Friday 13 April 2018

Farewell to Barnets sensible Tory Councillors!

On May 3rd, we will be waving goodbye to a whole stack of Councillors. Barnet is in the public eye. Yesterday, I was on BBC Radio London's Eddie Nestor show (starts at 1.17.45), talking about the forthcoming local elections. whilst we don't know who will be winning and loosing, we already know that some long standing Councillors will be departing. What has disturbed me is that nearly all of the departing Tories who have been deselected or stood down, seem to be from the sensible wing of the local Tory party (for clarification, I don't personally consider the soon to be gone Tom Davey to be in this part of the party,lovely chap that he is).

So lets have a look at some of them. I was inspired to write this, by Hugh Rayner, who tweeted to ask me to point out that he saved a football pitch in Colindale.

So here is what Hugh had to say on the video.

 Although I get on rather well with most of these sensible Tories, I thought the most appropriate way to remember them was in the words of their friend and former colleague Brian Coleman, who memorably wrote a blog about all of his ex colleagues when he was kicked out of the party. Seems that re-reading these comments from 2013, they are in a permanent state of war!

 Lets start with Hugh (Brians comments in italics).

Hugh Rayner.

Councillor Hugh Rayner (Hale Ward ) former RAF Squadron Leader elected in 2006 . Solid , dependable, reliable but somewhat na├»ve, he is considered a safe pair of hands  . A good Deputy Mayor ( to me ) but would not put his name in to be Mayor in 2011 as he wanted it in Olympic year , when he did so in 2012 he was surprisingly beaten by newcomer Brian Schama supposedly because Rayner as Chairman of Hendon Association had upset many of the Hendon Constituency Councillors . Was very hurt by that experience . Had a difficult relationship with Matthew Offord MP but rumours that Rayner was busy ringing round North London Conservatives seeking advise on how to deselect his MP seem to have come to nothing . A bit of a fence sitter will become Mayor in due course unless Hale Ward reverts to its former marginal status. 

Barneteye comment -  Hugh has been a sensible Tory. Reasonable chair of audit, made sure critics and bloggers got a hearing and didn't duck tough issues. As Brian stated, had issues with Matthew Offord, which to many is a sure sign of being sensible.  A critic of One Barnet from the outset. Did he jump, was he pushed? Or had he simply had enough?

Sury Khatri

Councillor Sury Khatri (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 when 16 years of Liberal dominance in Mill Hill ended. Heavy smoker who dislikes virtually every aspect of Conservative Group policy . Made a speech once in the Conservative Group in which he attacked privatisation , parking policy , One Barnet , Library closures , cuts etc and which colleagues thought was a resignation  speech but still he hangs on . Quite happy to tell anyone who asks that "One Barnet" is crazy (as he did at the Audit Committee a couple of months ago ) . Many Tory Councillors think he is barking and wonder if he will sign up to the 2014 Manifesto . Will cause problems if the Tory Administration is reelected next year with a slim majority. The Tory Councillor most likely to defect to Labour. 

Barneteye comment - Brian Coleman spells out exactly why Sury was a sensible councillor. He did sign up in 2014 and won a bigger majority. Even after deselection did not defect to Labour, which shows just how badly Brian had read Sury. In short decent, thoughtful, sensible. As to why he was deselected. He was assured by the Leader of the Tories that he was safe. Sadly for him, he'd upset a clique in the party that is angling to replace the leader with the deputy leader. I was told, off the record by a Conservative insider, that this was all to do with representing local residents concerns about loss of parking spaces in Mill Hill, which affected a pet project of one of Khatri's former Tory colleagues. Of course they are all quite busy briefing against each other, so who knows the truth. what we do know is that Cllr Khatri was quite upset. 

Joan Scannell

Councillor Joan Scannell (Edgware Ward ) Wily Old Bird first elected in 1994 and before that was a Council Officer serving as PA to the Director of Social Services amongst other things. Long time Secretary of the Conservative Group and knows where some of the bodies are buried. Stickler for the rules. Distrusted by Cornelius and actively disliked by "the boys" who see her as part of the Old Guard that has consistently hated the Cabinet system . Was an excellent Mayor. Is a survivor and I suspect will still be there long after "the boys " have all grown up and moved on .

Barneteye comment - Joan is a friend of mine. We've worked on the Mill Hill Music Festival for many years. A very sensible and solid councillor. Sadly Brian's prediction that she'd outlast "The Boys" was very wide of the mark. Her leaving comments, showed that Dan Thomas, the leader of the gang had comprehensively skewered her. This is well worth a second watch

Maureen Braun

Councillor Maureen Braun (Hendon Ward ) Elected in 1998 having previously served 4 years on Camden Council where famously she had a bag of soot thrown over her during a Poll Tax setting debate, now that was proper Politics ! . Loyal to Lynne Hillan and implacable supporter during the Salinger coup had a long term rivalry with Eva Greenspan over the Mayoralty and positions on planning . Has become the target of accusations from the "boys " that she rests her eyes at meetings. 

Barneteye comment - Braun was the Tory who broke rank and saved the Mapledown Special School afterschool and respite care, with the famous words "If we are not here to protect the parents of disabled children, what are we here for". I don't get in with Maureen, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I admired her stand and comments. She was done for from the minute she shafted Reuben Thompstone at that meeting. 

Helena Hart.

Councillor Helena Hart (Edgware Ward) Huge admirer (some would say clone) of the beloved Margaret Thatcher she has become the acknowledged expert on Health . Loyal to Mike Freer he brought her into the Cabinet in 2006 as a reward for her support against Salinger in the coup and because the Group was short of competent women . Would have made a good MP but her heyday in the mid nineties was the time of the Conservative Party's lowest fortune. Hates rows and usually tries to keep a low profile ( less generous colleagues suggest she has a lot of splinters in her nether regions from sitting on too many fences ) Loyal to Lynne Hillan to the end she would make an excellent Mayor but has turned the job down several times 

Barneteye comment - Unlike most of the others, had had enough and knew when it was time to go. She was sensible and efficient. I suspect that the group will be weaker without her input.

Brian Salinger,

Councillor Brian Salinger (Oakleigh Ward) now 65 served since 1986 with four years on Haringey before that . Had an unpleasant skirmish with the Local Government Ombudsman ( before the Standards Committee was ever invented ) in the late 80s over a planning application . Has never recovered from losing the Council and Group Leadership after the 2006 local elections in a coup organised by the late great Lynne Hillan  and others (including me ) which has lead to a long "Ted Heath " like sulk . Whilst Leader was nicknamed by the Officers "Dr Strangelove " (remember Peter Sellers played all the parts ) after his Leadership was nicknamed "Napoleon" , because he had been a very short leader .
Still thinks he will be summoned back from the wilderness (voted against "One Barnet" in the Conservative Group) but was shocked this year when he was well beaten (by Cllr Melvin Cohen )  in the internal Conservative ballot to be Mayor this year. Yes there is a Conservative Councillor more unpopular than me . 

Barneteye comment - The rumour had it that Brian Salinger let it be known that he'd not go until he'd served a term as Mayor. By all accounts this is why the Tory group finally relented and gave him the job. It rather seems to me that for the Tories, being Mayor is the pinnacle of a career. As Coleman mentioned, Salinger was a One Barnet Sceptic, which clearly marks him out as sensible.

Graham Old

Councillor Graham Old (Church End Ward ) Another nice guy who has been around politically a long time . Served on Merton Council with Theresa May but best known for losing in Hale Ward in 1994 which handed Barnet to the Lib/ Lab coalition . Nicknamed by one senior Barnet Tory as the "Councillor for Narnia " because he is so far back in the closet . Hates the infighting since he came on in 2010 but is no Brian Salinger fan . Nice , certainly not stupid , hardworking but sadly a bit wet .

Barneteye comment - I can't say I really know Graham Old, but Julia Hines, who's judgement I trust, assures me he's honest, decent, hardworking and sensible. 

Bridget Perry

Councillor Bridget Perry (High Barnet Ward) failed in her initial attempt to get elected at the 2005 High Barnet by election but successfully fought off a Liberal challenge in 2006 . Enjoying being Deputy Mayor having been shafted last year by Kate Salinger. Hard working Ward member genuinely popular in High Barnet with a history of voluntary work with the girl guides. Brighter than she looks and underestimate her at your peril. A rarity in Barnet Conservative Politics in not being interested in high office and having a sense of loyalty, consequently looked down on and patronised by "the boys" .

Barneteye comment - Another councillor I don't really know. Joan Scannell tells me that she's a decent sort and quite sensible. 


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