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ZELLA COMPTON: A 21st century curse – how does a family manage the TV recorder?

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The job of leader of Portsmouth City Council is not an easy one, let there be no doubt.

You need a thick skin, the cunning of an alley cat and the staying power of a marathon runner.

That’s on a good day.

Most of the time the position attracts brickbats galore and vitriol from opposition councillors, those in your own party and, of course, spleen-venting members of the public.

But there has never been a shortage of aspiring politicians to step into the thankless position.

That’s because they are politicians. It’s what they sign up for.

As we report on pages 8 and 9 today, the current incumbent, relatively inexperienced Councillor Donna Jones, a Tory, has been in the job for seven months. She was thrust into the limelight when her predecessor, the wily Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson, stepped down.

Cllr Jones, who leads a minority administration, managed to forge an unlikely coalition with Labour and UKIP members.

But she is sore that Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s Lib Dems would not join her in that political love-in – one which would have mirrored, to some extent, the one in Westminster.

She should not be sore nor surprised. Why? There’s a general election in May. There are city council elections the same day in which a third of the 42 seats are up for grabs. A lot’s at stake.

The Lib Dem group leader refused to join the coalition because he believed he could score more political points in the run-up to those polls and, in his eyes, more votes, by remaining in opposition and being a constant thorn in Cllr Jones’s side.

The public bickering between the two has been likened to a Punch and Judy show. It’s what you get when local government reflects the national political set-up. Nobody should be surprised.

Until the day party politics are shunted out of town halls and all those elected are true Independents, the name-calling will continue.

That day will never come and we have no choice but to accept it. Grudgingly.