72 years ago, back in 1942, my Dad was based with 40 squadron of the RAF in North Africa, flying Wellington Bombers as part of the battle to free North Africa. He once told me a little story about the siege of Tobruk. He'd been out boozing in Alexandria with some Aussie Soldiers and they'd told him an interesting story (I have no idea if it is true or has ever been documented). The Germans held Tobruk in a vice like seige during an offensive, which featured some of the fiercest fighting in the early stage of the North African Campaign (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobruk). Apparently, during the long siege, the attacking and defending soldiers had an unwritten and unofficial truce every afternoon between 3pm and 4pm. During this time, they'd go down to the sea and have a swim and cool off. During this period, neither side would shoot at each other. This allowed the troops on both sides to cool off and have some sort of peace.
On one afternoon, as the troops from both sides were making their way to the sea, a German sniper took a pot shot at an allied soldier. All hell broke loose. After that, both sides just sat sweltering in their potholes & trenches all day. After about a week, a German white flag of Truce suddenly appearled. He made his way through the fortifications to the Allied line and, with a hundred rifles pointing at him, read out an apology, stating he was the miscreant sniper and he was very sorry. He said that the German side would observe the truce and not take potshots anymore if the British did the same. He then handed himself over and was taken POW. On interrogation, it appeared his German colleagues were so pissed off with him, after a week of sweltering that they'd forced him to apologise.
When he was asked if he was worried about getting shot, he said "No, the British don't do that sort of thing". He was greeted with a reply of "You were lucky mate, we're Aussies and we're mighily pissed off with you".
You may wonder what all this has to do with the Town Hall in Barnet? Well it seems that the local Tory Ledership have chosen to put the boot as hard as they can into Kath McGuirk, a Labour Councillor, over a dispute over council tax. They have called the police in, rather spitefully, over a possible technical transgression of the rules, even though Ms McGuirk has a rather strong case that the whole thing is a Council cock up. Labour sources tell me that they believe that the attack was purely down to the fact the Tories believe McGuirk was being lined up to be the next leader of the Labour group and the Tories were scared of her. In short, it was a very botched attempt at a political assassination of the heir apparent.
What the Tories seem to have failed to take heed of is the fact that Labour have a whole file of dirt to throw back at them. As the gloves are off, and the police were unleashed on McGuirk, Labour feel duty bound to hit back hard. The Barnet Eye is not allied to Labour, but we've had more juicy titbits etc in the last few days from Labour than we've had in the last four years. I assume the same is true for other bloggers and local papers.
It may surprise you to know that we are not really that interested. Despite claims from hysterical Tories on Twitter, the only reason we covered the Tom Davey story was because guest blogger John Sullivan asked us to. John has a serious illness and he is trying to avoid stress.
The sad truth is that like the poor, stupid German sniper, only a big sacrifice will let the Tories put this particular genie back in the bottle. If the Tories and Labour rip each other to bits, I suspect that the only winners will be UKIP.
I make one prediction. This election will be the dirtiest, most nasty and most spiteful in the history of Barnet local politics. There is a simple reason for this. I doubt that anyone in Barnet politics has the brass balls of the errant German sniper to take the rap for his stupidity. None of them, Tories or Labour will be sunbathing in the Barnet political sea any time soon.