Monday 1 December 2008
The disgraceful arrest of Conservative MP Damien Green by counter terrorism police has sent shock waves through Westminster and the whole country. Forget comparing Gordon Brown to Mr Bean. Try Robert Mugabe.
In 1642, King Charles I demanded that the Speaker of the House of Commons, William Lenthal, hand over five troublesome MPs. The Speaker stood firm and refused to tell the King of their whereabouts, arguing that he was answerable only to Parliament. Compare that to the shameful behaviour of the current incumbent, Gorballs Mick, who allowed Police to enter Parliament during a recess and ransack the office of an MP whose only crime has been to embarrass the Government by exposing their failings.
Since Tony Blair came to power in 1997 and anointed himself President, the authority of Parliament has been continuously undermined and our rights and liberties gradually eroded. David Cameron described Green’s arrest as a watershed moment and he is right.
But it is not just Parliament which Blair neutered. By virtue of the Local Government Act 2000, Town Halls are no longer run by their councillors, but by unelected officers who are unaccountable and, in many cases, simply out of control.
In Barnet, a council spokesman told the Hendon Times newspaper “there was no need to inform councillors” that Chief Executive Leo Boland had spent £1,500 of taxpayers money attending a meaningless conference in Boston.
Nor did chief officers tell councillors they were spending £14,000 of our money buying flat screen televisions for their offices.
Deputy Chief Executive Brian Reynolds took it upon himself to fly to Edinburgh for almost ten times the cost of an Easy Jet ticket. Then he flew off to the South of France on a junket.
When the council was found to have sold land illegally, the Borough Solicitor Jeff Lustig was not fired but promoted to Head of Corporate Governance.
The Borough Surveyor David Stephens was reportedly disciplined over this incident, but files uncovered by the External Auditor reveal that one month later he was quietly promoted, such is the contempt that the officers have for the councillors and public they are supposed to serve.
Worst of all, Borough Treasurer Clive Medlam, took out loans of £70 million in 2006 without the prior knowledge or approval of the council. £28 million of that money was last seen sinking somewhere off Iceland. Has he been sacked?
Far from it. Mike Freer describes Medlam in his blog as “our excellent acting Director of Resources.”
Medlam is the council officer who, in 2005, deceived Mike Freer and the Cabinet Resources Committee by producing a report seeking approval for a £60,000 increase in expenditure to cover the External Auditor’s statutory fees. This was, however, a complete fabrication. The £60,000 was actually for the legal costs of those under investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which included Medlam. It seems that our most excellent Clive also forgot to mention to the committee that he was one of the beneficiaries of this money.
For failing to declare his personal and pecuniary interest, Medlam was “spoken to” by Brian Reynolds and that was deemed sufficient punishment, even though it is arguable he should have faced a criminal investigation on suspicion of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception. I still have the e-mails from Cllrs Freer and Offord confirming that they would never have approved this expenditure had they known the truth.
Why did Freer not insist that Medlam be sacked over such a serious matter?
The answer is really rather simple. The councillors are not running the council. They only do what the officers allow them to do. Boland and his chums must go home pissing themselves laughing every night. They run the council as their personal fiefdom, pay themselves a fortune and don’t have to bother with that trifling inconvenience of standing for election every four years.
If Boland was the Chief Executive of a private company, the shareholders would have chucked him out years ago. Instead, Bonkers Boris has given him the top job at the GLA with a massive £205,000 salary.
Democracy has gone out of the window. Accountability is a long forgotten word. As Private Frazier put it so succinctly: "We're doomed, I tell ye!"