Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Local Tory attacks Hendon MP Offord for sticking to his principles

It probably won't surprise many readers of this blog to learn that I am against the idea of the UK leaving the EU. It may surprise a few readers to learn that I was very pro the idea of a referendum on the subject. Why? Because I believe that it would force the Tories at the heart of the government to tell the truth about the EU. For decades the anti Europe brigade have peddled story after story about how terrible it is and how damaging it is to the UK. Their poster girl was Margaret Thatcher, who they hold up as an anti European. What they conveniently forget is that despite all of Thatchers posturing and despite having a massive majority for most of her reign, she never once proposed leaving the EU. In fact, quite the opposite. She signed into law the act which was the biggest pro European legislation of the lot - The Single European Act. This is the bill that has allowed all of the citizens of Europe free movement and is why every building site in Britain is full of Czech's, Poles and Romanians. Why did she do this? Because she new we faced a labour crisis and this was the only way that we could keep the economy functioning.

Cameron knows this too. When he was an opposition MP trying to get a Tory government, Europhobia was a useful tool to beat the Labour party with. In government, he doesn't want to be the bloke who destroys the UK economy. The truth of the matter is that if we leave the EU and tear up the single European act, all of the Poles, Czech's and Romanians go home and the economy collapses. Whilst many Tories rail against immigration, big business which bankrolls the Tory party loves it. This is because it provides a cheap and hard working labour force. If this was seriously threatened, they would soon pull the plug on Tory coffers.

Which brings us to our local MP's Theresa Villiers is a minister, so there was never any chance of her jacking in her career to vote against the government. Mike Freer wanted to have it both ways. Initially he posted tweets stating that he'd support calls for a referendum, then flip flopping and bottling it. Hendon MP Matthew Offord, is clearly made of sterner stuff. He signed up to support the referendum and stuck to his guns. Local Tory blogger - ex Councillor Daniel Hope -AKA The Barnet Bugle gave him high praise on Monday for his consistent approach :-

Member of Parliament for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, seems to have undergone a series of u-turns over the proposed referendum on the UK's EU membership due to be debated this afternoon. This contrasts with fellow Barnet MP Matthew Offord has taken a firm and consistent stance in support of the proposal to hold a referendum and reported at Conservative Home.(
Rather ironically, having criticised Freer for "flip flopping", Hope inexplicably does a flip flop of his own yesterday. He issued a stinging rebuke to Offord for not being loyal to Cameron.

Readers of The Bugle will remember how David Cameron made a special effort to come and campaign in Hendon constituency in the last few days of the 2010 general election campaign. You can recap here. Given the slim margin of Matthew Offord's victory it may even have been decisive in him becoming an MP. Many of the MPs who voted for this motion were passionate Eurosceptics. They have written and spoken widely on this issue and they made it a key issue before and after entering Parliament. The Bugle cannot remember seeing tweets, articles or newsletters from Mr Offord on the subject of a referendum on the EU over the past year. Looking at his website there are no articles on Europe nor is it listed as a 'priority' for him. Yet last night, despite a three line whip and personal pleas from the Prime Minister (and the previously mentioned debt of gratitude for probably getting him elected) he voted to give the Prime Minister David Cameron, as the Daily Mail puts it, a bloody nose. (
This exposes the key problem with the Barnet Tories. Offord clearly has followed his conscience, yet Hope thinks that because Cameron helped a Tory MP get elected, that MP should slavishly follow every policy that Cameron has. This is why we are lumbered with the ridiculous OneBarnet program in Barnet. If every Tory Councillor in Barnet Town Hall followed Offord's lead and did what they believed to be right, instead of doing what the boss tells them, One Barnet would have been dead and buried long ago. Millions would have been saved in consultants fees and instead of having a Council paralysed by industrial disputes we may even have a Council which was sorting out it's many problems (a la Metpro).

I find it extraordinary that a senior member of the Barnet Tory party such as Hope, who has many contacts with Central office should draw attention to the modus operandi of the Tories in this way. In effect, if we believe Hope, Cameron tried to blackmail Offord. It is clear from the "personal plea" that Offord won't be getting a visit from Cameron to help him at the next election (assuming Hope's story has official central office backing). I suspect that Offord need not lose too much sleep. Hendon is a key marginal and I doubt that Cameron would allow a person vendetta to get in the way of retaining the PM job.

The bottom line on Europe is this. The Tories are HOPElessy split and always will be. They have mislead the public for decades on the EU and are suffering the consequences. A Tory MP, Ted Heath lead us into the EU. A Tory PM - Thatcher signed the single European treaty and a Tory PM  - Major signed Maastricht.

Everything else is posturing and PR
********* Updated 17:44 *************
It seems like Ex Councillor Hope is rather embarrassed by The Barnet Eye drawing attention to his flip flopping. He changed the URL of the Matthew Offord story. We have amended the link, but if the naughty old sausage tries that trick and you get page not found again click this link and then scroll  down - )


button55 said...

Good old Matthew we love him really he`s just given that nasty man from UKIP in Hendon the biggest lift he could imagine..Well done sir keep the excellent work up..!!!

baarnett said...

button: Unless you were being ironic, I don't understand.

Presumably Soupman voted in a way that undermines UKIP.

Also presumably there are fewer UKIP in Finchley & Golders Green.