Monday, 3 October 2011

The views of a sane Tory about One Barnet

I had a very interesting conversation today with a friend of mine, who happens to be a Tory Councillor in another part of London. He's up in Manchester for the Conservative conference. The reason for his call? Well primarily to discuss the inept performance of Manchester United, who he nipped along to see on Saturday. The conference gave him a good excuse to visit Old Trafford. He's not a United fan, but the chance of a ticket from a friend and  the excuse of the conference provided compelling logic. 

It may surprise readers of this blog to know that I probably have more friends who are Conservative supporters than any other party. I've run a business for 31 years, I'm a reasonable active member of the Federation of Small Business (FSB) and many of my friends are also in business in one way or another. Some of them are quite well for themselves as Conservative Councillors. Generally we don't discuss politics (why would you when there are beer and football to entertain you?).

They do keep an eye on the blog though. Anyway, as we neared the end of our conversation, my friend suddenly and unexpectedly announced "I met a few of your Barnet lot. They are a bit odd, aren't they?". I just sniggered. He carried on "I can see what you mean now". I had to ask "What were they up to?" His response "Well lets just say after a day at the conference and a couple of beers it's nice to unwind a bit. You really wouldn't want to be stuck with some of them".

I daresay in that next time we go for a few beers, I'll hear the full gruesome story. He's a pretty easy going chap and gets on with most people. We briefly discussed the OneBarnet situation a few months ago. He said "When we knew how much we were being screwed by the government, we called in the Unions and had some workshops. We all agreed that it would be better if we could work together to find some savings. Wasn't easy but we got there. I don't think we got what we wanted or they did, but we managed to avoid the problems some other councils had, just be having a sensible grown up conversation". I asked him if they considered the OneBarnet mass outsourcing route. "We look at services on a case by case basis. If something isn't working or isn't efficient and we can see a saving by putting it out to tender we do. Sometimes that scares the shit out of the Union and we then get the issue sorted, sometimes it goes to a third party if there are clear savings. You have to be pragmatic and practical. If you try and go to far, too quickly, you just end up at war with your staff and everyone loses. We had a look at Barnets model and it looked to risky to be worth the trouble".

I've thought long and hard about repeating these comments. The final comment on our Barnet politicians (before a discussion on the delights of Rusholme Currys) was this "We had a few people like that at one stage, but we soon got rid of them. They are a real pain in the arse".


baarnett said...

That could be the election slogan on all the Conservative Party leaflets in 2014 (assuming they haven't all resigned by then):

"Vote For Us, Your Barnet Lot. We're all a bit odd, aren't we?

baarnett said...

Have they gone up to Manchester to seek endorsement for their One Barnet policies? Speaking at fringe meetings, perhaps?

And the leading party figures who have come out in support of them are: ... Er, ...