If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll probably be aware of my "view of the world". My expectations are that probably 50% of the people who read this blog tend to be sympathetic to my views and 50% don't, but think there is enough interesting stuff here to make it worth the effort of putting up with my opinionated rants. When I first started writing the blog, it amazed me that more people seemed to say "I enjoy your blog, but I don't agree with your views" than "yup spot on mate". Last year saw a big dip in the number of people reading the blog around the time of the Euro referendum. I assumed that my pro remain views had alienated many. Over the Xmas period I bumped into quite a few people who had read the blog for years and I was quite surprised by what they said. Most said that they read the blog less frequently during the Euro elections, but this was more to do with a general loss of interest in politics. As the end of the year approached the number of people reading the blog picked up. Whilst Xmas is traditionally a time people avoided the blog, this year readership actually went up.
It seems that the normal rules are being turned on their head in many ways. I had an interesting chat with one regular blog reader at the Three Hammers over the Xmas break. He asked me a question that I had no answer for. He said "How come is it that on SKY News they show 10 seconds of a politician making a policy announcement and then have 20 minutes of talking heads discussing what the clip meant". He said he'd rather see the whole announcement, to get the proper context of the statement and have 10 seconds of the pundits. I used to regularly attend council meetings and video the proceedings. I'd publish them on this blog. I more or less gave up doing this when it became clear that the so called debates are staged. The real business is done in the back rooms and corridors and the meetings are simply for posturing.
The sad truth is that there is no longer any such thing as local democracy in the London Borough of Barnet in any meaningful way. The mass outsourcing, which has been going on since 1998 has meant that the council chamber is really nothing more than a talking shop, discussing repositioning the deck chairs on the titanic. It would be easy to simply say "This is all the work of the evil Tories". This would be dishonest. The whole sorry business started under the Labour led administration in the late 1990's. Barnet Homes was a creation of this regime as was the Catalyst care homes outsourcing. Even at the height of the rush for outsourcing under the Freer/Hillan regime, Labour, lead by Alison Moore never committed to reversing outsourcing, or even slowing the pace.
What is needed in Barnet is a popular revolution lead by the grassroots. I am not talking about a bunch of "swivel eyed activists" setting up Bolshevieks. This will never happen in leafy Barnet. What I am talking about is a far more simple and sensible proposition. I simply want local people to do a very revloutionary thing and care about what their council does. I want them to say to councillors who hold agendas that are based on bonkers ideology "Hold on. This is not good for our neighbourhood". I want local people to attend public meetings in large numbers, ask questions and make sure councillors know that if they are not doing the right thing, they will get kicked out. I want Labour supporters to vote Conservative if their Labour Councillors are letting them down. I want Conservative supporters to vote Labour if they think their Conservative Councillor is letting them down. In Barnet we have 63 councillors. 62 are Labour or Conservative. One (Jack Cohen) is a Lib Dem. I personally believe that if neither Tories or Labour had a majority, the Council would work for the people of the Borough rather than for vested Party interests. I'd like to see more Lib Dems and a few Green Councillors and it would be excellent if they held the balance of power.
My own personal view is that the Greens in Barnet have largely failed to put up credible and electable candidates in recent years. It is not that the candidates haven't been well meaning or decent people. It is simply that they have been detached from the reality of the Barnet electorate. With the Sweets Way and West Hendon housing estate fiasco's, I am bemused by the failure of the Greens to put up a credible housing policy. Barnet has the worst record on investment in public transport of any London Borough. The Greens have quite simply failed to even put this on the agenda. We have the scandalouse lack of disabled accessable stations in the Borough. What have the Greens said? We have sickening and dangerous pollution hotspots, but there have been no green party mailshots. The Green Belt is under attack like never before. Where are the greens campaigning to save it? All of these are issues we expect the Greens to take the lead on.
As I see it it, we have a disconnected Tory Party, a dysfunctional Labour party and a Green Party which has disappeared into a haze of navel gazing. We need a revolution in our local politics. Barnet voted strongly for remain, but all three Tory MP's are now supporting Leave. The Borough of Barnet needs representatives that reflect the concerns of the local people, not peopel who want to crawl up the backsides of the mates in Parliament from the shires. Revolutions happen in politics when politicians are out of step with the voters and have no respect for those that pay their wages. I don't want a revolution where people are "put up against a wall and shot", just where politicians who think they have a God given right to a load of dosh courtesy of your taxes, whilst disregarding your concerns, views and family economics. I want see a council chamber that is representative of the people who elected it. At the moment it is anything but. We need a new years revolution. Not one of violence, harsh deeds and harsh words. We need one where we simply get people who want to serve the electors with public spirit and a sense of civic duty. Over the coming weeks, I'll giving my views on how this can be achieved. Watch this space.