There is an election in May 2022 for Barnet Council. In 2018, the make up of the Council swung sharply to the Conservatives. Barnet was the no 1 target for Labour in London, as the Tories had a majority of one. To the surprise of many, not me I may add, it swung the other way. The Tories now have a massive majority. Wards such as West Hendon that had never been Conservative switched. A Labour activist confided in me recently that they see no realistic prospect of Labour winning the Council and other councils will be higher priority targets. I was quite shocked to hear this, as I believe that the Tories could be ejected from the Council if the opposition got its act together and did what an effective local campaign should do and target the issues. It would also see some sort of progressive Alliance. I've long been of the opinion that Labour, The Lib Dems and the Greens should come to some sort of arrangement where they do not split the vote in winnable seats.
Many wards in Barnet have three Councillors. To avoid the fratricidal leeching of each others votes, I would propose that the Opposition party best placed to win stands two candidates, with the other two parties taking turns to pick the third seat. This would give all parties a chance to see the true level of support they might have. In Mill Hill, this may be complicated. Labour has never had a seat. The Lib Dems had three councillors between 1994 and 2006 and two between 2006 and 2010. It has been Tory since, with Labour finishing a distant second in 2014 and 2018 and Lib Dems finishing third. I would suggest that Labour stand one candidate, here as at least the Lib Dems have a track record of actually winning. In Hale, where the Lib Dems have not won, Labour could stand two and the Greens stand one. I believe in this situation, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens stand a chance of winning seats. I would not be in favour of a formal coalition pact in advance of the election, but I would suggest that opposition parties state that they are giving real democracy a shout.
Instead of a coalition, I'd like a local charter that all progressive parties sign up to.
1. An end to mass outsourcing, One Barnet and Capita running the council.
2. A strong commitment to the Green Belt and Environmental issues.
3. An end to the use of dangerous Glycophosphate herbicides.
4. A commitment to modal shift to public transport in Barnet, with support for green transport schemes.
5. An end to developers being able to select and rent their own planning officers in the Council.
6. A commitment to local high streets.
7. Stronger penalities for fly tippers.
8. An end to self certification by contractors of pot hole repairs and a scheme of proper inspection of repairs before invoices are paid.
9. Proper protection for listed buildings, pubs and community resources in Barnet.
10. More say for local people in local democracy, with removal of restrictions on public questions at council meetings, which were brought in over the last few years by the Conservatives to weaken democratic oversight.
I know that these proposals will be unpopular with all manner of hard line ideologues, but every sane person I know thinks Barnet Council would be a better place if Green and Lib Dem voters were given a realistic chance of seeing a councillor elected and shaping policy. The current Labour hegemony on second place serves no one. I've done the maths and such an arrangement would deliver more seats and would remove the Tories vice like grip on Barnet. It is the only way any of the policies I listed will ever come to fruition.