31. Transcript of telephone conversation
between Mr Neal Dalgleish and Councillor John Gover, 29 September
Top 10" of the telephone conversation is
missing. Recording begins:
ND: I just wondered,
do you know whether Mrs Duncan Smith was also working for him
at that time . . . in his constituency (first answer refers to
the missing earlier question to Mr Gover about when he stopped
being Mr DS's agent.)
JG: Honestly, well
I think you should speak to his present agent. I don't
what I did ... I'm a councillor for the London borough of Waltham
that's how I spend most of my time. She certainly
appeared with some frequency during the election campaign. Campaigning
is a slightly different thing from routine constituency work.
ND: Of course, yes.
What I was wondering was ...because what I thought was that she
used to be, if not now his constituency secretary. I mean she
worked arranging visits and so on when, before he was leader of
JG: I wouldn't
know that, I wasn't
the only in depth involvement I had
was in running the campaign. What, how he organises his life as
a Member of Parliament, who worked for him I just don't know.
It would be fairly common place for Members wives to have a role
in their job as a constituency MP. But the extent to which she
did or didn't I just don't know.
ND: And presumably
he is still your constituency MP for the ward that you represent
on the local authority?
JG: Oh yeh.
ND: So if you want
to arrange a meeting or something with him. Or get him to come
along and help out on something which affects your ward who do
you deal with. Who do you deal with, who arranges it?
JG: Well I would
deal now with his...the last time I had to speak to him his constituency
secretary ..although I think she might have had a job title since
..his constituency secretary was a lady called ..Christine Watson
..or it might be Maureen ..I think it's Christine ..you know her
ND: the name is familiar
yes ..she works for him in his parliamentary office.
JG: yeh well the
last time I needed him with some help on a constituency matter
she was the lady I dealt I went through
ND: She did his diary
as far as you know?..at least if you wanted to try to make a diary
date for him to come to the constituency and help out with something
it would be her you would deal with would it?
JG: Well on the basis of past experience that's
where I would start. Whether I would get the same person on a
future occasion I don't know. But I know how to access his office.
ND: ..well that's
what I'm saying ..it's not usually his wife who deals with that
sort of thing?
JG: No in my experience
..but my experience is quite limited because I don't
what people don't appreciate is that ...the, a Member of Parliament
has very limited powers to assist constituents in matters which
are within the portfolio of the local authority
thing he can do is write to the Chief Executive and perhaps pull
some weight or something but a very large number of all constituency
MPs can obviously this applies to constituents contains something
to the effect that this is a matter that is within the authority
of your local council. And of course those things are pursued
ND: Of course
JG: I haven't
I'm trying to think ..I
really can't remember the last time I thought it would be useful
to say to Iain I want you to exercise some muscle on this or that
particular matter because if you know what you're doing as a councillor
you can normally make things happen yourself.
ND: Yeh ..l suppose
what often happens is you want the MP to appear, to come along
and support an event .. you know?
JG: Well yeh that sort of thing .. if it was
in the constituency then the first port of call would be his constituency
agent .. that's a man called Rikki Radford. Who you may have heard
JG: If it was me
I would say that .. we tend to do these things in a way which
tend to keep them happy ..you would arrange it fairly well in
advance and if you had an event which you didn't have to fix the
time and date of straight away you'd speak to Rikki and ask him
what's a good chance ..of a date. He would give you some ideas
you'd then fix the date ..go back to him and he's probably ..in
conjunction with Iain's office would come up with an answer. Which
if there was sufficient notice ..then if there were no obstacles
then in my experience the answer would usually be yes.
ND: Yes ..he seems
to do a lot of work in the constituency even as party leader..
JG: Oh yeh
I'm sitting in my car in the
main street of (Milton Keynes ??) at the moment ..if it was a
Friday I would expect to see him walking down the Street sometime.
Because the constituency office is just off the main street ..A
number of the traders have his photograph up in their shop because,
just to commemorate an occasion when he just walked in to say
hello. I don't know what the substance of your enquiry is ..but
I can tell you that DS is an extremely conscientious constituency
ND: oh no ..people
have said absolutely that...and even as leader of the opposition
which means he has lots of other things to do ..he's still there
JG: In a sense I suppose he's lucky because
the constituency is pretty close to London. He maintains a house
in the constituency ..as you probably know.
ND: He doesn't live
in the constituency normally though does he ..?
JG: He's maintained
a home in the constituency since he was adopted as parliamentary
candidate about 15 years ago and has kept it all the way through.
My recent experience since ..I think he's now moved out of the
house he used to occupy in Fulham and moved out to Buckinghamshire
..he doesn't, I understand spend a lot of time overnight in Chingford
because it's close to London.
ND: Of course it's
a long trip from Chingford to Buckinghamshire on a Friday night.
JG: ..This house
..the main reason he hasn't moved to Chingford from London on
a permanent basis is that he has young children in local schools
ND: I see
JG: ..But even
in those days he did quite frequently during the election campaign
for example ..when we'd get finished at night ..he'd go back to
Chingford and put his head down.
ND: ..and just back
to my original point ..have you had him visit you or do any events
for you in the last couple of years?
JG: Yes ..I had
an issue on an estate which is in my ward which I picked up and
ran with, to do with security. The estate was constructed in the
1950s when the need for the sort of security precautions which
are now necessary was not so evident and the estate was falling
behind in that regard. I made a fuss with the local authority
and while this was going on and I was in the process of getting
the matter sufficient priority he visited the estate. Spoke to
all the residents, the ones that wanted to talk to him and made
a speech supporting the initiative
ND: Was the recently?
JG: That would
have been this time last year
ND: Last autumn or
JG: No last summer
ND: That's summer
2002? That was all arranged through Rikki Radford was it?
ND: And not Mrs Duncan
What is the significance of your question?
ND: I'm just trying
to find out whether she's worked in the constituency or not.
JG: Why don't you ask her?
ND: You're absolutely
right ..I'm sure at some point I will.
ND: I'm very grateful
..thanks very much.
JG: What's your
ND: It's Neal Dalgleish
JG: Ok thanks bye.
29 September 2003