Friday 27 November 2009
Democracy requires an election
Don’t Call Me Dave has received several e-mails today expressing surprise at his support for Cllr Fiona Bulmer in the leadership contest to succeed Mike Freer. DCMD would like to clarify that he is not endorsing any particular candidate at this time, notwithstanding that he believes Cllr Lynne Hillan would be an unmitigated disaster for Barnet.
The most important issue is that after 3½ years of an unelected dictatorship, there must now be a free and fair contest for the top job, where the candidates set out their vision for the future of Barnet, forcing them to engage in a debate with backbench councillors who have hitherto been ruthlessly silenced on pain of losing their allowances.
Speaking to the Barnet Times yesterday, Freer said: “If there is no contest because there is only one nominee then that means the group are happy to have one nominee, that's democracy” which is a definition of democracy most of us would struggle to recognise.
But Freer’s contempt for the democratic process is hardly surprising given that only 21 people out of an electorate of 216,717 actually voted for him to be leader of the council - a mere 0.0097%.
Without any public mandate, Freer spent the best part of £2 million on consultants for his widely ridiculed Future Shape project, which was not even debated by his backbench councillors. They were, however, forced to vote for the proposals using tactics that would have put Stalin to shame.
Similarly, Lynne Hillan did not seek the Conservative Group’s approval for axing the warden service for vulnerable residents living in sheltered accommodation. She just went ahead and did it.
When deciding who to elect as their new leader, Conservative councillors need to ask themselves whether they want more of the same, or whether they are going to finally stand up and be counted, to represent the voters who put them in office - and who can just as easily remove them in 161 days time.