Defiant Rantzen irked by ‘trivial’ coverage

By Alex Stevenson

Luton South independent Esther Rantzen has admitted being irritated when she is dismissed as nothing but a “TV face”, in an interview with politics.co.uk.

The former That’s Life! presenter spent much of her broadcasting career assisting consumers’ problems. Her campaign to assist ordinary people in Luton South, a key marginal constituency in the 2010 general election, has seen her dominate media coverage of the seat.

But with the campaign now underway she is becoming increasingly aware of the downside of her fame.

“This is very serious valuable work,” she said. “It’s when people dismiss me as just a TV face – I find that faintly irritating because they’re leaving out the work I’ve done, creating Childline and other charities – helping to right wrongs and help consumers which has been the stuff of my life.”

Ms Rantzen originally decided to stand in Luton South as an independent in the wake of the expenses scandal. The incumbent MP, Labour’s Margaret Moran, has been suspended from the parliamentary party and the local party ended her career soon afterwards. Ms Rantzen decided to continue her campaign nonetheless.

“I fell in love with Luton,” she said, restating her romance with the town. Ms Rantzen is attracted to the “warm, energetic, angry” constituents she hopes to represent in parliament. “

Another reason for the decision to continue her campaign is a frustration that Luton South has not had a different MP representing it for the last year.

“The local party system is so tainted by what they allowed to persist I think they deserve a choice of having an independent candidate,” she said.

Ms Rantzen said she did not realise the string of other independent candidates would follow her in declaring their intention to stand in Luton South.

But seeking to differentiate herself, she said she offered Lutonians “real hope”.

“I am the protest vote that’s pro-democracy, pro-tolerance, pro-creating jobs and prosperity in Luton, forging ahead,” Ms Rantzen added.

“Everybody’s seen my track record, what I’ve been up to in the last 40 years. The parties pretend I’m non-existent, they’re very lofty about me. We’ll see if they’re right.”