I blame Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher

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Cantankerous? Me? Ooh, thank you very much! Well, it’s better than bottling it up, isn’t it – or taking it out on next door’s cat.

I blame the politicians for so thoroughly disillusioning us all. I never used to be such a cynical misanthrope. I reckon it’s all Thatcher and Blair’s fault – and, in the interests of balance, probably one or two of the Liberal ones too. Dog-killer Jeremy Thorpe? Honours-gifting Lloyd-George? Paddy Pantsdown? Chain-smoking one-for-the-road Kennedy? Take your pick...

Cantankerous, eh? What a lovely old-fashioned word – nice woody sound, not all horrible and tinny like ‘politically correct’.

I know that the LibDems would like us all to be smiley, happy, cheerful people, all of us singing from their hymn-sheet while strewing rose petals on Norman’s parade – but life’s not like that. Lovely man that he is (thank you again for finally seeing off that ghastly Mandelson!) even he can’t be right all the time. His acolytes certainly aren’t.

I would feel sorry for the LibDems if they’d been forced into partnership with the Tories – but this was a decision freely made by them at national level because the party was desperate for power at any price.

Those of us who take the long view remember that they made the same mistake in the seventies by joining forces with Callaghan’s Labour Party.

By so doing, they made themselves unelectable for a generation – and I sincerely believe that they have managed the same trick again with Cameron’s Tories, which is a great shame. They have no-one to blame but themselves if disillusioned voters then turn to the one-trick ponies of UKIP.

And UKIP have not broken the mould of British politics, just as the “Gang of Four” didn’t break the mould of British politics either with the SDP. (Social Drinking Pondlife – remember them?)

Instead, the rising damp of voter apathy has merely puddled together under the dry rot of political short-termism and the death-watch beetle of extremism. The festering mould that is British politics has grown more all-pervasive and unsightly, like Quatermass’s experiment. Norman Baker and Catherine Bearder can’t fix it all on their own.

Cantankerous, eh? So why should the habitually ockard inhabitants of Lewes have all the fun? Lewes and Lewesians have a hard-earned, well-deserved reputation for being contrary, difficult, non-conformist and just plain flaky.

Why not let the rest of us on the fringes of our county town join in occasionally and just say no/ shan’t / won’t just for the sake of it – just because we can?

As for getting on my bike, thanks to sciatica, I suspect my cycling days are over. Besides which, I’ve always subscribed to the “last in – first out” principle. I was born here in Ringmer – so you get on your bike, mate!

Clive Hobden

Ringmer