The Hounslow and Brentford Times couldn't find space for my latest letter to the Editor this week, which is a tad irritating considering the title of the newspaper implies that its areas of operation are Hounslow and Brentford, and the letters' pages were filled with contributions from Twickenham, Barnes and Kingston and for the most part on subjects which are of no relevance whatsoever to people in our borough.
Having only managed to have half a letter published from my last two attempts I am inclined to give it up as a bad job, for a while at least, rather than spending valuable time composing 300-word missives in the faint hope that news of a hedgehog being run over in Sheen doesn't knock it out of the headlines.
Anyway, for the benefit of those who are following the progress of Mr. & Mrs. Expenses I reproduce my rejected letter below:
"Whilst I am naturally pleased that the Phil Andrews Predict-athon seems to be working to its full potential, it might reasonably be argued that I enjoyed an unfair advantage over Robin Taylor and Vanessa Smith ('Allowances can be made for Keens but not rivals' - Times, 13th June 2008) in that they had not seen the full text of the letter to which they were replying, due to it having been edited.
"The letter in full can be viewed on my blog, which is at http://philandrews.blogspot.com.
"In that letter I predicted that there would be a flurry of responses protesting that the Keens had not actually broken any rules by claiming their current level of allowances, with the implied suggestion that if a perk is there to be had then they are entitled to grab it with both hands.
"I also predicted that some effort would be made to muddy the waters by drawing a silly comparison between the Keens' claims and councillors' allowances (which as a reader of the ICG website Mr. Taylor will be aware that I didn't vote for, even though he pretends that I did).
"Whilst I would like to believe that the accuracy of my prophesies demonstrates extraordinary powers on my part, in truth all they really demonstrate is the dull repetitiveness of the Ann and Alan spin machine.
"However I have to report that the machine developed a fault last week when another local newspaper published a letter, ostensibly from a named 'ordinary resident' of Brentford, making just the same arguments in defence of Mrs. Keen's conduct.
"What readers of that paper may not have known is that the exact same letter, absolutely word for word, had been published two weeks previously in your own newspaper - under the name of a completely different person, in this case the former Isleworth New Labour candidate Sue Sampson!
"I am advised that the use of activists and apologists to provide false grassroots feedback is known as 'astroturfing'.
"How appropriate is it that a discredited synthetic football pitch should lend its name to the underhand practices of such a thoroughly discredited and synthetic MP as the one who purports to represent the people of Brentford & Isleworth?
"Councillor Phil Andrews -
Community, Isleworth ward."