Tory has missed the bus on fares
"I read with interest the Conservative candidate for Bristol East's Feedback piece on bus fares in Bristol ("Bristol MPs say bus fares are too high", April 15).
I know she has only recently started taking an interest in local politics, which perhaps explains why she suggests that Dawn Primarolo and I have only just "woken up to the cost of travelling on First buses". The truth, as Post readers will know, is that both of us have been campaigning on this issue for a long time. This has included talking to ministers, meeting with successive managing directors of First Bus, talking to employee representatives and the local authority, and yes, writing letters to try to pin down First to give some firm commitments as to how it intends to improve our bus services. We have made it clear we believe that First must shape up or ship out.
Ms Shafi talks about the prospect of another company coming in to provide a bus service in Bristol, and yet her party, the Conservatives, voted against the Local Transport Act and the new Quality Contract scheme which would make this a viable option.
She also proposes an Integrated Transport Authority, which again was included in the legislation her party opposed. I have long been an advocate of the need for Bristol and the surrounding area to have its own transport authority, and I am glad that she has now come on board. Perhaps she could talk to her Conservative colleagues on the other three councils and persuade them of its merits now?
Finally, I note that Ms Shafi signs off by saying that letter writing is not taking 'proper action'. Perhaps she could inform us what she has done personally to campaign for better transport in Bristol (other than writing her letter, of course)?
Kerry McCarthy, MP."
I did a debate with Ms Shafi at St Brendans Sixth Form College the other week. When she started complaining about the buses, I challenged her on the above points. Her reply? "I'm not here as a Conservative, I'm speaking as someone who wants to use the buses but can't..." I expect I'll be hearing that line frequently over the coming months.
One of the students asked a cracking question, about how could a Conservative frontbench stuffed full of Old Etonians claim to speak for young people like him? Ms Shafi posited herself as an example of just how much Cameron's Conservative Party has changed - at which stage I urged the students to take a look at the Rees-Mogg progeny, Jacob and Annunziata, who are both fighting very marginal seats in nearby Somerset.
Charlotte Leslie, another Bristol Tory PPC, uses the same response in debates - look at me, I'm young and blonde, and I've been selected for a marginal seat; look how much the Tories have changed. Yes, I mutter under my breath, but you're still rather posh Charlotte, aren't you?