THE BLOG

Let the Liberal Bastions Look Down Their Noses - Get Behind Clean for the Queen

03/03/2016 09:35 GMT | Updated 03/03/2017 10:12 GMT

I am sure that you, like me, have seen those familiar faces of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove gurning out at you from your newspapers over the past few days holding litter picking sticks and wearing regal purple 'Clean for the Queen' t-shirts.

I'm not a political fan of either the Mayor of London or the, for now, Justice Secretary but fair play to them they, and the seventy odd other MP's who turned up for the photo opportunity, didn't mind looking prize plums for a good cause.

Clean for the Queen is a great idea that is supported by Country Life, Keep Britain Tidy, Greggs and a host of other partners to spruce up the nation in a celebration of Her Majesty's 90th birthday in June.

People all over the country, especially this coming weekend, are being urged to take part in community litter pick events in the hope that we will all, young and old alike, become more public spirited. How could anyone object?

There isn't a pre-requisite that you have to be a monarchist to take part, I certainly know people volunteering who would love to see a republic, but rather that participants want to take greater pride in the area that they live.

Of course, that hasn't stopped one or two curmudgeon's wanting to throw the proverbial spanner in the works.

Just two days ago Laurie Penny writing in The New Statesman proclaimed the campaign to be 'Tory Britain at its worst'. The Guardian went a step further with the headline 'I would rather swim in sewage than Clean for the Queen.'

Seriously guys: get a grip.

Both articles, and quite possibly a fair section of the intellectual left, seem to suggest that litter picking should be the preserve of the state, that the initiative cosies up to a Tory vision of society. But undoubtedly that's the kind of argument which neither reflects the real world that we live in or, I would suggest, the one that most of us would want to.

I love the community that I live in and have been elected to represent, and of course it is the local council's job to maintain a general standard of cleanliness but it goes so much further than that.

I want my community to look great, I want not only to take pride in it myself but to set an example for others to do the same.

I'm hugely proud that last year my home village, which in the 1980's was a rundown mining community, won a national Keep Britain Tidy award for the work carried out by dedicated volunteers. It's amazing that villagers go out every day and pick up litter and tend flower beds.

It's nothing to do with being Tory or Labour or anything else. It's all to do with loving the place where we live.

The fact is slowly but surely more and more people are joining in with the endeavours of dedicated locals.

I have to say that I'm delighted that so few people in my community subscribe to those liberal bastions running their mealy mouthed headlines criticising initiatives that chime with ordinary people.

The likes of The Guardian and The New Statesman must realise that to most people life isn't all about politics. Most people don't see a worthwhile community initiative as a Tory plot but simply a community initiative.

Most people don't become enraged by senior politicians looking like planks at a photo opportunity, to most people it just makes the politicians look more real. Maybe that's why the politicians do it, but you know what? Who cares!

So with my rant finished I shall look forward to my weekend litter picking, because I want to make my village look a little nicer, and let those miserable columnists continue to look down their collective noses a little while longer too.

I know who will be having the most fun, and doing something worthwhile in the process.