Time for another Barnet Tory councillor appraisal, thinks Mrs Angry ... writing in a bit of a hurry, mind you, packing for Manchester. Yes, giving a speech to the Tory conference. Eric insisted. What on? Oh ... Localism: transparency and accountability - that kind of stuff. How not to do it, Broken Barnet style. Sold out, of course.
Anyway: who has drawn attention to himself this week, would you say, and is well overdue for an assessment by the unofficial internal and external auditor of Broken Barnet, ie me ... oh dear, yes, I am afraid it is you, Councillor Daniel Thomas, deputy leader of the council ....
Do come and sit next to Mrs Angry. No: not quite so close, darling: bit scary. Personal space, and all that.
Daniel 'John' Thomas .... hmm ... sorry: Mrs Angry has now been distracted by looking up - for the purposes of research, you understand - John Thomas and Lady Jane in Lady Chatterley's Lover, (page 219, 1960 first edition) ... goodness me - forgotten how naughty it is ... worth re reading, wouldn't you say, @CannyLinguist?
Anyway ... our own John Thomas has been asking for trouble this week, annoying Mrs Angry by:
a. his performance at the Cabinet Resources Meeting, signing off the sale of Hendon Cemetery, along with with Mrs Angry's grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and other relatives, to the highest outsourcing bidder, in a matter of three seconds, no discussion, no reference to the reports submitted to committee, and absolutely no questions from his Tory colleagues, who were clearly under instructions to keep their mouths shut. And then:
b. issuing a ridiculous statement to an online journal about the totally spurious 'cost' of Freedom of Information requests by Barnet bloggers, or a Barnet blogger, to be exact, in an attempt to smear the citizens journalists who have become such a powerful point of resistance to the One Barnet dictatorship.
Councillor Thomas has also incurred the disapproval of Mrs Angry in the past as a result of his ruthless ramrodding of easycouncil policy through council meetings, and a regrettable tendency always to speak in that curiously chilling, monotonous and expressionless manner of his. His calculated strategy of blind obedience to One Barnet has paid off, however, and won him the deputy leadership of the Tory council at a tender age, only just thirty years old.
And therein lies the problem: he clearly has little empathy for the difficulties which assail any ordinary family or less advantaged residents of Broken Barnet: he appears to lack the life experience which might teach him to have a little less judgemental set of political views, and might cause him to question the One Barnet balls which his party is relentlessly imposing on this borough.
Oh, and then last November ... do you remember the open meeting that was going to be held for residents to come and discuss the budget with the councillors, but was mysteriously cancelled after the Tories realised the dangers of a free debate on the issue, and then a few residents were treated to a personal one to one discussion with Daniel Thomas? Mrs Angry was one of those residents so honoured, and Mrs Angry has looked again at the post -
Come Into My Parlour, said the Spider to the Fly - after her one to one: (love the bit about how the new rules would 'reinvigorate' the Residents Forums - that is certainly true, although not in the way he must have wanted ...) but what did Thomas have to say then, November 11th, 2010, in regard to doubts about 'Futureshape/One Barnet'?
"he assured Mrs X that, and I have her notes here to confirm this, readers, that we are 'on the cusp of getting results', and if these results do not materialise, if things aren't 'working out', if for example 'outsourcing' is promising to look 'too risky' well then, and get this: 'we won't go ahead' with Future Shape."
Councillor Thomas: know what - ten months later, the results have not materialised, things aren't working out, no savings have been made, more and more money has been chucked at One Barnet, including by you this week, nearly two millions worth, just to tart up Hendon Cemetery so it can be sold on to our outsourcing chums, and yet ... you are still going ahead with 'Futureshape/One Barnet' ... why? At what point will even you admit that we are hurtling towards disaster at all speed?
Mrs Angry would suggest that 'the cusp' has well and truly been passed, and you know perfectly well that the residents of Broken Barnet are being sold down the river.
Does Councillor Thomas really care? We hope so. Does he see his future here in Broken Barnet, even? No, Mrs Angry thinks not. As the illustrations above reveal, Councillor Thomas has his sights set on a political career at Westminster.
Yes, at the general election, in May last year, Daniel Thomas stood as the Tory candidate for Islwyn, the former seat of Neil Kinnock, in the Cynon Valley, a former mining area nestled between the Rhonddha and Merthyr Valleys. Mrs Angry, in fact, can vaguely recall a council meeting last year when Cllr Thomas referred to his great knowledge of a former mining area where there are too many people dependent on the welfare state. Can you imagine?
Mrs Angry, being the product of several generations of Durham miners, was ready to leap over the barrier in the public gallery, clip him around the ear, and remind him about local Conservative heroine Margaret Thatcher, and what she did, and the miners' strike that took place when he was, possibly, just out of nappies, and the terrible destruction of communities that followed, and explain that that just might have some connection with a dependency on welfare, and benefits. Mrs Angry wonders how many minutes down a pit the clean cut Councillor Thomas, who works for the Yorkshire Building Society, might be able to endure?
Unfortunately, back home in the South Wales valleys, a cocky young Tory boy is not the MP of choice of the vast majority of voters, and Thomas failed to gain a seat. He only won 4,854 votes, in fact: the winning Labour candidate had 17,069. He is a local boy, grew up in Blackwood, a commuter town: notable residents of which have included the Manic Street Preachers, oh, and the manager of Shakin Stevens, apparently. Mmm. More interestingly, the town has a strong association with the some of the early radical activists of Chartism, and even has a bridge named after the movement. A heritage of little interest to Councillor Thomas, Mrs Angry would think ...
Thomas boasted in his election campaign that he was the only candidate who promised not to claim extra pay for renting an extra London 'home' ( his apostrophes, not mine), saving the tax payer 'a fortune' (my apostrophes, not his). This sounds awfully noble, doesn't it? Of course he doesn't explain that he already has a London 'home', lives in London, works in London, is a councillor in a London borough.
Rather amusingly, for his posters he copied the desperate slogan used by Mike Freer, here in Finchley and Golders Green, nicked from Dave, you know, whinging about 'the great ignored'. Sadly, it seems the people of Cynon Valley wanted to ignore Dan Thomas and the Conservative Party,and did so in no uncertain terms.
In retrospect, perhaps young Daniel should have ignored the rather base temptation to use the immigration card to win votes, as listed in his election pledge above, and as he explained in an interview with the South Wales Argus:
"Immigration is an issue that many politicians are scared to talk about yet it has massive implications on our public services, jobs and community cohesion. I’m not afraid to say that immigration should be limited and that, generally speaking, we should only admit those who benefit our economy ... "
On the other hand, when Mrs Angry becomes queen of Broken Barnet, (any day now) one of her first decrees will be to bring in an immigration quota. Yup. Specifically in relation to the number of wet behind the ear blue eyed Welsh Tory boy building society managers allowed to come to Broken Barnet, and set themselves up as councillors, with all of its implications for public services, jobs and community cohesion, and this quota will be set at a level of NONE. Zero tolerance. John Thomas will be put straight back on the train back to Cardiff, I can promise you.
(On the other hand, a warm welcome, and a civic reception, will be prepared for any visiting Welsh bloggers, especially Caebrwyn whom you may remember was arrested earlier this year, on the orders of Camarthenshire County Council, handcuffed and detained by police for daring to film a council meeting with her phone, and this week deservedly shortlisted as a finalist for the Welsh Blog Awards. Or the marvellous Malice in Blunderland who writes about, oh hello: Rhondda Cynon Taff council, must be familiar to Daniel Thomas, then - and my friend Y cneifiwr (he claims it means sheep shearer, but I'm not sure if he is winding me up. He has an unexpected interest in mascara, as well as Welsh politics).Oh, while we are still in the valleys ... here is another chance to get to know our deputy leader a little better: .
In 2003, a certain Daniel Thomas stood for the Welsh Assembly for Cynon: here is a mini interview with him, published in an online constituency profile:
Date of birth: 1981.
Marital status: Single.
Occupation: Customer adviser at the Yorkshire Building Society
Place of residence: Blackwood.
Favourite TV show: The Office.
Favourite food: Italian.
Favourite music: Stereophonics.
What is Wales' national sport --soccer or rugby? Rugby - but we're better at soccer right now.
What is your biggest character strength? Strength of belief.
Biggest character weakness I sometimes rush into things too fast.
What is your biggest indulgence? Too much takeaway, especially pizza.
Who is your Welsh hero? Nye Bevan.
What is the assembly's biggest achievement/failure in its first term? It has failed to improve the lot of Welsh people through lack of ambition.
What qualities do you have to be an AM? I feel I'm in touch with voters.They want us to act on issues which have an impact on their lives.
Ah: lack of ambition again, just like those lazy ex miners lolling about on benefits. Possibly Mr Thomas was not as much in touch with voters as he thought, though, as only 984 of them bothered to vote for him, whereas 10,841 supported the winning Labour candidate.
And er: Welsh hero - Nye Bevan ... Nye Bevan? Possibly the greatest of all Labour heros? The visionary socialist who created the National Health Service? The man who led South Wales miners in the 1926 strike? You sure you're in the right party, John Thomas?
Time for your performance score then, Councillor - well, on the plus side, you have put your register of interest entries online, and not opted out like some of your shabby, transparency averse colleagues ( shall I forward their names, Eric?) ... but then on the other side of the scale, well: sorry, but your refusal to honour your promise to review the value of One Barnet, your lack of empathy with the issues that really matter to the residents of this borough and your enthusiastic steam rollering of council business with such little disregard for debate or question: it's not looking good.
Oh: by the way, Mrs Angry noticed, when re reading her one to one chat with you, that when she raised with you last year the shameful fact that eight of your colleagues had voted themselves 54% rises in their extra allowances for chairing committees, you failed to criticise them. The amount this outrageous troughing excercise cost the tax payers of Barnet was upwards of £40,000, funnily enough the amount you ludicrously claimed another blogger has cost for FOI requests. I wonder which expenditure residents would consider to be the best value for money?
Mrs Angry's attention has just been drawn to the Conservative Home website where, as if by magic, Thomas' idiotic attack on FOI costs has been featured in the local government blog. Unfortunately for Daniel, almost all of the resulting comments from fellow Tories are notably lacking in sympathy.
Hmm. One out of ten, then, I think: but oh dear, further bad behaviour to consider: minus three for disrespecting the Barnet bloggers, minus one for using immigration as an election issue, another one for liking Stereophonics, and two for insulting the memory of Nye Bevan. -6: fail - unclassified.
Mrs Angry: standing up for the great ignored in Broken Barnet.
And now time for a bit of a stroll in the woods, I think, to see if we can spot any gamekeepers at a loose end ...
oh, and I nearly forgot: if you want to see John Thomas in action take a look at this video, a party political broadcast on behalf of the One Barnet party, here , disguised as part of a Corporate Plan Consultation launched last week. There is also a link to an online survey, which, in the tradition of One Barnet surveys is carefully loaded in such a way that you can only endorse a preset agenda. If you try to deviate from the options given to you, and leave a comment, you may be sure these alternative views will not be properly represented in the resulting report.
Are you happy with One Barnet? Are you comfortable with the ruthless repression of debate being enforced by Barnet Council - the censoring of Residents Forums, the promotion of consultation which is doctored to follow the purposes of the Tory agenda? Do you want to see everything in this borough turned over to private companies to make whopping profits at your expense? If not, come along to the Alternative Residents Forum tomorrow night:
GREEK-CYPRIOT CENTRE, BRITANNIA ROAD N12
OCTOBER 4TH 7.00PM
Here a genuine debate by residents will take place - if you can get a word in edgeways with the Barnet bloggers mouthing off, of course. Banners, heckling, and Tory vicars all welcome.