I SEE that the ‘Beast of Bolsover’, Dennis Skinner MP, has been up to his old tricks again. The 84-year-old, who has served his Derbyshire constituency since 1970, is not known to mince his words. He was ejected from the House of Commons by the Speaker John Bercow when he referred to the Prime Minister as ‘Dodgy Dave’ this week.I think he has a fair point myself. The endless media statements that were gradually spilling out of Number 10 over the Prime Minister’s tax affairs, which were revealed in the Panama Papers, were nothing short of a PR fiasco. You can well imagine the re-creation of scenes from the BBC’s The Thick of It where Malcolm Tucker, memorably played by Peter Capaldi, ran around using the F-word several times in every sentence, while trying to keep a lid on the true nature of the PM’s off-shore investments.Calls for Shiny Dave – is that still OK Mr Speaker? – to fall on his sword were loud and clear, but the only person hovering in the wings was the boy George Osborne and his tax record doesn’t look great either. A 2003 video has surfaced with the then-backbencher advising TV viewers to use “clever financial products” to avoid paying tax. Memorably on Andrew Neil’s Politics Show, the bloke openly advocated how to avoid paying inheritance tax. He said: “I probably shouldn’t be advocating this on TV”. Google it to keep yourself entertained in a bored moment. It should be professional suicide.OH DEAR, oh dear. Where does the Government get its communications advice from? After what can only be described as a disastrous week for the Tories, they go and top it off by spending £9.3 million of British taxpayers money on a propaganda leaflet sent to every house in the UK, trying to alarm us all about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU on June 23.I don’t remember signing anything that said my taxes could be used to promote one view or the other and to do it in a printed format through the letterbox in this digital day and age is absolutely laughable. Most people probably picked it up off the mat, along with all the other junk mail and threw it in the bin.Surely a blog, backed up with a Facebook posting, a few tweets and a clip on YouTube would have achieved a better response? The whole thing smells of fear to me – and I’m actually in favour of staying in.I’m really trying to get myself more interested but it’s difficult when the Referendum has been called on my birthday. A few pints of foaming ale are likely to be a priority that day – so I’d better make sure I remember to vote on the way TO work.The only good thing to come out of the Government’s mailshot is that it has got old Boris “I’ve finally decided we should leave Europe” Johnson in a right tizz. He and Shiny Dave won’t be holidaying together anytime soon.THE funniest story of the week award goes to County Durham couple Thomas Defty and Denise Head. Panasonic has refused to fix their £800 42-inch flat-screen telly because it has been damaged because they each have a 20-a-day smoking habit.The pair thought their TV was covered by a five-year warranty, but when Panasonic noticed shadowing on the screen that affected the quality of the picture, they refused to replace it, saying that excessive fag smoke had damaged the set.They’ll have more than shadows on their TV screen if they carry on like that. In the words of Monty Python from their ‘Morning Mrs Smoker’ sketch, “You’d better cut down a little…”
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.