The job of being Leader of Barnet Council opposition is a very tough job. The upper echelons of the Barnet Conservatives are a very hard right and politically motivated bunch. Many decisions have been made that have been catastrophic for the Borough, purely to serve a hard right agenda. This has resulted in the catastrophic outsourcing of much council function to Capita. This huge deal is proving a disaster for the residents of Barnet. Only yesterday the latest catastrophic failure was highlighted in a series of tweets by the Council
Our call centres are experiencing technical difficulties & are unable to receive any phone calls (1/2)
We are working to fix this issue ASAP. We apologise for any inconvenience (2/2)
In short, due to the catastrophic outsourcing, no one in Barnet could communicate with their council. You would think that with such an open goal, Twitter would be awash with Labour councillors berating the Tories for putting up with such useless service. It is an open goal and it is undeniable that the people of Barnet are being let down. It is vital that Barry gets to grips with the torpor that has overcome the local Labour party for many years. In this day and age it is quite ridiculous that Councillors don't engage with constituents via twitter. It is also mind boggling that they fail to use it as a campaign tool. Barry needs to get all his councillors on board and to get them to raise hell every time the effects of the Tories disasterous policy hit residents. That is what an opposition are supposed to do. It is simple. All they have to do is get one of the 30 Councillors to monitor the twitter every day and then text the rest of the group if there is a cock up and see Tweet about this now. It would take councillors a minute to retweet a message from the Labour group and a minute to add their own comments. Barry has nearly five hundred follows on Twitter. If that is a representative number of followers that a councillor should have, then if they all did this, the message would get out to 15,000 people straight away.One would presume that Labour supporting friends would also retweet such messages. This would soon transform public awareness of the state of the council
Sadly there was not a single tweet from Labour councillors yesterday to highlight the problem. Every one of them gets an allowance of a minimum of £10,000 a year to do the job. As an opposition councillor, they are supposed to hold the administration to account and ensure we get good service. As far as I am concerned this means screamking from the rooftops when the council fails and raising hell to get it to improve.
Barry has not been in the job 24 hours yet. I have been disgusted by the way Labour MP's have failed to support their democratically elected leader Jeremy Corbyn. It seems that not a day goes by without one or another high profile Labour MP sticking the boot in. Yet the public see a different picture. Last night in Oldham, there was a by election and a seven percent swing to Labour. If this happened at the next general election Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister. Given that a high profile, long serving and well liked MP, Michael Meacher, who would presumably have a large personal vote was the previous encumbant, logic suggests that Labour should have seen a net loss of support. It is time for the Labour party to wake up and stop fighting itself. Corbyn is the Leader in the Country and Barry Rawlings is the leader in Barnet. Both have been through a democratic process to elect them. It can only be good for the Labour party and the country if Labour supporters get wholeheartedly behind both of them and start campaigning for a Labour victory. Now is not the time for "if onlys" in relation to our personal views as to who the best leader could be. Now is the time to get working again to try and make a difference. Given the swing in Oldham, it is clear that all we need in Barnet is a convenient byelection in a Tory marginal and Barry Rawlings could be leader of the council. Surely that is a prize worth putting in some work for? I suggest that the numerous bloggers and tweeters in Barnet who would like to see this catastrophic Tory regime replaced put aside their differences and give the new Labour leader all of the help and encouragement he needs to do the job. In return, all I ask is that Mr Rawlings does his job to the best of his abilities and gets his 29 colleagues to do the same. This means working harder.
I am not a Labour party member, but good administration needs strong opposition. Even if you are a died in the wool Tory, it is good if the opposition does its job properly. The Tories have had an easy ride in Barnet for the last ten years. That is why they've made so many costly mistakes and the Borough is in such a mess. It is time for us all to turn a new page. If Labour ups their game, so will the Tories. Presumably that can only be good for us all. So we wish Mr Rawlings success as leader and hope that it is the start of a new and beter chapter in Barnet Politics.