Thank heavens for a week away from Brussels. I've been helping in local elections in Bedford today. We had a healthy canvas in a ward that felt far from safe Labour (though its been that way for 25 years).
John Guthrie, the candidate for mayor of Bedford, had gathered some of Bedford's deep thinkers together for a pub lunch. He is the candidate for Mayor of Bedford and said many wise words.
"the EU budget is a bit like a ward funds for councillors, they shouldn't exist, the money often wasted but as long as it does exist I'm d*mned if some other country is going to take their share and not us." said John.
The team I met over lunch have been knocking on doors for local elections for many weeks. They told me what they pick up on the ground about Europe: the growing anger with the European Court of Human Rights (prisioner's votes etc), the ECJ ruling on women's car insurance.
We went on to discuss how the Germans and the Finns feel about bailing out their southern neighbours, the role of Poland and the Czech republic in keeping an ever closer relationship between Germany and Russia in balance, which way the Eurozone will go next.
John and his team also picked my brains over who I think does a good job promoting their town or city. They are thinking locally about Bedford's problems but looking to learn from others as well. A good team.