Thursday 22 February 2024

This government may well end my blogging career!

The insspiration for starting to write blogs about politics, for me, was that I thought that the Tories running Barnet Council were useless, but the vast majority of people were unaware of this. Furthermore, I realised that there was no proper press coverage exposing just how bad they were. I spent a decade scrutinising council papers, doing my best to alert people to the mistakes the council were planning to make, trying to rustle up support locally to oppose the stupid policies that anyone who bothered to look, knew would cost Barnet residents a small fortune. Despite this blog clocking up nearly 4 million hits, not enough people listened to the warnings. The Tories won the Council elections in 2010, 2014 and 2018 and introduced the devastating scheme that became known as One Barnet. When they were finally booted out in 2022, they left a devastated and demoralised council that was struggling to provide basic services. There period in charge had been so bad that OFSTED made them bring in Essex Council to sort out their educational services. 

Labour won a landslide in 2022, but took over a council in such chaos that even the most competent of administrations would have struggled, and no one would ever accuse Barnet Labour of being particulary competent. I have found it rather difficult to write blogs condemning Labours ineptitdue, as I realise that they have been bequeathed a shit sandwich and I don't envy them. Some of the things they are doing are really stupid, such as bidding for the 'London Borough of Culture' when the Borough doesn't even have an established music venue and the local music festivals, such as the East Barnet Festival are struggling to survive. My view is that they'd have been better off giving the festival money, than the expensive consultants engaged to make the bid. Compared to the mistakes of the last Tory administration, it is small beer. Some of the things they tried to do, such as ending after school respite care for the parents of heavily disabled children at Mapledown Special School were plain inhuman. To the extent that it was blocked by a revolt by formerly loyal Tory Councillors (all of whom were deselected). 

I keep an eye on Barnet Council, but I don't have the time or inclination to snipe at small stupidities. I am sure that sooner or later, the Tories will find a blogger to do that for them. As for National government, I've not really blogged too much about them. Not so much because I have no opinions, but because there was coverage and it was far better than I could offer. I broke this rule as chaos enveloped the Government as Boris Johnson rose to power. The reason for this was a I had a source at the heart of his government (a source that has now run dry). The source was not sympathetic to my viewpoint, but it suited them to get information in the public domain. It also suited me to highlight the splits in the Tories. 

I assumed that Boris Johnson was an abberation, an outlier, a bumbling populist maverick, who the Tories chose to get their electoral fortunes back on track after the shambles that was Theresa May's reign. When Boris was elected in 2019, I thought that he was lucky to have been elected at a time when the economy was generally sound. I doubted that Boris could bugger it up too much. I also assumed that the Labour party was done for a generation. The Corbyn era had destroyed it's credibility in the country. As Boris had a massive majority, I thought he'd give us a couple of years of bonkers Tory ideolgical policies, then a couple of years of retrenchment, to strengthen the Tories electoral position, in time for an election last year that he'd romp home in. The pandemic put paid to that. 

Within a year, it was clear that Boris was toast. What came next shcoked even me. The Liz Truss debacle. To see a hard right Tory skewered by the free markets she espoused would have been hilarious, if it hadn't cost me a fortune in higher taxes and interest rates. When Rishi Sunak replaced her, I assumed we'd get a sensible, pragmatic and rather boring leader, who would get the countries finances back on track.  Last week, we found that the UK is yet again in recession. The man I thought would be a competent, if undynamic, manager turned out to simply be a man out of his depth. It is now clear that he appeared to be a good chancellor because Boris was his boss. His chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who does at least have an air of competence, has been doing his best to face off the Liz Truss faction of the Tory party, seeking tax cuts the country can't afford. Hunt reminds me of the adage "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king". 

Then there is Sir Keir Starmer. Anyone who doesn't recognise the achievement of making Labour appear electable does not understand politics. Starmer has made a whole career of saying nothing and having no opinions. He's been leader for nearly four years and I have no idea who he really is. He seems to have taken the Tony Blair playbook and removed the messianic zeal that Blair brought to the table. What will Starmer be like, if he makes it to be Prime Minister. At one point, I would have said "He can't be any worse than  what went before", but I thought that after Blair, Brown, Cameron, May, Johnson and Truss and in their own way, each has been a downgrade. 

The problem as a blogger is that justs pouting negative opinions is perhaps the least interesting thing that it is possible to read. Someone recently asked why I am 'not covering politics anymore'. If you look at this year, this is not entirely true. This year, I've posted four politics related blogs, four more than the rest of the Barnet bloggers have written about politics etc (Mr Mustard has kept up his output of parking related blogs). But I've never blogged for the sake of it. The things I write about are things I find interesting and that others may as well. This blog has given me an extraordinary platform, the thousands of hits I get are a privilege that I appreciate. I don't take the people who read it for granted, but I also feel a responsibility to write blogs that have something to say that you won't read anywhere else. The things that interest me currently are music, the environment, Football (especially grassroots football), Barnet transport issues and the silly things that make life liveable. I find it almost impossible to find anything interesting to write about local or national politics. The biggest problem with this government is that you can write a blog and a week later, it is completely out of date as they've lurched into another crisis. 

I must add one thing about Barnet politics. Prior to the election, several Barnet Labour Councillors were very friendly with me and we'd have nice chats occasionally. They don't want to know now. One recently got themself into a spot of bother, having made some rather unwise comments on Twitter. Two years ago, I'd have spoken up for them, when the inevitable nasty comments came from the likes of disgraced Tory Brian Coleman. Having realised that they viewed me as a 'useful idiot' when Labour were seeking power in Barnet and now they are in they have no use of me, I was not in the least inclined to chip in and say "Hang on, this is a bit out of order coming from someone convicted of assault". It seems to me that Labour think that they've got the Hendon and Finchley Parliamentary seats sown up and so want to keep 'loose cannon bloggers' at arms length. I am quite happy to leave them to it, as it means I can get on with stuff I enjoy. I am not sure whether Rishi and Barnet Labour have effectively cured me of my urge to blog about politics, but writing about other things is far more fun.

Talking of which, my band, The False Dots are doing a gig on Sat 23rd March at the Beehive in Bow. Check out our trailer for it! Tickets:

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