Tuesday 30 April 2013

Guest Blog - Fighting the misinformation machine at Barnet Council - By John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

When are the people of Barnet going to come out fighting. When are we going to challenge the Richard Cornelius misinformation machine,  in apparent cahoots with sections of the local press? Cornelius claimed the Maria Nash Judicial Review was a complete victory for him and his policies, after the verdict where the judge stated that the Council had won on a technicality and had the case been brought in time the Council would have lost.

Forget the BS and the niceties , for Cornelius to claim Victory is a complete dissemination of the truth. Cornelius and co were found wanting yet again, it was proven that the claims of Maria Nash that Barnet council had not consulted were upheld by Judge Underhill. He made it crystal clear that had he not been constrained by the letter of the law with regards to the technicality of the timing issue, he would have found in favour of Maria Nash.

Cornelius and co were found to be wanting in the truth department in the high court when they claimed they had consulted. You would have thought it might encourage Cornelius to choose his words carefully but none of it. He chooses to claim victory when he and his cronies were slammed for their refusal to consult and for their determination not to consult, which is exactly the claim of Maria Nash and justifies her decision to seek judicial review and but for a timing technicality Cornelius would have lost .

But you know faint heart never did  the other thing and the fact is Maria Nash has the chance to appeal the ruling. It is a nonsense that Cornelius and co have been indirectly found guilty of breaking the law by not consulting when the law says they have to consult, allowing the One Barnet programme to  forge ahead with  the knowledge that the council forcing it through has done so  by apparently illegal means.

Surely even a pathetic unbalanced one sided justice system such as British justice that is a complete joke as we know, has some hidden challenge to Cornelius and co by way of appeal, surely the people of Barnet cannot be forced into this ONE Barnet One Billion Pound Gamble in the knowledge it has been achieved by questionable or illegal means without having some recourse to law.

I am hoping Maria Nash is granted the right to appeal to put a stop to the misinformation that Cornelius pumps out on a weekly basis. For this sad man to claim victory, when so many job losses that will result as a consequence of One Barnet, that will decimate several hundred Barnet families and many businesses is a victory, says all you need to know about Cornelius and his crew.

Let us get behind the Maria Nash appeal and expose the COMPLETE  VICTORY claims of Cornelius for what they are,  complete utter fabrication and untruth.

Monday 29 April 2013

One Barnet Court Judgement - My personal view

What could I possibly say about the judgement in the One Barnet Court case? The judge stated that the council had breached its statuatory duty to consult, but the challenge was out of time, therefore was struck out.

The Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius described it as a complete victory. Sadly, any decent person would see it as the complete opposite. A shabby, hollow victory that displays everything that is wrong with Barnet and indeed the UK legal system. It is a green light to councils to behave in an underhand manner and does nothing for the transparency and openness agenda. Bad councils and bad councillors up and down the country will take note of the decision and rejoice that they can string along the local populace, in the knowledge that the judiciary will always go with the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

The judge completely vindicated Maria Nash in his judgement. He categorically stated that the council had failed to consult.

Barnet have yet again been shown to be incompetent. Their incompetence has resulted in a court case which the judge agrees they should have lost. What sort of justice can a system deliver when the odds are so stacked against the ordinary, common citizen, fighting a well funded bureaucracy?

I find the whole thing sickening.

One Barnet case - judge rejects legal challenge on technicality - more to follow......

The legal challenge to the One Barnet program has been rejected on A technicality The judge declared the challenge put of time. He acepted that the coucil had failed to consult.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Congratulations to Barnet Council on the destruction of our local football team

Yesterday Barnet FC were relegated to the Conference. I rather suspect that there will be a lot of rather pleased local Conservative Councillors. Under the Labour/Lib Dem administration in power until 2002, the club was well supported by the Council and worked together to try and build a footballing legacy. The local Conservatives were deeply suspicious of this and used this "cosy relationship" as stick to try and beat the outgoing regime with. An audit inspection of the sale of Underhill was launched by the new administration, hoping to find a set of "financial irregularities" with which to beat the outgoing regime. They spent nearly £1 million on this witch hunt and all they achieved was to line the pockets of a lot of accountants and lawyers. After years of investigations, the report was "inconclusive".

The relationship between the council and the club became toxic. Barnet for many years wanted to move to a 10,000 seat stadium at Copthall. The Tories opposed this by hook or by crook. At the last election, their leaflets were packed with lies about the Lib Dems proposing a new stadium for football at Copthall. This won the Tories the Mill Hill Ward. What they didn't tell voters was that Saracens RFC would move in and that virtually the whole of Mill Hill would be in parking lockdown every other Saturday of the Rugby season. They also neglected to tell anyone that Saracens need a 15,000 seat stadium for Heineken Cup games.

Now don't get me wrong, I hope Saracens is a success. I may be being controversial and say I hope they get the Stadium upgrade as well. The 10,000 current visitors have not caused gridlock. The council could turn around to Saracens and say "yes, you can have the extra capacity, if you install electronic parking signs that will restrict the parking CPZ to 1 hour". Saracens would be more than happy to comply.

Sadly the football club that had been in Barnet for many years, has been starved of investment due to the constraints of Underhill. The result is that they were relegated yesterday and that they are moving to the Hive in Harrow next season. Make no mistake, a different regime would have a totally different policy and would make it work for everyone. Look at Manchester City Council. They worked with Manchester City FC to build a new stadium, a new tram line, a massive sporting complex and have regenerated a really run down part of the city. Even better the club has attracted wealthy buyers and has started winning silverware. That is what an enlightened council can achieve.

Barnet Council could have worked with the Mayor and TFL to extend the Northern Line to the ground. This area also has three large schools in the proximity, which would benefit from better transport connections. It would remove traffic an be good for commuters.

The new Allianz Park stadium is magnificent. It is something everyone locally should be proud of. It offers world class Athletics training facilities as well as Rugby. I could see a situation where eventually Barnet FC share the ground with Saracens. It makes perfect sense for such resources to be used and having the club back in the Borough would be welcomed by all football supporters.

That will only happen when this Conservative administration is replaced by one which cares about the locality. Lets hope that will happen in May 2014

Saturday 27 April 2013

What really matters in Barnet?

Yesterday I published a blog giving my thoughts on the behaviour of a small number of people in Barnet. I had a deluge of calls & emails from various people asking all manner of questions about why I had chosen to share my thoughts. With just over a year left until the next election, I felt that now is the time to remind people of their responsibilities to the wider community. Today, the second in these series of posts, I ask the question "What really matters in Barnet?". These are the things which should consider. I have chosen to list my priorities and how the current administration are performing. The way I have chosen to judge this is to see whether the situation has improved or deteriorated under this regime.  Feel free to add your own comments.

1. Protection of vulnerable people who rely on the council for care.
Barnet Eye verdict - Deteriorated. Many vulnerable people have seen a marked worsening of their quality of life as a direct result of budget cuts imposed by the council. All manner of small changes have resulted in many people suffering. This has ranged from disabled people having access to day centres reduced to horrific changes to at home care packages. This is the sharp end of the zero council tax increase policy of the Conservative administration.

2. Protection of the green belt and the environment.
Barnet Eye verdict - Anyone who lives in Barnet will have noticed massive changes. None of these have enhanced the environment. All around the borough, the edges of the green belt are being nibbled away.

3. Business.
Barnet Eye verdict - Barnet Council seems hell bent on a kamikaze set of policies designed to completely destroy the local environment. Abolishing the Pay and Display system of High Street parking decimated trade on High Streets. The One Barnet project has destroyed over 300 local jobs, exporting the work and the trade generated. The council has even set up its own "Local Authority trading company" to compete with local suppliers of services, creating a quasi monopoly, outside of public control and scrutiny, but stifling small private suppliers.

4. Culture.
Barnet Eye verdict - Barnet seems intent on trying to become a culture free zone. Church Farmhouse museum has closed and the collections flogged off, in a botched fire sale. The Arts Depot has had its subsidy cut, forcing it to team up with a dance school from Kings Cross, in the process evicting Community Focus. The library policy is a complete shambles, with empty shelves in all of the boroughs libraries, apart from Friern Barnet, which was reopened by Occupy. Under this administration, local festivals have disappeared, with The Finchley Carnival and the Watling Festival biting the dust, due to lack of support from Barnet Council.

5. Education.
Barnet Eye verdict - The adminstration is keen on Free Schools. This caused a monumental spat in Mill Hill with the opening of Etz Chaim on the site of a garden centre. Sadly what should be viewed as a community asset has become something of a sore point for many locals. As the school is outside of democratic process, there really is no redress for local people at the ballot box. It demonstrates the problems with Free Schools all too well. I am not anti the school and I applaud the parents for trying to make a change, but I do not think that the Free School Concept is the way to improve education in Barnet. A fragemented system is not, in my opinion, the way to best manage such an important issue.

6. Transport.
Barnet Eye verdict - When the Tories won in 2010, they appointed Brian Coleman as transport supremo. He famously announced that his priority was "Roads, Roads, Roads". What followed - Potholes, hikes in parking charges, CPZ's galore. The one growth business in Barnet must be the sellers of Yellow line paint.  They seem to have popped up everywhere, policed by ever more aggressive wardens from NSL.

7. Trust.
Barnet Eye Verdict - The Tories first act in power was to vote huge rises in allowances for themselves.Then they mislead campaigners about their intentions for Friern Library. We've seen court cases and judicial reviews galore as local residents wage war on the Council. Barnet has pioneered the art of local people making documentaries about how disconnected they are from their council. In my local ward, the Tories won the ward from the Lib Dems by claiming the Lib Dems planned a huge football stadium for Kentish Town FC at Copthall. This was a complete lie. Kentish Town play in a minor league and have a home crowd of 30. What happened immediately after the election? The Tories announced that they were in talks with Saracens  RFC and we now have a 10,000 seat stadium on the site. I am pleased to see the stadium being used, but I can't help but feel that Barnets Tories totally mislead the local people on the issue.

Of course all of this is my personal view. You may feel completely different. Please feel free to leave your comments.

Friday 26 April 2013

The secret of the success of the Conservative Party

Sometimes I truly despair. I am not going to say what has upset me, but I hope those people who understand why I write this actually take this criticism on board.

People of the left have endless discussions about why the Conservative Party is so electorally successful in the UK. They say "why can't the masses see that they are voting against their own interests when they vote Conservative". They (wrongly) imagine that there is only a wealthy elite who vote Conservative and by some inexplicable process they win elections. Even when a right wing, highly opinionated, loud, bombastic Tory such as Boris, trounces a saint of the left such as Ken Livingstone twice in elections, they imagine that this doesn't really reflect the real voting intentions of the people.

In some ways they are right, because all UK elections have low voter turnouts. We don't really know the intentions of the people who don't vote. Whilst many on the left firmly believe that the no show voters are really working class Labour supporters, who for whatever reason have become completely disconnected from the party, I doubt it. I believe they are supporters of the apathy party. I suspect that the only thing that would make them vote Labour en mass is if the Tories took leave of their sense and gave the apathetic a good financial kicking. Sadly the Tories haven't and have pretty much directed their attention on the core Labour vote.

But even this isn't the real secret of the Tory electoral success. That is down to the fact that the Tories have one characteristic which the left will never adopt. They are pragmatic. No matter how much they hate each other, they will pull together to win elections and other battles. They know which side their bread is buttered on. The left is riddled with schisms and splits. I suspect that any meeting of more than two lefties ultimately ends up with an ideological split. Wheras the Tories put all this aside, so they can inherit the promised land, the left would rather die (or at least lose everything) to defend their political purity.

The biggest threat to the left is always itself. Whenever the left thinks it is in a strong position, it dissolves into infighting and the inevitable disaster occurs.

What I find most upsetting is that this doesn't only happen at national level, but also in the smallest microcosms of tiny campaigns. People are totally unable to put their personal enmities to one side. They care more about their own right to do what the hell they like than to work together and do the right thing for everyone. They pervert the ideas and principles of democracy into narrow cliques, which they then use to bully and humiliate the poor mugs who get on their wrong side. Votes are rigged and decisions made in back rooms away from scrutiny. When challenged they say "You haven't seen all the evidence" When attempts are made to try and mediate for the greater good, rules which don't exist and laws which don't apply are quoted.

These bullies also think that the rest of us are stupid. They think we will back down, cowed by the fact that whilst they can cause havoc, we are too principled to cause a public spat.

Well just in case any one is under any false illusions, this blog doesn't care what side you are on or what colour your politics are. If you lie, distort, bully or intimidate or in any other way act to compromise the interests of the people of Barnet, your actions will be exposed here. We are not interested in keeping our mouths shut, if the price of that is destruction of what we hold as dear.

This blog believes in democracy, openness and transparency. We believe that the only decisions that should be taken in secret are those concerning details of a personal or intimate nature, or financial negotiations, where confidentiality is vital to the process of allowing a fair and equitable settlement to be achieved.

We respect other peoples confidentiality in private emails, but we would draw limits on this if we believed criminal activities were being perpetrated. We are told all manner of things in private. We don't name our sources, but where we can we share the information. I am as depressed as I could possibly be, because of the behaviour of certain activists and so called community representatives in the London Borough of Barnet.

They are selfish, egotistical and dishonest. They are bullies and they disgust me. Whilst the Tories in Barnet are in the process of oiling their well maintained election machine to win the Council elections next year, a bunch of egotistical fools are about to embark on a suicide mission to scupper all the things we've achieved in the last three years. Why? Because they are too proud and too vain to put the axe they are currently grinding down and behave themselves for the greater good of the wider Barnet Community.

Be warned ladies and gentlemen. A lot of people won't forgive you if your actions scupper the last few years stirling work. You know who you are. It is time to grow up.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Your Choice Barnet - The silent losers

By Linda Edwards,

The Barnet Eye published a blog on Monday, concerning Your Choice Barnet. This says everything except about  people with learning disabilities who are forced to  trudge the streets in all weathers, walk aimlessly up and down the isles of Supermarkets,  and made to travel to different town shopping centres   all under the guise of "being in the community". These are the silent 'losers' who cannot speak up for themselves and won't be heard, unless we shout out for them.

This exchange appeared on a forum. Says it all really

Hi there

Can anyone help ? If an adult has been assessed as having critical support needs, what needs to happen for a Local Authority to change that?

I am hearing reports of a LA which is re assessing people from critical to severe, because they say the family are providing support, so the individual's needs are not critical.

Is there some new ruling that has just come out, because the families concerned are providing the same amount of support they always were?

From: Anon Carer

I don't have a straight answer to your question but this is so outragous!

The categorisation of needs - i.e. critical, severe, etc - is completely and absolutely about the service-user/person-with-needs REGARDLESS of who then meets those needs whether that is family, friend, neighbour or a paid service provider. I don't know whether it is legally binding but this definition is definitely in the Community Care Adult Service's declared policy guidelines.

Seems your LA are attempting to downgrade needs and thereby support they are obliged to provide or facilitate.

I have known our LA to argue that someone was mis-categorised before and the person in need of support is actually more capable of being independent than previously assessed but I have never heard of any case where the needs remain the same but family support means someone is in effect less disabled.

This is what happens when budgets are cut. This is how such organisations implement budget cuts by stealth.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Richie Havens RIP

Yesterday saw the passing of Richie Havens, a true legend. I first came across Ritchie when I was 18 years old at a late night screening of the film Woodstock at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. If you've ever seen the film, you'll know there is some fantastic music in the film as well as a lot of dross. Richie Havens opened the festival and the film. At the time I didn't know the story, but all of the other acts turned up late, so he had to busk for a couple of hours. The track "Freedom" was one of the songs he busked. The reason I didn 't know is because it was a mindblowing performance, so full of intensity and passion. At the time I was a punk, so for a blok strumming an acoustic guitar to blow me away was a measure of the power of his performance. I don't think I've ever seen a more powerful piece of acoustic music ever.

The last time I saw Richie was at the jazz Cafe a couple of years ago. He was older, wiser and more gentle in his manner, but his music was mindblowing. After the show I bought a few CD's he was selling and ended up having a chat with him. He was a gent. I wanted to get him to play the Mill Hill Music Festival this year, but we couldn't make it happen.

My guess is that if you don't like Richie Havens, you probably don't like music

RIP Richie, Good luck at the big festival up in the sky !

Monday 22 April 2013

Your Choice Barnet - The question that matters

Who are the winners and losers. That is what I ask myself, when I ponder the question of the private company set up by Barnet Council to provide social care in the Borough. The company is called "Your Choice Barnet". Earlier this year Barnet Council had to use taxpayers money to bale it out and stop it going broke. The reason? Because of a reported £2 million defecit in its accounts, after less than a year in business.

They say if you want to know the real story, follow the money. So I ask myself, what has this £2 million extra cash, not in the original plan been spent on? Have recepients of social care all of a sudden been getting Starbucks Cappucinos for 10p instead of the plastic cups of nescafe for £1.00 that they were getting before. Have the mini buses been replaced with a fleet of Rolls Royces. £2,000,000 is a lot of cash. I am not aware of a sudden flood of people needing extra care appearing in the Borough, so what has this cash been spent on? The council have provided social care for years, they know what it cost. It's not like they've set up a new type of technology, that is untried with hidden costs.

So where are the winners in the big £2 million hand out? From what I hear it isn't the people attending day centres or with care needs. I've not heard of anyone saying things have got better and they get more? Have you, if you have I'd love to hear !

So where has all the cash gone? Has it gone to lawyers and accountants, which any new organisation will need? Has it gone setting up a board of directors and paying them generous salaries? Has it gone on new offices and furniture? I'd love to know. For a business with a turnover the size of Your Choice Barnet it has either been spent on things that it wasn't spending on before, things which add nothing to delivery of care, or it has been a case of a monumental failure of the company to have an adequate financial plan.

In either case, the failure has been so spectacular that it has exceeded even the worst and wildest guesses of critics like me by a factor of astronomical proportions.

What happens in most businesses when the management team screw up and a bale out is required? They all get the sack. Fred Goodwin at RBS is one we all know. he bankrupted the bank, so he was sacked and lost his knighthood. Why has no one at the council even mentioned the possibility of sacking the board and taking it over (as happened with RBS)? Why is there not even an acknowledgement that it has gone wrong.

Winners and Losers? That is the question. Who are they? If £2 million has been overspent, someone somewhere must have got a lot of money that wasn't in the original business case. Shouldn't we, as taxpayers, be told who?

Sunday 21 April 2013

Friern Baarnet Community Library - The coming week

Friern Barnet Community Library

The People's Library


Mondays               2.40-3.40
School Chess (Dwight School)

  Mondays      7.00-9.00pm (Next meeting 22 April)
Weekly meeting - all welcome
**Please bring a copy of the last minutes and the agenda with you, to save one person doing lots of copying - thanks**

 Tuesdays              7:00-8:00pm
Yoga with Emily

Wednesdays         11:00-11:45am
French Rhyme Time for Toddlers (with local mum Dorothee - in French)

 Thursdays             11:15-11:45am
Song and Story Time for toddlers (with local mum and pre-school teacher Tanya CRB checked) 
Thursdays              1:00-3:00pm    
Knitting Group

Thursdays               7:00-10:00pm
Open Mic Night - all welcome
Contact: Arnie Donoff
This Thursday 25th April, Andrew will be back with a folk/blues extravaganza!

Fridays       11:00 - 1:00pm             
Reading Group
Open as usual

Every 2nd Saturday 2-4pm (From May 11th)
Barnet Borough Sight Impaired Meeting

Upcoming events:

Tue 23rd April – 6-8pm World Book Night – Peggy Sherwood will be giving away copies of The Reader 
Greenacre Writers Literary Festival
Friday 17th May 4.30-6.30pm – So you want to write for Kids! Creative writing workshop with author Miriam Halahmy.
Book workshop: https://sites.google.com/site/greenacrewriters/greenacre-writers-literary-festival
Friday 17th May 7.00-10.00pm - Open (Literary) Mic coordinated by Allen Ashley, author. Come along and read out your writing, poems, flash fiction etc - 5min slots. 

If you want to use the library space, events MUST be booked beforehand. In the first instance please contact Rosa: friernbarnetcommunitylibrary@gmail.com
The Barnet Eye urges everyone associated with the Library to attend the meeting on Monday this week. There is an important meeting of the trustees on Wednesday and it is vital that anyone with any issues to be raised uses this meeting to make sure these issues can be raised

Saturday 20 April 2013

The Saturday list special - What's best in Barnet - The Deputy Mayors recommendations

By Kate Salinger,

As Deputy Mayor, I have had the privilege of meeting people from all over the borough who volunteer for others with no thought of reward. I salute each and every one of them, knowing that their work is incredibly valuable to our large community, although often unsung. I will now sing loudly an aria on behalf of the volunteers of Barnet who work in shops, places of worship, schools, community halls, parks, oh, anywhere that people can meet. The following is a list of all the people and organisations I have visited who are, I think, staffed by VOLUNTEERS. I have also visited many wonderful organisations (Flower Lane Centre for Autism and Community Focus to name but two) where volunteers work but are managed by paid workers.
All the people who helped to organise street parties for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
East Barnet Valley Bowls Club
East Barnet Royal British Legion
Friern Barnet Royal British Legion
Barnet Multicultural Community Centre, West Hendon
Rainbow Centre, Dollis Valley
Diabetes UK, Barnet Branch
Barnet Multifaith Forum
East Barnet Festival (not held this year due to too much rain but AL:WAYS excellent)
120th Hendon Air Training Corps
Friends of Montclair(town twinning group)
Friends of Barnet Countryside Centre
Monday Youth Club, Martins School
Friern Barnet Summer Show
Mill Hill Garden and Allotment Society
Wright Community Development Trust
St John's Ambulance Brigade
Barnet Older People's Assembly
Friends of Morphou (town twinning)
East Finchley Arts Festival
Finchley Art Society
Lions Club International (Edgware Branch)
Cancer Research Shop (East Barnet)
Barnet Elderly Asians Group
Women's Interfaith Network
Finchley Rotary Club
How fortunate have I been to visit all these places and people? Answer.....extremely fortunate.I hope that everyone who might scan down this list and currently does not volunteer, might be prompted into thinking that they might.
All the best,
Cllr. Kate Salinger
If you have a list of things in Barnet that you think we should know about, let us know ! A fine choice by one of Barnets most popular councillors

Friday 19 April 2013

The Friday Joke - Your Choice Barnet Business Case Justification

Can someone explain how a shortfall of £2million in a total budget cost of running the Your Choice Barnet services of approximately £5million to £6.5million is a “solid” Business Case? 

The Councillor responsible for Adult Social Services response to a question at the recent Barnet Council Cabinet meeting was interesting. According to the councillor the Business Case was “solid” for setting up Your Choice. Indeed having insisted the Business Case anticipated these shortfalls, the councillor then went on to say that the draconian and vicious cuts to workers’ terms and conditions.... Sorry he definitely did not say that, he said the proposals will “deliver further efficiencies”. “Further to what?” we wondered. 

Just before that motion we had listened to the Leader of the Council talk to the Welfare Reform motion saying it was needed to ensure that it “pays to work”. With the cuts proposed to Your Choice workers and the Housing 21 workers and Fremantle workers before them, I’m starting to wonder if what is meant by the phrase is a society where the ‘worker pays to work?’

Having spoken to many Your Choice workers in the last few weeks, this is what one of them said:

“Support workers at Your Choice are being substantially de-skilled, by being given a new job description to justify a third of their monthly wages being taken from them. Service users at Your Choice are having a massive change in the hours that they are being supported – meaning that they can enjoy less leisure and educational opportunities. They are unaware of how severely their lives will be affected for the worse by these cuts”.

This has been repeated over and over that a cut to the workers ultimately means a cut to the service user.

What you can do
Please sign this petition  

Of course, you may just think it's all very funny, our money being wasted like this !

Thursday 18 April 2013

The hypocrisy of the Conservative Party towards Lady Thatcher

Yesterday we saw a state sponsored funeral for Lady Thatcher, Britains first female Prime Minister. Whatever you may or may not think of Thatcher, she certainly provoked a strong reaction. What has truly amazed me is the sheer hypocricy of the Conservative Party towards Thatcher and her legacy.

I was reminded of this yesterday in Mill Hill Broadway by a chap I've known for years, who was a staunch supporter of Thatcher. In 1997 I got into a conversation with him in Mill Hill Broadway whilst doing some campaigning for Labour. At the time he told me he would be voting for Tony Blair. He said he would never forgive the Tories for "stabbing Thatcher in the back". Thatcher won three elections for the Tories. What did she get for her troubles? She got dumped when the going got tough. Whilst the membership of the Conservative Party still loved her, the people who run the show knifed her in the back for their own reasons. In doing so, they nearly destroyed the Tory Party.

I was reminded of this. My acquaintance suggested that Blair was probably the only politician of the time who genuinely recognised Thatchers achievements. Blair honoured Thatcher and sought her counsel. It has only been recently that Tories have dared resurrect her image. Now they are nailing the Thatcherite mascot to their mast. For the past 23 years, the talk has been of "detoxifying the Tory brand". This really meant dumping Thatcherism and nailing the lid down on her legacy. Cameron came to power as a "moderniser". In truth this meant someone who had no association with the Thatcher era.

It is odd to think that Blair saw huge electoral advantage in cosying up to Thatcherism (and won three elections) whilst the Tories dumped it and have struggled ever since. What is fascinating is to see how two faced the Tory Establishment have suddenly rediscovered their love of the ghost they've spent 23 years trying to bury. It is odd to think that despite all of the eulogies, the Conservative Party is probably the one place where Thatcherism has been dead for years. One must wonder what she made of Cameron leaping under the duvet with Clegg. I can't ever imagine Thatcher snuggling up to Jeremy Thorpe.

At the end of the day, I think the reason is that, whatever you thought of Thatcher, she was probably a tad more attached to her principles than the current lot.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Where was the state funeral for Harold Wilson?

Today we have a pseudo state funeral for Margaret Thatcher. I fear that this has set an unfortunate precedent. In future, are we likely to see similar demands for all deceased Prime Ministers? What are the requirements. If you had to win three elections and start a war, then Blair will most certainly qualify. He won three elections and started five wars. I can see no possible reason for denying him. If the decision is simply based on the fact that some people didn't like him, then Thatcher would most certainly have been denied her big day.

I think that we should have, rather late in the day,  a state service for Harold Wilson. I believe the late Lord Wilson actually had a far greater influence than Thatcher and most of it was for the universal good. Lets look at some of his (seemingly forgotten) career highlights.

1. Won three general elections.

2. Created the Open University, allowing hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, who would never had access to a University Education, to better themselves. This is perhaps his greatest and most forgotten legacy.

3. Kept the UK out of Vietnam. Wheras Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron all committed British troops to campaigns in far flung corners of the earth (usually because of their other failures), Wilson turned down a request from the USA to assist in Vietnam, doubtlessly saving hundreds, if not thousands of British troops lives, in pursuit of a pointless and futile goal.

4. Gave the People a referendum on Europe. UKIP and the rabid right forget that Wilson was the only Prime Minister who let the people have their say.

5. Swathes of socially progressive legistlation. During the 1966-70 period, the Wilson government, with Roy Jenkins as home secretary passed swathes of socially progressive legislation, modernising the British state and British attitudes.

6. Won the World Cup. England won the world cup with Harold Wilson at the helm. Thatcher hated football and would have been quite happy to have abolished the sport.

7. The swinging sixties. During Wilsons reign, the sixties were in full swing and everyone felt positive about Britain. London was the place to be. Ted Heath was elected in 1970 and things were never quite the same again. Whilst people blame Labour for the economic failures of the 1970's, the Heath regime (of which Thatcher was a cabinet minister) was responsible for the period of steepest decline. The miners strikes, the three day week were all during Tory rule. By the time Wilson got back in, with a minority government, the damage had been done. Wilsons second period as Prime Minister was one of managing the fallout from the disasters of Ted Heath.

Of course, the last thing Harold Wilson would have wanted was a state funeral. He was a humble and decent chap. It is often reported that of all the Prime Ministers that served under Queen Elizabeth, Harold Wilson was her favourite. It is said that he was the last Prime Minister who would, in his weekly chats with the queen, brief her on what was happening, then ask her opinion and listen to her advice. He respected her views and knew she'd be around long after he was forgotten. He knew that she had a far better personal insight into the way the other leaders around the world thought. She also had a longer and better perspective on the systems that supported them. It is sad to report that none of her successors took quite the same view of her majesties role.

Today sees the start of a new era of how we commemorate departed leaders. Having honoured Thatcher, we are stuck with the precendent. Will John Major get one? I doubt too many Tories will make the case for him. Blair? That will be an interesting discussion when the time comes. Brown? Well he never actually won an election, but he did save the world, don't you remember. And best of all David Cameron. Well no one is sure whether he really won or lost the last election. No one is sure what he stands for.

In a time of austerity, we have a spectacle today that I hope is a one off. Winston Churchill did save the country and lead a government of national unity. He deserved a state funeral. I don't think any of his successors deserved one. The Thatcher funeral is a political device to serve the ends of the Conservative Party. That is why I find it repulsive. I think the funeral of Harold Wilson, is the model we should adopt going forward.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Guest Blog - "Is cutting Carer budgets ethical" - A response by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

Yesterday Monday 15th April on the Barnet Eye blog it was  asked the question " Do You Think Cutting Carer Social Budgets is Ethical Humane or Moral ", my answer being the parent of a daughter that relies upon the services of low paid carers these special people is absolutely no on all three categories. I can also assure you that my opinion is that of many other parents carers and guardians of people with disabilities and illnesses not of their own making, this message came across loud and clear from parents carers and guardians at recent meetings on the subject. Not least of all the well attended public meeting of 11th march calling for all services currently in the hands of the financially wobbly Your Choice Barnet Ltd Company, be bought back in house.
A quote being used on a regular  basis these days when referring to this awful inhuman dishonest coalition government and our local Tory councillors is " they know the price of everything but the value of nothing " and in this case this could never be more true. Some of the groups you refer to are  referred to in law as " people with special characteristics " they are set apart from the rest of us due to disability or illness, yet our beloved government supported with gusto by Cornelius and his crew have throw them into the mix with the minority that scrounge on  benefits . In order to justify their  inhuman cuts in the support for these special groups, they have converted them from being poor dears to scrounging bastards to justify the inhuman cuts they are undertaking.

The blog makes a very important statement by so rightly including a person with dementia because it makes the very profound point that we are all in this together, we cannot be smug and complacent and pass by on the other side, because dementia in one of its many and varied forms like cancer that has visited both you and I can strike any one of us down at any time. The rapid growth in all forms of dementia demands more support for folk not less, sadly we live in a world of austerity where F --K you Jack Im alright remains the order of the day.

It seems an appropriate name for these folk to be described as people with special characteristics because that is exactly what their support workers are, they are a special breed they have an inborn vocation for the most difficult task in public services, they are truly people with a special characteristic.  What makes this attack on these very special staff the proposed cuts to their already low wages now followed almost definitely by a further cut in a few months time when the ongoing benchmarking exercise is completed worse. Is the fact that these special high value human beings with inborn skills that cannot be taught, are being treated worse than a shelf stacker in a supermarket.
Nobody knows the value of these carers better than the parents carers and guardians of the clients in their care, they represent their peace of mind the comfort of knowing they are in safe caring hands and will be looked after with care and compassion from caring and compassionate people, they know how fortunate they are to have these special people helping with their task of caring for their loved ones, a task many of us could not undertake without their support. They also know what happens when the local authority engages in a race to the bottom in care quality and staff quality, an horrific reminder of this race to the bottom was Winterbourne View, a horror story we do not want repeated in Barnet because of dogma and ideology.
Yet our government both local and central have no regard for the skills of this special breed of public servant not even Cameron, this is the man leading the charge to decimate the wage structures and working conditions of this irreplaceable group of people, yet as a parent of a disabled child himself now sadly deceased , you would think he would know better you would think he at least would show some respect for these special people.
Sadly like Cornelius and co Cameron knows the price of everything but the value of nothing, and the fight to bring Your Choice Services back in house is the first of the battles  to  bring some sense of responsibility back to our society. A society currently driven by ideology and dogma a society being encouraged to see all disabled and sick people as scrounging bastards, and their support workers as layabout low value trouble making trade unionists, when in fact they are in many ways the most important people in society. Because they undertake with compassion with love with care the responsibility of ensuring quality of care and quality of life for these folk with special characteristics, the most difficult undertaking possible.
Cornelius and co are in a race to the bottom in terms of quality of care for disabled and sick people they are driven by dogma and have no concern for anything other than the bottom line, we have to stop this demonization of disabled people and those that care for them, and the first step in that battle is to sign here ( YCB Petition), and begin the fight back to reinstate the respect working conditions and wages of social support carers and stop this race to the bottom that might affect any one of us tomorrow.
People of Barnet should look around and smell the coffee because dementia has no respect for wealth or position, it attacks all and everybody, they can ignore the petition and go forward with fingers crossed or start the fight back against ideology and dogma . The worst of it all is we are led to believe these savings are absolutely necessary because they save us residents serious sums of money, when the reality is these special social support workers wages and working conditions could be protected by raising council taxes by less than 50p per week.
I repeat Cornelius and co  know the price of everything but the value of nothing, they truly do not care, they have no vision for the future they are submerged in their perverse ideology and dogma, deaf dumb and blind to the long term damage they are doing to the most vulnerable folk within our society. Presumably on the premise that in their opinion  " there is no no such thing as society ", an expression I have heard somewhere before.
Please start the fight back to decency and humanity and the long term sustained quality of life for disabled and sick people in Barnet by signing the Bring Your Choice Barnet Services Back In House petition.

Let The Battle begin
John Sullivan is a parent Carer living in the London Borough of Barnet. Guest Blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

It's a long way back to respectability for Councillor Robert Rams

Councillor Robert Rams, author of the Friern Barnet Library fiasco, has decided to go public with his feelings about his treatment by the Friern Barnet library campaign.

On his blog he said
Meeting with Friern Barnet Library Trustees

Over the last year or so, as I have in the past documented on this blog and tweeted about, I have been on the receiving end of a consistent and very personal campaign from a minority of supporters of the Friern Barnet Library.
It was a welcome step forward that I received an email from the trustees of the Friern Barnet Library, which in conclusion said,
“You have been subjected to some outrageous, abusive and inexcusable behaviour. I hope you will be prepared to help us repair the damage.”
I very much welcome this and have agreed to meet a delegation of the trustees next week.
I hope that this will start a more amicable  relationship and we can start to work together to secure the future of a community library in Friern Barnet.


You can see the original blog here - http://robertrams.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/meeting-with-friern-barnet-library-trustees/ - this is quite a remarkable statement from Rams. As ever there is a little bit of spin in there. Firstly when Rams says "I have been on the receiving end of a consistent and very personal campaign from a minority of supporters of the Friern Barnet Library." he is being quite disingenious. I have attended many meetings and far from a "a minority" holding Councillor Rams in disdain, as far as I could tell the dislike of him was more or less unanamous. Now of course not everyone writes blogs or tweets, but I have not met anyone with a good word to say about him (including councillors in his own party).

Why? Because from the day that the Library closure was announced, Mr Rams has been less than honest with the people who mounted the campaign to save the library. He mislead them about the possibilities of reopening the library and duped them into wasting the time when they could have been preparing a judicial review asking them to "come up with proposals". When these were presented, they were summarily dismissed and campaigners were told they'd missed the deadline for the Judicial review. If you behave like that, what do you expect people to say about you.

When Occupy reopened the library, Council officials attended meetings at the library to try and work out a compromise that would satisfy the community. Rams refused to attend, leaving council officials with an impossible task. Why did he refuse to attend? It was made clear to him that the meeting would be respectful. Council officers bearing bad news were not subject to intimidation or bad treatment. Neither would he. Councillor Richard Cornelius, the leader, attended a question time meeting arranegd by the Barnet Alliance for Public services, with over 150 people in attendence. He was treated respectfully, despite leading a rabidly right wing council, so what possible concerns could Rams have. I myself was given a graphic demonstration of Rams duplicity when he tweeted that he was at Mill Hill Library. I instantly sprinted the 200 yards from my house to the library only to find no Robert Rams and a bunch of staff who said he hadn't visited the venue.
Why should councillor Rams say such a thing? Who knows. I doubt he thought I'd be there a minute later. I doubt he thought anyone would notice.

As to the comment “You have been subjected to some outrageous, abusive and inexcusable behaviour. I hope you will be prepared to help us repair the damage.” Rams seems to think that this statement vindicates him. He clearly doesn't really understand what the Trustees were telling him. The key part is the second sentence  "I hope you will be prepared to help us repair the damage.” The trustees clearly were making the point that Rams own behaviour had created the campaign. They were asking him to modify his future behaviour and treat people with respect, decency and honesty. It is clear that the trustees, in their own extremely polite way, were saying "You have brought this all on yourself by your appalling behaviour, but you do have an opportunity to redeem yourself, if you start behaving in a manner befitting a senior member of the cabinet.

Rams sadly misses the point and misses the opportunity to apologise for his past poor behaviour and appalling treatment of sincere local campaigners and residents. The trustees have been extraordinarily generous in their treatment of Rams. Does he behave in a sincere and adult way and repay their trust? Nope of course he doesn't. He uses their generosity to pretend he is a victim and he is the wronged party. If Rams had posted a blog stating that there had been mistakes on both sides and both sides had perhaps done things they regret, but were now working together to create a better Barnet, maybe we would have concluded that he'd learned something over the last two years. Instead we get this awful little man, yet again taking other peoples generosity and trust and twisting it around for his own purposes.

What I find incredible is that Robert Rams is a professional political apparatchic. His job is to run the Conservative office at the GLA. He spends all of his time talking to senoir London Conservative politicians. I have a deep mistrust of career politicians on both sides of the divide. My suspicion seems well founded when I consider the record of Robert Rams and his relationshiop with the people of Barnet. It's a long way back to respectability for Councillor Robert Rams