As the world and his wife now knows, Sir Malcolm Rifkind is to stand down at the next general election and one of the most desirable parliamentary seats in the country is therefore up for grabs.
There is at least one formidable lady who has already asked me straight out whether I harbour any such ambitions to fill the vacancy.
“Mother, I have no such ambitions,” I told her truthfully, “I am perfectly happy serving the residents of Kensington and Chelsea in my present capacity”. I went on to remind her that I did fight a Parliamentary seat once in Don Valley – but Don Valley fought back.
In truth, we have plenty of enormously talented local people who have an unrivalled knowledge of issues in Kensington and I really hope that, at last, one of them will get a chance to represent the seat in the Commons.
Over the last week, I have been working on my budget speech, the Council’s budget that is. By the time you read this, the Council will have voted on, and hopefully approved our budget for 2015-16.
Here we are, five years into austerity, fifty million quid down on our grant from central government, but your council tax hasn’t gone up a whit, our rubbish is still collected twice a week, all our libraries remain open and we are one of the few remaining boroughs in the country still meeting the ‘moderate needs’ of people requiring social care. And all of that while we are busy building new schools, leisure centres and homes for your children and grandchildren. This has been achieved by careful management of resources, making our property assets work harder and saving costs by partnering with our neighbouring boroughs.
So whoever it is that ends up being the Conservative candidate for Kensington is going to be very lucky: not only will they have the chance to represent a beautiful London borough that actually is ‘vibrant’, they will be dealing with a hard-working and effective Council that is maintaining good services and building for the future. No wonder would-be Tory MPs the length and breadth of the land are looking on wistfully.