Giles Radice was the kindest and most courteous of the North-East MPs I regularly dealt with in my old job as Political Editor of the Newcastle Journal. After I left the Lobby he stayed in touch for a while and sent me a copy of his Diaries which were published towards the end of 2004. Thumbing through them earlier this evening, I came across this remarkable paragraph, written on General Election Day 2001.
"Lisanne and I work in Newark for Fiona Jones. It is an uphill task, because despite being a sitting Labour MP, Fiona is the victim of a horrendous whispering campaign. Sad to say, she has been a lame duck MP, ever since she was wrongly convicted of "fiddling" her election expenses. Although she was immediately and totally exonerated on appeal, the mud stuck and the Tories have been conducting a vicious doorstep attack on her personal character. We meet hostility to her as we knock up, including schoolboys who say she is "corrupt." Poor Fiona!"
This needs little further comment from me, as it already says so much: about Giles Radice and his dedication to the Labour Party; about the awfulness of Fiona Jones' plight; but also about the Labour Party's desertion of her, that she was left to try to get the vote out on election day with the help, not of the party's "stars," but of only a veteran backbencher on his way, that very day, into retirement.
Poor Fiona, indeed....