Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the Zimbabwe election is sad but understandable. His victory in the first round was ignored, his supporters being murdered. As Nick Clegg told Chatham House this week, it may be too late for the elections in Zimbabwe, but not too late for governments, including Britain's, to act.

When the news came through from Harare, I was on the campaign trail in Henley. Death by paper is the worst threat to democracy here. One family had their recycling crate already firmly lodged under the letter box.

Unlike in Crewe, the Tories are on the defensive. Their candidate's record is under scrutiny, and David Cameron easily rattled in what should be a safe seat. We met plenty of Boris voters who were switching to the charismatic Stephen Kearney. Then there was the man who said: "Actually, I'm a Conservative, but I always quite liked Ken." There's no accounting for taste.

Labour seem certain to lose their deposit in Henley. And not only there. After a year as PM, Gordon Brown's performance is moving from "must do better" to "couldn't do much worse".

Tony Benn always argued for policies not personalities. And that's my problem with Gordon Brown. The number of children living in poverty has increased for the second year running. More pensioners are living in poverty, too. The abolition of the 10p tax rate, the scandal of pre-pay meter users paying more for their energy (even before fuel price rises) ... all of this institutionalises poverty in the most damaging way.

For others, it's more about style. We're invited to contrast the easy charm of public school Tony, playing tennis in the sun, with grammar school Gordon sitting up all night doing the accounts. As a grammar school girl myself, I understand that instinct to work hard, master every detail, pass the exam. But politics, like life itself, is about relationships; learning, not just from reports, but from listening to people.

Listening on post offices would be a start. This week we heard that yet another Islington branch is proposed for closure. Goswell Road didn't feature in any of the previous reviews. But the Post Office now says because they have reprieved a branch in Walthamstow, eight miles away, they want to close ours instead. We're told this is "part of the implementation of the government decision to reduce the UK-wide network of post office branches by up to 2,500". If Goswell Road closes, Islington will have lost 13 post offices under Labour: unlucky indeed.



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