Thursday 8 April 2010

Barnet Election Special

Don’t Call Me Dave has been asked whether he will abandon his self imposed moratorium on blogging during the election campaign. Tempting as it is to return to the fray full time, he will continue to write only occasionally because regular readers are already aware of the key issues facing voters at both the Council and General elections.

DCMD does not consider it his job to tell the public how to vote and if the good people of Finchley & Golders Green wish to elect as their MP someone who lied about his educational qualifications, spent £5,000 of our money flying business class to a junket in America, allowed chief officers to buy themselves £5,000 plasma TVs and was in charge of finances when £27 million of taxpayers’ money was deposited in Iceland, then we must respect their wishes and they, in turn, must accept the consequences.

Similarly, if the residents of Barnet vote to allow failed business woman Lynne Hillan and her cronies to continue running the council, they must accept that the sheltered housing warden service will be scrapped, putting the lives of the elderly at risk. Not one Conservative councillor or candidate has spoken out publicly against this insane policy.

DCMD has written at length about the warped sense of entitlement of councillors Brian Coleman and Andreas Tambourides who view the Town Hall as their personal cash machine, funded by the taxpayer. But they are not alone with their snouts in the trough and the reality is that even if voters give them the deserved order of the boot, they will only be replaced by others with a similar penchant for claiming multiple allowances.

Whilst Gordon Brown and David Cameron talk about the need for reform of the political system to restore public confidence, they ignore the reality that it is not the system which is at fault but rather the calibre of people in it.

We need a new generation of politicians to come forward, untainted by the past. We need representatives who understand the sadly antiquated concept of public service; people who enter politics for what they can offer their communities rather than for what they can get out of it.

We don’t need an election. We need a revolution.


Mr Reasonable said...

Perhaps the Residents' Association of Barnet might just help in starting that revolution.

Anonymous said...

Only unlikely as they don't have a plan of action and aren't a coherent group. If they were to win seats the first revolution would be from within as to who would lead them and what they would do!

Mr Reasonable said...

Daniel, I think you are underestimating them and what they stand for. It is not about having a leader; that is old fashioned, big party thinking. RAB is an umbrella group of like minded independents who believe that the council can and should be run more effectively for the interests of the residents of Barnet not political dogma. Don't look at the structure, look at the individuals. We need to return to a time when councillors represented the community they live in, not what central office tells them.

Anonymous said...

Johnny, I'm not contemptuous of them but I don't think I'm misunderstanding them. I think they have made an error in presenting themselves as a 'Party'. People have an understanding as to what that it. I actually think they are going about it completely the wrong way.

To get what they want I think the ONLY way is to campaign for a directly elected Mayor in Barnet (through a referendum) and then seek to get their choice of Mayor elected. Going down the route of fighting in large wards is really really difficult.

On your comment about individuals, to get that people should stand as 'independents' and let people choose them on their merits, not on the basis as to whether the leadership of the RAB chooses them behind closed doors, without democracy to stand in their party. The other parties at least have some democracy in the choosing of candidates.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

In 1997, Martin Bell famously won Tatton standing against Neil Hamilton on an anti sleaze platform. Similarly, Dr Richard Taylor won Wyre Forest as an Independent MP in 2001 and 2005 campaigning to keep Kidderminster hospital open.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman). The current mood amongst the electorate is ripe for serious minded independent candidates to step up to the platform at local as well as national level and there is certainly enough discontent within Barnet for independents to do well.

I do think, however, that it was probably a mistake for the independents who are standing to have formed themselves into a group before election day. Surely, the whole point of being independent is that you are not part of a group.

Mr Reasonable said...

Daniel, the problem is that the electoral system is geared up to deal with parties. If you stand as an individual the hurdles you have to jump through are sufficiently daunting as to put off all but the most determined, knowledgeble and well resourced individuals. Setting up an umbrella group party makes the process a little easier and empowers more individuals, who have a great deal to offer to the community, to stand. I agree entirely that a directly elected mayor would be much more democratic but as you know it was a small committee of the ruling group who made the decision not to choose the mayoral route nor consult with the residents. The only way we can influence that decision is to stand as a party in the hope that we can gain enough seats to change the balance of power. Only then will we have any chance to challenge the decison to go for a leader driven model. I think you will be surprised at some of the candidates standing. The range of political views spreads across the spectrum and includes some very long standing, traditional, conservatives who have become totally disillusioned with the incredibly undemocratic way the council is run in Barnet. In East Barnet a leaflet setting out what we stand for should be dropping through your letterbox in the next few days or have a look at our website:

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Jonny on the Web

I had been wondering about the political inclinations of the candidates standing as independents and, frankly, it comes as no surprise to hear that some of them are disaffected Conservatives. After all, if they were just standing on an anti-Tory platform, they could campaign for Labour or the LibDems instead.

You always get one or two people standing as independents at an election - usually on a very specific local issue. But there are at least 15 independents standing in Barnet. I don't recall such a high number ever standing before. This should be deeply worrying for the Conservative party. Whether the independents get enough support to actually win any seats outright, only time will tell. But they could take enough votes away from the Conservatives in marginal areas for them to lose some seats to opposition parties.

Anonymous said...

Johnny you are absolutely right in it is a problem with the system. Trying ot get Councillors elected is tortuously slow and beset with pitfalls like a General Election being held on the same day.

The time has come, actually as David Cameron rightly argues for, for strong civic leadership. We need a leader elected by the residents who can carry out his / her manifesto for four years and then ask for the residents' support again.

Under this system the residents vote for a party with a leader who can be disposed of, even just days after the election, and replaced with someone with an entirely different platform.

The big political campaign in Barnet, whatever happens on May 6th, is for there to be a real revolution. One that truly puts the power back with the residents: to have a directly elected Mayor.

A petition of 10,000 starts it all off. Maybe RAB and others should take the petition round with them as they campaign?