Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Why Manchester City winning the league should give fans everywhere hope

Man City - 7 times Champions 

Back in 2003, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and boldly claimed he would make them the premiere team in the UK. As an oligarch with billions in the bank, the world of English football gasped. Many people claimed that it wasn't right that Chelsea should be allowed to buy the title. As my team, Manchester City were languishing mid table in the Premier League, having had two decades of being a badly run yo yo team, I was actually secretly pleased. To me it meant that maybe we'd be spared the crowing of Manchester United, who were the Kings supreme of the Premiership, richer, more powerful and more arrogant than the rest of the league put together. 

Lets have a look at who won the Premier League in the decade before Abramovich. Manchester United won the title seven times, Arsenal won it twice and Blackburn won it once. The Premier League was set up to make the rich clubs richer. United had a hegemony on the title and apart from the season where Blackburn, bankrolled by Jack Walkers largess, ruined the party, won every year apart from a couple of seasons, where Arsenal snuck in as United rebuilt ageing teams. 

In 2008, Abu Dhabi group bought Manchester City. Like Chelsea, huge investments were made. It took three years for City to win the Premiership, as a bunch of also rans were transformed into serious contenders. Whilst you wouldn't need to be a genius to expect City to do well, winning five of the ten titles in the ten year period, the league has become more competetive. Chelsea, perhaps usurprisingly won two titles, but we saw Liverpool and Leicester also win titles, without any of the largess of a huge benefactor. Even United managed a title in the period, for the swansong of Sir Alex Fergusson.

Back in 2003, before Abramovich, the fans of City, Chelsea and Leicester would have laughed the prospect of a decade where their teams outperformed the once mighty United. But football is about dreams. The club which seems to have suffered most has been Arsenal. They have slipped from being the team that were the natural challengers to Manchester United, to being a very mediocre mid table team. As Leicester a likely to qualify for the Champions league for the second time in five years, having won the title in 2016 and having reached the Champions League Semi Final in 2017, no fair analysis would conclude that the woes of Arsenal are anything but the result of mismanagement. 

This season, Manchester United are likely to have one of their best post Ferguson campaigns. The club are likely to finish as runners up and win the Europa League. They have a hugely expensive squad, despite the owners taking a billion pounds out of the club for dividends and racking up huge debts. Every reasonable person recognises that United have been asset stripped. Would all of the United fans who scream about how unfair it is that the owners of City and Chelsea have invested their billions really believe that a bunch of asset strippers with no care for the club, its fans or traditions, really want to see the approach of the Glazers succeed? 

I personally wouldn't mind seeing an end to the practice of billionaires buying clubs, but ending the ability of foreign owners to asset strip is surely far more important. The owners of Chelsea and City were never more than luke warm about the ESL. They don't need it and just wanted to be left behind. The owners that were up for it, were the debt ridden Spanish clubs and the toppled English clubs, who have failed to face up to their own failure. I'd be more than happy to see compulsory fan representation on the board, it would end the ESL type fiasco's. But it won't happen any time soon. United fans should recognise that if the Oligarchs and the Oil money went it wouldn't make the Glazers disappear, it would just make it easier for them to mine the pockets of the ordinary United fans. Is that really what they want? I don't think so.  

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Barnet Tories lose a councillor as Shimon Ryde quits the Tories!

 This morning I was just checking to see whether Barnet Council had updated its website to add the two new councillors in Edgware and East Barnet and I noticed a very strange thing. Childs Hill Conservative councillor Shimon Ryde is now listed as an Independent Councillor

There are no further details on the Council website, any press website or Twitter. As I don't know Councillor Ryde I cannot comment further. I have heard rumours through the grapevine that certain Conservative Councillors are very upset that former councillor Brian Coleman, who was convicted of assault by beating of Helen Michael in 2014, was the guest of honour of the Tory GLA candidate Roberto Weedon-Sanz at the GLA count at the weekend. Could this be the reason for the departure of Shimon Ryde or is there some other reason. This has clearly happened very recently as he is still listed at the councillor for Childs Hill on the Barnet Tories website.

The Barnet Eye calls on Councillor Ryde, The Barnet Tories  and Barnet Council to explain what is going on. The people of Childs Hill need to know who is representing them and what they stand for. If Councillor Ryde has quit the Tories in disgust, they need to update their website and he needs to come clean with voters.

*** Update 16:30 ** The Barnet Tories Twitter account claim that Councillor Ryde has stepped aside from the group to 'deal with a personal matter' This is the first time in 13 years of writing a blog that we've seen such a statement.

It is not clear whether he will continue as the chair of Strategic Planning in Barnet. We can understand why a councillor may wish to stand aside from being a councillor for personal reasons, but to step aside from the Conservative Group seems very strange. One would assume the Conservative Group would wish to support their colleague through a personal crisis?

Monday, 10 May 2021

Congratulations to the Progressive Alliance of Mutually Assured Self Destruction in the East Barnet By Election

Today I finish my commentary on the recent local elections, known as #LE2021. This won't be the first time I say this and it won't be the last (unless sanity somehow descends on the people of our esteemed borough).

These are the results for East Barnet

East Barnet by-election results May 2021

By Election for a Councillor for the East Barnet Ward of London Borough of Barnet on Thursday 6th May 2021.

GABRIELLE LOUISE BAILEYGreen Party candidate547
SEAN JAMES HOOKERLiberal Democrats415
LINDA LUSINGULabour Party2,257
ALEX MEROLAThe For Britain Movement49
NICOLE ALISON RICHERConservative Party Candidate2,549 (elected)

Turnout: 48.5% 

As you can see, the Conservatives won by around 300 votes. Firstly congratulations to Nicole Richer, who has worked very hard for the local Tories over the last few years and if anyone deserves a seat, I'd say she does. She has done the political rounds and is one of the few local Tories who bothers to tweet regulalrly, election or no election. I am sure she will be a good councillor, as she is a worker. I don't agree with her politics, but it is clear she is not a slacker, so she has my respect. 

As to the nearest challenger, Linda Lusingu. I don't know Linda. There are a couple of videos on the Barnet Labour Twitter feed introducing her.  You can see her Twitter account -  here   (I have edited this as I mistakenly believed that she did not have a Twitter account. Thanks to Julia Hines for the correction - Apologies to Linda). 

I've long been critical of the Barnet Labour Party and their campaigning techniques. It is all about getting teams of activists to deliver tons of leaflets, 99% of which go straight in people's bins. As to door knocking, this is targetted simply on 'getting out the core vote'. The Labour Party has run the same strategy for the last five council elections, losing each one. The only time that Labour has had major success was between 2012 and 2014, when they unseated Brian Coleman as GLA representative, replacing him with Andrew Dismore and taking a few seats in 2014 council elections. There was a big difference then. It was nothing to do with the official Labour machine either.

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services recruited a committed team of activists to defend public services. Brian Coleman had become extremely unpopular as the champion of  cashless parking, which had resulted in a huge downturn in trade for local High Streets. Furthermore, Tory Councillor Robert Rams had launched a Library closure campaign. I started the Save Barnet Libraries campaign in response in 2010. All of Barnets bloggers threw their weighjt behind this and we produced films, staged marches and recruited allies, many of whom were traditional Tories, behind the Anyone But Coleman campaign (ABC). Colemans 20,000 seat majority was overturned, which was extraordinary, given that Boris won the Mayoralty. Labours Andrew Dismore ended up with a 20,000 seat majority of his own. 

2012 was the high point of this and it was a community lead campaign. With such a powerful surge of goodwill for Labour in Barnet, it looked certain that Labour would take the council in 2014. What happened next was quite appalling. Labour refused to engage with the Barnet Alliance. When the Barnet Bloggers offered to work with Labour, they were told they could help out with leaflet deliveries. The Alliance was cross party, but Labour refused to form any sort of unofficial agreement with the Lib Dems, targetting Childs Hill, which had three Lib Dem Councillors. Had they given the Lib Dems a free run in 2014, Barnet Council would have fallen to a Labour / Lib Dem coalition. In the circumstances, One Lib Dem, Jack Cohen and Two Tories were returned and the Tories kept the council by one seat.

By 2018, the Barnet Alliance had ceased to be a serious campaigning organisation and the Tories cleaned up. Labour got hammered locally in all three Parliamentary seats in 2019. A simple pact between the Lib Dems and Labour in Finchley and Chipping where the parties did not actively campaign to give the other a chance would have delivered Finchley for the Lib Dems and Chipping for Labour. 

But the sad truth is that Barnet Labour's old guard would rather see the Tories control Barnet forever than reach an accomodation with the Lib Dems to deliver a progressive alliance. It is 100% clear that if the Greens and the Lib Dems stepped aside in East Barnet, then a progressive candidate would have won. If only half of the 962 votes that these parties polled had voted Labour and the rest stayed at home, Linda Lusingu would have won.

To kick the Tories out in Barnet in 2022 would be the easiest thing in the world for progressive parties. If  in all Tory held wards, Labour stood two candidates instead of three and the Lib Dems and Greens had the pick of the third, divvying them up, then the Tories would lose their majority. This would be sensible, grown up politics. A progressive council could then start to deliver progressive policies for the whole of Barnet, not just property developers and consultancy companies. I strongly believe that if voters believed the Lib Dems and the Greens had a real chance of success, they would vote accordingly. The electorate would see sensible, grown up people, putting tribal allegiance aside to deliver change for the better. It would also give a platform for such politics in the next general election. Without some accomodation, the Tories will hang on to all three seats. I am all for tribalism in football, but politics should be a place for rational discussion to deliver change for the better. 

If anyone in Barnet wants an inspiration to see what you need to do in Barnet to be successful, have a look at Nicole Richer. You may not like it, but she has worked hard and done what she had to do to get elected. Sad though it is, you have to do more than just say your prayers that the Good Lord will smile on you, if you want to win an election.

The bottom line is that the definition of stupidity is to do the same thing time after time and expect a different result to happen. This will never be the case in Barnet politics until people swallow their pride and start working together like grown ups. The only people who benefit from the way Labour run campaigns are the companies that produce leaflets. What many in Labour do not seem to understand or respect is the fact that people who vote Lib Dem or Green want the chance to cast their vote. They will lend it to Labour, if they can see that this will be reciprocated in other wards, but Labour seems to arrogantly think that Lib Dems and Greens should stand aside everywhere. The real worlds doesn't work like that. This was recognised in Barnet between 1994 and 2002 when there was a Labour/Lib Dem coalition. Sadly all of the sensible grown ups left when the Tories won in 2002. It is high time they came back.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet 9th May 2021

 As you might imagine, it's been rather busy for me over the last few weeks. I didn't produce this feature last week due to the boycott of social media against online abuse. It was quite handy as it let me focus on other things. But we are back and there are some rather nice tweets.

1. Lets start by re-affirming our faith in humanity

2. What can I say? This is excellent!

3. Yep, this made me smile

4. Just occasionally I find something like this. Excellent

5. A reminder

6. Nice to see our favourite Vicar (well one of them!) with his name up in lights (well sort of)

7. Community Focus is one of our fave local charities

8. Nice bit of local history

9. You may be interested in this

10. We started in Golders Green, so we'll finish in Golders Green. I rather like this tweet!

That's all folks

Congratulations to the London Liberal Democrats on a great GLA Campaign

 In my blog yesterday I discussed my result in the Edgware by election for Barnet Council. I stated " The Lib Dems locally also had other priorities, as they had to campaign for the GLA and Mayor in areas with a more solid support base."  As part of a team (The Barnet Lib Dems), I bought into our strategy for the Mayoral and GLA elections. At the start of the campaign, we agreed our priorities. Much as we'd love to sweep the board, in the real world, you need to set realistic targets. Sadly the results in unwinnable council by elections were not deemed a high priority. In Edgware, where the Lib Dems had scored less than 300 votes in the 2018 council elections, it was felt that there wasn't a strong case for deploying campaign resources. A 20% increase in votes would bring in 40 more people. In other wards, it could be ten or twenty times as many for the same effort. 

What was the absolute no 1 priority was securing a second Lib Dem member in the London Assembly. This was a realistic target. It would double the representation and mean that Caroline Pidgeon, who has done a marvellous job would have someone to share the load with. Assembly members are full time paid politicians with office resources. This gives a party the opportunity to do far more work for the people of London and an opportunity to demonstrate what voting for a party can achieve. In a campaign, many people have to work together. Perhaps the person with the most thankless task of all was Marisha Ray, the candidate for Barnet and Camden. Marisha's job was to make the best case for the Lib Dems across the area, with little chance of actually being elected. Her efforts were vital to the success of the list campaign.

For my part, as you know I am active on social media and write a blog, which has a large following across Barnet and the rest of London. Ever since the Grenfell Tower, I've been campaigning for justice for the victims of the fire and the resulting cladding scandal. I identified this as my no 1 priority for my blog/tweeting during the campaign. The London Lib Dems lead by Caroline Pidgeon and the Lib Dems in the Lords under Baroness Pinnock have been leading the fight for justice for the victims of the scandal. For me this is an issue that should transcend politics, but sadly it seems that only the Lib Dems have made it a priority. As thousands of people are at risk and affected in London, I was heartened to see the recognition that our efforts got. Whilst I recognised that in Edgware, there were (sadly) few votes in raising this matter, across Barnet and Camden and the wider London vote, there was a real enthusiasm for the Lib Dems support of the campaign. 

So how did we do. As you can see from the figures there was a huge improvement between the 2016 result and the 2021 results

This great result shows that Barnet and Camden outperformed the London average and was a key part of the Lib Dems success. The net result of this is that the Lib Dems now have elected two GLA members for the first time since 2012 and Hina Bokhari is one of the first female Muslims on the assembly. It is a matter of pride that I played a small part in her success

The assembly should be able to represent all Londoners and reflect the people of the city. I am sure Hina will be an excellent addition to the assembly. Many people ask "Why do we need a third party such as the Lib Dems?" The answer is simple. Whilst Labour and the Tories are huge machines, focussed on block votes and entrenched support bases, the Lib Dems can only get their priorities achieved through sensible work with other parties. There is no place for tribalism in Lib Dem politics. We don't have large vested interests such as big business, rich donors or Union block votes to keep onside. We are party run by our membership. 

Before I finish, I have two key things to say. 

Firstly I want to say a few words about The Green Party. They deserve congratulations for a great campaign and a good result. Lib Dem and Green voters share many ideas and many concerns. I have long believed that The Lib Dems and Greens should work together in a progressive alliance. I cast my first preference for Mayor for Lib Dem Luisa Porritt and my second preference for Sian Berry. I wanted to send a signal that the parties need to collaborate more. In the Borough of Barnet I will be campaigning for a 'non aggression pact' between the Lib Dems and Greens. I would like to see an agreement that for Council elections, the two parties agree to stand two and one candidates rather than cannibalise each others vote and step aside in key priority wards. Both Parties really need to develop a strategy that delivers councillors, not posturing and valliant defeats.

The second thing I want to say is a personal congratulations to Labours Anne Clarke in Barnet and Camden. I consider Anne to be a friend and she has worked extremely hard for success. In my humble opinion, Anne is the best of the bunch when it comes to local Labour politicians. I have seen her amazing work with the community in Childs Hill and with the Cricklewood community group. I am sure she will do well. 

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Many thanks to everyone who supported me in the Edgware By Election

 The result of the Edgware By Election has just been announced. I was not surprised to learn that I had come last out of the four candidates. The results were pretty much in line with the 2018 Council election and although I had hoped to at least improve on this, in the circumstances, this wasn't really feasable. I would like to wish the victor Nick Mearing Smith the very best of luck in his role representing the people of Edgware. It is a big job and I hope he steps up to the plate.

For some perspective, here are the 2018 and 2021 results

Edgware 2021

NICK MEARING-SMITHConservative Party candidate3,427 (elected)
SAM MURRAYGreen Party candidate343

Turnout: 44.2%

Edgware 2018

SurnameFirst NameDescriptionVotes
BarberStephen DavidLiberal Democrat273
BilbowAndrea LesleyLabour Party1311
Dhanani-SumariaKunalGreen Party407
Ferrero TijeraJose-AngelLiberal Democrat252
FreedmanLinda MargotThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)3370
GordonBrian ColinThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)3567
KhnifessAmirLabour Party1077
ManaloMariaLiberal Democrat268
ScammellJordan CaileighLabour Party1019
WardleSarah JaneThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected) 3289

Firstly there are a few things to note. The Nick Mearing Smith vote was a hundred or so fewer votes than Brian Gordon, the leading Tory in 2018 received. The Labour candidate polled 150 higher. The Green Candidate polled around 50 less and I got 19 less than the leading Lib Dem last time. 

So why did I stand? When Brian Gordon sadly passed away, I was keen to stand for the Lib Dems. This was not because I expected to win the seat. When the leading party has polled over fifteen times more than you, that would require a miracle. I did however believe that it presented a wonderful opportunity to engage with people in Edgware, discuss local issues and engage them with the local concerns of neglect. Brian died last September. My expectation was that  a By Election would be called fairly quickly and that as the Pandemic seemed to be in full retreat, there would be the opportunity to mount a proper local campaign, concentration exclusively in Edgware. I had expectations that the Lib Dems could use the campaign as an excellent opportunity to build a proper network of supporters in Edgware and recruit a few new activists. I drew up a plan of action. But the by election was not called and the country descended into a lethal second and third wave. When it was announced that the by election would be held on the same day as the Mayoral elections, I knew any realisitic prospect of a good result had disappeared. I'd learned to my cost in 2010 that no one is interested in discussing local elections when there is a more important strategic election being held. 

On my recent visits to Edgware, when I introduced myself as a Lib Dem, I was met with a response "who do you think is better, Sadiq Khan or Sean Bailey?". Labour voters were reasonably hostile as they were worried that a good Lib Dem show might undermine Khan and the GLA campaign for Anne Clarke. Talking to local Conservatives, it is clear that most voted by post. By the time I was able to speak to them, they had already voted. Quite a few said that they'd have voted for me if they spoke to me before they'd cast their vote. They liked what I had to say, but the vote had been cast. I knew this would happen as the campaigning restrictions early in the campaign meant there was just not time to get a plan and get around enough houses. The Lib Dems locally also had other priorities, as they had to campaign for the GLA and Mayor in areas with a more solid support base.

Having said all of that, I am proud and pleased with what I achieved. One of the benefits of being a candidate is that it gives you a platform to raise issues. I had made a promise to friends that I would use that to the best of my ability to raise the profile of the causes I was highlighting. This I did. Talking to several staunch Conservatives, it became clear that the local Conservatives have made promises to sort out the mess that is the Railway Hotel. If nothing has happened by the time the Council elections next come around, they might find that they have some rather unhappy voters. 

I was also able to raise the scandal of the cladding campaign. This is something I've been following since the Grenfell fire. I am pleased to say that the Labour GLA Candidate Anne Clarke has realised that this is an important issue and has got involved and I will continue to talk about this in the coming weeks and months. 

Quite a few people have asked me "what is the point standing when there is little chance of winning?". My response is that if you don't buy a ticket, you have no chance at all. You have to raise the matters that are important to you.  An election where you cannot campaign at all at the start, where you can't go for a cup of tea or a beer after canvassing sessions, where you have to wear a mask and stand 2 metres from someone you are trying to talk to, is far from ideal. There are many things that are frustrating, but it is privelige to be given the opportunity and a delight to get out and meet people. I love talking to people, hearing their viewpoint. If all I wanted to do was get elected, I'd join Labour or the Tories, work hard and get offered a safe seat. Then I'd get elected, get a £10,000 a year allowance and end up putting my hand up to support things I didn't agree with or believe in. That isn't what I am all about. I'd much rather belong to a party aligned with my views, work my butt off and be myself. I firmly believe that sooner or later we will see a major realignment of UK politics. I do not believe that The Conservatives or Labour are fit for purpose, or that our electoral system delivers grown up government. I am not going to give up the fight. Are you?

Thursday, 6 May 2021

I'm a bit busy today, so here's a few nice tweets featuring pictures of how we like to think of Edgware

 I'm a bit busy today, so no time to write a blog. But I thought a few of you might enjoy these pictures of Edgware how we like to recall it. Thanks to my wonderful Tweeting friends. 


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Today is your chance to reshape London (and Edgware)!

Todayif you live in London, you have three votes (four if you live in Edgware or East Barnet). The one everyone seems to be aware of is the vote for the Mayor of London.  The odds on favourite is Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate. It would be a huge shock if Khan was to lose. Given that I can't find anyone apart from Labour activists who are happy with him, I find this a bit odd on the face of it, but then none of them seem to have a clue who Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate is. In the history of the Mayor of London, there has never been a candidate with a lower profile for the Conservatives. I find it troubling that race seems to be playing a factor here. Despite all of the nasty things Mayor Khan has said about Bailey, I suspect that he's a more decent, honest, hard working person than the previous Conservative Mayor, a certain Mr Boris Johnson. I have a suspicion that he's spent too long with other Conservative politicans and activists and not long enough with ordinary people and so has become a candidate that doesn't really know who he is or what he wants. 

Personally, I would be far happier if both lost. Of course, I would say that. I am Lib Dem. I can put my hand on my heart and say that I am not giving either a first or second preference. When Sadiq Khan passed the NIMR development in Mill Hill, which has caused irrepairable damage to the green belt in Mill Hill, and planted a huge eyesore on the Green Belt, I said I would never vote for Mr Khan. I did in 2016. At the time I was not a member of any party. I have never felt so let down by any candidate. I realised that Mayor Khan is not in the least bit interested in anything or anyone other than has core support base. The Borough of Barnet is his sworn enemy, as the local Conservatives passed a motion in Council labelling him an enemy of the people. Whilst I understand Khan's antipathy for the Barnet Tories, taking it out on everyone in the Borough by passing deeply unpopular and massive developments is completely out of order.

I will be giving my first preference to the excellent Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt and my second preference to the Green candidate, Sian Berry who is also excellent. I believe that it is vital that both make as strong a showing as possible. I urge you to do the same. 

The second important vote is the GLA list. Again I urge you to vote for the Lib Dems here. The GLA is the authority that oversees the Mayor and the Lib Dem contingent, especially Caroline Pidgeon has been very effective at holding Khan to account. Caroline has been the most effective opponent of Khan in my opinion and has also been a champion of those affected by the cladding scandal. Here is her latest tweet. We need as strong an independent voice as possible. A vote for Sadiq Khan on the list is simply a vote for rubber stamping everything Sadiq Khan says. I don't believe that this will be good for London.

The list are not associated with constituencies, so they have no one to answer to apart from the party. 
The third vote is for the Barnet and Camden GLA representative. This was held by former Hendon MP Andrew Dismore. Labour have put Anne Clark up against the Tories Robert Weedon-Sanz. The Lib Dems have put Marisha Ray up against these two. I urge you to check out what Marisha has to say before you cast your vote. Marisha has been working her socks off to make the case for the Lib Dems in Barnet and Camden. 

And finally.....

In Edgware ward, it is a straight race between me and the Tory Nick Mearing-Smith. If you want to know my views on just about any subject, just search this blog. There are over eight and a half million words, writen about our locality since October 2008. If you want to know what Mr Mearing-Smith has to say, you can check out his Twitter account here. It is very interesting. 

Campaigning in a pandemic is not easy. I am disappointed at the limited time and opportunity I've had to do this effectively. When I've spoken to people in Edgware, they have got what I have to say. I have spoken to several Conservative supporters who have been disappointed at the way their councillors are invisible. Will this tranfer into votes? I genuinely don't know, but a mantra I've heard time and time again is that "We will certainly consider seriously voting for you". I've been there before in local elections and I know many people change their mind at the ballot box. What I can guarantee is that if I win, and I seriously believe I have a chance, is that Edgware will have the hardest working Councillor in Barnet. How can I say this? Well read this blog. Look at my business. Whatever you may think of me, you can't say I don't work hard. No one else has written 8.5 million words about our locality ever. I will sort problems out because I do not give up. I keep going, I talk to people and I find out how to get things done. You know that if you elect Mr Mearing Smith, you will not see him again until the next election. If you elect me, you will see an update every week on this blog saying what I am doing and I will meet you before the next election campaign starts. 

Here's a little film I made  in Edgwarebury park. Generally I hate political videos, but this has some great footage of the park, an excellent theme tune recorded by my band and some great shots filmed by a couple of wonderful young people who's Dad will be voting Conservative, but who was most happy to let them help me. They told me that they will deffo be voting Lib Dem when they are old enough (their Dad said his mum would disinherit him if he didn't vote Tory but he agreed with me!). I have a confession to make, their Dad is a customer of the studio and a very nice chap. I just hope I get the chance to represent his Mum, as I reckon I'd do a better job than the bloke she's going to vote for, but hey ho, you just can't win them all. 

The bottom line is that you have a chance to make London and Edgware a much better place today when you vote. It is now over to you. I have the courage of my convictions. Do you?



Roger Tichborne is the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Edgware Ward in the May 6th By Election. Roger has run Mill Hill Music Complex sudios since 1979. He attended Orange Hill School and as a teenager lived in Warwick Avenue, in Broadfields.

This article was published and promoted by Roger Tichborne on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, 29 Millway, London, NW7 3QR

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Focus on the Council election for Edgware ward on Saturday

By Roger Tichborne,

On Thursday, the residents of Edgware ward will have the opportunity to select a new councillor, following that sad death of former Councillor Brian Gordon. If you were unaware of the by election, you can find out all about the candidates in an article on the Barnet Times website

I am the candidate for the Liberal Democrat party. Let me start by saying a few words about my main opponent, the Conservative Candidate Nick Mearing-Smith. I don't know Mr Mearing-Smith and had never heard about him before he was announced as a candidate. You can read his press release here, if you are interested to find out more.  I would strongly recommend that you watch his campaign video, on the Conservatives Facebook Page. Mr Mearing-Smith is very honest and admits that Edgware has gone down hill over the last few years. Apparently he's been told this by many people he's spoken to. What Mr Mearing-Smith failed to mention was that Edgware has been a staunch Conservative ward for as long as anyone can remember and Barnet Council has been run by The Conservatives for 19 years, since they took the Council from a Lib Dem/Labour coalition in 2002. 

Many people in Politics don't want you to read their opponents material. Some even pull leaflets out of letterboxes and throw them away. I want everyone to see what they are saying, because I believe Mr Mearing-Smith provides the best possible reason to vote for me and the Liberal Democrats in the Edgware By-Election. Mr Mearing-Smith states that his solution to the problems of Edgware is to do a traffic speed survey on Edgwarebury Lane and to try and get his own Conservative run council to properly clean the streets of Edgware. Any rational person would conclude that if a Conservative Council and three Conservative ward councillors have failed to do this since 2002, then surely it is time for a change? 

So, you may wonder what my priorities are? What will I work to achieve

Here are my priorities

If elected, I will work tirelessly to get the Railway Hotel, which is now sadly derelect and has become a dangerous eyesore restored to its former glory. The Conservative run council should issue enforcement action agains the current owners. If this does not result in the pub being properly restored, then the council should start proceedings for a compulsory purchase order. When this has been done, a community trust should be formed to run the pub. As a former hotel, there is also space for low cost flats for local key workers. A lot of good could be done with the space, I would like to see it be used as a community space during the day. 

I will campaign tirelessly for justice for victims of the cladding scandal. We all know all about the terrible Grenfell fire. What is not so well known in Edgware is that Premiere House is clad in the same material and is a death trap and an accident waiting to happen. Boris Johnson has used a three line whip to prevent Conservative MP's from following their consciences and getting justice for the victims of this scandal. There was a fire in Edgware recently right next to Premier House, fortunetly this didn't catch fire. Will we be so lucky next time.

Barnet has a social housing crisis. When I discussed this with a local Conservative supporter, they said "Good luck with that, there are no votes in social housing in Edgware" with a broad smirk. I believe he is wrong. Many people in Edgware are strugging. Many are being forced out. Where do we expect our trainee teachers, NHS workers and other key workers to live. Without these, we have no community. It is all very well putting up ever more luxury flats, which are marketed to people with no association with Edgware, but where is the affordable housing for our young people, who are just starting out on their journey. Barnet council has a huge waiting list for council housing and no plans to fix this. I believe that the citizens of Edgware want a fair and just community, where no one is forced out. That is why I believe that proper social housing is needed. 

I also want to see the Green Belt preserved and maintained. The Barnet Council Conservatives have a proposal to put solar panels on many of our parks. To me this would be criminal. There are many council buildings, schools, libraries, offices etc that they could use to mount these panels on. Why they want to destroy green spaces is beyond me. 

Barnet Council are working on a local plan for Edgware. This seems to be written purely to make a lot of money for large developers. I will work tirelessly to see that the needs of the current residents of Edgware are put at the heart of this plan. I was appalled that the consultation was done during the pandemic, when no one could attend consultation sessions. I would seek to have the consultation re-run with proper engagement. The people of Edgware are full of talents, I'd like to see this brought into local planning.

Another major issue affecting people in Edgware is the need for a step change in accessibility for local transport. The introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourghoods has been an unmitigated disaster across London. Such measures only work when local communities are onside. Millions has been spent, only for schemes to be abandoned. Low Traffic neighbourhoods only work if people can still go about their business. Sending cars on wild goose chases burns more fuel and generates more pollution. We should be looking at technology to make such schemes work. What no one is talking about is the way that developments such as Uber and Deliveroo, as well as online supermarket shopping have added huge numbers of car journeys. I'd like to see these services forced to use non polluting vehicles. Many local fodd deliveries could easily be done using bicycles and electric scooters. This would remove cars from the road and reduce pollution. 

If these ideas appeal to you, then please put your  'X' next to my name. If what you want is more of the same, a decline that even the Conservative candidate admits is endemic, then by all means vote for him. 

Here's a little video I made last year with local historian Mark Amies, long before there was a hint of a By Election. I made this with Mark because I care. I've lived locally all my life. I went to Orange Hill School and I was born in Edgware General Hospital. I've run a business locally for 42 years and I plan to see my days out locally. That is why I want the area to be as good as it possibly can be. 


Roger Tichborne is the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Edgware Ward in the May 6th By Election. Roger has run Mill Hill Music Complex sudios since 1979. He attended Orange Hill School and as a teenager lived in Warwick Avenue, in Broadfields.

This article was published and promoted by Roger Tichborne on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, 29 Millway, London, NW7 3QR

Monday, 3 May 2021

Manchester United fans should be careful what they wish for

I have a confession to make. Yesterday morning I was gutted. I am a Manchester City fan and I had a feeling in my bones that Liverpool would do City a favour, beat Manchester United and deliver City their seventh Championship. Under normal circumstances, I would have been glued to the TV but, rather annoyingly, it was my wife's sisters birthday and I was under a three line whip to spend the afternoon at Arrabica in Borough Market, having lunch with her rather than watching a key match. I dearly love my sister in law, but her birthday is at an awful time for us football fans. Every year it seems I'm deprived of watching key games as we make the trip out. This year was no exception. At around 4.45pm, I started to nervously sneak a look at my phone. This is highly frowned upon by my wife and her family, as it seems they expect 100% attention during such events. I was shocked to learn that the game hadn't started. If I am being honest, I was quite pleased. I thought there was a chance I might catch the second half. As we all now know, it wasn't to be.

When I finally got home and saw the footage, I was quite shocked. When I heard there was a protest, I imagined a sit in on the pitch. What the footage showed was something altogether less tasteful. Injured police. Drunks dancing and taking selfies in the stadium and on the pitch. I 100% understand the feeling of Man Utd fans against the Glazers. They have no real allegiance to United. They have never really bought into what fans perceive as "The United Way". They clearly bought the club as the a cash cow, with the fans being milked. Just to make the whole thing even more galling, their 'noisy neighbours' have owners cut from a different cloth, who pump money in and  watch the Trophies line up. Whilst United fans may have put up with running second fiddle for a while to such a monster, given the huge cash bucket, their arch enemies Liverpool, also owned by Americans have been relatively successful, having emerged as the main threat to City in recent years. Even Leicester have won the Premiership since United last had the pot in the cupboard. 

Perhaps it is ironic that United are having one of their better post Fergie seasons. They are likely to finish as runners up and may win the Europa League. Although this is not really what United fans expect, it is a decent season. However what has really inflamed the fans is the seeming leading role of the Glazers and United in the European Super League proposal. There is a suspicion that this no relegation competition would mean the Glazers could invest even less money in the team and rely on a guaranteed income for 23 years. United fans know full well that the owners of City and Chelsea would be 100% committed to winning it, had it happened, they know that there are different dynamics at their own club. Of course Man Utd will always want to win Trophies, but the United fans believe that the Glazers won't pay the hard cash to make it happen, when they make just as much money with a relatively mediocre performance. Over the last 50 years, one of the unique selling points of being a United fan was the ability to gloat about the relative failure of City and Liverpool. That has all but gone. Older United fans remember different times, but anyone over 45 will really have only known success.

The Glazers have never really been accepted by the United fans. Whilst Fergie was in charge, the trophies kept rolling in and a lid could just about be kept on the ill feeling. The near decade of decline and the ESL simply proved too much.

As I watched the footage, I was genuinely disturbed. I think that the scenes of fans fighting with the police, smashing cameras, swigging beer and posing for selfies has done the genuine fans no good at all. I think everyone who cares about football would sympathise with the protestors, but when they see those scene's, hear of police being slashed with bottles and hear that the teams pre match hotel was also the target of protests, it seems that it is getting out of hand and isn't aimed at the Glazers.

I would urge all Manchester United fans to think long and hard about what they really want. I've spoken to a couple recently who said that the club is a great business, lumbered with debts by greedy owners. The problem is that the Glazers will not write of a near half billion pounds of debt. If they are to withdraw they will want top dollar. A fans consortium is never going to raise the cash to buy them out. 

The protests will scare off many potential buyers. There are very few organisations that could afford Man Utd. If the multiple mega sponsors get spooked by the protests and the Glazers can't sell it, then the United fans could find themselves in a very difficult position. It isn't clear to me that a mega rich Sheik or another Abramovich type character will necessarily see Utd as a great proposition. You'd have to give half a billion to the Glazers to clear the debt, before you even start to meet their valuation. You aren't going to have a bunch of fans who will love you. The fans of City and Chelsea recognise that their owners have elevated the teams beyond their wildest dreams. If United won the everything every year, their fans would simply think they were back where they should be. There would be little love or thanks. If results didn't meet expectations, it may very quickly turn toxic. 

So who would be prepared to take United on? My bet would be on a very Glazer like organisation. One which would be prepared to tough out the protests, one who would be prepared to see through an ESL style proposal. One who would say to the United fans "If you don't like us, we'll play somewhere that the fans do like us". To English football fans, the concept of 'franchises' is abhorrent. To American owners, it is a way of life. There are plenty of vulture type organisations, more than happy to take on a project like United, seeing its huge potential. Many would see it as a short term opportunity. Buy it cheap, come in as saviours, sell it on ASAP when the smell of the Glazers regime has faded. All the time, United will be falling behind their rivals both in the Premiership and abroad. 

At the moments, United are still an extremely valuable brand in the eyes of the marketing men. That's why they generate so much cash from sponsors. That is based on being good, wholesome family entertainment. I can't see any way that yesterdays events haven't damaged that. Every Utd sponsor knows that across the globe, people turned on the telly to see an exciting game of football, but instead saw fat blokes fighting with the police, swigging lager and taking selfies. For me, it reminded me of the United fans smashing up the ground of Norwich City in 1977. Whilst the motivation was different and probably at its roots quite worthy, the images can only damage United. The reason United can attract the likes of Bruno Fernandez and Paul Pogba is the hundreds of millions they raise from their sponsors. Scare them off and things might start to be very different. Much as the Glazers may be hated, they've kept the cash rolling in. If it was to stop, the mercenaries would soon be off to fight elsewhere. 

Football is at a crossroads, I'd say that this would be a very bad time for any club to go into financial decline. The ESL fiasco has alienated many neutral fans from the big six. None would be too upset to see all of the big six given points deductions or even relegations. If the dirty half dozen found themselves in the Championship next year, only three could come back straight away. Would your money be on UTD, I'm not sure mine would. The likes of Fernandez and Pogba would be out of town before you could blink. 

The sad truth for United is that with the ESL, the Glazers let a genie out of the bottle. Sadly for them, the Genie wasn't interested in granting them their three wishes. I am not sure what Utd fans would realistically see as a good outcome from here. Who do they want to replace the owners? What have the protests done for the brand, which pays the wages? If I was them, I'd be very careful what they wish for. Having wanted the Glazers out for the best part of two decades, they might find that frying pan was more comfortable than the fire will be. In truth, I despair for football right now. It took a long time to recover from the hooliganism of the 70's and 80's. I suspect that a hell of a lot of Premier league executives had a very poor nights sleep last night. This time last year, I was wondering if Covid would kill off football. Now it seems something far worse might do the trick. Bare greed. The Glazers have created a monster. It might just eat them and take the club with them. I can't see an outcome from all of this that the Utd fans will find acceptable. Whilst I can enjoy the discomfort of Utd fans, the bigger picture is that this will be very bad for English football all around. I'm old enough to recall when English clubs were banned completely. Given that both European tournaments might end up being contested by English clubs, nothing would surprise me less than UEFA finding a pretext to ban us again