. Andrew stressed repeatedly that the government had to tackle the appalling financial situation it inherited from Labour. We are still having to borrow £400 million a day to close the gap between spending and revenue, he said, which helps put the cuts into perspective. He felt bitter about the way the Guardian in particular has really gone for the jugular in its reporting of the Coalition, and especially the LibDems, which I felt was fair comment, even though I sometimes write for that august organ! He pointed out that 200-odd points out of 300-odd points in the last Liberal Democrat manifesto had made it into the Coalition Agreement. Almost evey week there is a ‘win’, even if some of the Labour-leaning Press concentrates on the negatives. I cheekily asked him how he got on with his Minister, Eric Pickles, but apparently another Guardian journalist had asked him the same question over lunch and his answer to me was distinctly coy. All in all a robust performance, nonetheless, even if no everyone in the room left totally mollified.

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