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Undercover at the Lib Dem conference

A special assignment for Barry Bodgeit

Published on September 26th 2010.

Undercover at the Lib Dem conference

BARRY Bodgeit cast his mind back to the meeting that had taken place a couple of hours earlier.

When Uncle Joe’s secretary had waved him straight into the boss’s office he’d almost been glad. He hated waiting outside, listening to the shouts and screams emanating from within. Uncle Joe was sitting in his massive leather chair, his desk top littered with walnut shells.

“Barry! Wer’ da hell you bin?”

“I’m sorry boss, the handle on my office door is broke again,” Barry winced as Uncle Joe crunched another shell with his teeth and spat it across the desk.

“Get a guy to get it fixed, I can’t have da executive councillor for Administrative and Sundry Services stuck in his office all day, sit down.”

“Yes sir.”

Barry blushed as he cast his mind back to the last time he’d tried to get the door fixed. He could still hear the gales of laughter coming down the phone after he’d told them he was the Member heading up ASS and asked for someone to take a look at his broken knob.

“I suppose you is wondering why I brung you down here? I gots a problem see.” Uncle Joe stood up and wandered around to Barry and perched on the desk. “See Barry I gots a special job fer yer.”

He popped another walnut into his mouth and it made a sickening crack.

“Anything I can do for you sir, as you know. My ASS is always at your servi...”

“Shut yer mouth,” Uncle Joe spluttered, and a volley of walnut shells rained down on Barry from his foaming mouth. “I hears you was one of dem Liberals.”

“Dem-Liberals? Lib-Dems, I believe, is the correct term.”

“You think you're smart? You think dis is some sorta joke?” he bellowed.

“Me Sir? No Sir! I’m loyal to the party. I have a photo of you in my wallet, Uncle Joe. Here take a....

“Shut up! Goddamnit!”

Barry flinched and stared at the carpet.

“I hears you wuz one of dem liberals when you wuz younger. Now is dat right?”

“I was a social democrat at the university, Sir.”

“You went to university?” Uncle Joe’s shook his head.

“Well it wasn’t quite a university.”


“Almost Sir, it was a technical college.”

“A what? Well when you gots yer degree you wuz a social...”

“Er, if I may just interrupt, Uncle Joe. I didn’t get a degree. It was an NVQ in office storage methodology. Filing, to the man on the street.”

Uncle Joe stared at Barry for what seemed like a life time, Barry’s eyes flicked across to the cricket bat the boss kept next to his chair and then back to his stony face.

“Jesus H Christ Barry, if you wusn’t married to my wife's niece...” the sentence trailed off as Joe reached for another walnut.

“Wuz you, or wuz you not a Liberal when you wuz younger?”

“I was a social democrat, Uncle Joe. I was drawn to their strong beliefs in... in... er... erm...social democracy, that and I quite liked that Shirley Williams, she reminded me of Nanny.”

“Deese social democrats, wuz deese fellas dem Lib-Dems?”

“Well I suppose so, sort of.”

“Right, I wants you to go undercover see, you knows about dees guys, I wants you to get into dat conference and tells me what dey is saying abouts us.”

“Go undercover sir? Can’t you just watch them on the telly?”

“Nah! TV don’t tells you nuthin, I wants to hear what dey say when the cameras ain’t there, I wants to know what dey have in store for me see? Dat god damn fireman brung his friends here to get rid of me, I knows it.

“See what I need is a guy to hang out in der and listen to what's dey is sayin'. Someone who will know how to look and sound like one of dem. I can’t use anyone else here, dey are all either old militants and new labour.” “What I needs is a liberal lover, and you is it. So go gets changed, here you’ll need dis.”

He reached into his pocket and tossed an Lib Dem ID badge across with the photograph of a man with beard on it.

“Dat’ll get you into anywhere, widda bit of work. Now get out of here.”

Barry ran home to his flat, stopping off at the joke shop, where he had an account, to buy a stick on beard. Once home he had quickly dug out his old his old suitcase. He blew off a layer of dust and opened it on his bed, he studied its carefully laid out contents, the old red and blue rosette with a picture of Rosie Barnes lay on top of his permanent press Chinos.

“Ahh Rosie,” he murmured. “If it hadn't been for that damned David Owen...” his voice trailed off.

Thirty minutes later he studied himself in the mirror, proud of his transformation, corduroy trousers, cheesecloth shirt, red woollen waistcoat and blue corduroy jacket coupled with his new beard, he felt like it was 1985 all over again.

Slipping the pass into his pocket and whistling Eye of the Tiger, he left the flat and trotted downstairs. He still didn’t trust the lift after it broken and he had been stuck in it with four rugby playing PE students from JMU. His ears had been raw from all that flicking for weeks. "Good job they're girls”, he’d thought as they gave him another wedgie.

As he arrived at the security check point at the Arena he spotted Andrew Marr holding an interview outside with some little Tory who was banging on about the need to cut disability benefits. It angered Barry that they allowed that sort of right wing bilge on the air and he shook his head. The assistant producer glanced across.

“You not happy with this?” she said.

“Of course I’m not! Targeting people who are least able to fight back, is a disgrace, bullying at its worst.”

“Would you like to say a few words on TV?”

Barry was dragged across towards Marr, who held his finger to his earpiece and then took Barry’s arm and pulled him close in front of the camera.

“We’ve a delegate here who doesn’t agree with you, what’s your name, Sir?”

Marr thrust the microphone in Barry's face. Uncharacteristically, he thought quickly on his feet. “ This could make my name in politics. No longer the head off ASS! I could cross the floor, yet again, and be a Lib Dem contender.”

He took a deep breath and turned to Marr: “Well Andrew, I find it sad that you allow these right wing idiots air time, attacking people who are already poor, making them feel threatened and hated when all they are trying to do is make ends meet and struggle against adversity. The likes of this hateful Tory is pandering to the worst kind of Daily Mail reading bigot, peddling greedy ideas that undermine the great social traditions of this magnificent Lib Dem party.”

Marr nodded and turned back to the other interviewee.

“Yeah go on, you shiny faced git,” thought Barry, “get out of that!”

“Well Nick Clegg, what do you have to say to that?” said Marr.

“Can you tell me why this gentlemen’s beard has slid off into your hand, Andrew?”

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AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

I thought it was rather amusing, actually. And, Pat, you should remember what my dear old gran used to say, "if you can't say anything nice, keep your gob shut"

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

I miss Shirley Williams

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

Lovely woman, Shirley. A caring politician, not a career politician

Vince Garble and Nick CloggSeptember 25th 2010.

Sorry but I have to agree with Pat, the Lib Dems are utter crap. That's why we've joined the Tories.

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