1 I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about #PeterAinsworth, ex-MP for East Surrey who has died . #RIP He was an important figure in my life for a few years in the 1990s & I remember him as an opponent who received - & deserved - my full respect despite our many & full respect
2 In 1997 he was the sitting MP, having succeeded Geoffrey Howe in what was one of the safest seats in the country. I was the no-hoper Labour candidate. We were the same age but couldn't have had more wildly contrasting backgrounds.
3 I recall three specific incidents from that campaign which demonstrated the fundamental decency of Peter as a person & which show that no matter how deep differences run they should never spill over into personal animosity
4 The first that springs to mind is when all Labour candidates received what was thought to be great idea to disarm opponents & reap valuable publicity. That was an instruction to turn up suddenly on a Sunday evening, knock on your opponent's door & challenge them on a hot issue
5 I can't remember the specific issue but I did as instructed, arrived at his house at around 6pm on a Sunday evening (when it was thought he would be most off his guard), introduced myself & threw down the gauntlet.
6 After a brief couple of seconds where he looked flummoxed by the approach he regained his composure and responded along these lines....
7 "Well, I'd like to invite you in for a cup of tea and we can discuss this but I'm afraid I'm putting my children in the bath right now. Maybe we could arrange a suitable day and time?"

Exit one totally disarmed opponent
8 The second occasion was the count at IIRC Oxted. Local elections took place the same day & the powers-that-be decided to count them first before proceeding to the parliamentary vote. There were a few hours to kill so my wife and I slipped outside for a smoke.
9 Peter & his wife had decided to do the same. From somewhere (Don't remember where or who obtained it) a bottle of wine appeared and for the next couple of hours the four of us passed the time amiably if nervously if the number of fag ends in the car park were anything to go by
10 This meant we were indeed 'up for Portillo' but never saw it as the count was proceeding at the same time. He won easily and in his acceptance speech while he paid tribute to all his opponents he singled me out by name. There was a reason for this.
11 The third & most important memory of that campaign was his reaction to personal loss. Two weeks before the vote my mother died suddenly. Naturally I dropped everything & headed to Scotland where I spent a week along with my father, my brother & other family members
12 I returned to London to find a handwritten letter from Peter. It was kind, touching and quite obviously genuine. There were six candidates in that election. He was the only one who took time to offer condolences. None of the others said so much as a word, even at the count.
13 He didn't have to do that. Or he could have given my loss a mention in passing. But no, he had taken the time out to write a personal message to a man who at that time he knew only for rudely interrupting his children's baths.
14 He did the same at the count, going out of his way to mention my mother's passing and once again offering condolences to my wife and myself on behalf of himself & his family & praising us for our resilience in the face of tragedy
15 As a new dawn came up - did it not - he turned to me & said "You were on your soapbox outside Caterham station at the weekend saying the sun would shine on Friday morning. It looks very much like you were right"
16 That was the last time I had any interaction with Peter yet those incidents remain firmly embedded in my memory almost a quarter of a century on. A short period of a few weeks in a lifetime but not forgotten and never will be.
17 To me it represents what could be instead of what all too often is. That despite so many differences we are in many ways essentially the same. There is a fundamental human decency there which transcends all other arguments.
18 This has been a thread I never wanted to write but felt I had to. On behalf of my wife & myself I offer my deepest, most sincere & heartfelt condolences to Peter's wife Claire, their children, family & friends.

#PeterAinsworth #RIP

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More from @RossFootball

10 Apr 20
1 Looks like my all-singing, all-talking, all-dancing seasonal attendances thread is kicking off six weeks early this year, owing to decisions made by the FA in England & (thus far) the Highland League in Scotland - though that may change over the weekend. First, an explainer.
2 I'm not going to argue on this thread about the rights & wrongs of decisions made. I've done that elsewhere (preferably complete the season or if not possible void it and apply across the board) but the effects.
3 There is no statistically historic accurate way to deal with voided seasons. No 'right' way, no 'wrong' way. It's a matter of individual interpretation. The only previous occasions when this happened in the UK were in England in 1915 at the end of the season so no problems
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10 May 18
1. I know I said I'd keep politics off this account but I've more followers here than on my other one so football fans bear with me & ignore this thread as I pay tribute to the most important family in history.
2 For centuries the media has airbrushed the achievements of the Corbyns from history. My new book (available soon) attempts to redress the balance & allow these heroes their proper place in the affections of the masses. They are:
3 Corbinus, who tried to bring peace to Roman Britain and whose 'long game' saw the Romans depart in less than 400 years.
Read 20 tweets

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