Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the campaign trail with Esther Rantzen

By Neil Tweedie Published: 7:00AM GMT twenty-seven February 2010

Comments 6 |

Esther Rantzen Esther Rantzen, 69, on the debate route in Luton Photo: CLARA MOLDEN

"Ranzden? I dont think there is a Ranzden here."

The guy

Esther Rantzen will mount in Luton South choosing MPs expenses: Simon Heffer threatens to mount opposite Alan Haselhurst Thinking of station as an eccentric over MPs expenses? Send us your declaration MPs expenses: Jury Team founded as anti-sleaze organisation Today, Neil Hamilton could roughly enclose a white fit

in the hairdressers in Lutons lonesome marketplace was at a loss. What about his beside stallholder, the great Italian gentleman, would he know who I meant?

"Ah, Rantzone! Mrs Rantzone. Round the dilemma to the right I think."

No one would have had a complaint remembering Esther Rantzen 40, thirty or even twenty years ago. Television moguls slobber when a programme clocks up ratings of 10 million these days, but that was small drink when Esther was at her turn in the Seventies, fluttering around revealing base vegetables on Thats Life. Twenty million, she could lift in on a Sunday night she and Cyril Fletcher of the peculiar ode.

Now she is here, in Luton, in a small bureau supposing by the owners of the lonesome market, versed with an old lounge requisitioned from her sons bedroom. Humble yes, but a breakwater to great ambition.

At 69, when majority women her age would be putting their feet up with a Joanna Trollope, Esther (the surname is remaining to those of a sure age) is scheming to attack the still-male-dominated citadel that is the House of Commons. In dual months time, she hopes to be inaugurated the eccentric Member of Parliament for Luton South, a key extrinsic hold tenuously by Labour and eyed hungrily by the Conservatives.

The Dailycan take a little credit (responsibility?) for Miss Rantzens participation in the preference of candidates. When this journal disclosed last year that Margaret Moran, inaugurated MP for the subdivision in the Labour landslide of 1997, had used �22,500 of taxpayers income to heal dry debase at her skill nearby Southampton one that could frequency be described as a bona fide initial or second home for the purposes of parliamentary losses the radio presenter waded in. Moran in the future did the decent thing and resigned, but Esther, who fast acquired a ambience for politics, motionless to run anyway, transfer a great big fly in David Camerons ointment.

She has committed her income (�10,000) and time (driving up from her seven-bedroom home in Hampstead majority weekdays) to the campaign, picking up proffer helpers along the way. Two, Rebecca and Tim, are in the bureau watchful for her return.

"Shell be behind in a minute," says Tim, in a hushed, obedient tone, and a impulse after in she walks: the black of the phallic parsnip.

The grin comes first, of course, that row of vivid white tombstones, emanating from a nut-brown face, producing an outcome not separate to being approached by a snowplough in the dark.

"Hi, Im Esther," she says redundantly. Ones courtesy is already drawn to her size. She is surprisingly petite and in few instances well preserved. Ones warn at her status is a reverence to her challenging character. During her 21-year reign as producer-presenter of Thats Life she acquired a repute for ruthlessness that has remained with her, and that she concurred in an essay on workplace bullying, admitting: "I was not usually tough, but rough, and that wasnt necessary."

For those who recollect her, there is a love-or-loathe peculiarity to Esther, but as far as her organisation is concerned, there is usually the former. They accumulate turn as she tucks in to beans on toast in the indoor markets cafe. Why is she putting herself by this?

"They contend about me, "Shes usually you do it for celebrity…"

"Yes, like, "Shes usually you do it to swell her flagging career," adds Clive.

"Exactly," says Esther, shutting him up.

"The law is, I was impelled by your eighth month organ…"

Parsnips, parsnips.

"… when it disclosed what Margaret Moran had done. And afterwards I detected this illusory town."

Mmmm. "Fantastic" and "Luton" are difference that frequency live the same sentence. Luton, 20-odd miles north of London, is it has to be pronounced something of a dump, well known outward the bounds for a short discuss in a Campari advert, despicable town-centre design and a little but assertive organisation of Islamic extremists. Not usually the Garden of Eden.

"Would I be happy in the Garden of Eden?" asks Esther. Only if the apple was made similar to a… But relocating on.

"I similar to to shift things for the better. Thats what impelled me to have Thats Life for twenty-one years."

Esther says she is giving up a lot for Luton, and wants to offer dual terms. "I have had to terminate multiform cruises I do a lot of travelling and essay about travel. I have not finished anything similar to as most intentional work as I routinely do [she is still heavily concerned with ChildLine]. And I have had to terminate the second novel in my two-book deal."

Really? What was it to be about? "Cant discuss it you but the operative pretension was The Bitch Gene."

It has been referred to that Esthers Jewish credentials will repairs her chances of securing the really poignant Muslim vote. In an bid to rebut the theory, she disappears in to the crowd.

"That happens utterly a lot," says Clive, a internal publisher incited Rantzenian spin-doctor. Back comes Esther with Lubna, an Asian Muslim woman. Does Lubna caring if her MP is a Jew, asks Esther.

"Are you you do something for Luton?" asks Lubna, a bit nonplussed. "I am station as a candidate. Would your son similar to a square of apple?"

"As prolonged as you are you do great things for Luton, I dont care," replies Lubna. "You usually have to be a great human being. We are all descended from Adam and Eve."

"Im not from Luton, but I love Luton," Esther assures her. "It has the M1, airport, the sight we could have it sparkle."

Lubna has served her purpose. "Right," says Esther. "Very good. Thank you for that."

What about Esthers alternative policies? In a nutshell, she believes in the supremacy of health and education, but would condense benefits paid to the well-off. She would persist in Afghanistan

for 3 some-more years but

pull out if swell proves elusive.

We wander along High Town Road, a widen of Victorian shops hairdressers, mostly. Georgio Bufano functions part-time in the Groom Room barbers. Hes really pro-Esther.

"She looks so immature with her dim hair." How old does he think Esther is? "Fifty-five to 60."

Shes 69. "Wow! She can have me as a toyboy."

Esther ventures in to the Painters Arms, a excellent Victorian pub. Chris Magill, a regular, is rather less smitten.

"I havent motionless where to place my vote," he tells her. "But personally, a celeb roving in to locale on the behind of what happened to Moran would not be my choice."

Esther tenses, crosses her arms. The rictus freezes.

"How prolonged are you going to do this for?" asks Mr Magill, meaning, is Esther critical about Luton usually until something else comes along?

"Ive incited down a big stipulate to do this."

No Bitch Gene then? Shame.

Esther explains how she will revitalize Luton, equipping it with skating rinks and alternative recreational goodies.

"I have friends in the party traffic who I can collect up the phone to," she tells Mr Magill. The grin has evaporated. Esther tests her counter on his believe of restaurants in the locale centre. There is a peep in her eye of Toledo steel.

Later, we transport to a church gymnasium in the locale centre for hustings. She simply outguns her quiffed immature rivals from the Labour and Conservative parties, garnering far some-more acclaim from a distrustful assembly of environmentalists and students.

"Its great being 69 since you dont care," she reflects. "I couldnt have finished this at 25, 35 or 45. If I fail, theres no embarrassment."

Shes great with people, isnt she?

"Darling, I was winking at people from my cart from the age of eighteen months."


Post a Comment