Save Silverstone. Vote Conservative?

The Mole was sitting in front of the summer house, looking out over the valleys where streams collect to fill the River Arun. He was thinking about nothing in particular when there was a rustling in the hedge and The Colonel (The Mole's next door neighbour and a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party) burst through. He was armed with Pimm's, lemonade and a sprig of sweet-smelling mint.

"I say Mole," he said. "Get an orange, a cucumber, some ice and a bit of stray borage and we will be all set."

The Mole wandered up to the house and five minutes later everything was ready. There were even nibbly biscuits.

The two old friends settled down to chew the cud and enjoy the onset of a Surrey evening.

"I'd like to propose a toast," said The Colonel. "To the departure of Tony Blair."

"There have been worse Prime Ministers," said The Mole, but then he noticed The Colonel's face changing colour slightly, and concluded that it would be best to raise his glass and avoid a 25-minute tirade on the subject.

"Yes," The Mole said, after savouring the Pimm's. "The only thing is that we get Gordon Brown instead."

"He won't last long," said The Colonel.

"I am not so sure," said The Mole. "You can be sure that he will not give up without a fight. The Labour folk have their backs to the wall and so that makes them dangerous. Just the other day the party chairman was saying that Labour needs to attack the Conservatives ruthlessly and take the fight to the enemy. I would bet that Brown has a whole lot of vote-winning schemes up his sleeve: affordable environmentally-friendly housing, getting the troops out of Iraq, a free balloon for every 10-year-old and so on. It would not surprise me if he starts out with a burst of smiling energy, hikes up the polls and then goes to the country very quickly. The Conservatives are only strong at the moment because Blair was unpopular. They still have plenty of problems and you can bet that Brown will be stirring up trouble about grammar schools and the philosophy of conservatism. The word is that Labour constituencies are already speeding up their selection of candidates. So we could have an election in the autumn, or perhaps next spring. Brown is ambitious. He wants a proper mandate and not to be open to attack for being an unelected Prime Minister.

"As far as I am concerned one lot these days is not that different to the other lot," The Mole went on. "They are just jostling for position. What I want to see is someone who looks after the motor racing industry because it is just not fair that everyone else gets money for things. I mean the Olympic Games is just extraordinary. There is billions being spent on it. And it will end up just like The Dome. I mean, how can you spend $1.5bn on a big tent? And all the while motor racing, an activity in which Britain still rules the world, is being left unsupported. It is just infuriating. I guess it goes back to 1997 when the then new Prime Minister Tony Blair had his first crisis in office about the Labour Party accepting a donation from Bernie and then changing its policy and voting against a European tobacco advertising ban. That resulted in some seriously bad blood between Labour and Bernie. The last thing that Blair ever wanted was to be publicly linked to F1. Silverstone worked hard behind the scenes to raise money from local initiatives but there was never much hope of a big government grant. Now that Blair is going there might be more chance with Gordon Brown."

"I cannot see it myself," said The Colonel. "The motorsport industry is concentrated into areas of the country that are held by the Conservatives. There is absolutely no incentive for Labour to help out in those areas. Any money that is available is more likely to be spent opening kindgartens for the children of gay Scottish miners!"

The Mole raised an eyebrow.

"Well, it is true," said The Colonel.

"Gay Scottish miners?" said The Mole.

"Well, oil workers then," said The Colonel.

There was a pause in the conversation as both men took a sip of their Pimm's, if only to recover their composure.

"Now if the Conservatives won," said The Colonel.

" ... the gay Scottish miners would have to look after their own children," said The Mole, earning himself a decidedly dirty look.

"If the Conservatives won it would be very different," The Colonel went on. "David Cameron is the Member of Parliament for Witney, a constituency in which no fewer than two Formula 1 teams are headquartered. They have much to gain from helping to create wealth and jobs at Silverstone."

"So what we really want is a quick election resulting in a defeat for Labour," said The Mole.

"A crushing defeat," said The Colonel. "And that would give Silverstone the chance to get some money from the government in time to have a year or so left to do the building work before 2010."

"I am sure that is exactly what Bernie would like to see," said The Mole.

June 4 2007

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