Wednesday 18 January 2023

The Brass Neck of the Barnet Tories is a sight to behold - Golders Green By Election Commentary

There will be a by election in Golders Green ward of Barnet Council on 16th Feb 2023, caused by the death of long time Councillor Melvin Cohen. Please make sure you vote if you live in the ward, CLICK HERE FOR full details for getting a vote.

I have been fascinated to see how little activity there is on social media from the three main parties. I was hoping for a pithy round up, but there was so little pith, that all I could find was a local Tory tweeting about it that had much to take the pith out of. The only tweet the Tory candidate has posted is a retweet of one of his mates tweets? Clearly working hard. So lets have a look at his mate!

In October 2021, when the Tories, were still doing OK in the polls and the Boris Johnson regime had yet to completely implode. The Tories were selecting their candidates for the elections in May 2022. They were expecting to hold on to the council back then. The view was that Corbyn had made Labour too toxic for Barnet. The Tories had their largest ever majority on Barnet Council so even a few losses would not have overly damaged their position. In December of 2021, I'd spoken to a local Tory who told me that they expected to take more seats, due in no small part to the popularity of Boris Johnson. A quick look at the poll tracker shows how quickly things turned, once Dominic Cummings was sacked and started to drip poison into the veins of the Tory party poll ratings

There were some boundary changes and a few new seats were formed that no one really knew how they'd fall at election time. Sometime around the end of 2021, I was having a chat with a local Tory regarding their expectations. They made some claims that seem rather laughable in hindsight, but at the time I genuinely believe they were giving what they thought was a sensible analysis. One of the more absurd claims was that Anne Clark would be in trouble in the new ward of Cricklewood. When I heard this, I relaised that maybe the Tories were trying to kid themselves. The reason? These threefold. The first was because Sir Keir Starmer would not detoxify Labour in Barnet in our lifetime. Corbyn had simply done too much damage to the standing of the party. The second was because disgraced former Tory big wig Brian Coleman's baiting of Clark as simply a being a dopey housewife, who was out of her depth, had hit home and done real damage to the local perception of her. The third reason was the Tories had selected one of their rising stars, Yosef David, who I was told was very hardworking and had a brilliant feel for social media. I'd never heard of him, but noted the name and kept a beady eye on him. I soon realised that he wasn't quite as good at social media as I'd thought, getting into pointless rows with local residents, then moaning about them 'piling in'.

I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed because it would be good to have a decent Tory tweeter and blogger to fulfill the Dan Hope RIP role. Sadly for Yosef, his early promise did not really live up to expectations at the ballot box.


Now whilst this was less of a shock to me than to some of our Tory friends, as part of my public service remit, I thought I'd keep a beady eye on what the new crop of 'hard working, 'social media savvy' Barnet Tories were up to, whilst they await the glorious revolution where they retake Barnet Council?

Well sure enough, it appears that Yosef had bought the 'Twitter for Tory Dummies' book and turned to the chapter on how to make a name for yourself as an up and coming social media guru in a local political party. Chapter one. Take a picture of a pothole and blame the other lot

Yosef has taken one of the loveliest pictures of a pothole I've ever seen. The artistic composition is spot on, with the tree tastefully reflected in the water. To be honest, I almost want a pothole like that outside my house, so I can spend the long summer evening fishing in it. 

As to Chapter 2. Take a picture of a bus with a slogan on it and claim that it's evidence that the other side have ballsed everything up.

The trouble with pictures of buses with slogans on at the moment for the Tories, is that all it really does is remind people of the big Boris Vote Leave lie that once Brexit was done, there would be £350 million a week for the NHS. As the nurses and ambulance workers are on strike for a basic living wage, clearly this is a porkie and the cash hasn't materialised. Why Yosef would seek to remind us, I don't know but I am grateful.

On to Chapter three. If you want to ingratiate yourself with right wing loonies have a pop at Greta Thunberg. 

Anyone who's had teenage daughters/grand daughters, be they Tory, Labour or Monster raving looney's doesn't really enjoy seeing pictures of young girls who pose no threat to anyone being hauled off by burly police in full body armour. Is it just me? I see a small, vulnerable girl at the mercy of large, armoured men. There's plenty of pictures of Greta Thunberg looking a bit smug etc, but this show's she's got some balls. Perhaps a lot more than some of our local political wannabee's. Not something I'd want to emphasise.

On to Chapter four. This is the one that says 'Any Brickbat lobbed at Prince Harry and Meghan is an open goal, waiting to be scored.  Given the other three tweets we've looked at, you have to smile at the unintended irony here. Maybe Yosef should take his own advice. Now I don't think Harry and Meghan have done anyone, least of all themselves too many favours with their books and films, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone, when it comes to gobbing off when you should keep schtum. 

We've reached Chapter Five of "Twitter for Tory Dummies". This chapter says, the message is to get your voters out to vote. So how does Yosef approach this conundrum?

We'll ignore the typo. I am sure that Labour and the Lib Dems will be delighted if all of the local Tories put an 'X' in their diary on Feb 16th. I'm sure Labour  and the Lib Dems will be campaigning for their supporters to put an 'X' next to their candidates name!

And finally, Chapter six. The one on Brexit, "remind your supporters that only the Conservatives are true believers in  Brexit.

Yosef comes out with a classic here. In effect, he's saying that Remainers shouldn't bother pointing out the economic damage that Brexit is doing, because Brexit was about the identity of the UK and any collatoral damage to the UK was a price worth paying. Did Yosef miss the bus? You know, the one with the promise that Brexit would make the NHS £350 million a week better off? If that wasn't a promise of a better, stronger economy, one which millions fell for, I've no idea what is. As a business owner who has to pay the price of Brexit and who has lost 50% of my staff due to the downturn caused directly by Brexit, it is all about the economy for me and just about every business owner I know, many who have supported the Tories. 

There is a real brass necked element to these posts. Barnet has been a nightmare for Potholes since I started the blog. It was a major feature of my election campaign against the Tories in 2010, 2018 and 2022. Sure I believe Labour could do better, but to pretend the problems are new are just ridiculous. The concept that the economic damage caused by Brexit is irrelevant is perhaps the strangest and biggest whopper I've ever seen in Barnet Tweeting. Does anyone really believe Leave would have won if they'd told the truth and said "Brexit will trash the economy, but we'll all have our identity back"? 

There is a council by election in the safe Tory ward of Golders Green on the 16th Feb, where long standing councillor Melvin Cohen stood for years. Peter Zinkin, who lost in Childs Hill last year is standing. Peter was one of the most competent Tory Councillors in the last administration and despite his politics, I quite like him. It would be a major surprise if he lost, despite the unpopularity of the Tories, which is even worse than in May. But if he doesn lose, maybe he should have a look at the tweeting of his Tory mates. Whether or not they like it, Barnet was and is strongly remain.  Most people support the councils goal of net carbon zero, even Tories. The British are not keen on riot police carting off teenage girls and most of us don't want to be reminded of Prince Harry right now. 

If I was a Barnet Tory and I was trying to persuade people to vote for Peter Zinkin, I'd start with looking at all of the successfull policies of the Tories in Barnet over the last 20 years before last May and tweeting about that instead. Personally, none come to mind, but I am sure there must be some. 

As for Labour, Sue Waller is the Candidate -

For the Lib Dems, the candidate is James Goldman.

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