Monday 7 May 2018

My final words on the 2018 Barnet Council Elections

Before I started writing this blog, I looked back at what I said after the 2010 Barnet Council Election, when I last stood for Barnet Council. I started off the blog I wrote with these words "Win or lose, act with dignity. I must congratulate John Hart, Sury Khatri and Brian Schama on their victory in Mill Hill. I must also commend their good manners in how they dealt with it."

Sadly both Sury and Brian have departed the Mill Hill Scene, Brian in 2014 after a bout of ill health (happily he is over that) and Sury this year, after a rather spiteful deselection process within the local Tories. One of the things I enjoyed most at the count was the opportunity to chat to John Hart. John is always great company, even at 5am in the morning after a gruelling night. John is a gentlemen and knows how to take both defeat and victory. John said to me  "Keep going, you are a Mill Hill person and we need people like you around, even if we don't always agree". John has class. Golnar Bokaei is the new girl on the block. She was very pleasant to me at the hustings and at the count. She was polite and gracious and behaved with good manners and dignity. I wish her well and hope that she repays the trust that the people of Mill Hill have placed in her. As to the other victorious candidate. I hope that she does a good job for Mill Hill. I can really say no more after Thursday night, it would be ungracious.

As to the Labour candidates. Mike and Catherine Barker are lovely people. They would make fantastic councillors, both are community minded. For them, I suspect that their chief concern was the devastating loss that their daughter Rachel suffered in Hale ward, which was Barnet Labours top target. Sadly rumours were spread on the doorsteps by some who should know better that Rachel was a "typical Corbynite, Momentum supporting, University activist, with no foot in reality and no commitment to Hale". I should imagine that Mike and Catherine are very hurt that people should propagate such porkies on the doorstep. When I was told that by by Hale residents I was shocked. Not least because it couldn't be further from the truth. Mike, Catherine and Rachel are good people. I wish them all well and look forward to continuing to work with Mike on the Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum. Rachel will recover and come back stronger and more energised. Maybe she'll also have learned a vital life lesson that politics can be very cruel and people say bad things.

There are literally dozens of people that deserve thanks for helping our campaign. We doubled the Lib Dem vote from the last election, which is amazing. Mill Hill polled the most votes for the Lib Dems of any ward in the Borough, which speaks volumes for our team. Donna and Richard were a pleasure to work with, we are lucky to have a similar sense of humour and mischief. Our agent, Alasdair Hill also worked his socks off. Our team of deliverers also deserve a massive amount of praise. We delivered far more leaflets than any other party.

Before the elections, Richard asked me what we should do if we lost. I said that it all depended how we did. I said that if we didn't see a marked improvement in the Lib Dem vote from 2014, then it was pointless wasting all the energy. I said I'd simply give up local politics and concentrate on my business interests if I got less than a viable amount. Richard asked me for a number. I replied "1,200". What did I get?
TichborneRoger MartinLiberal Democrat1200
It seems the good Lord has a sense of humour. Reading the runes, I take the message as "not this time son, but keep working your socks off".

There were five messages people told us on the doorstep. These were as follows.

1. Mill Hill Residents do not want development on the green belt.
2. Mill Hill Residents want action on crime, public safety, vandalism and anti social behaviour
3. Mill Hill Residents want no truck with racists and anti semites
4. Mill Hill Residents want our roads and pavements to be properly maintained
5. Mill Hill Residents do not want to see the character of our neighbourhood destroyed

Our canvassing and polling confirmed this time and time again. What the ballot boxes delivered was a message that we hadn't convinced enough people locally that we were the party to deliver that. As myself,  Donna and Richard are all committed to the above principles, it is clear that the only message for us is that we have to work harder. We have to hold the newly elected Conservative Councillors to account every time over the next four years that they fail the residents of Mill Hill on these principles. Myself, Donna and Richard only decided to stand for election last September. We did this realising that it would be an almost impossible ask to win, but we felt we could put our messages on the agenda. It seems that this wasn't long enough to get the message across to everyone. Although we knocked on nearly every door in Mill Hill, many people weren't in and we needed to get around 2 or 3 times.  Now the votes are counted, we have all committed to staying at the heart of community, to ensure that next time, every voter in Mill Hill will know who we are and what we stand for. We will be there fighting for all of the principles listed above and we will ensure that any action taken by the council which undermines these is fought by the whole community. We managed to double our vote on the back of six months work campaigning. If we had started six months earlier, who knows what we could have achieved? It may not be easy, it may be a thankless task at times, but 1,200 people in Mill Hill expressed their faith in me personally to represent them. I am not going to walk away now. The campaign for the 2022 Council elections started last Saturday and it WILL be different next time. Mill Hill may not have Lib Dem Councillors for the next four years, but you will have a team of committed community activists, fighting every corner for you. If you want to join and help us build a local organisation that will make a change, click here to email us.

On Saturday, one of the victorious Conservative Councillors said to me at the Mill Hill Street Market "Haven't you realised the election campaign is over". It may be for her, for us it has just begun. We believe that representing the community is a full time job. It's not about politics, it's about looking after where you live and making sure your family and those of your friends and neighbours are safe and secure.

Onwards and Upwards!

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