Readers will be familiar with the concept of “knock-for-knock” agreements between motor insurance companies. These apply where there has been an accident and damage has been done to two vehicles; but, because of a lack of independent witnesses, it is not evident who was at fault. So each insurance company picks up the tab for the car it insured.
MP’s have knock-for-knock agreements; these do not apply to accidents in the House of Commons carpark - a facility designed when either cars or MP’s were much smaller, and which we cyclists steer clear of. Knock for knock applies when an MP is invited to speak in a colleague’s constituency, and the invitation is then reciprocated.
I am anxious that my supporters in North West Hants should listen to quality speakers; but when another MP is invited to speak here, I am less concerned with the quality of the oratory or the content of the speech than with the location of his or her constituency. This is because I will have to drive to the return fixture.
For those MP’s of any Party who don’t want to spend their week-ends on the nation’s motorways, there are two solutions. One is to be such a brilliant speaker that no MP will invite you to his patch, for fear of being shown in a poor light. “Why should we continue to put up with x, when we could have someone who can speak like y?”
The other is to be known to be so bad that the tickets for the event are unsaleable and the invitation is withdrawn. Neither of these two extremes is available to most of us,
so we continue to drive round England on Friday evenings, addressing each other’s supporters and hoping that the jokes doing the rounds in Hampshire haven’t reached Nottinghamshire.
Thus it was that I found myself on the A303 heading for Devon to speak in the Fox and Hounds. This was a reciprocal arrangement of a different kind. One of North West Hampshire’s most effective supporters had migrated to Devon and was charged with finding a speaker in a seat my Party does not yet hold. Had we been football clubs and not political parties, I would have charged Devon a large transfer fee for poaching one of my key strikers.
If I did my stuff at the Fox and Hounds, after the next election its new MP will be heading east up the A303 to North West Hants to discharge the debt. Knock for knock is retrospective.