I was dismayed when Mike Freer was elected MP for Finchley and Golders Green. Not because of any personal dislike of this man who once described me as a "one handed blogger", but because I find it perverse that a man who failed so miserably as leader of Barnet council should be rewarded for his failure by stepping up to being MP. I believe that his success is wholly attributable to the lacklustre campaign run by Labour in Finchley and Golders Green. With his record at Barnet they should have mercilessly put forward his record as proof that he wasn't the man for the job. If you want to know his litany of failure, just search this blog for the tag "Councillor Mike Freer". If you don't believe me and think I'm biased, have a look what former Barnet Tory bigwig, David Miller has to say about him in his blog.
But he won, the people of Finchley and Golders Green have spoken and Mr Freer is MP. We all have to move on. Now Mike has the job, maybe he'll find himself a role. Maybe being relieved of the day to day stresses of running a council will be the making of him. I wish him well in his new job and hope he does the business for his constituents. I have a vested interest as he's MP my daughters school.
I was pondering the question of what Mike Freer brings to the Parliamentary Conservative Party and it suddenly struck me that Mr Freer could actually carve himself out an important niche and make a name for himself. He is one of a tiny number of openly gay Conservative MP's. This is one area where the modern Conservative party is massively out of step with public attitudes. When Mike Freer was Leader of Barnet council, he championed gay and lesbian inclusion withing the council. He personally took on the cabinet responsibility for promoting inclusive policies. I asked a member of Barnetgay.com what their opinion of Mikes performance in this role was and they told me that he worked his socks off to promote inclusive policies for gay and lesbian people. They added that unlike the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration which paid lip service, Mike actually rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty.
It is plain to absolutely anyone that the Parliamentary Conservative party needs someone to speak up publicly on these issues. When was the last time a genuinely progressive policy emerged from a Conservative about such issues? The Tories would be mad to let Mike Freer near any finances given his record with Icelandic investments. They would be bonkers to let him near any projects which involve building anything, given the Aerodrome Road bridge fiasco. They would be insane to let him anywhere near anything to do with the environment, given Barnets appalling record in the green belt. They would truly have a screw loose if they let him loose on anything which involved the law, given the Sheltered Housing court fiascos. They would however be extremely wise to put Mike Freer in charge of overhauling the Conservative party in relation to gay and lesbian issues. This is one area where Mike Freer has earned genuine respect in Barnet Council. Maybe he can find his place in Parliament, add some value and do something useful. Mike has a good record and a good reputation at Barnet Council in his work for inclusivity. I genuinely think he could do a good job on a wider stage, given the chance.
Extra, Extra - Image by Mike T in the Londonist Flickr pool. *Woolwich attack* - Government defends the security services over criticisms that they missed signs ...
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