If you don't know what a merkin is, I suggest you look it up in the dictionary. We saw an extraordinary sight at the Town Hall, during the presentation of the task and finish group on the Your Choice Barnet whitewash report, where Councillor Barry Evangeli sought to deploy the contributions of the Labour group members of the committee as a merkin to disguise the fact that the whole fiasco had been brought about by a monumental failure of Core Barnet Tory policy.
The Labour group members of the committee had, rather naively in my opinion, accepted the premise presented by YCB, the Tories and the Council Officers, that reversing the outsourcing was not an option. They had also, again rather naively, accepted the premise that the sole purpose of the report was to try and fix up the broken YCB model.
Now let us not pretend that there wasn't genuine anger amongst local activists that something so fundamentally obvious as the complete stupidity of creating a private company, funded by the taxpayer, with a business plan to lose money, could be deemed "fixable". When the plan talks about "generating profits", it really means overcharging disabled and vulnerable people for services, to pay inflated executive salaries.
Now a particularly obnoxious local right wing blogger, who has a history of distorting all manner of statements from the progressive elements in the Barnet political scene, has suggested that comments from the Barnet Eye indicated we'd "turned on Labour". Now at first I assumed that he meant that local Labour members were getting sexually aroused whilst reading this blog. The local Tories seem to have a bit of a fixation with the sexual habits of bloggers and members of the opposition, with even Mike Freer, the Tory MP for Finchley once telling a webcast interviewer that he used to imagine me masturbating as I wrote blogs. I must confess however, that on this occasion, I had misread the meaning. In actual fact this silly man was implying that, heaven forbid, I was having a go at the dear old local Labour party. What the silly old fool seems to have forgotten, is that I stood against the Labour Party in the Council Election in 2010 and spent six months walking around Mill Hill telling Labour voters not to vote Labour but to vote for me and giving them a whole list of reasons why this was sensible. I also cataloged in this blog why I had left the Labour Party. On top of that regular readers will also know that I was subsequently expelled from the Labour party (despite not being a member) and banned from being a member for five years (in May 2011).
So to suggest that I've suddenly turned on Barnet Labour is a little bit like suggesting that Aaron Ramsey turned on Cardiff yesterday, because he scored a goal for Arsenal against them, following a transfer several years ago.
I don't belong to any political party. I resigned from the Lib Dems in disgust at their renaging on the student loan policy on entering the coalition. However, I am still on good terms with the local Lib Dems and I would most certainly support their candidates in Childs Hill. They have shown themselves to be excellent councillors and I see no issue in stating this. My view of Labour has not changed in the slightest over the last three and a half years since the last council elections. I believe that had the Tories not got a majority and a Lab/Lib pact been responsible for running Barnet as was the case between 1994 and 2002, then we would not be in the mess we are in now. I believe that for all the faults of the local Labour party and there are many, they are currently the only hope we have of sane administration in Barnet. In shady back rooms, we've heard all manner of talk of independent candidates of various colours to address the mess we find ourselves in. Whilst I think all of these ideas are fine on paper, they will simply split the anti Tory vote and prevent decent administration returning to the Borough.
As to what happened with the Your Choice Whitewash. Sure I am cross with the Labour members for being the merkin, but they were only a disguise for what lay behind the merkin, if you get my drift. If you are an assassin and you have someone in your target, and as you pull the trigger, their bodyguard stands up and cops the bullet, you should be cross at yourself for not being a good sniper, not at the bodyguard for relieving the cramp in their leg.
I sincerely hope that the local Labour party have learned something from the Whitewash report. You cannot expect to be herded like sheep by the Tories, the Council officers and the YCB board, into signing up on an indefensible policy. The answer was simple, put in a minority report, or don't sign up at all. So yes, I am cross at the Labour members, for not using what little influence on the process they had properly. But don't let anyone fool you that this anger is in anyway comparable with my utter contempt for the Tory regime which undemocratically inflicted this catastrophe for the disabled and disadvantaged of Barnet on us. The brutal truth is that if you care about public services, then you have to vote for the party in your ward most likely to defeat this bunch of incompetent Tories, who happily give £16 million to Capita, but cut travel to day centres to the disabled, hike costs for care and even charge £1 for a cup of instant coffee to handicapped people at YCB run activies.
I rather hope Barnet Labour dislike being compared to a bunch of Merkins. If they do, they may well contemplate the fact that if you whip the merkin away, you see exactly what lies behind it. And believe me, in this case, it really is not a pretty sight. It is there job to ensure we see that grotesque image in all its glory, not to spare our blushes. Apologies for any of you poor souls offended by this blog and the rather unpleasant images etc it cunjours up, I can only say that sometimes you need to state tings in such a manner so people actually take note