In Barnet we are seeing one of the most disgraceful scandals of modern times. Sadly it is also combined with a catastrophic failure of leadership. Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner has been exposed as having not only indulged in some rather questionable business practices, but far more seriously, he's failed to declare serious financial interests in matters on which he participated in decision making and voting.
One has to assume that his boss at the council, Richard Cornelius was not prepared for such a crisis, so soon after a stunning election victory in Barnet at the council elections. One can excuse an amount of dithering as the full facts have emerged. Now though, it is clear that Mr Rayner's position, not only as Mayor but as a Barnet Councillor is untenable. The Tories have reacted in their usual ostrich like manner and buried their heads in the sand, hoping the crisis will abate. It won't. The Barnet Eye knows of even more rather sad revealations which will be making their way into the press. Oddly enough, we believe that the Tories are missing a trick here. Whilst you may say "There is nothing to gain and everything to lose by taking a principled stand" we believe the opposite to be true. If the Tories do nothing, then they are virtually assurred to lose the Hendon Constituency seat at the next general election. Matthew Offord MP is not popular and his opponent Andrew Dismore is counting on the Rayner affair to severely damage the Offord's campaign as the Rayner and Offord are very close.
Just suppose Richard Cornelius told Rayner to go? Just suppose he stood down as Mayor and a Councillor and said "I've let the people of Barnet and the Conservative Party down, so I am resignimg and I apologise for my actions". It would show that the Tories have morals and standards. Mr Rayner would have taken away a very large club with which Mr Dismore was planning to beat Matthew Offord. You may say "but then the Tories would lose the Council". I don't believe this would be the case, if the Tories made it clear that they were not prepared to stand for Rayners shenanigans. They could, quite rightly, say "Look, we don't tolerate this behaviour". The Hale ByElection would be a massive bun fight, but if the Tories chose a decent candidate, without Rayners baggage, they could send a strong message out, that I believe their natural voters would turn up for. It would be clear to every Tory in Hale ward that if they didn't vote, the council would swing to Labour. They have the resources and they have an opportunity to not only help Offord, but to send a strong message out demarking their behaviour and morality.
Of course, if they show that rather than doing the decent thing, they will simply hang on to power by hook or by crook, I predict that not only will they lose the Council, but they'll lose an MP or two next May.
I don't belong to any Political Party and I believe that the best thing for Labour is for Rayner to hang around, like the bad apple, infecting the rest of the barrel. Sadly in this day and age, the days of honour in politics have long gone. That is why Rayner will stay and Matthew Offord will lose next May, when that happens, it will give me no great pleasure to remind the pair of them of this blog.