Politics as it should be.
One sad loss in todays cut-and-thrust world of party politics is the art of good natured political debate.
Sadly too much of todays politics is about winning at all costs, about getting power for it's own sake - it has all too often become professionalised and remote, conducted behind closed doors by paid advocates working to a pre-agreed party line.
Last night saw the return of what had been becoming a regular social event in the life of our association -the political supper. It's a simple format, a two course £10 dinner followed by coffee and an open forum to argue the toss amongst ourselves about the issues of the day, local and national. We had got into a pattern of having them every month but the potential election last autumn saw evenings in September and October cancelled and somehow we missed dates in December and January as well; so I am relieved that last night was well attended and we have already organised one for March, I believe with Mayor Nick Bye guest attending.
Last night amongst the subjects we discussed were Rowan Williams' comments, the Mayors vision, MP's allowances, youth crime, the question of choice in schooling, and the rise and rise of the workless household and the merits or otherwise of siting the Factory Row homeless shelter in the town centre.
There is no agenda, no minutes, no notes, no conclusion and no voting; it's just an opportunity for anyone there to air there views and challenge the views of others. We had all kinds of people, from a new graduate recently moved here to an octogenarian born in Paignton.
It was respectful, insightful (there are some long memories in that room!), worthwhile and enjoyable and I am grateful for everyone who attended.
Next month, why not come along?