As I suspected, and indeed hoped, a number of people connected in various ways to politics in Reading have been in touch with me about the Strange History on which I posted yesterday. I reproduce some gleanings below. As before, please do correct (I have checked facts wherever I can) or express views. Some were kind enough to say that I have got the "Swaine affair" "substantially correct", which is gratifying. Some have also commented on what induced Mr Swaine to tweet as he did, but as I believe there was no-one else there at the time and Mr Swaine himself has not provided intelligence, I shall draw a veil. However, here is a comment from a former constituent:
The Labour Party ran at it like a rat up a drain. I don’t blame them – Reading politics is a contact sport, and they thought that they could see a weakness, and they chose to exploit it. However, for what it is worth, Warren is no racist. He is half Sri Lankan this is not a guarantee of not being racist, Ed., and has been very friendly with the local Nepali community, long before it became fashionable. I don't recall him seeking pointless photo-opps with members of that community either, Ed.
I am also told, which seems plausible, that the local LibDems thought it was a non-story and would die down, and so did the Tories.
A correspondent's understanding is that the Labour Party (they do not say whether this was the local or the national, or indeed the regional, Labour Party), took it to Cowley Street and asked for action to be taken, and the “decision” was made by a junior staffer in the Press Office that Swaine Must Go. A correspondent apparently well placed to know about this exchange comments: when the opposition asks for you to do something, particularly if that opposition party is Reading Labour Party, the best thing to do is to tell them to go and boil their heads. It is also sensible to get the other side of the story as well! If only someone had told the former Government Chief Whips Ann Loaf-Head Taylor and Horrible Hilary Armstrong that. But Loaf-Head had Roy Hattersley's baby so must be deranged, or at the very least seriously lacking in judgment, and Hills the Horrible - Government Chief Whip, remember - actually told me that she was "cross" with Mr Salter for voting against the government on Iraq, when, er, he hadn't. And she hadn't checked. Doh.
Certainly Swaine is more dangerous to the Labour Party now than he was before – he has nothing to restrain him (certainly not his judgement) and he is going to go for them big time. Now it’s personal. says another.
Sources close to a couple of chaps who are now senior Tory councillors in Reading say that the most able and focused LibDem councillors (this was fed to me some time ago) are, in alphabetical order, Bayes, Benson and Swaine.
Hmmm and double hmmm.