Thursday, 29 May 2014

Told you so!

How ironic that in the week when three new Labour councillors take up their seats in Underhill ward, Barnet Football Club chairman Tony Kleanthous announces that he plans to sell the old Underhill stadium.

Lest anyone has forgotten, it was the last Labour Administration, propped up by the LibDems, which secretly approved the sale of Underhill in 2002 for a price of just £10,000. The High Court subsequently ruled that the council had acted unlawfully, and even though the Judge called one of Barnet F.C.’s directors an “unreliable witness”, he was powerless to reverse the decision.

Due to the incompetence of the council’s legal department, errors in the sale contract meant that Mr Kleanthous was free to sell the land after 10 years to whoever he wanted, for whatever price he could get, without have to share one penny with the taxpayers of Barnet.

Mr Kleanthous was forever moaning about the council not supporting the club – something Harrow Council has now discovered for itself.  But this was nothing more than bluster. The sale of Underhill will return a very handsome profit on the purchase price.

For years, Don’t Call Me Dave told anyone who would listen (and a good many who would not) that Mr Kleanthous would find an excuse to sell the land just as soon as the contract allowed him to do so, without having to share the proceeds with the hard pressed taxpayers of Barnet, whose land was sold from under their feet without their knowledge or consent. And, lo, it has come to pass.

This sorry saga is a useful reminder as to why Labour should never be trusted with high office again.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Farewell Mr Tambourgreedy

There has been much rejoicing amongst the left and right following Brian Coleman’s defeat at the hands of the electorate this week. Don’t Call Me Dave admits that he was surprised at the extent of the thrashing Coleman received, but the power of the people should never be underestimated. Coleman had survived many scandals in the past, but clearly assaulting a woman crossed a line which even his most ardent supporters could not condone.

Many years ago, when Brian Coleman was plotting the downfall of the late Victor Lyon, he told DCMD “In order to rebuild, you must first destroy.” The removal of Andreas Tambourides is therefore far more significant than Coleman’s defeat if the Conservatives want to win back the seats they have just lost.

Following the Conservative victory in 2006, the council group was effectively hijacked by the gang of four – Mike Freer, Lynne Hillan, Brian Coleman and Andreas Tambourides as their enforcer. Mike Freer subsequently went off to become a one term MP in Finchley; Lynne Hillan departed for the great council chamber in the sky and Brian Coleman punched his way into the history books. Even after the allowances scandal of 2010, Tambourides trousered bucket loads of taxpayers money for doing bugger all. He claimed tens of thousands of Pounds for legal expenses even though council officers said his claim was excessive (a view shared by a Tory barrister councillor). His greed was matched only by his ego.

Brunswick Park should be a rock solid Conservative ward. In 2006, the Conservatives won with a clear 2,000 majority over Labour. By 2010, the Conservative majority had fallen to 1,500 - but still substantial for a council ward. Following Lynne Hillan’s death in 2012, her seat was lost to Labour in the by-election. The fact that Tambourides has now lost his seat as well, whilst Tory Lisa Rutter held hers, proves that the public have simply had enough of the old guard and their bullying ways.

DCMD does not wish to speak ill of the dead, but Lynne Hillan and her cohorts inflicted serious damage on the Conservative name in Barnet. The Tories have retained power by the skin of their teeth. There can be no doubt that they are now drinking in the last chance saloon. It is time for the local associations to reassert their authority over errant councillors, clear out all the dead wood and start promoting sensible Conservative policies. Councillors (and ex councillors) with their snouts in the trough should be under no illusion that their time has passed.

And as we bid Mr Tambourgreedy a fond farewell, here is a reminder from 2009 of his arrogance and contempt for the rules the rest of us have to live by (if an advert appears, click on the ‘x’ in the top right hand corner to get rid of it).


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

In one of the closest election contests of recent times, the Conservatives have narrowly retained control of Barnet council. The current state of the parties is Conservative 32 seats, Labour 27, LibDem 1. Labour’s tally is expected to rise to 30 after the Colindale election due next month. This will leave the Conservatives with a majority of just 1 seat.

Given the swing to Labour across London, the blame for their failure to win Barnet rests solely with their Leader Alison Moore who must now surely fall on her sword given that this is her second successive defeat at the polls (third if you count her general Election defeat to Mike Freer).

Labour correctly identified East Barnet and Underhill as target seats and won both wards. They picked up an additional seat in Brunswick Park by ousting Andreas Tambourgreedy – one of the worst troughers in the last administration. They also unseated Kate Salinger in Coppetts ward, which was never going to be an easy seat for the Tories to hold.

In Hale, which used to be a split ward, Labour picked up only one seat, when this should have been a target ward if they wanted to win outright control. Instead, they adopted an insane policy of targeting the LibDem ward of Childs Hill. The LibDems  have spent years building up their support base in this area and all Labour’s efforts achieved was to split the anti-Conservative vote which allowed the Tories to take two seats and secure a majority.

If Labour had left well alone, the LibDems would have retained all three seats, resulting in a final composition of 30 Conservative, 30 Labour and 3 LibDem councillors. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that the LibDems would have jumped into bed with Labour to force the Tories out, as they did in 1994 and 1998.

Alison Moore must accept full responsibility for this catastrophic error of judgement. If she has any honour, she will resign and join Mr & Mrs Tambourides, who will both now be forced to go and find a real job instead of sponging off the taxpayers of Barnet.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Don’t Call Me Dave has left the building

Don’t Call Me Dave wishes it to be known that he is no longer a resident of the London Borough of Barnet. He has moved to pastures new, where the local District Council has only 1 Labour councillor out of 58 members.

Regular readers of this blog will know that DCMD is not a fan of Tony B Liar, but he can do no better on this occasion than to emulate the former Prime Minister’s final words to the House of Commons in June 2007: “I wish everyone, friend or foe, well. And that is that. The end.”

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Labour’s Secret Election Weapon – Brian Coleman

In May 2013, Councillor Brian Coleman admitted a criminal charge of common assault against a member of the public who had filmed him parking his car in a loading bay. Mr Coleman was fined and subsequently expelled from the Conservative Party. The victim, along with many others, called for Coleman to resign from the Council. Unsurprisingly, to anyone who knows him, Coleman declined to resign and instead announced his intention to stand as an Independent candidate at the next election.

This is exactly how it should be in a democratic society. The voters elected Coleman to office. It should be the voters who remove him. Only in the most exceptional of circumstances (e.g. electoral fraud), should Parliament and/or the Courts seek to overturn the will of the people.

Some may argue that a crime which involves violence crosses a line, but the law is clear on this point. Mr Coleman was not jailed for the offence and has every right to remain in office - and every right to stand again for election. It will be up to the voters to decide whether to forgive and forget, or to tell Mr Coleman to go and find himself a real job.

The question is, can he hold his seat given his conviction and notoriety? After all, Brian Coleman was unceremoniously thrown off the Greater London Authority (GLA) in May 2012 by voters protesting against the draconian changes to parking policy in Barnet which he had introduced. But many people overlook the fact that, despite losing, Mr Coleman still polled over 53,000 votes including 1,435 votes in Totteridge ward (excluding postal votes) compared to 1,050 votes in the same ward for his opponent, Dismal Dismore. Coleman lost the battle in the wider constituency, but he comfortably won his home territory.

At the council elections in 2010, the Conservatives won all three seats in Totteridge by a wide margin. The fourth placed candidate (Labour) polled 1,469 votes – a mere 34 votes more than Coleman’s 2012 GLA vote. It will be a very brave person to state categorically that Brian Coleman is on a hiding to nothing next year.

The Conservatives will be desperate to beat Coleman, but they will not relish campaigning against him. They know that, despite his many faults and foibles, he retains a very loyal supporter base who have stood by him, through thick and thin. They share his right-of-centre political views and the uncompromising manner in which he promotes them. There are many voters who will recognise his name on the ballot slip and vote for him as they have always done. There will be many Conservatives who will vote for him as a means to punish the Tories for failing to govern in accordance with traditional Conservative values. And there are some who will never vote for him again.

But what will cause the Conservative Party the most concern is that, to keep Coleman out, they will have to get off their backsides and so some work. There is an old joke that in Totteridge they do not count the Tory vote. They weigh it. The Conservative Party does not usually spend much time canvassing in Totteridge because there has never been any need. That will now change. But resources are scarce, and if party members and volunteers are instructed to go and work in Totteridge, there will be fewer people working in the more marginal wards which the Tories must hold onto if they are to remain in power.

The Conservatives hold two seats in Underhill which is the most marginal ward in Chipping Barnet. It requires only a small swing to Labour for them to take all three seats. East Barnet is another ward where the Conservatives are vulnerable. They only held the seats last time because independent candidates split the anti-Conservative vote. If all these seats fall to Labour; if Kate Salinger loses her seat in Coppetts ward (where she is the only Conservative) and if Brian Coleman retains his seat in Totteridge, then a Lib/Lab pact would see the Tories out of office.

Labour needs Brian Coleman to stay in the election campaign. The more time that the Conservatives spend trying to defeat him, the better Labour's chances of winning power. The Conservatives hope that voters will give Mr Coleman the order of the boot, but if they thought about the election tactically, they would realise that they can afford to lose his seat in Totteridge and still retain control of the Council, provided that they hold onto their marginals. If they had any sense, they would not waste time campaigning against Coleman. Rather, they should concentrate on working their most vulnerable areas. But when did the Conservatives last display any sign of possessing sense?