Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Wednesday Poem #42 - God Save Us from the Limp Side Salad

God Save Us from the Limp Side Salad

This meal looks tasty, 
won't you say?
But what is that, 
coming my way?

The lettuce leaves are slightly grey,
The thin pink sauce seen better days,
The sliced tomato looks so dehydrated,
Not to be masticated!

Does anyone really eat this muck,
I tried it once and exclaimed "Yuck!",
But being English we're not that rude,
To send away disgusting food.

I have a theory, let me tell,
about the Devil and the nature of Hell,
It's not really fire, brimstone and torture,
Just all of your left over salad portions.

For ever and ever Amen! 

Copyright 2018 Roger Tichborne

When I was at school, my Catholic education involved ever more graphic descriptions of Hell. Demons taunting those that hadn't said their prayers before bed, unbaptised babies sent to Limbo ( I was puzzled when there was a Limbo craze shortly after). Satan was at the same time presented as a sadistic monster of the Alien ilk and a seductive charmer. I was even told that the devil would possess women just to steal your soul and give you impure thoughts. I once asked a visiting priest if the Devil had favourites in Hell. Whether he was meaner to the child who hadn't said his prayers than the sadistic serial killer. The priest said "The devil is equally evil to everyone". I couldn't really get my head around how the devil could possibly be an equal opportunity torturer. Other questions troubled me. As the Devil was torturing you for eternity, wasn't there just a small chance he'd get bored and give up? As I get older, I learned of Sado-Masochists. What does the Devil do with them? If they enjoy being tortured and watching other people being tortured and are surrounded by all of their friends? The more I thought about it, the less I could really understand it. Then I realised that Hell is really nothing like that. Hell is the lack of hope, the lack of friendship, the lack of warmth. I was trying to consider the embodyment of Hell many years ago when I was unfortunate enough to go for a curry with work colleagues. One was a committed born again Christian who followed a preacher called Reinhardt Bonkke (I kid you not). He was monopolising the conversation. At the time I was a vegetarian (well a non meat eater who ate fish). He spent half an hour lecturing me on how the bible said vegetarians were less intelligent than meat eaters. As I suffered this, not wishing to upset someone, I realised I'd discovered the true nature of hell. I'd finished all of my Tandoori prawns, as the portion was tiny. I was still hungry and all I had was the brown, shrivelled side salad listening to this chap pontificate. Imagine that for ever?

Sadly I am not someone who has limitless patience. I eventually asked him "If that's the case why didn't Jesus turn the fish into Lamb Kebabs when he fed the 5,000?" Sadly this suggestion did not go down too well. One thing was clear. He certainly didn't provide a limp side salad. Where do all the uneaten side salads go?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Veteran Councillor lambasts her "misogynist, anti Christian" Tory Boss

Last night, veteran Conservative Councillor Joan Scannell chaired her last ever meeting of the General Functions Committee of Barnet Council. Of all the committee's of Barnet Council, this is usually the most boring. Amongst items for discussion last night was "health and safety policy review". However last nights meeting was perhaps the most explosive of any in the recent history of Barnet Council. As regular readers of this blog will know, Joan was one of four well known veteran councillors deselected by the local Conservative party. Of the four dumped, three were "Ladies of a certain age" (the fourth was Hendon Conservatives sole Asian councillor).

Joan is a friend of mine. We've worked together for many years on the Mill Hill Music Festival. She is a hard worker and takes her responsibilities very seriously. Joan has been absolutely devastated by her deselection. The circumstances of which are quite appalling. Last night, she told Councillor Daniel Thomas, boss of the Hendon Constiteuncy organisation, responsible for deselecting her, exactly what she thought of him. Watch this video and then I will give some context.

As you can hear, Joan says that shes the victim of a "misogynist, anti christian, anti family" organisation. You may wonder why on earth Joan would make such a charge. When you know the facts, it all becomes rather clear. The facts of the charge are clear. The Barnet Tories have known for four years what the date of the council elections in May would be. It is a fixed date. From my own involvement in planning all manner of events, many less important than a Council Election campaign, I know the first thing you do when sorting out the calendar of events is to get the diary and ensure that you avoid key events on dates that may be inconvenient for key players. If people are required to attend, then you make sure that the date is as convenient as possible for everyone.

Anyone who knows Joan, knows that there are two things more important to her than the local Conservative Party. The first of these are her children. She thinks the world of them. The second is her Christian religion. Joan and her family are very active within the Salvation Army. Joan is responsible for organising the regular concerts that the Salvation Army play for the Mill Hill Music Festival. It may be a bit old fashioned. but Joan takes the issue of her religion and the Sabbath seriously. No one would expect a Jewish Councillor to break Sabbath and any selection meetings would be arranged to accommodate them. However the Hendon Conservatives decided that of all the dates they could have arranged to interview and reselect candidates for the forthcoming election in Six weeks, they chose Mothers day. For Joan, as with many mothers, this is a special day. She wanted to spend it with her sons. It was also a Sunday and Joan has religious duties that she considers sacred.

When Joan was informed of the date of the meeting she was horrified. There was no way that she wanted to upset her family. She felt that it was a highly inconsiderate imposition. When she was informed that the meeting could not be moved, she offered to supply a video presentation. Dan Thomas, as head of the reselection committee refused. Joan did not expect any issues with the committee. She has a spotless attendance record and a lifetime of service to the constituency organisation and the party. Whilst she was upset at the timings, she had no reason to suspect that there was any reason to be concerned. She was not informed that there was any reason to expect anything other than a rubber stamping of her candidacy. As such, whilst she was annoyed at the timing, she saw no reason to worry.

When she was informed of the result, she felt that she'd been completely stitched up. She feels that she's been mislead and that the constituency party had deliberately timed the meeting in such a way that she could be pushed out and not given the chance to defend herself. Joan feels that her faith, her family and her sex have been weaponised against her. Joan feels that a party than claims to support family values should not be discriminating against Mum's on their special day.

I have heard that some of the young Tory males have found her reaction quite funny. They seem to think that if you can't miss the odd mothers day celebration with your family, then you are in the wrong job. They feel that her outburst at the meeting has vindicated their stance and that Joan is simply a dinosaur who had to be removed. They want a young, dynamic team, who don't use "dinner with the kids" as an excuse. I suspect that is why we've seen such cock ups in the Barnet Tories as the attempt to close down after school respite care for handicapped children at Mapledown School. This gives parents of handicapped children time to do family activities with other children. The "boys" saw this as an unnecessary expense. It fell to another deselected Tory female of a certain age, Maureen Braun to scupper this heartless policy. Braun said "What are we here for if it is not to protect the parents of disabled children". It seems that compassion and family values are not things that are valued in the Hendon Conservative party. Maybe you want heartless, cold politicians that don't give a stuff for their kids feelings on Mothers day. For the rest of us, I am sure we find the treatment of Joan Scannell and the other deselected Tory ladies quite abhorrent. You would think that as the misogyny in the local Conservatives has already been widely criticised, they'd be a bit more sensitive. Clearly not.

Monday, 19 March 2018

The Monday Motivational Moment #1 - "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once".

Monday is the start of the week. Monday is the day when it is hardest to get out of bed, especially on a day like today, when the ice is on the inside of the windows. If you were to make a list of songs, Monday is the one which has all the negative connotations. The Boomtown Rats famously sang "I don't like Mondays" and New Order sang ""Blue Monday". As you arrive at work, you know that there is a whole week ahead. I have a ritual. I get a cup of tea, log on to my Laptop and check my diary. I make a list of everything that has to get done this week, everything that should get done this week and everything that it would be nice to get done. I then sort them by priority and launch into the most urgent. Often by the end of Monday, I've actually got all of the really important stuff out of the way.
Rog T's Monday Motivational Moment
Except that is for days like today. Today has been a nightmare. Due to a problem on the National Grid, five of our studios are without power. This means that we are earning no money from them and have upset customers. Today there was no cup of tea. Our in house sparks, Dave was on site at 4am. He identified the problem and called the National grid. By 7am and engineer was despatched who confirmed his diagnosis. He said that this was a priority call and someone would be with us shortly. Dave estimated that it would be two hours work to rectify the problem. 

At 5pm, having been on site for 13 hours and made numerous calls, Dave was informed that they would be with us "within 12 hours". Like many of our team, Dave is a freelance worker. He is highly committed, and so will stay for the duration. As you can imagine, there will be a rather large claim going into National Power. The problem was identified in January and a quick fix was done then. 

People like Dave are the people who keep this country running. They go that extra mile. They drop everything to sort out serious issues for their customers. With Dave, there is no Call Centre to negotiate. There are no excuses. He turns up and works. 

As someone who runs a successful business, I feel it is my duty to pass on some of my tips to any young people out there who are thinking of starting out on their own. I was lucky when I started out. My parents ran a business for all of their working life together. They were always there to offer me advice. I also had a brother and many older friends, who ran businesses. They'd always pitch in with some help and advice if I asked and often if I didn't.

The workplace has evolved since 1979 when I started my studio business. When we started, I had no insurance, we had no health and safety policy, we had no safeguarding policy. We just rented a disused workshop, got hold of some musical equipment and started renting it out to musicians. Much of the early building works and electrical conversions were done by mates, in return for a few rehearsals. Over time, the studios evolved. One customer suggested that our studio wiring was unsafe in the mid 1980's. I replied that we "hadn't electrocuted anyone yet" rather immaturely. He responded in a very adult fashion "You are running a business, you have a duty of care to have safe wiring, you need to fit approved circuit breakers and have this place rewired. If you don't then when you do kill someone, you will be liable". We then got an approved electrician to rewire the building. It was a wake up call. I realised we had no insurance and the whole business was an accident waiting to happen. 

I realised, in very tragic circumstances, just how lucky I'd been about 20 years ago. A lovely guitarist, who was a customer of ours, bought a new amplifier and rented out a room to try it out. The only problem was that when he tried to play it, the amp blew all of the breaker circuits in the room. I reset them and they immediately popped again. We identified that it was his amp causing it. He complained about the studio, but ended up borrowing an amp. I suggested that he really needed to get it serviced. He said that there was nothing wrong with it.The next day, we were informed that he'd taken the amp to a gig and when he used it, he'd electrocuted himself. It was tragic and completely avoidable. 

For me however, what happened was a massive motivational moment. It may seem odd to say it, but it reminded me of something an old boss of mine said "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once". When I worked for him, he'd insist that every job we did, we put safety first. The safety of ourselves when we did the job, the safety of our customers when they used it. He said that if we did it properly, then there would be no comeback. He would say "So long as you can explain why it is taking longer than you thought, I will support you" and he did. He would always insist on talking through how we approached a task. He'd make sure we thought of any problems and recognised any dangers. Often he'd quote for a job and fail to get the work, because he'd be the most expensive. He'd always say "I don't mind. They'll be back in six months when they want it done properly". He'd always make sure he explained to prospective customers why he cost more and what would happen if they took a cheaper quote. Often, he was right. They would be back, tail between their legs saying "We should have listened to you the first time". We worked on one house that the 240 bus used to go past. The paintwork I did lasted 20 years before it was repainted. 

With my studio business, the same maxim applied when we have a problem with a studio or piece of studio equipment. We have seen a massive fall off in build quality for studio equipment over the last 20 years, with the advent of outsourcing of electronic equipment to China etc. Many of the Vintage amplifiers manufactured in the 1970's and 80's are still working fine, whilst ones bought three or four years ago fail under the rigour of constant studio usage. One rep even said to me "Amps aren't designed to be used all the time". It is all quite ridiculous. 

We need to get back to a culture of building things properly. We need to get back to an old school work ethic, as Dave demonstrated so admirably as I write this. And we need to say  "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once". 

We will be featuring a regular Monday Motivational moment. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 18/03/2018

Admit it! When you were eating your Sunday porridge last week, gazing out of the window, you thought that we'd seen the back of winter and the last of this years snowy pictures of our little piece of heaven set in the Suburbs of North West London. My guess is that next week, we'll be sweltering in Tropical Sunshine with Sausages on the barbeque. We can at least hope. But this week, the beast is back! Big time.

Here's our selection.

1. A cheery wish from Mill Hill's favourite Paddy on Paddy's day!

2. A great Snow pic from Hello Finchley

3. This is a message that we need to keep reminding people of

4. There was a powercut at Asda's for Paddys day!

5. Did you know there is a Live Queen bootleg album that was recorded in Golders Green? You do now!

6. If you see a fly tipper, please report them. I refuse to believe no one saw the culpret who did this

7. Worth Celebrating! Congrats guys

8. Another great cause to support!

9. These guys deserve to be remembered

10. Great pic from the amazing Natalie Miranda

That's all folks!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Saturday List #169 - My Top Ten Days Out!

I'm writing this blog on a Train somewhere north of Stafford. We are having a day out to celebrate our 23rd Wedding Anniversary on a Steam train to Carlisle and back having a slap up breakfast. It is very civilised! I thought that I'd lost my top ten days out, so that if you are trying to think of a great way to treat yourself, it may give you a few ideas. The only rule is it must be doable in a day and must be doable from Mill Hill.

1. Chiswick Fullers Brewery Tour.
If you like real ale, then this is a must. It is really interesting and you get to taste the ales!

2. The Great British Beer Festival at Olympia.
Another great day out if you like your beers. There are hundreds of beers, ciders and other drinks to try and a whole host of great food stalls. If you are not male, white or a beardy type you are also likely to be interviewed by one of the many telly crews that show up, as they like to show a good cross section of beer lovers.

3. Brighton via Thameslink.
 This is always fun. There are numerous restaurants, great shopping, the Pavillion is well worth a visit and the Pier is always a blast. If a bit of nudism is your thing, there's the nude beach (not recommended when the Beast From The East is blasting through). Personally, I love eating a few Whelks on the beach in the sun.

4. The Science Museum.
This is always a treat for a day out. The museum has great displays and is really interactive. Best viewed in school term if you are not taking the kids.

5. St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster. Cathedral via the South Bank.
This is a great way to spend a sunny day. Get the train to City Thameslink, visit St Paul's, which is fascinating. It really s worth dong a guided tour if you can. The cross the Thames, walk toGabriels Wharf of the South bank for lunch. There are several great places to eat, I particularlyWrstmin like the pie hut. Then walk up the South Bank and cross the Thames via Lambeth Bridge and walk to Westminster Cathedral. It is great to compare and contrast Londons two great Christian Cathedrals.

6. Kings Cross Canal Museum and canal walk to Camden Town.
Before roads and rail, canals were the countries arteries. The canal museum on York way is a great way to learn of this almost forgotten part of Londons heritage. A walk up the canal to Camden Town is a nice way to while away an hour. It is always a surprise to find such tranquility so close to the centre of our City.

7. River boat to Greenwich and the Royal observatory.
This is a lovely way to spend the day.the river boat is fun and a great way to see the city. The Royal observatory and the Meridian line is a splendid place to visit.

8. The Totteridge Valley pub crawl.
Returning to the theme of a few beers. This is a great way to spend the day. Start with a coffee or brunch at the Three Hammers. Then a quick stroll to the Adam and Eve for a pint of IPA. The burgers and chips are not bad either.then walk down Burtonhole Lane, there is a lovely tea shop at Finchley Nurseries if you are still thirsty and the lemon cake is lovely. From therea walk around Darland Nature Reserve, the Totteridge Valley and the Long Ponds, followed by a refreshing Ale at the Orange Tree. Finally a stroll along Totteridge lane for a sumptuous dinner at The Rising Sun, probably the best pub grub around. With all that walking, you can indulge guilt free!

9. St Albans.
A quick 15 minutes up the Thameslink line is St Albans. There is the Abbey, the Roman Amphitheatre, the oldest (allegedly) pub in England, the Cock, and many fine restaurants to boot. Highly recommended and not expensive.

10. The Epping and Ongar Railway.
At the Eastern End of the Central line, we have the Epping and Ongar Railway. This is a restored Steam Railway with a heritage centre. It is a fun way to spend the day and they often have special events. The next being an Easter Egg Hunt.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Barnet Eye Exclusive - The Barnet Tories cunning plan AKA Council Election Strategy revealed

We are sorry that we are not doing a Friday Joke today. We have something far more important to share with you. Following the events this week in the local Conservatives, where several long standing, well respected loyal councillors have been deselected, the Barnet Eye has covertly seen details of the Barnet Tories election strategy. In our role as a public information provider, we feel that it is our duty to share this with the good people of the London Borough of Barnet.

Last year, following the disastrous general election campaign, an inner cabal within the Barnet Conservatives held an emergency meeting to review what went wrong. Following some number crunching, it became clear that unless something radical was done, the Tories would lose the council in May 2018 and this would give the Labour party a springboard to take all three constituency seats in a general election. These three seats could well be the difference between a Tory or Labour administration. There were several issues identified. These were as follows :-

1. Falling membership - The Barnet Conservatives have seen a steady decline in membership as older members die off or move away. New blood has proven difficult to attract.

2. Poor social media presence. The Barnet Conservatives have not had a successful social media presence. Many see the Barnet bloggers as the most effective opposition and they have been forced to conclude that they are losing this battle. It was clear that they needed to revamp the way they managed social media and engaged with the local population. 

3. Ageing and out of touch councillors. The review concluded that whilst the local MP's (Freer, Offord and Villiers) were viewed as attractive and engaging to the public, local councillors were seen as elderly, distant, aloof and out of touch. It was concluded that these out of touch councillors were extremely damaging to the prospects of the local MP's. 

An action team was set up to address these issues. The Barnet Eye has labelled this Barnet Organisational Logistical Local Operational Committee (AKA BOLLOC) although we are not 100% sure if this name has been adopted. It was agreed that this team would have to operate covertley and ensure that the local party organisation was "ENHANCED" to ensure that the local party was brought into the twentieth century.

Each of these areas of weakness had an operational plan set up to address. The three main strands then had an operational strategy created to try and address the problems.

Falling Membership - The key to this is to get young people into the party and to convince them that once they are in, it is worth staying. They can then be used to recruit friends and grow the party. BOLLOC identified that many young people had joined, only to get disheartened and fed up by the ageing people that run the associations and seem set on thwarting every initiative. 

Poor Social Media presence - It was recognised that this needed an overhaul. More central control and a greater effort to ensure that the message was "got out there".  It was also agreed that where possible local bloggers would be targetted. Whilst this may have risks, if the credibility of the local blogs could be undermined, this would remove a massive thorn in the side of the Barnet Conservatives.

Ageing and out of touch councillors - Whilst there was a recognition that they couldn't simply deselect every "out of touch" councillor, it would be well worth the effort of culling as many as possible. The criteria for culling were as follows. 1. Must be in a Safe Ward. 2. Must not have a strong personal base within the party. 3.  No more than one per ward. 4. Must be loyal enough not to rock the boat after deselection. The last thing they wanted was defections after deselection, as this would lose the Conservatives control of the council. Getting rid of these would free up some seats to bring a few of the next generation through. It would also send out a strong message to the young bloods that there would be opportunities in the party. 

It seems that BOLLUC then set about their business with gusto. Deselecting councillors in a secret ballot is not the easiest thing to achieve. It was realised that for the strategy to work, the Reselection meetings had to be held as late as possible and those being lined up for the cull were not to be given a hint, so that they would not marshall their own supporters. Those involved in the scheming had to be loyalists and on side with the plan. 

The information that the Barnet Eye has seen shows just how ruthless the members of BOLLUC are. The degree of deception and two faced behaviour in regards to those lined up for the chop was quite breathtaking. When Councillor Joan Scannell was awarded the BEM, she was lauded by the full council. As she received a round of applause, it was quite interesting to observe the faces of her fellow councillors. As she received a round of applause, there were even some of her Hendon Tory colleagues who did not clap. I mentioned this to Joan at a Mill Hill Music Festival Committee meeting and her response was that some of her colleagues were jealous. It seems that what both Joan and I missed was that there was a little more than a few green eyed monsters with noses put out of joint.

What is interesting is that the four Conservative Councillors targetted were ones whittled down from a larger list. It seems that the reasons that a couple of other prime candidates for the chop escaped for the most, shall we say, interesting of reasons.  However the deselections are not the most interesting aspect of the plan. What is far more interesting is the "replacements" that are being lined up. Firstly, lets be 100% clear that they were all assured long ago that they would be standing. They are not hurriedly brushing up their CV's and doing a frantic round of door knocking to make a last minute impression on the committee. The Barnet Eye has seen a list of names, which we believe is very credible and a list of reasons why they are being put forward. 

In my own ward of Mill Hill, the name I've seen is very close to our MP and Councillor Val Duschinsky. The person is a very capable campaigner and is keen to raise their profile. They are seen as someone who will work far harder for the Conservatives locally and be onside with the policies of the administration. The person is also highly thought of by the small band of young activists locally. Sury Khatri was a vociferous critic withing the party of many of the Tories more extreme policies and this had rubbed up some colleagues the wrong way. As he'd been continually been cowed into voting for these disastrous policies, the members of BOLLUC assumed that he'd simply take it and not defect. His actions in resigning the Tory whip have come as a massive shock. 

It may seem that much of what I've written is a bit obtuse. What team BOLLUC don't seem to realise is that they are not the only Barnet Tories who can be a bit two faced. There are several councillors who BOLLUC think are onside with their policies who are quite definitely horrified by what has happened. Not only that, but they have realised that the BOLLUC strategy is likely to massively backfire. If the Tories lose the council and seats they thought were safe such as Mill Hill and High Barnet, then it could do lasting damage. These councillors are rather keen for the Barnet Eye to understand that they do not wish to be associated with what is going on. There is a tacit admission that it has all been "rather badly managed".  It is not unusual for this blog to have private chats with councillors of all parties. With a few notable exceptions, I get on well with most of them. The ones I've spoken to are horrified that their association has managed to score a spectacular own goal and that they are all covered in the debris of what just hit the fan. They are concerned that if the "strategy" that has been outlined is stuck to, it could absolutely ruin their personal reputation. 

A question that I've been asked is whether I really think that a "Corbynite Labour Council" would be good for people such as myself in Barnet. As I am standing for the Lib Dems, I pointed out that whatever happened, if such an outcome occurs it is nothing to do with me or our campaign. No one familiar with Barnet Labour believes that they are "Corbynite". If anything they would be far too Blairite for my tastes. The Lib Dems are running a strong campaign in Barnet, Mill Hill and Childs Hill. My advice to all Tories in Barnet, Mill Hill and Childs Hill would be to vote Lib Dem to ensure that the next council has to have a sensible coalition. The Tories really cannot win in Child Hill following the Cricklewood Aggregates fiasco. In Mill Hill, I've already spoken to dozens of residents who will not be voting Tory following the treatment of Sury Khatri. It seems likely that a similar thing will happen in High Barnet, where Councillor Bridget Perry has been deselected. Labour believes it can snatch High Barnet, as do the Lib Dems. As the ward had a Lib Dem presence until 2010, it would seem that Duncan MacDonald and the team up there suddenly have a real incentive to go for it. 

I've also noticed a change in what people are saying this week. Wheras last week, the biggest question was "Do you have a chance?", this week the question is "What are you going to do if you get elected?". People are starting to believe that the Lib Dems can win in Mill Hill. This is a direct result of the actions of BOLLUC. 

As we mentioned above, another strand of BOLLUC's activity is a determined attempt to attack the Barnet Bloggers. Sadly for BOLLUC, the latest example of this has also backfired spectacularly. For reasons that the Barnet Eye doesn't really understand, the Deputy Leader of the Barnet Tories, Councillor Daniel Thomas has disappeared off Twitter. A rather strange way to "Spread the Gospel", you may think. At the same time, the @BarnetTories account has become quite manically active. 

On Tuesday, they tried to have a Pop at us. This went badly wrong as we immediately exposed their hypocrisy in posting a highly misleading Tweet. Like many bullies, when they pick a fight with a big boy and get a black eye, they then try and pick on a Girl. Yesterday we saw an outrageous porkie published by them, claiming Barnet Blogger Mrs Angry wanted to close half of Barnet's libraries. 

As I believe that this is not only a disgusting slander, but clearly a made up porkie, I immediately tweeted a challenge to the @BarnetTories

I don''t think there is a soul in Barnet who would believe the Tories would pass up a chance to rub my nose in it if there was a shred of evidence to pack up their outrageous claim. It goes without saying that the £500 is safely still in my wallet. It is a measure of their stupidity that they hadn't noticed that Mrs Angry has not posted a blog since the 2nd of January. There are various good reasons for this, which I am not going to go into, but their vile actions have stung her into life. As own goals go, this is perhaps the most spectacular I've seen. I await their attacks on Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable in anticipation. Let's hope that they are as effective as these.

The conversations I've had with friendly Tories are keen to emphasise that they are not behind any personal attacks coming my way and the way of my fellow bloggers. They were also keen that I was quite aware of who is. It is pretty clear to me that the more sensible Tories locally know who the people of Barnet will trust and who they will side with if there are lies and porkies slung at The Brnet Bloggers. People will draw their own conclusions. If I were a Tory locally, I'd suggest that this whole strategy is a complet BOLLOC up, but that will only really become clear on STARWARS DAY. I've a lousy record of making predictions in Barnet politics, so I'll keep my opinions to myself. Let's just say that if our campaign team needed any incentive to go for it, we've been handed a massive gift in Mill Hill. I am jsut sorry that Sury Khatri, who is a decent man, had to be knifed to provide it.

As to the Barnet Tories efforts to engage with Young people. This too has been wildly successful. I had a look at The "Barnet Young Conservatives" Facebook page. I was stunned to see that the local Young Conservatives have such a lively and active community. The latest activty was only just over a month ago, with this team of lovely looking youngsters hosting an "Action Day" in East Barnet.

There are rumours that in an effort to boost the membership of the Barnet Young Conservatives, they've raised the minimum age for membership from 75 to 60, although we don't believe a word of such gossip.

What many people don't realise about the Conservative Party is that in all associations there are three distinct groups that keep the show on the road. Firstly there are the mainly white middle class male, Rotary club type businessmen, they hang around for years, enjoy dressing up in Robes and attending civic services. They are the core of most councils and are generally sensible and pragmatic. The second group are the Young Turks. These are younger men generally, out of University, looking to build their CV's, believing that they know far more about everything than all the old fuddy duddies and that they can change the world. They believe that a complete lack of experience, expertise and grey hair is an asset if you need to get something done. They generally sign up, do a few years as a councillor, then get bored and move away. Tom Davey is the latest example, standing down in Hale.
The final group are the "Blue Rinse brigade". There are the ladies of a certain age, who organise coffee mornings, put leaflets in envelopes, answer phones and uncomplainingly get on with all of the boring stuff that needs to get done to make the organisation work. Talk to any of them and they will always mention the behind the scenes work that they do and often how the other two groups do not appreciate them. Councillors Braun, Scannell and Prentice are the vanguard in Barnet of this group.

As the local Tories have made it quite clear that this group are not appreciated, it will be quite interesting how the machine operates without all the coffee mornings, letter stuffings etc. I do wonder how all the young turks will cope when they find themselves in opposition, with no power and now plumb jobs as committee chair's.  Whilst the old guard will wait patiently for the next election or the one after that, I suspect that rather like the Spring Cuckoo, they will be off when the wind turns chill. 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Barnet Conservatives lose control of Barnet Council as well liked Mill Hill Councillor quits party whip

Happier Times - Councillor Sury Khatri as Deputy Mayor
Following on from the news, first broken by the Barnet Eye, that several Conservative Councillors have been deselected, well respected Mill Hill Councillor Sury Khatri has quit the Conservtive Party whip in the Council chamber. This means that Barnet Council is now a No Overall Control Council.

 It seems rather odd to me that they are happy to reselect Councillors such as Reuben Thompstone, who has presided over Barnet failing an OFSTED inspection of childrens services under his administration, requiring assistance from Essex Council, whilst deselecting Sury who is well liked and who is generally recognised as having done a good job.

The whole situation is really quite unprecedented. Sury Khatri was Deputy Mayor in 2016-17 and most local people assumed that as he was both a well respected local figure and had served several important roles in the administration, that his reselection for the Mill Hill seat was a simple administrative matter. I had emailed Sury regarding the Federation for Small business manifesto last week and as an aside asked if he was standing, to which he replied "I am standing and hoping my application will be confirmed by the Selection Committee after  my interview this Sunday."

Following his deselection, I asked him for a comment on the Barnet Tories press release. Sadly his response was unprintable.

We have the situation where Councillors could call for an extraordinary general meeting of the Council and sack the leader, Richard Cornelius. This would also enable the Opposition Parties, to nominate new Committee chairs and start the work of unravelling the mess bequeathed by the current Conservative administration. If this were to happen, several senior Tories would lose their generous allowances, in the tens of thousands for some. I doubt that would do the plotters reputation much good and any disgruntled, deselected councillors may well have the opportunity to leave their ex colleagues a lovely parting present.

If, as the rumour mill would have it, the deselections are part of a plot to appoint a new leader of the

Barnet Conservative Councillor purge - Are the Barnet Tories the new Stalinists?

Yesterday we published a press release from three long standing Conservative Councillors who have been deselected by the local Hendon Conservative Association. Today the Barnet Tories have responded with a press release of their own. The Deputy Leader of the Barnet Conservatives made a rather chilling statement in the press release. To quote the press release

Councillor Dan Thomas, chairman of the association and deputy leader of the Council, said: “As per Conservative Party rules, all councillors must be reselected by their constituency association to stand for re-election. As this process is conducted by secret ballot, it is neither possible nor appropriate to speculate why applicants are not successful".
This is almost unprecedented in the recent history of the Barnet Tories. I had been informed early last week that Mill Hill Conservative Councillor Sury Khatri was not standing this time around. This was long before the meeting. I contacted Sury and he informed me that this was the "first he'd heard of it" and stated that there was a meeting on Sunday where he was hoping to be reconfirmed as a candidate in Mill Hill.

Reading Councillor Thomas press release, I am mystified. Why on earth does he think it is "not possible nor appropriate to speculate why applicants are not successful".  The Barnet twitter feeds are full of such speculation, despite Councillor Thomas stating that such speculation is not possible. What he means is that such speculation is rather embarrassing for him and his association.

There are two usual reasons why councillors are deselected. These are that the councillor does not do any work or that their behaviour is embarrassing to the group. The Barnet Tories make it 100% clear that no such reasons apply. in their press release

It seems that even Tory Stalwarts such as Brian Coleman are shocked and disgusted

It rather looks like the local Tories are using the dark arts of dodgy social media to try and justify their decision. Someone who is clearly close to the local Tory group left a rather unpleasant comment on the Hendon Times website
"Seems like a sensible move to me. Cant imagine these lot pulling their weight at election time or in between elections, and thats whats needed these days. Bet the members who got rid of them barely saw them on the streets or at events. Probably brought it on themselves, takes some doing to make risk averse people want change. Turning up at meetings and sitting around tables is bare minimum requirement. Got to get your face out to the masses not just cliques in certain circles. Probably good in their day but cant keep resting on what you did 10-15 years ago. Im over the border and similar thing happened here, freshened things up and the new people do 200% more. The shires and districts desperately need this."
It seems strange that someone who claims they are not in the local party know so much about the shenanigans. Whatever you may or may not think of Cllr's Scannell, Khatri and Braun, is it really a decent way to behave to stick the knife into them in this way.

A former local Tory activist told me of Sury in 2014

"Sury was the only one that any one ever openly spoke about being removed and even in 2014 I know he was spoken to dozens of times about his lack of campaigning and the ill will that was felt to him, it’s surprising that he’s shocked. 
Maureen also didn’t pull her wait last time around and I think we assumed she was running for the last time and she’d step down gracefully so planning for her replacements was already there three years ago. "
We have learned that Councillor Bridget Perry in High Barnet has also been booted out (via a tweet from our old friend Brian Coleman)

So why were these councillors put to the sword? There is a bit of a pattern. They are all of a certain age, three are female and one is Asian. In short they are not faces that really fit in with the Boys club elite chomping at the bit to run the local Tories. They are all in what the Tories perceive as safe seats. Whilst Barnet seems odds on to dump the Tories at the Council elections in May, some see this as a great opportunity to purge the party of the old guard and move things into the glorious new world. It will be interesting to see who is brought in to replace them. There are suggestions that this is the first step in a planned coup to remove Richard Cornelius as Tory group leader. The local Tories have form. A similar thing happened in 2006, when a string of deselections lead to Mike Freer replacing Brian Salinger as Tory group leader and Council leader immediately after the election.

I suspect that if the Tories loose the council, Cornelius will not be that interested in hanging around. I suspect that whoever takes over will be picking up a poison chalice. The likes of Dan Thomas have no experience of opposition politics. I'd personally have thought Joan Scannels experience of this would have been very useful if, as expected they lose.

Given that there is a battle royal being waged by Labour and The Lib Dems to eject the Tories, it seems a bit strange that they've started a civil war. Dan Thomas is a bit naive to think that there won't be speculation about the shenanigans. It may have escaped his attention but we are not (yet) living in a Stalinist republic in the Borough of Barnet. If you are going to shaft loyal colleagues to forward your own small clique (as so elequently put by ex Tory bigwig and convicted woman beater Brian Coleman) on Twitter, then you are likely to reap a whirlwind of speculation. The "nothing going on here, move along please" strategy simply won't wash.

Dan Thomas may not think sacking Sury Khatri for having a face that doesn't fit is something that will be of little concern. From what people have casually said to me in Mill Hill whilst walking the dog recently, I suspect that he's sadly mistaken. Many people like Sury and are actively talking about dumping the Tories. The question everyone asks me is "Why?".  As the Barnet Tories do not want to provide a sensible explanation, it is only right that people form their own, rather unflattering conclusions. Click here and have a look at the current crop of councillors.  The Tories have deselected one third of their female candidates. Of the ones remaining, one is the Leaders wife, who we assume has a pretty safe seat. Helena Hart is standing down. As I said, draw your own conclusions. Last month we wrote an article about misogyny in the local Tory group. What has happened has done nothing to dispel the concerns raised.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


The Barnet Eye has this evening received the following Press release from three veteran Conservative Councillors deselected by Hendon Conservative Association. This is the text of the press release in its entirity, published without comment.





Press release ends ….

Barnet Conservatives caught out telling porkies about overdevelopment in Mill Hill

I don't know about you, but there is nothing I hate more than politicians telling porkies, especially in the run up to an election. This morning, we've seen one of the worst examples of this from the @BarnetTories Twitter account.

Rather strangely, we weren't actually referring to the National Institute for Medical Research, but the over development of Green Belt sites, such as Copthall and Pentavia Retail park. We are also concerned at other examples of lack of enforcement of planning on Green Belt sites in Mill Hill.

This highly misleading tweet implies that the @BarnetTories opposed the NIMR development due as they saw it as "Overdvelopment of the green belt".  If you actually look at the decision, you see a completely different story being told (below from the council papers).

It was moved by Councillor Sowerby and seconded by Councillor Braun that the application be REFUSED for the following reasons:

1) The proposed development, by reason of its appearance, specifically the modern residential design and use of flats roofs, is out of character with the Mill Hill Conservation Area and has a negative impact when viewed from the Green Belt land to the north, contrary to policies 7.8 and 7.16 of the London Plan (2016), policies CS5 and CS7 of the Local Plan Core Strategy DPD (adopted September 2012) and policies DM01, DM06 and DM15 of the Development Management Policies DPD (adopted September 2012).

2) The proposal will result in the loss of trees of special amenity value with associated loss of nature conservation value, contrary to policies 7.19 and 7.21 of the London Plan (2016), policies CS5 and CS7 of the Local Plan Core Strategy DPD (adopted September 2012) and policies DM01 and DM16 of the Development Management Policies DPD (adopted September 2012).

As you can see, there is no mention at all of "overdevelopment" in the refusal. The grounds are that it will spoil the view from the North (presumably for the millionaire's properties on the other side of the Totteridge Valley) and the loss of trees.

The tweet from the @BarnetTories lays bare their hypocrisy. If the planning application as it stood resulted in the loss of trees, which was a reason for rejection, how could having 78 more car parking spaces on the site result in more trees? Whatever you may or may not think of the application, there can be no dispute that their plan for more car parking spaces would result in less trees, which was the grounds they cited for rejection. They really can't have it both ways.

Like all of the parties in Barnet and all of the stakeholders, The Barnet Eye recognised that the site had to be developed following the move of the Institute to the Crick centre. We also recognise the Mayor of London's requirement for more affordable and social housing on the site. We do not think that the current plan is ideal and takes no account of the geographical realities of the site, atop a hill that cyclists use whilst practising for the Tour De France. I've no idea how the Mayor expects residents to get to and from the nearest tube stations, on an already overloaded 240 bus and a gridlocked road, with sharp hills in all directions. I think the Mayor got this one wrong for Mill Hill. It is however total BS for the @BarnetTories to cite it as evidence that they oppose overdevelopment. Especially as the Conservative Council Leader Richard Cornelius recently used the occasion of giving the Freedom of the Borough of Barnet to Saracens to welcome even more development on the Green Belt.

In a rather hilarious follow up tweet, the @BarnetTories clearly think that transforming the Conservation area and Green Belt into a car park is "helping to prevent overdevelopment". I daresay that they'll be appointing Dracula to run the local blood bank next!

You really couldn't make it up, could you? You know what they say about people who tell porkies in small matters?