Friday, 13 December 2019

General Election 2019 - The Barnet Eye analysis

I hate to say we told you so, but we did. On June 27th, before Boris was even elected as Leader of the Tories, I told you of his plans. Once the election campaign got under way, it was 100% clear to me that the opposition parties were intent on committing Hari Kiri. Nowhere was this more clear than in the London Borough of Barnet. There are three constituencies. All were winnable for the opposition parties, but it was clear that this would only happen in the event of a pact between them. But tribal loyalties always trump common sense in Barnet. Despite the fact that it was clear to all that Luciana Berger was the only candidate who could beat Mike Freer, Labour still were putting out "Only Labour can win round here" propaganda. Well done guys. The Lib Dems did exactly the same in Chipping Barnet, ensuring that Theresa Villiers scraped home. Under the first past the post system, the Tories are ruthlessly capable of exploiting such splits. I have been saying this all along, but sadly other bloggers, local tweeters and the party machines don't want to engage with reality. I have started to believe that many actually wanted a Boris victory, so that they could spend the next five years moaning about him. There is an extraordinary British affliction of many, that we are never happier than when we are moaning. Fortunately for me, I don't have that gene. My Dad was Australian and hated moaning, he was an engineer and raised me to always look for the solution, rather than complaining. The solution is 100% clear. A pact amongst opposition parties and a commitment to PR. That will deliver sensible sane government that represents the majority and is not extreme. The next election will be in a post Brexit Britain. We need to fix our politics. Only PR can do that.

So what can we expect from Boris? Well first of all he has a stonking majority, so he can say "stuff the ERG" and deliver the soft Brexit that he has deep down always wanted. On Wednesday I had a beer with a mate who is a Tory. He told me that he was deeply uneasy with Boris. He said that if the Tories had Rory Stewart, they'd have won a 200 seat majority, but with Boris people were holding their noses to vote. He recognised the issues of trust. But he accurately predicted a 50+ majority. We all know that Boris will get his deal through, that is the easy bit. The next part is to get all of the trade deals. Boris knows this is hard, but he's in no way stupid. He knows that the Tories are in hock to big business and they want stability in trade. Boris also knows that immigration is good for the economy, but highly unpopular with his core. What we will get are words that stroke his core voters and the policies that satisfy the monied backers. The second problem for Boris is Scotland. The SNP are now rampant. It appears on first sight that Boris has a problem, but I believe he'll see it as an opportunity. When he looks at the electoral map, he knows that the biggest threat to a Tory majority in 2024 is the SNP. If Scotland is no longer part of the UK, he's virtually got a shoe in. Scotland gets billions under
the Barnett formula. It would be no surprise to me if Boris told the SNP they can have their referendum and if they win, they will lose the cash and the pound. That will put the Nicola Sturgeon in a very difficult position. She is anything but stupid. I think that the Barnett cash is the only thing that can save the Union.

As for the Lib Dems. Jo Swinson has gone. As a Lib Dem, I can honestly say she's been a massive disappointment. I believe that the Revoke Article 50 policy was a massive own goal. The Lib Dems should have gone for a peoples vote. Her 'no coalition' stance also displayed a lack of realism. What is the point of voting for a party who don't want power. Last week I thought the Lib Dems would get 25+ seats. This should have been a shoe in, but the sheer lack of credibility of Swinson and her decision making undermined her.  I am gutted for Luciana Berger in Finchley and Golders Green, she deserved to win and would have made a great MP for the constituency. I hope that she gets back into Parliament soon. The Lib Dems have a platform in Finchley and Golders Green, the challenge now is to build on it. in 2024, the Lib Dems will not have Brexit. They need a new mission. I think that will be a good and a positive thing. We need sensible politics in the UK and the Lib Dems can be a big part of that.

Then we have Labour. It is clear to me that whilst there are a core of Labour activists and supporters who love Jeremy Corbyn and his policies, they are not appealing to enough people to ever win a majority. It is also clear that the Labour party has a major problem with how it manages anti semitism. Alasdair Campbell was slung out of Labour within 48 hours when he said he'd vote Lib Dem. The fact that people who are openly anti semitic are still in after months or years after complaints were made is a terrible indictment. Such behaviour disgusts ordinary voters. The only saving grace for Labour is that they have five years to sort themselves out. It is clear to me that Labour as a party needs to become far more professional and to understand that its only function is to win elections and deliver policies that benefit the poorest and most marginalised people in the UK. If there was one example as to how they got this wrong it was the "British Broadband" proposal. There was no clamour from the deprived people, those on the breadline for this, but it would cost billions. I am no fan of Blair, but they were ruthless in identifying issues that appealed to a broad swathe of the population. One of the things Labour fail to realise is that the British people do not hate the rich. In London, anyone with their own home is technically rich. Many who work in the service industries know they rely on the wealthy members of society for work. Clobbering them might actually put us out of work. What we need is policies that address child poverty, bad schools, NHS underfunding, climate change and inequality. British Broadband was recognised as an ill thought out distraction.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, back in June I was given a briefing on what Boris would do to secure Brexit. This has happened, with a few bumps, exactly to plan. My last conversation with my source was illuminating. I was told something that I was not going to blog, but it may prove to be the key factor. They said "from your perspective, a huge Boris majority will be far better than a narrow working majority". The reason is that Boris isn't a Thatcherite Tory. He's more in the One Nation Heseltine mode. But if he was a prisoner of the ERG he wouldn't be able to run a regime with that complexion. With a big majority, he can be his own man. What does that mean? It means a business friendly, pragmatic regime. This may sound warm and cuddly. If you are middle class and doing alright and have no social conscience, it is. If however you care about the NHS, families in poverty, homelessness, bad schools,etc it is horrific.

And you may ask, where does it leave me? What is the point of my blogging anymore? We have five years of Boris and two and a half years of Tories in the Town Hall. The sad truth is that we need people to write blogs like this more than ever. We need people to get engaged. We have another five years in Hendon of an absentee MP. If we are going to do anything to save our local area, it will be driven by blogs like this. Anyone who believes that under a Tory Council and a Tory MP, anything good will happen in our locality is deluded. Their record in Council is one of total failure. Matthew Offord will now disappear until the next election. As a community we now need to come together and put these divisions behind us.

Please join us for a beer later at the Midland Hotel for the Barnet Eye community awards. Whilst many in the local Conservative party will be out celebrating their victory, we will be recognising those in our community who have made a real difference. 


The Midland Hotel in Hendon is under threat. Developers want to knock it down and convert it into luxury flats, join the campaign to resist this!

Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Thursday, 12 December 2019

The Hamster Plague of Burnt Oak!

Back in 1983, Burnt Oak was overrun with Hamsters, a story that made ITV news. A local Labour Councillor Jim Brophy was shot with an air pellet by hamster hunters.

This mysterious plague has always intrigued me, not least as I went to Orange Hill School, which was next to the allotments which was the base of the hamsters in their plan for world domination. BBC Radio London presenter Robert Elms was also an ex Orange Hill boy and his mum lived on the Watling, so I asked him whether his mum was one of the victims of the plague! He reassurred me that she wasn't but asked me if I'd join him on his show to ask the question of what the real story of the hamster plague was.

You can hear the whole story on BBC sounds here - - My question is asked at 22.25. The first answer is around 1.14.52 with Kelvin. Robert thinks that it was an urban myth that started in the Bald Faced Stag.

I'd love to know if anyone actually saw any hamsters and has pictures or press cuttings. Can you help solve the mystery?


The Midland Hotel in Hendon is under threat. Developers want to knock it down and convert it into luxury flats, join the campaign to resist this!

Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The Wednesday Poem and The Wednesday Cultural Round up - The Sun will still rise in the morning

The Sun will still rise in the morning

However dark the night may seem,
however bad the dreams you dream,
however grim the general scene,
the sun will still rise in the morning.

Whenever bad things come your way,
whenever pain seems here to stay,
whenever you can't face the day,
The sun will still rise in the morning.

Copyright 2019 Roger Tichborne

"The defining election of  a generation". It is the 16th of my life. It probably isn't actually. Although we didn't realise it at the time, the 1979 election was the one which reshaped the way the UK thinks. Thatcherism changed the UK beyond recognition. Sadly though this wasn't the most defining, which was the 2015 election. This was where David Cameron won a Tory majority with the promise of #Brexit referendum. Everything that has happened in politics since and probably every major fatcor facing the UK for the next 20 years will be defined by that results, as we struggle to cope with the implications of that referendum. Whoever gets in, #Brexit will be the first priority.  This is likely to be no less painful, even if any party secures a huge majority. The reason is we are not the masters of our own destiny. We can't impose a trade deal on anyone and if a party gets a majority, they will have to face the uncomfortable truth that there is nowhere to hide. It will all be down to them. But whatever happens, the Sun will still rise in the morning, just as it has after the previous 15 elections.

The Barnet Cultural Round Up

Jazz in Mill Hill Tonight

Barnet Eye awards this Friday in Hendon

Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. 

Live Music, Reggae and Ska DJ set and a great party. 

We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Folk on Monday in Colindale
Christmas Carols This Monday

Other gigs in the Borough this week from Barnet Music

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

The Barnet Eye Election commentary - final edition

Let me start by stating, for transparency, that I am a member of the Lib Dems and I stood as a candidate for them in Mill Hill last year. However, in writing this I speak for no one apart from myself. This is only my view.

This whole election has been the most demoralising and disheartening of modern times. In the early Autumn, I had hopes that the fact that the opposition parties and even sane Tories were working together to prevent a hard #Brexit might mean that the national interest might take precedence over tribalism. I had hoped that this experience, demonstrating that working together might deliver results that could not be achieved by digging a hole and standing in it shouting at the world couldn't. I was right, but sadly not in the way I hoped for, or even expected. The party that learned the lesson was the Brexit Party. Sadly it seems that what they wanted to achieve was peerages and plum jobs for themselves, standing down against the Tories. Although this may only account for 3-4% of the vote in some seats, that could be decisive. This should have caused a period of reflection within the other parties. Being fair to the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru, they did. Deals were done to stand aside in seats where one of the parties had a realistic chance. Sadly, the Labour party has decided it wants nothing to do with sensible deals and pacts. Their logic is that the Lib Dems got into bed with the Tories in 2010, so they will have nothing to do with them. Ever. Furthermore, they have decided that every single policy of the Tories between 2010-2015 is entirely the fault of Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson. This message has been tweeted and facebook'd relentlessly.

What has always disgusted me about this strategy is that it is totally dishonest. Swinson was a junior member of a junior coalition partner. All parties operate whip systems and if you look at all of the things that many Labour MP's voted for under Blair, there are far worse. Labour took us into an illegal war. Whilst many solely blame Blair, he was chosen by the party and his policies embraced by the Labour NEC. A majority of Labour MP's would have him back tomorrow if it was a choice between him and Jeremy Corbyn. They tried to deselect Corbyn twice. Labour gave us the Iraq war. Labour raised tuition fees. Labour brought privatisation to the health service with PPI. I could go on, but is it really helpful? We are now living in 2019 and we have a massive crisis facing us.

The truth is that since 2017, we have had a Tory/DUP alliance that hss been completely dysfunctional.  A vaguely competent Labour party machine would have had them 20 points ahead in the polls. This does not necessarily mean Blairism. It means having a party that is capable of dealing with its own members who are openly anti semitic. It means putting up effective spokespersons when the Tories fib. Under John Major, Blair had John Prescott as Transport Shadow. He worked the press relentlessly and constantly kept the Tories on the back foot. The Tories have a terrible story on the NHS, but do you even know who the Shadow health secretary is (it's Jonathan Ashworth, MP for Labour South FYI). He should be the most high profile of all Shadow ministers.

My personal view is that Labour and The Lib Dems should have each stood aside in the 30 most winnable seats for each party, where it was not an obvious three way marginal. Sure it might have put the Lib Dems back into coalition with the Tories, but it would have stopped Boris and his plans for a hard Brexit in its tracks. If you are a Labour diehard, this may stick in the throat, but for the vast majority of sane and rational people, who simply want a well run government that is not too extreme, this surely is a 'less worse' scenario than a Boris landslide.

There is no doubt at all that Boris wants a hard Brexit and a trade deal with Donald Trump. That will undoubtedly mean opening up the NHS to US corporations. Is that not something that should be stopped by any means? Today we hear that Boris wants to abolish the BBC because he's fed up with Andrew Neil. This is what 'abolishing the licence fee' means. The BBC has a huge archive and is worth billions as a privatised, broken up entity. Free marketeers hate successful state run corporations. Isn't that worth saving?

That is why I ask you to do three things on Thursday. These are

1. Check the opinion polls for your constituency.
2. See which candidate, on current data  and polling data (not from the last election as things have changed) is most likely to stop Boris's candidate winning
3. Vote for them.

In Finchley and Golders Green this is  Luciana Berger, The Liberal Democrat Candidate. The Lib Dems have gone up 2% in the last month. With tactical voting this seat is winnable.

In Chipping Barnet, the polls show Labour as neck and neck with the Tories. As to Hendon, the Tories are showing as on 51%. I find this to be totally at odds with what we've seen polling and talking to people. Many people have told me that they would vote Lib Dem if they thought there was a possibility that they could win. They have said they will not vote Labour or Tory. If you genuinely can't vote for Tory or Labour, please do not stay at home. Get out and vote and you might get a pleasant surprise. If you don't vote, then you definitely wont.

When it comes down to it, if you fight when the odds are against you, you may lose, but you have a chance. If you don't  fight, you've no chance at all. Whatever you do, vote. If you don't, then when the number crunchers look, they draw the conclusion that no one shares your viewpoint. It is highly likely that in Hendon the largest group of all will be didn't vote. People are talking of a record low turnout, due to apathy with the Johnson/Corbyn choice. If you prove them wrong, you might get a very nice and very unexpected surprise on Friday morning. That is my hope.

That's it for me until after the election on Politics.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Join us on Friday at the Midland Hotel, Hendon for the Barnet Eye Annual Community Awards

What are you doing this Friday. Depending on your point of view, it may be a wake or a party as the election results roll in. We arranged the Barnet Eye Community Awards before Boris announced the date of the election. We did contemplate changing the date or even cancelling it as we felt many people would be otherwise engaged. But then we found out that the Midland Hotel is facing an existential threat. The owners of the site are actively trying to force John and his team out of the pub and are resubmitting plans to redevelop the pub, despite the pub receiving Asset of Community Value Protection. We don't have the luxury of time to show our support and demonstrate how important the pub is, so we decided to keep the date and also use the event as a registration drive for support for John and his team at the Pub. The pub is a key part of our local heritage and our community. We need everyone who cares about pubs, live music and community to show up. This is a cross community campaign with support from all of the local parties. It is an opportunity to show that we do care and we will fight to preserve our community. If you've never been to the Barnet Eye community awards before, it is a fun night, where we recognise members of our community who have done great things. You don't need to wear a suit, just show up and enjoy yourself. It is all free. We have live music, Rog T's Ska and Reggae DJ set and the actual awards, where you can find out about the great things people are doing in our community.

It has also brought people together. In 2017 when we made the Mill Hill Rugby Club our community Sports club of the year and The Colindale Foodbank our charity of the year, the club organised a highly successful collection for the foodbank for Xmas. These links endure. Please make the effort, it is a chance to recharge your batteries and to engage with the rest of our amazing community.

The categories this year are

Barneteye Person of the year

Barneteye Charity of the year

Barneteye Pub of the Year

Barneteye Musician of the Year

Barneteye Sports Club of the Year

Barneteye Community Event of the Year

Barneteye Campaigner of the year

Barneteye Local Campaign of the year


Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Just to give you a flavour, here's some of the tunes you'll be hearing. I hope that you'l agree it should be fun. We've always been keen to support young talent and we have an amazing singer Lexsi doing a set, along with my band The False Dots


Sunday, 8 December 2019

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 08/12/2019

Did you know there is an election on this week? If you follow twitter in Barnet you will probably have seen lots of pictures of rather earnest looking people holding up leaflets for their respective parties and stating that if you don't vote for their candidate, we are all doomed. I am sure you'll be pleased to know that we are putting none of those on here. We are focusing on the things that really interest such as......

1. We start with one of our regulars, the Time_NW twitter feed has become one of the must follow feeds

2. We always like to recall the Burnt Oak hamster invasion of 1983

3. Clitterhouse farm is getting ready for the spring! A great community project

4. Looking for a calendar for the new year? Why not get this one and help out an amazing local project

5. Nice picture of Partingdale Lane Mill Hill

6. Here's a pretty cool competition for thise of you who like to take a piccie of the locality

7. And here's a pretty cool competition for all you local musicians

8. Looks like East Barnet Ladies choir are looking for some gigs. Can you help them?

9. Support these good people

10. This tweet both made me smile and brought a tear to my eye

That's all folks!!!

Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Saturday List #244 - My top ten favourite London Indian Restaurants of all time

Now regular readers of this blog will know that I am rather partial to a curry. I was musing on this journey during the week, thinking how my tastes have changed and evolved, but also how the Indian restaurant has changed and evolved. Here is my list and their part in the journey. The list is as chronological as I can make it. Sadly not all of these are around still

1. The Mill Hill Tandoori.

2. The Neel Kamal,  Percy St

3. The Ravi Shankar, Drummond Street

4. The Day of The Raj, Mill Hill

5. The Jomuna, near Victoria

6. The Shami Lahore Kebab House, Near Aldgate

7. The Great Nepalese,  Eversholt Street

8.  The Rajasthan, Monument Street

9.  Cafe Spice Namaste, Prescott Street

10. The Curry Leaf,  City Road

So what is my personal curry journey through these restaurants. It must have started around 1973 when the Mill Hill Tandoori first opened. I vividly remember our first visit. As a family we'd always eaten out for big family occasions at the Chinese Restaurant on Burnt Oak Broadway, but my Dad loved curry and so when the Mill Hill Tandoori opened, he was most excited and announced that we'd do a family trip. My mum wasn't a fan, but did it under sufferance. I was only eleven and when my Dad said he preferred curry to Chinese, I thought it would be the same only better. I was bitterly disappointed. I had a naan and some  Chicken Tikka, but I thought this was nowhere near a nice prawn butterfly. As my Mum didn't really like it, the next visit was a couple of years later with my Dad when she was on holiday. This time he did his homework and told me I could have a pint of lager shandy with it. I had a chicken malayan, mild with pineapple and loved it. He had a chicken Vindaloo. That was also my first induction to Onion Bhaji's. I was converted. By the time I was 17, a curry after the pub became a regular part of my life. We'd drink till closing time, then adjourn to the Mill Hill Tandoori and drink Dortmunder Union lager and eat curry til the early hours of the morning. The Tandoori would be packed at this time and the air would be thick with cigarette smoke and bawdy laughter. To this day, the Mill Hill Tandoori is my spiritual home. It is old school. Sadly the smoking ban and the changes to licensing laws stopped the after hours rush, but the food is still delicious.

The next stop on the journey was The Neel Kamal on Percy Street. I can tell you the exact date that I first went in there. It was the Friday 7th October 1983. As my musical career had left me with gangsters chasing me for money, to repay debts incurred touring, I needed to earn cash fast. I enquired at the training desk at Golders Green jobcentre how I could earn some quick cash. I was advised to do a TOPS course in computer operations and then get a job in  IT. Having secured a place on the course, my Dad paid off the gangsters and I had to knuckle down. I got a job at SPL International,  a leading British Software company. My first day was rather bizarrely a Friday and at lunch I was invited to join the team for a curry. We went to the Neel Kamal. It was a small restaurant down a flight of stairs on Percy Street. For the next two years, the process was repeated every Friday. Sadly the Neel Kamal is gone, but the food was amazing. When I first went, my dish was a lamb madras, then I changed to a Prawn Bhuna.

In 1984, I had severe health issues, requiring a period of hospitalisation. During this period, I developed a fascination with a very beautiful Indian girl. She told me that  I shouldn't eat meat as it was bad for the Karma, which clearly caused my health issues. I said I couldn't imagine a decent meal without meat. So she took me to the Ravi Shankar on Drummond Street, a vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant. The paper dosa's and the vegetable curries were amazing. In an attempt to woo her, I announced that I was turning vegetarian. I didn't succeed in woo'ing her, but I'd discovered a whole new way of thinking about food and I was a vegetarian (eating fish) for sixteen years. 

In 1985 a new Indian Restaurant called the Day of the Raj opened in Mill Hill. This was an upmarket restaurant, unlike the Mill Hill Tandoori. Such celebs as Mike and Bernie Winters and David Seamen would frequent it. They did some amazing fish dishes, especially the Lobster sizzler, so we divided our curry time between the two, until the Raj closed a couple of years ago. They moved to a takeaway operation in Mill Hill East and are closed for a refurb.

In 1985, SPL had been taken over by Systems Designers and we moved to Victoria. We needed a new home for our Friday curry. We found the Jomuna. This restaurant did the best Bhuna Prawn of anywhere I've ever visited. I once asked them why and he said "That is our secret", a great restaurant, I think it is still around, but under different ownership. We had a very good curry there a couple of years ago.

My career as a Software engineer then took me to Aldgate. I was working with a bunch of guys of Indian descent and they rather liked the Shami Lahore Kebab house. As it's name implies, it does great meat, but they also did some great vegetable curries and an amazing Tandoori fish. It was cheap and didn't serve beer, but the food was amazing.

Around that time, we also discovered the Great Nepalese, a Nepalese restaurant in Drummond Street. The style of cooking is different and there are some specialities such as the Momo that are wonderful. As there are some excellent real ale pubs in Euston, it is a good place to round off an evening.

The next place on the tour is the Rajasthan near Monument. I have two words to say if you are going here - Lamb Cutlet. They are amazing. Everything else is pretty good, but try these as a starter. It can get busy though. It is not at the cheaper end.

The Cafe Spice Namaste is another place I first encountered working in Aldgate at its original location in Alie Street. They moved to Prescott Street and opened an immense operation which is Indian fine dining. If someone else is paying, this is the place to go. The food is amazing and the setting is glorious. One of the few Indian restaurants worth visiting for the decor and setting. It ain't cheap.

And we end back where we started, with a decent reasonably priced more traditional Indian Restaurant, the Curry Leaf. When I was making the list, it wasn't one of the first I thought of, but like the Mill Hill Tandoori, it is comfortable, reasonably priced and does what it says on the tin. Wortha visit.

I will finish with a few words about Indian restaurants. I have become good friends with LemoN Chaudrey and Romel Miah, who run the two Mill Hill Indian restaurants. They are two of the most hard working, honest and decent people I know. They both make excellent food. Both have suffered from a string of changes to the law that affects their business. The biggest was probably the smoking ban. Whilst this was done for good reasons, 99% of the trade for the Mill Hill Tandoori liked to smoke whilst eating and drinking. It never bothered me, but the ban saw a 50% drop in their turnover. The late night rush disappeared. The govt also changed the laws around getting kitchen staff, making it almost impossible to get migrant workers to run the kitchens.  Producing good food in a small, cramped kitchen is an art form and this has driven many restaurants from the high street. We need to reverse these changes so that such businesses have a chance. If we don't when the current generation of restaurant owners retire and sell up, my beloved local curry will become a thing of the past.


Please join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Friday, 6 December 2019

The Friday Joke - 06/12/2019 - Three Clowns

It's the weekend, it's raining and we have a general election in under a weeks time. So here's something to cheer you up.

Three clowns walk into a Bar. The bar tender walks over to the first clown and says "Evening Prime Minister, how did the Leaders debate go? Nice to see you all having a drink together afterwards"

Yeah, I know it's not the best, a bit like the choice on Thursday really!

But.......  Look on the Bright side! Next Friday is the Barnet Eye awards at The Midland Hotel and you can forget all about it and let your hair down!

Please show support for the Midland Hotel pub and join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission

Thursday, 5 December 2019

General Election Commentary - We are all grown ups, so why can't we act like it when we talk politics?

There is a prevailing view that we need to view people with opposing political views as the enemy and in some way evil. This is not only sad, but it is corrosive and devalues us all. I do not believe that either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn are intrinsically evil or bad people. I disagree with things both have done, and to be brutally honest, I wouldn't fancy an evening in the pub with either. They have also both made mistakes as leaders of their party, they both support policies I disagree with, but there is far more that they have in common than you may realise. Lets have a look at what they have been demonised for. Boris has been demonised for not being a very faithful husband, having been divorced several times. Jeremy Corbyn has also been married three times. Both are pet owners, Boris has a pooch and Jeremy has a cat (he had a dog previously). Both have children. They both have siblings. They are both mavericks and outsiders who have made it to the top of their party. Both had a private education. 

It is interesting to note that both are not fans of their predecessors in the role. Boris has criticised the austerity policies of David Cameron and Theresa May, whilst Jeremy disagreed with just about everything Blair and Brown did. Both are not afraid to say unpopular and inflammatory things. Whilst those on the left state that the Conservatives are responsible for the deaths of people who's benefits have been cut and removed and see this as a sign of evil intent, sadly it is far more likely to be caused by complete ignorance of life on the breadline in the UK in 2019. As to those who claim Corbyn is an anti semite, I am pretty sure that the likes of John Bercow would not state Corbyn is no such thing, if there was any evidence. There is a parallel with the Tory denial of the misery of benefits sanctions. I believe that Corbyn simply doesn't understand how his actions are seen by many in the Jewish community. He believes he hasn't got a racist bone in his body, so he dismisses his critics, without realising that the Labour Party hasn't dealt either swiftly or appropriately with many instances of anti semitsim. 

The reason I mention all of this is because the ever rising levels of abuse and insults are not healthy. We should not excuse politicians of  bad behaviour. When Boris talks of "Bum boys" or Jeremy refuses to kick out anti semites, we should call them out, but in reasoned and calm tones. There is no need to be hysterical in our conversation. One of these two men will most likely be Prime Minister, unless there is a very unpredictable result. You may not like it, but that is democracy and we will all have to accept it. 

There are people on the fringes of politics, especially on the hard right, who do need to be vigorously opposed. The previous century showed exactly what happens when we don't, but neither Corbyn nor Johnson are extremists. When people call Corbyn a Marxist, they simply do not understand what a Marxist is or what the Communist Manifesto actually proscribes. If Labour fully implemented its manifesto, there would be far less nationalisation than there was at the end of the Ted Heath era in 1974, when everything from steel, to coal to airports were all nationalised. Even his plans for rail, would have virtually nothing in common with the pre privatisation BR. 

As for Boris, he is a Chameleon. I genuinely have no idea whether he is a one nation Tory or a demagogue. It is interesting to note that Joseph Stalin gained power in the USSR by conning his colleagues that he was  a nice, reasonable chap, ignoring Lenins warnings. I don't think Boris is a Stalin (but then neither did the Communist central committee when they selected him). I think he's more of a Ted Heath and I think he's likely to be equally successful in power. He is definitely not a monetarist, so the Thatcherites are in for a big shock. Boris is an old Etonian, so he has been being prepared for power all of his life. He will intrinsically understand how the levers of power and the British establishment and class system work. He doesn't want to take a wrecking ball to the establishment and he doesn't want to address inequality. I would imagine that what he does want is a successful economy, geared so that himself and those in his social bracket can do very well thank you. 

You may dislike this fact, but does it make Boris a monster? I believe that we ultimately get the Prime Minister we deserve in a democracy. If we get Boris, we know what we are getting. A man who is 'economical with the truth', a man who believes in inequality and the class system. We don't know what sort of shape that will be, but I don't believe that those who oppose Boris will be too surprised. Or we could elect Jeremy Corbyn. Again, we know what he stands for. He wants to take a wrecking ball to the class system and the establishment. He stands for an economic package that the Yes Minister civil servants would describe as "rather ambitious and very brave". I suspect that should Jeremy confound the critics and opinion polls and win, his administration and policies will bear little relation to what the Sun has predicted. I fully expect him to be far more cautious than anyone expects. This is as much because he is a ditherer. I believe that the main cause of his problems with Labour antisemitism is down to dithering and inability to make a decision. I expect the same paralysis to hit when the civil service put the bare facts of what his policies mean before him. I think it is likely that he'll resign within a year and John McDonnell to be the PM. John isn't a ditherer.

The big fly in the ointment for Boris and Jeremy is that they have to not only win opinion polls, but have to command a parliamentary majority. I believe that all of the smaller parties will have more seats and we'll be back in coalition/ minority government territory. I expect the Lib Dems to pick up 25-50 seats and the SNP to knock out a few Scottish Tories, now that their charismatic leader Ruth Davidson has gone. I also expect the Greens and Plaid Cymru to pick up a few seats.  There have been reports of 2 million young people registering to vote. This may well save Jeremy Corbyn from the sort of drubbing that the press has been predicting. I believe that quite a few seats will change hands unexpectedly. Today the Brexit party more or less imploded, with several MEP's defecting to the Tories. I don't think this will play as well with Brexiteers as the Tories would hope. It has simply shown that Tory Brexiteers are up for sale. In the Labour heartlands, where Labour Brexiteers were considering voting for the Brexit Party, they will see that this is simply a sham to secure a Tory government. This may have the opposite effect than that hoped for by Jacob Rees-Moggs sister. 

Ultimately though, we are all grown ups. We have to debate these issues like grown ups. This means being polite and respecting other peoples opinions. Last week I grabbed a pint in The Bridge Tavern with Mill Hill Tory Councillor John Hart. We thought that seemed like a better option than standing in the cold and rain. We don't agree on much in the sphere of politics, but we had a pleasant and interesting chat, mostly about things totally unrelated to politics and the election. That really is how it should be. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Wednesday Poem and the Local Cultural Round up - Five Words

Five words

I love you.
I'm Sorry.

Copyright 2019 Roger Tichborne

The purpose of a poem is to paint a picture in your mind. Can this be done in five words. Five words. Five sort words. I suppose a pedant would say five and a half words as "I'm" is an abbreviation. When you see this what do you think? It could be contrition after an act of betrayal, or it could be a tender last message to a much loved moggy as the vet humanely eases it out of its misery. I am sure it is something we'll all say at some point and I'm sure that it will be difficult and heartfelt. But then it could be a throwaway line, at the end of a text message when you've forgotten to send your partner a bunch of flowers on their birthday or even a rock star announcing their retirement. Five simple words. What picture does it paint for you?

The local picture of the week
The local cultural round up.

If like me, you are heartily sick of politics, here's some other stuff that is far more fun!

Mill Hill Jazz Club tonight.

Gigs this week in The Borough of Barnet from Barnet Music

Book now for World Class Dance at The Arts Depot

Snowflake at the Kiln

RIP Barry Ainsworth

Barry Ainsworth, a stallwart of the Barnet music scene and for many years the man who organised live music at the East Barnet festival has passed away. RIP Barry, missed by all.


Please show support for the Midland Hotel and join us on Friday 13th December at 8pm at The Midland Hotel, Hendon, for the Barnet Eye Community awards and annual Xmas party. We are also looking for nominations for our community awards, click here for details. Free admission. Live music and a great DJ set