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?

Saturday 21 September 2013

Lost your voice, Mr Cameron?

For seven years, Prime Minister David Cameron thought it was really clever to call UKIP supporters "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". Dave first made this comment in 2006 when he was leader of the Opposition and only changed his position in May when UKIP won 25% of the vote in council elections. The penny finally dropped that without the electoral support of all these fruitcakes, the Conservatives would lose the General Election in 2015. The message went out from Central Office to stop attacking UKIP voters.

That is not to say that the Conservatives should not attack UKIP policies or its leader - just as they would not be expected to hold back on attacking Labour policies and the Labour leader. That is the nature of politics.

So it is quite a surprise that Mr Cameron has failed to respond to reports that a bunch of disgruntled  ΓΌber-lefty teachers (are there any other kind?) have written a letter alleging that, as a seventeen year old schoolboy, Nigel Farage was a racist, a fascist and sung Hitler rally songs. This is just the type of ammunition that Cameron needs if he is to persuade the electorate not to vote for UKIP, so why the silence? Could it be, perhaps, that by publicly discussing alleged youthful indiscretions, the Prime Minister realises he might open up a can of worms he would prefer remained unopened?

Thursday 19 September 2013

I told you so!

 In October 2012, Don’t Call Me Dave published a blog suggesting that Barnet Conservatives should ditch leader Richard Cornelius who was gaining a reputation as a weak and wet ditherer, unable to control his councillors. DCMD wrote:
Brian Coleman knows that his political career is in its death throes and, like a spoilt child, he is determined to take the whole Conservative Group down with him. It will undoubtedly serve them right, but it will be the residents who ultimately suffer as they end up with another ruinous Labour administration.

If the Conservatives wish to retain any credibility as a serious political party, then Mr Cornelius must be removed as leader and replaced by someone who will deal with recalcitrant and errant councillors. Time is running out if they want to hold on to power.
Brian Coleman has now published a blog, dishing the dirt on all of his former colleagues. This was as predictable as it was avoidable. But rather than just ignoring him, many of the targets of Cllr Coleman’s acerbic comments have risen to the bait and responded, thus ensuring that our Brian retains his high profile in the run up to the publication of his autobiography and the 2014 elections, in which he will stand as an independent candidate. As Phineas T. Barnum  is alleged to have remarked, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”  

Cllr Coleman admits that he has absolutely nothing to lose, as a return to selling outdoor advertising beckons. As for ditching Richard Cornelius as leader, it may be too late to save the Conservatives now. But it won’t be Brian Coleman’s fault if they lose next year. It will be theirs.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Shame on Selfridges

Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression as department store Selfridges shamefully backs down in face of pressure from the usual suspects, and reinstates the sales assistant who refused to serve a friend of Tommy Robinson, leader of the notorious and revolting English Defence League (EDL).

By all accounts, Robinson is a thoroughly unpleasant person. He is a convicted criminal who has led anti-Islam protests which often result in violent clashes. For all we know, his friend may share Robinson’s odious political views. But this is irrelevant. There is no suggestion that the friend had abused the sales assistant, and he was therefore entitled to be served, as would any other customer.

Selfridges have stated that it is not their policy to discriminate on the grounds of political opinion. The sales assistant had no right whatsoever to usurp his employer’s policy in favour of his own prejudices. He should have been sacked.

In a truly free society, we tolerate the views of people we can’t stand. We fight them by the power of argument, not by violence or petulant behaviour. If the sales assistant had been a member of the EDL and had refused to serve a Muslim customer, he would, quite rightly, have been dismissed on the spot. These double standards simply serve to prove why the fascist left are as bad as the fascist right and must never have access to political power.