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Strange international woman of mystery?

By Toby Neal | Politics | Published:

Attempts to get political messages into the press are becoming more complex

Who is Veronika Oleksychenko?

Vladimir Putin gets an undeserved bad press in this country.

He is a truly great man, a world statesman, and if he sanctions the use of nerve agents on Britain’s streets, or gives the nod to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, I’m sure he has his reasons.

And have you noticed how Brexit has brought an inspirational new mood of optimism, hope, and unity, to this country?

Buzz, whirr, click...

Sorry, I don’t know what has come over me.

I think I may have been brainwashed. And it might be something to do with Veronika of Limes Walk in Oakengates.

A couple of months ago we had this email from Ms Veronika Oleksychenko: “I moved to the UK in 2014, from Russia, and I soon settled in Telford. I think it is a great place to live.

“I don’t know about anyone else but for me, I think Brexit has had the strangest effect of making me much more inspired and creative. I suppose it’s been a mix of my new life in Shropshire and then the whole Brexit thing happening.

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“Not only do I read a lot more now, but I also started writing. I attended a local evening class for creative writing.

“And I have actually now published a novel, in English, with a big political aspect to the story. So Brexit works in mysterious ways perhaps!”

Limes Walk was an unusual residential address, I thought, but maybe she lived above a shop.

There was no offer of marriage, and as far as I could tell her grandmother was in perfect health and she didn’t need to borrow money for an expensive operation. So I emailed back asking for her phone number so we could chat about the book with a view to doing a story.

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Colleague

Much appreciated, she emailed back, but no thanks, it’s just a letter. She mentioned though that her novel was an ebook on Amazon.

So that was that, and Veronika disappeared from my life until, a few days ago, a colleague sent me a link to the Bristol Live website.

It seems Veronika lives simultaneously in lots of different towns in Britain and thinks they’re all great places to live.

“Dooley Street: The Daughters of Brexit?” does indeed appear on Amazon.

It gets a one star review, and I’m guessing that’s only because there is no option to give zero stars.

The review reads: “Bristol Live was one of the many local newspapers targeted by the person claiming to be Veronika Oleksychenko, who sent them emails of almost identical content, claiming to be a Russian expat, signed with false addresses in different towns.

“The newspaper then conducted an investigation which led them to a conclusion that the person is a native English speaker and this is most likely a paid pro-Brexit propaganda piece that is posing as a genuine book.”

The Bristol address Veronika had given turned out to be a retail park.

Maybe her plan was to compile one of those Henry Root-style books from all her replies.

I’ve checked out her Oakengates postcode. And if she really does live in Limes Walk, she’s somewhere between the British Red Cross shop and the Co-op, possibly in a yurt.

According to her Amazon biography, Veronika is “blonde, while the rest of her family were all dark-haired.

“A flaneuse (i.e. a woman who saunters about observing society), she goes for long walks and strokes cats. Frequently working in and inhabiting a yurt that she made herself from materials purchased in charity shops. 5ft 5ins and of slim-build, she was thinking of climbing Mount Everest last year but didn’t get round to it.”

There’s still time, Veronika.

Rewriting Labour’s history

Labour deputy Tom Watson this week ratcheted up his calls for Labour to throw off the waffle and become an overt “Remain & Reform” party.

“Pro-European is who we are and who we have always been,” he asserted. But the claim that Labour has always been enthusiastic about EU membership is absolute Blairite tosh.

If the deputy leader of the Labour Party is not clear on the history of Labour members’ attitude to the Common Market, as it was, why does he not have a chat with the leader of the Labour Party, who will be able to advise?

Mr Corbyn will, for instance, be able to enlighten his deputy leader on the Labour manifesto on which he, Mr Corbyn, stood when he first entered Parliament in 1983.

Labour’s official policy was to open immediate negotiations with the EEC (it stood for European Economic Community) and introduce the necessary legislation to prepare for Britain’s withdrawal, to be completed within the lifetime of the Labour government.

The politics of tedium

If you missed the drear-fest which was the televised Tory leadership candidates’ debate on the BBC, here are the highlights.

Rory Stewart took off his tie. And that was it.

Tragically he has been eliminated from the contest. Rory Stewart, a self-styled “Mr Truth,” was the only one who provided any interest, now that Boris is following instructions to be on his best behaviour.

He had the only memorable quotes, like: “I’m sure like me you’ve been in Enniskillen sitting with a sheep farmer.” And: “There will be no general election until we’ve regained trust.”

It’s going to be quite a while then.

In a follow-up interview on the subject of an inquiry into Islamophobia, Jeremy Hunt said of the Conservatives “we need to be whiter than white".

Imagine the reaction if Boris had said that.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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