TONY Blair's brief tour of Bewdley reminded me of a Roman emperor deigning to mingle with the "common people". Except, of course, that our New Labour emperor didn't actually mingle.

He was surrounded by an entourage which effectively kept the people (and local journalists) at bay. Sensing the local mood, he cut short his visit and cancelled the promised meeting with local householders, muttering an enigmatic "I've got the message" - whatever that actually means.

Such a short visit was obviously a PR stunt geared towards the television news. The flooding along the River Severn is, of course, a tragedy affecting a great number of local people. But what a tragedy it is, that it takes something on this scale to get Tony Blair to visit Wyre Forest.

For, aside from the present flood problems, we have a rural community in crisis; local post offices under pressure; downgraded health services; and a new incinerator planned for the area.

Once the waters have receded, let's see how vigorously the politicians address the concerns of local people.


Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Wyre Forest