Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Never Mind Rupert, PMs Run Scared of Edna and Her Ilk; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Never Mind Rupert, PMs Run Scared of Edna and Her Ilk; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

SOMEWHERE between a thank-you phone call from BBC Breakfast TV and an interview on Richard Bacon's Radio 5 show, Edna managed to squeeze in her twopenn'orth.

"Hello, Mr Banks, it's Edna." "Edna?" I asked softly. "Edna from Cornhill?" "That's right." "Who used to work at the Coldstream Chemist? That Edna?" "That's me," said Edna. "I'm just calling to make sure you're still all right for Thursday's WI talk at the village hall."

Edna and her The roof is falling in on my career. Rupert Murdoch, a boss I've admired, has been alleged unfit to run a global company, two good friends and former editors are charged with having misled parliament and a trusted senior lawyer (also friend) faces the same accusation so my phones are motto with the "We always Nothing deflects ringing off the hook with interview requests. And Edna pops up on my house line...

The tenacity of Edna and her cohort of like rural arrangers, whether representing Probus, Luncheon or Rotary clubs, often seeking speakers at short notice for U3A, village halls or discussion groups, exhibits a stamina and determination that shames professional broadcast 'bookers' with chequebooks.

Edna and her ilk share a motto with the Mounties: "We always get our man." Their bait is a mixture of flattery, parish pump pressure and the breathily-whispered promise (a deal-maker, as far as I'm concerned) of home-baked treats to follow the talk.

Nothing deflects them from their goal, especially the ladies. A recent Prime Minister paled over lunch as he told me of his own "ghastly" experience at the hands of the WI.

"Never go near those women," he hissed, "they wrecked an election meeting for me".

Some politicians are made of sterner stuff. As the Commons Media Committee's roughing up of Rupert continued apace, former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin and I, near neighbours in north Northumberland but he transported to BBC studios in London and I to Manchester, traded political counter-punches. …

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