Unbelieveable. The Barnet Tories have lost the previously rock solid seat of Brunswick Park in a By Election. Labours Andreas Ioannidis has taken the seat with a massive double digit swing. In the 2010 council elections, Lynne Hillan polled 3,307 votes. Yesterday Shaheen Mahmood polled a mere 1,598 votes. The Tories have shed nearly 50% of their vote in two years. The collapse of the Lib Dem vote has been even more spectacular. Mary Umbo polled 1,207 votes in 2010. I was quite upset to see that Yahaya Kiingi polled only 97 votes. I know Yahiya well, he's a lovely guy and I believe the vote was not a reflection on his abilities as a candidate. I suspect that it merely reflects the fact that there is a genuine desire to see the back of the Tories in Barnet and people will do whatever they have to to replace them.
It cannot go without comment that the Tories ran a truly awful campaign. The Barnet Eye was aware of much infighting, back biting and squabbling amongst the ranks. After the Brian Coleman GLA result, they should have palled out all of the stops to ensure that they were not humiliated. Sadly for the Tories, none of them had the guts to be associated with Ms Mahmood when it became apparent that her candidacy was in trouble. Her selection was what is lovingly known as a Mike Freer masterstroke. It is well known that Freer runs the show in Barnet and he had insisted Ms Mahmood, a close ally, be selected. Even his close colleagues such as Andreas Tambourides were not overly keen, but Freer overruled everyone. His logic was that Brunswick Park was a super safe seat and he needed a like minded soul to help preserve his legacy in the Barnet Tories.
Mike Freer knows that his One Barnet project is in disarray. He has single handedly created a well organised and well motivated group of anti Barnet activists, who are prepared to pound the streets of the Borough, to put an end to the madness. This blog has been writing about the One Barnet project, in it's various guises for three years. At first no one seemed to care, bar a few die hard union activists. As we see the first effects, such as the private parking wardens, stalking motorists, issueing tickets for fun, people have suddenly realised that such policies do affect them. The thought of our parents and loved ones final resting places being sold off horrifies people.
If the Tories want to avoid a wipe out in 2014, they have to have a complete rethink. Failed cabinet members such as Robert Rams must be replaced. There is talent in the Tory ranks, but it is pushed to the very margins. Despit twice nearly becoming leader and having support of nearly half the group, Mark Shooter has never held a cabinet position. Shooter is perhaps the one person who actually has the brains to sort the One Barnet mess out. He should be given the brief of overhauling the council.
It appears that Dean Cohen has gotten to grips with parking. If Shooter was put in charge of council efficiency, then it is clear that the only other hot potato is libraries. Rams must be sacked and Kate salinger given the brief. If Kate can't do it for whatever reason, bring in her husband Brian. A cabinet with Saliner, Shooter and Cohen would be far more in touch and sensible. Shooter should replace Dan Thomas, who is clearly out of his depth. The Salingers command respect in the wider community and within the Council workforce.
This blog has been accused of being anti Tory and Anti Barnet Council. This is complete nonsense. If the Tories had listened to us, dumped Brian Coleman, not abolished Pay and Display, not hiked CPZ fees and not shut Friern Barnet library, then they would not have lost the GLA seat or Brunswick Park. If they take our advice, they may yet save themselves. Clearly I am not a Conservative, but I have to live in Barnet. If we don't see an improvement, then we will be faced with a complete train wreck. I for one cannot stand idly by and sleepwalk to that fate.