David Parkin sees Tory silence speaks volumes, economic boosts and why wine and cheek don’t mix

THE Radio 4 Today programme was broadcast from Leeds yesterday morning with presenter Nick Robinson based at the Winder Power factory in Pudsey.

Given the city is a key election battle ground, narrowly voted against Brexit and has an economy with a strong manufacturing and financial centre, it provided a unique case study for the BBC to get their teeth into.

I provided a bit of background and context to a former colleague and friend who is one of the producers of the Today programme.

What is interesting is that the BBC found it impossible to get a Conservative candidate standing in a West Yorkshire constituency to be interviewed on the programme.

So when it came to interviewing candidates from the three main parties, Hilary Benn from Labour and Greg Mulholland from the Liberal Democrats, who represent constituencies in Leeds, were at the factory while Kevin Hollinrake, who represents the Thirk and Malton constituency for the Tories, joined the discussion by telephone.

I’ve not been a fan of Prime Minister Theresa May’s presidential approach to the media and her refusal to take part in election debates.

It now seems that her fellow Conservative colleagues are doing the same thing.

I can see why they are doing it, I just don’t like it.

You can almost hear the party strategists from Conservative Central Office, saying: “Now come on everyone, don’t drop a bollock now and we’ll be home and dry with an increased majority on June 8.”

It makes sense politically, but doesn’t do a lot for democracy.


MY comments last week about Burberry moving jobs to Leeds annoyed Tom Bridges, chief officer for economy and regeneration at Leeds City Council.

He gave me a right verbal slapping with this response: “Burberry is 300 jobs relocating, plus another 200 new jobs likely to be recruited locally (which has not been announced yet). And this is only stage one. They are good jobs, that are net additional to the city region.

“A lot of effort has gone into this by the team here and at the LEP. The city has achieved a step change in inward investment performance in recent years. We have the strongest private sector jobs growth of any UK city. We have the highest levels of commercial development in Leeds since the recession. I could go on.

“As to whether this is ‘crumbs from the table’ we will see whether you are proved right or wrong in due course. We are working closely with Burberry and doing everything we can to support the Holbeck manufacturing project.”

I suppose it must be annoying if you are working hard to improve the economic and social position of a city and region and then someone snipes from the sidelines.

I’m one of the biggest cheerleaders for this region and I believe that the city council and the LEP do a great job.

My comments were not aimed at their work, but at Burberry, which had promised to deliver up to 1,000 jobs to Leeds but through its own poor management and performance has now had to row back significantly on that pledge.

I’m sure if it could, Burberry would blame Brexit for a fall in sales, but it is suffering problems of its own making.

And if all that chastisement from Tom wasn’t enough, he ended his email to me with this comment: “The trench coat line is a cheap shot really.”

He should know that they are the only lines I do.


YOU often see business leaders and politicians talking about backing the area in which they live and work, but rarely see them putting that into practice.

That’s why it was reassuring to bump into Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Roger Marsh on a rare day off (him not me) in Leeds city centre yesterday.

Dressed in jeans and a gilet (him not me), Roger and his wife had enjoyed a sumptuous lunch at Pret a Manger in the Victoria Gate shopping centre which was positively shimmering in the bright spring sunshine.

And judging by the number of shopping bags he was carrying, I feel the continued improvement in the city region’s economic performance is assured.


I WAS asked to take part in a Call My Bluff-style wine tasting event last night at Barclays Bank in Harrogate.

I don’t think so much booze has been consumed in a bank since before the credit crunch.

The event featured wines supplied by impressive Harrogate wine shop Ake & Humphris and was in aid of Henshaws, a charity that supports blind and disabled people.

The £9,000 raised last night was specifically to help redevelop a community garden at Henshaws Arts & Crafts centre in Knaresborough.

I presumed I’d been invited to be one of the three ‘bluffers’ at the event because of my impeccable knowledge of wine and trustworthy reputation.

“It is because as a journalist, you have drunk loads of booze and know how to stretch the truth,” said the lady that invited me.

Suitably chastised (again), I went over to chat to the compere, a camp chap called Gary who I met several years ago at an event I chaired about apprenticeships.

One of the other panellists for the wine tasting worked for Henshaws and the other was a striking looking platinum blonde wearing a floral 1950s-style dress.

“Well I know she’s come as Marilyn Monroe, but who have you come as?” said Gary, fingering the lapel of my check sports jacket.

The lady in question was Amy Sykes, a Barclays banker with a passion for gardening and a potting shed painted in pink and white candy stripes (she showed me a picture).

I told her Welcome to Yorkshire should get her to be a host for its garden at the upcoming Chelsea Flower Show.

I wandered off to get some food and found platefuls of items covered in olive oil and meatballs in a tomato sauce.

“Have you got any cutlery?” I asked the caterer.


“How about some napkins then?” I said.

“I don’t know, I’m just the chef,” he said, turning on his heel and striding off.

I pointed out that he didn’t seem to be in a very good mood.

“You’re lucky, he swore at someone from the charity earlier,” I was informed.

According to his marketing literature, his firm make food “fit for a king”.

Here King, here King.

The wine tasting began with guests served a mystery wine, a brief introduction from Martin from Ake & Humphris and then my fellow panellists and I read out descriptions of three differing wines, only one of which was true.

I attempted to embellish the descriptions I was given, but my comments about a Pinot Grigio, that it is beloved of Harrogate housewives everywhere, didn’t go down very well.

Faced with outlining a Fleur d’Alba Old Vine Carignan from the Rhone Valley, I drew a comparison with Mayor of Harrogate Nick Brown, who was guest of honour at the event.

I said my choice of wine was like Nick’s choice in women – cheeky and full bodied.

It got a nice reaction from the audience but not from Mr Mayor, who started pointing at me and shouting: “I’m going to sue you for that Parkin!”

Later, when called on to draw the raffle, Nick took the opportunity to put the record straight.

“I would just like to tell you that I am nothing like how David described. In fact, he goes out much more than me. Put your hand up if you have been out with David.”

Three men put their hands up.

One of them waved a bottle of wine in the air and gave me a thumbs up.

I put my fingers up to my ear like a phone and mouthed at him: “Call me, babes.”

“Ooh, cheeky!” said Gary the compere.

“By the way, that jacket’s growing on me.”

Have a great weekend.

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