David Parkin on election excess, sporting recruitment and finding your inner Frankie

I WAS strangely enthused and a bit excited by the announcement of a snap general election by Prime Minister Theresa May this week.

I say strangely, because I thought after last year’s referendum on Europe, a general election in 2015 and the vote on Scottish independence in 2014, I, like most people, would be a bit jaded by another election campaign.

Perhaps it was the surprise nature of the news. When was the last time a political announcement or policy launch was made without being widely trailed in the media first?

Or maybe it is because the vote on June 8 will answer so many fascinating questions.

Can Theresa May win the backing of the country to deliver Brexit?

Is Jeremy Corbyn blithely leading Labour towards oblivion or will the opinion polls prove as unreliable as they were for last year’s EU referendum and the 2015 general election?

Can Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats capitalise on the Brexit frustrations of the Remainers and become a parliamentary force again?

Given the success of the Scottish National Party in the 2015 election, can Nicola Sturgeon retain her party’s strength in Scotland or will those who voted for Brexit and those who don’t favour independence now abandon the SNP and vote for other parties?

My initial reaction to news of the election was thinking Theresa May had played a blinder.

Labour can’t unite around Jeremy Corbyn and so doesn’t provide a particularly effective opposition.

Tim Farron hasn’t proved a high profile leader of the Lib Dems and they are yet to really stake their claim to be the right home for disaffected Labourites and those who voted to remain in Europe.

And Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the election news was to do an impression of a particularly angry wasp, accusing the Prime Minister of political opportunism.

She doesn’t do political opportunism, does our Nicola.

It would seem that Theresa May is in a very strong position and should increase her party’s Westminster majority come  the morning of June 9.

But then a lot can happen in seven weeks and the traditional models used by pollsters don’t appear to provide results that you can rely on, so all bets are off.

The news didn’t excite everyone. The BBC reporter who did a vox pop with a shopper in the South West after news of the election broke, must have thought they had struck gold.

Even the alliteration of her name and location added to it.

“Brenda from Bristol” bemoaned another election.

“You’re joking! Not another one! Oh for God’s sake, honestly I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics going on at the moment, why does she need to do it?” she exclaimed, like Pam Ayres on speed.

Perhaps you better ask me in seven weeks time if I’m still enthusiastic and excited.

But in the meantime “David from Derby” is available to broadcasters to give his views on a range of subjects for a small fee.


WHEN I tell people that the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate is the most unusual and engaging charity dinner they will attend this year, they look at me with a hint of suspicion.

Yes it has sporting speakers.

But where else do these top sports people have to compete against each other with the audience the judges of their success?

They might have competed at the highest level of their own sport, but can they display the verbal dexterity to match their sporting skills?

This year’s Balloon Debate pitches England and Yorkshire cricketer Jonny Bairstow against rugby league great Kevin Sinfield along with Paralympic footballer David Clarke and Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s witty head physiotherapist Wayne Morton.

You can never put on a major charity event without the help of others and the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate sponsors have really delivered.

Kevin Sinfield is an ambassador for fast-growing Yorkshire-based Henderson Insurance Brokers and Paul Judge and Joe Henderson from HIB were happy to lend their support and ask Kevin if he would take part.

Similarly Simon Wright at Yorkshire Bank offered to ask his London-based colleague David Clarke to take part.

If you haven’t heard of David, he’s a man who has more England football caps than Wayne Rooney and more goals – he scored 128 goals in 144 international appearances for England and Great Britain’s blind football team and has been inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame alongside Peter Schmeichel and Matt le Tissier, Sir Alex Ferguson, Gordon Banks and Jimmy Greaves.


When Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s chief executive Mark Arthur suggested we ask the club’s long-serving physio Wayne Morton to take part, I was keen to get him signed up on reputation alone.

I have never heard Wayne speak at a dinner, but those that have tell me his style is entertaining, edgy and effervescent. Perfect.

And then when Jeremy Thomas of Deloitte said he knew cricketer Jonny Bairstow and would ask him if he would take part in the Balloon Debate, I was “buzzing”, as sportsmen are wont to say.

A few texts to the Caribbean later and Jonny was in.

Since he agreed to take part I know Jonny has been supporting the Leeds City Region at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes and then been at the Cheltenham Festival.

It sounds like the life of a couple of accountants I know.

So the line-up is complete and my next job is to brief our speakers so they are fully prepped for the verbal battle ahead.

We already have more than 200 people attending the event at the Queens Hotel on Wednesday, May 17.

There are some spaces left with tables of 10 priced at £825 +VAT and tickets available individually at £82.50 +VAT each. To book or for more information email events@copasummit.com or telephone 0113 892 1002

As I said earlier, it will be different, engaging and a cracking night. You won’t be disappointed.


MY recent complaint that Harrogate is rougher than I expected before I moved there has been underlined again.

And it is not only confined to joggers being bit shirty and cyclists ringing their bells rather aggressively.

I was walking across the Stray the other evening when a teenager said loudly into his mobile phone: “Do you want a 9mm? I can get you any type of gun.”

I wasn’t too concerned. He looked like he’d fall over if you fired a Nerf gun at him.

Happily, Harrogate’s dark underbelly is currently pleasantly obscured by the explosion of cherry blossom on the trees lining the paths across the grassland of the Stray.

I have so far resisted the urge to take a selfie with the trees in the background and post it on social media with the caption “Not a bad walk to work. #lovinlife #happyHarrogate #blessed

But I might do it later today.

What the blossom has done is attract many young women to strike a series of sensual poses for photos among the trees.

It’s like a postmodernist approach to the Cadbury’s Flake adverts of the 1970s.

And I have to admit, it has been a concern.

Not their posing, more the fact that it appears to have brought out the prude in me.

Everytime I see one of these scantily clad young women, I’m prompted to purse my lips and exclaim: “Ooh no missus, you’ll catch your death. You should be wrapped up dear, it’s not even May yet.”

Perhaps we all have an inner Frankie Howard just waiting to burst out.

What do mean we don’t?

Ooh no don’t. No missus.

Well don’t take a vote on it.

Please yourselves.


Have a great weekend.

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