Barnet Council is still run by the Conservatives. The local Labour Party, like an Ostrich on Tamazipam have decided that this result is a great victory. So we thought we'd list the ten mistakes that lead to this cock up.
1. Putting resources into a campaign in Childs Hill Ward, purely to spite the Lib Dems, who are their natural allies in Barnet Politics. This split the anti Tory vote and allowed 2 Tories in.
2. Lack of campaigning in Hale ward, which is eminently winnable (due to the Childs Hill Campaign).
3. Failure to coordinate and work with hard working and active allies on the left such as BAPS to ensure that the campaign was as effective as possible in leafletting and canvassing. Given that this alliance had worked so well in the GLA campaign, it is baffling why Labour chose not to build on this.
4. Failure to work with bloggers to engage with the thousands of readers of the Barnet blogs. When a meeting was set up between the Labour leadership and bloggers to see how bloggers could assist Labour Campaign, Labour leadership replied "help at polling stations on election day". This wasted a superb opportunity to raise the profile of policies and candidates.
5. Failure to address issues in specific target wards and raise these in the press. Many locals have stated that Labour were completely "anonymous". Let me give an example. I particpated in a Mill Hill Churches homeless night shelter at John Keeble Church in Hale Ward. There was no mention of the rise of homelessness in Barnet under the Tory administration. As hundreds of people in the Borough have supported the scheme directly and thousands indirectly, this should have been a core message.
6. Failure to get activists to bother to leave comments on the local press websites giving responses to a swathe of planted pro Tory stories. This completely baffled me. It is free and it takes two minutes to leave a comment. We have to assume that local Labour actually read the papers.
7. Failure to get stories into papers showcasing new candidates in marginal wards and the stirling work they are doing in the community (we of course assume they are working their butts off for the local community, don't we?).
8. Failure to stand up and expose failed and bankrupt Conservative policies and intiatives. The classic example of this was when Your Choice Barnet Ltd (a private company set up by Barnet Council to manage adult social care at "arms length" ie outside of democratic control) failed and needed a council bale out. This was an open goal for Labour, anyone with an ounce of common sense would have used this failure to expose the myth of Conservatives competence and management strategy for Barnet. Instead they meekly signed up to the whitewash and agreed the report which said "returning the service to an in house service is not an option".
9. Failure to stand up for local jobs and their natural supporters in the public sector. Local elections are largely about getting your core vote out. The local Labour leadership treated the leaders of local Unions like lepers (not the cash that they provided though). They made no case for workers threatened with redundancy by the Capita One Barnet program and have never once said that they would abandon the scheme. If Barnet Labour had bothered to care about these hard pressed workers, then they would have had a ready made pool of energised activists to do the work in marginal wards like Hale.
10. Failure to put new and exciting candidates into the public eye. For instance new East Barnet Councillor Rebecca Challice is the youngest Councillor in England. Such a candidate should have been used to talk to and engage with young voters. The fact that there were no press stories capitalising on this, putting her in the spotlight and showing the difference between the "tired Tories" and the dynamic Labour party was yet another spectacular missing of an open goal. Labour had some great assets, heaven alone knows why they chose not to deploy them.
Barnet Labour is a mix of New Labour and Old Labour. Sadly they have chosen to cherrypick the worst aspects of both. They have the policy free vacuum of the New Labour ideology, where nothing is ever said that they think may in any way upset anyone or appeal to any core Labour value. They have mixed that with the chaotic 70's style campaigning of Old Labour, failing to take into account new technologies, changing demographics and the diversity of Barnet. Click here to have a look at all of the new Barnet Councillors - http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1 tell me, do these faces represent the faces you see on the streets in your High Street?
Now maybe I'm missing something, but to me all of these things seem obvious. Sadly the most obvious thing of all is that the existing Leadership in the Barnet Labour Party have made all of these schoolboy errors. They have failed to exploit all manner of advantages and have wasted numerous opportunities to make a difference. Nothing could be more crystal clear than the fact that Alison Moore is past her sell by date as Labour Party Leader. I'm not a member of the Labour Party so I have no influence over what will happen, beyond the fact that thousands of Labour members read this blog every month (we had over 35,000 hits last month). Many people in Labour desperately want the party to do well, but have been demoralised by the current leadership and their strategies over the last four years.
I suspect that this blog will be very unpopular in Labour circles at the moment. Rather like the vet is very unpopular with my dog when he needs an enema because he's not well. Every Labour member who sits there with their fingers in their ears shouting "La La La" and "Didn't we do well in Barnet" is simply another "useful idiot" as far as the Tories are concerned. Tory Leader Richard Cornelius must sink to his knees and thnak the lord for making Alison Moore the leader of Labour every single day. It means that he can get away with murder in the council chamber and know that no one will hold him to account. I for one will not shut up until Richard has a new opponent and needs to take a spare pair of undies to every council meeting. At the moment Richards biggest concern prior to any Council meeting is whether to finish it off with a good glass of red or white wine. If that is not abject failure, I don't know what is.