Yes, that is a quote from the Mayor of Barnet, the extremely honourable Councillor John Marshall at last nights Council meeting. At least the bit in quotation marks is. To be completely honest with you though, I've not given the context and it was actually a quite humorous quip.
So why would Councillor Marshall say such a thing? Well as the saying goes, you had to be there. It was actually a rather witty put down to his predecessor, Councillor Maureen Braun. Councillor Braun had submitted a motion regarding the RIPA regulations. This is a piece of legislation which allows the council to covertly video your dog pooing on the street, seemingly using anti terrorist regulations. Councillor Braun seems to think that we've gone back 24 years to 1984. She thinks "Big Brother" (in the Orwellian sense) is taking over. She is concerned that the council has the right to count the number of baked bean tins in your dustbin and video you placing your wheelie bin on the road. She is worried that a big DNA database is being used for malicious purposes.
If I'd lived in an ivory tower for the last 26 years, I'd probably agree with her. Yes, it isn't great that CCTV footage can be used to make you clean up Rover's Doo Doo. Then again stepping in the poo of lazy dog owners isn't great either. The point at which I decided Councillor Braun was talking rubbish was when she started ranting about the DNA database. Why did this bother me? Well 26 years ago I started my first really serious relationship. The girl I was going out with had been violently raped 18 months before our relationship started by a stranger. The perpetrator was never caught. Over the course of our relationship, it became clear to me that this horrible crime had caused lasting psychological damage.
Now I haven't spoken to her for 25 years, but I sincerely hope that the ******* who committed the crime has been caught. I hope he has been brought to justice and if this is by DNA evidence, then all the better. All of the fine words in the world do not change the fact that DNA evidence is the best possible way of bringing some extremely evil people to justice.
So why did Councillor Marshall make the quip? After Councillor Braun's long and rather rambling speech, Labour's Alan Schneiderman stood up and said she was rather stupid for making such a speech. From my vantage point, at least half of the assembled Tories nodded in a rather embarrassed manner (hoping no one saw, no doubt). Councillor Braun was rather unhappy. She demanded that the Mayor (Councillor Marshall) insist Schneiderman apologise for calling her stupid. The Mayor, rather sensibly, diffused her rage by stating that "If councillors weren't being called stupid, they weren't doing their job".
Well, having set the standard, many of the honourable Mayor's Tory colleagues, showed that they certainly were doing their jobs. Perhaps the most stupid comment of the night was that the LibDems were like the BNP, as they thought people were upset at the council losing £27.4 Million in Icelandic banks. I don't know how much the rather drippy looking Tory councillor who made the comment knows about the BNP and the history of extreme right wing politics in Europe in the last 100 years, but he managed to even make Councillor Braun roll her eye's and perform an olympic standard entry for the world gurning championship. I actually felt sorry for the Tories for a second, what do you do when one of your comrades has just entered the winning ticket in the plonker of the year award?
Not that any of them will ever tell me, but I hope they took the young man to a nice quiet area and explained to him what a fool he's made of himself. Yes, I do know his name, former Tory Councillor Hope told me. I'd just rather like them to put him straight privately to spare his comrades further embarrassment in future.
Councillor Marshall is right in his plea that Councillors need to be called names occasionally in a healthy democracy. I'm sure he'd agree with me that being called stupid is one thing, being a fool is quite something else.