Due to other commitments, the Barnet Eye was unable to attend the event. Fortunately we have a good network of spies, who kept us informed with Tweets, emails and phonecalls. As I suspected, the "chair" of the meeting, Brian Coleman refused to let the de-facto leader of the business campaign against parking charges - Helen Michaels speak. It seems that even Boris was a little irked by this. Helen had a group of fellow business owners decked out in rather fetching T-Shirts, decrying the death of the local High street due to the bonkers parking policies of Barnet Council and Brian Coleman. In some ways Coleman was clever not letting Helen speak, he knows she'd have wiped the floor with him.
Sadly for Brian, I suspect that his actions were simply those of a fool poking a dozing tigeress with a small stick. I suspect that on the 6th May, when the votes are counted for the GLA election, Brian will wish he'd let her. Instead he's simply goaded her into organising an even more high profile campaign against him and his scheme. Helen is a fan of Boris, in normal circumstances she'd be a cheerleader for him and his local GLA rep. If I wanted to get elected in that neck of the woods, I'd rather have her organising my campaign than anyone. Sadly for Brian, she is now the leader of the dump Brian Coleman party.
It is quite clear to me that the local Tories have a stark choice. Dump Coleman completely or get humiliated in the GLA election. However much many locals like Boris, his warm glow cannot save Coleman. In fact, all the rally did was to demonstrate the difference between a Tory with a bit of wit and charm and one who is a pompous, arrogant crashing boor. There is an old saying that when a Tory gets a ballot paper, they know where to put the cross. Coleman will test this loyalty to the extreme.
If I was a Tory strategist, the following issues are the ones I'd consider with regard to the GLA and Boris.
How many extra local voters for Boris will Brian Coleman add?
How many extra local voters for Boris will Brian Coleman lose?
How many extra local voters for Andrew Dismore (The Labour Candidate) will Brian Coleman add?
How many Andrew Dismore voters will Brian Coleman get for the Conservatives?
I have a friend who works in the IT department of a large polling organisation. I asked him how close the Mayoral race would have to be, before a 20% boycott of the local Tories could affect the Mayoral election. The answer? If the candidates are within 3% of each other or less, then Coleman could be the man to torpedo Boris.
Coleman has made a career out of upsetting people. He is usually pretty shrewd who he upsets - people like me, who would never vote for him anyway. With the parking he's crossed the line and unleashed his shotgun on his own supporters. I suspect he'll need a miracle now to save himself.