Can Esther clean up the Commons?

Esther Rantzen may stand as independent in Luton South in wake of fees row

By Leon Symons, May 21, 2009
Esther Rantzen attracts an admiring audience as she tours Luton, considering whether to run as an MP

Esther Rantzen attracts an admiring audience as she tours Luton, considering whether to run as an MP

The voters of Luton South will know definitely next Tuesday whether they will have one of Britain’s best-known personalities on the list of candidates for the next general election.

That is the day Esther Rantzen, former That’s Life presenter, survivor of I’m A Celebrity Get me Out Of Here and champion of children through Childline, will decide whether she will stand as an independent candidate against the current MP, Labour’s Margaret Moran, who claimed £22,500 to repair dry rot in a second home in Southampton.

Ms Rantzen went walkabout in the constituency on Tuesday “to test the temperature”, visiting a sixth-form college, a mosque and shaking hands with the locals, trailed by an ITN News crew. She was pictured removing her shoes outside the mosque and sitting on the floor opposite its imams. Ms Rantzen told them: “I am a Jewish woman. Would you be happy with me being your MP?” They nodded in approval.

She said later: “I did have a warm welcome in the mosque. They said they felt very much part of the community and they didn’t want to feel foreign. I am very familiar with this, having taken part in the Who Do You Think You Are? programme on the BBC.

“I know my own background is a little family, father, mother and an 18-year-old son who came to Spitalfields speaking Polish and Yiddish. I feel entirely British, I feel patriotic and I understand exactly how they feel.”

Ms Rantzen also has a cottage near Southampton, with a dry-rot problem — but for which she paid to have repaired.

“I thought what contempt Margaret Moran was showing to her own constituents. She was asking them to pay for someone else’s repairs,” she said.

“What I met in the street in Luton was real warmth. Everyone took my hand and said ‘go for it, we need someone we can trust’. They also said no-one had been listening to them, which is a real criticism of our parliamentary system and the local politician.”

So you want to be in Parliament…

Who else in Anglo-Jewry could restore the shine to the tarnished House of Commons and bring a smile back to the poor downtrodden electorate? Here are the JC’s nominees for some of the key jobs after the next general election.

Prime Minister: Sir Alan Sugar, already touted as a possible candidate for Mayor of London; errant MPs would know exactly where they are with him.

Speaker: Maureen Lipman. Expe-rience, authority and knowledge — remember all those “ologies”.

Chief Whip: Vanessa Feltz — a dominating presence to control MPs.

Foreign Secretary: Comedian Paul Kaye, who has an Israeli wife.

Home Secretary: Henry Grunwald — he needs a new job now he has stepped down as president of the Board of Deputies, where he honed his diplomatic skills.

Culture, media and sport: Sacha Baron Cohen — can do for tourism in Britain what he did for Kazakhstan.

Last updated: 11:26am, May 21 2009