I have a real problem with this political column. For the first time in my political life, I am speechless.

What a week! And who knows what will have happened by the time you read this. However, I think I can try and get my voice back by writing about competence, compassion and a certain local MP.

People in Cockermouth got a letter from Mark Jenkinson MP recently and the Conservative Central Office-composed questionnaire finished by asking: “On a scale of one to 10 how would you rate Mark Jenkinson MP?”. Let’s leave that one until later.

If you are reading this on Thursday (October 29) then you have until 11.45pm to respond to the government White Paper – “Planning for the Future”. It is a preposterous city model that sweeps away centuries of local democracy, would result in a loss of affordable housing, trashes Neighbourhood Plans and gives no detail on how hugely increased building would ensure green infrastructure, protection of open space and the zero carbon agenda. It makes no provision for social housing.

In the midst of a national crisis and pandemic, would it be competent and compassionate to try and reform and put together new councils, spending millions in the process? With no guarantee of a better service to hard pressed communities?

But wait, the Conservatives have to gerrymander a future one-party county so off we go in search of the Mayor of Cumbria. My crystal ball does not reveal an Andy Burnham, rather through the swirling mists appears Mike Starkie. He told VisitWhitehaven (Google it, its still there), in response to the question “Why did you run for elected Mayor?” that “I am a supporter of the Elected Mayor model, I further believed that the area would be best served by putting party politics to one side and having an independent free of policial constraints.”

While you are on Google, look him up now. Also, have a look at the independent auditors Grant Thornton audit report. Then decide on his competence.

Which brings us back to Mark Jenkinson’s score. My test is – did he, this week, promote a proud area, with true world- beating expertise in steel making, nuclear and tourism? A World Heritage centre, birthplace of poets? Did he do his utmost not to stigmatise poverty?

Reader, I leave it to you to mark his card.

I end with a public service announcement: he asked in the questionnaire “What would be the main driving force for increasing tourism in Cockermouth?”

The answer is obvious – Mark, stay at home. Save lives.