*Update, by election leaflet complaint, see below:
Yesterday was a busy day for Mrs Angry, consisting of two very different social engagements: attendance at a christening, in a Benedictine monastery, and attendance at a Labour Party victory party in a social centre in Kentish Town. One was an event of notable sobriety, spiritual renewal, and joyful celebration, and the other was the baptism of Miss Florence Haynes, Mrs Angry's goddaughter's beautiful baby.
Andrew Dismore, of course, was probably a beautiful baby once, at least in his mother's eyes, and now he too has been warmly welcomed into the new embrace of the community as the recently elected London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden. Last night a victory party was duly held, to thank all those who had campaigned for him.
MP Frank Dobson made a speech, recalling his time as a mayoral candidate, and about Andrew's time at Westminster, where he made a nuisance of himself, apparently, although in a good way, and Mrs Angry hopes that he will do the same at City Hall, where it seems to her that too many AMs pass their time in a state of suspended animation, sitting on committees and not acheiving very much of any worth to the people they represent. (No, not you, Roger Evans, of course. Roger has kept Mrs Angry entertained over the last couple of years with his City Hall blog, his Soviet style hats, brown shoes, and photos of underpasses and bus stations in Romford, and detailed accounts of his slow but determined circumnavigation of the capital ring. Ooh er, Mr Evans. Not much else to do in Havering on a Sunday morning, though, is there?)
Anyway? What else, who else? Well, Mrs Angry had a very interesting conversation with Sarah Hayward, the Labour councillor who has just become the new Leader of Camden Council.
Ms Hayward is exactly what is missing from Barnet Council, in fact: young, female, strong - and a sharp contrast to the vast majority of male dominated old dodderers and wet behind the ears Tory hard liners sitting in our own council chamber. But the Labour group in Barnet is desperately in need of new input too, and a new direction, and this debate about how this should be acheived was also a topic of conversation last night.
Most talked about, though, was the forthcoming by election in Brunswick Park.
This has been a highly controversial by election, due to the interesting choice of the Tory candidate, Mrs Shaheen Mahmood, who describes herself in her electoral literature as 'not a professional politician' but who works at Conservative Central HQ as the Executive Secretary of the Conservative Muslim Forum, whose views on Israel, Northern Cyprus and Iran have caused controversy within the Tory party itself, not so long ago. Full marks, however, to the Tories for daring to choose a candidate who is a. female and b. would definitely increase the range of diversity of background of councillors in this borough.
Mrs Mahmood has had no less than three different leaflets published and delivered in the ward, at no doubt some substantial expense, since her campaign began. The latest one has provoked more controversy as a claim is made that:
'Following a successful campaign by your local Conservatives, parking will remain free at the Ward's two car parks in Osidge Lane and Brunswick Park Road and Church Hill Road car park in neighbouring East Barnet Ward ...'
Hmm. This refers of course to charges voted for and supported by local Conservatives, but which caused so much hostility and complaints from residents that local Conservatives, ie Councillor Robert Rams and Barry Evangeli, eventually got scared and kicked up a NIMBY fuss with their Tory chums, until some concessions were granted - once the architect of the planning scheme, Brian Coleman, was safely dispatched.
It is a somewhat premature claim, however, and possibly misleading, to state that the car parks in Brunswick Park will escape the new charges - this matter would appear not to have been decided yet, and according to the local Times late on Friday afternoon, Coleman's successor as Cabinet member for Environment, Dean Cohen, was quoted as saying he was not able to confirm whether or not charges would be introduced in the Osidge Lane or Brunswick Park Road car parks.
Just this afternoon Mrs Angry has received an email from a reader of this blog who lives in Brunswick Park, and who has had an interesting encounter with the Tory candidate herself. Mrs Angry will publish her record of this conversation. And if Mrs Mahmood wishes to comment in reply, Mrs Angry will be more than happy to post her response.
" ... she started by asking whether she could count on my vote. I explained that before I’d decide whom to vote for, I would like to be assured that my elected representative would represent and respect views of the residents. Her immediate reply was that ‘of course’, and pointed out that she is the only candidate who lives in this ward.
( I note that other candidates are from Edgware and Hendon, so indeed she is local; how long has she been living here, as you will see she hasn’t got a good command of locality)
Then I think she tried prove her knowledge of local issues and to recite more or less what is in her promotional leaflets.
I interrupted her and said that I have a request – would she sign the petition to re-open the Friern Barnet Library? (N.B. I spent last few afternoons going round our estate and collected about 150 signatures, so I had the petition form ready at hand.
What was Ms Mahmood reaction? - She was visibly taken aback.
She said she’d have to talk to other councillors (!) and, then asked “By the way, “where exactly is the Friern Barnet Library”?” (!!!)
I had to enlighten her that it is just nearby on Friern Barnet Road.
She then went on to say that Friern Barnet Library is not in this ward anyway and here we’ve got Osidge Library. I argued that we, i.e. from our estate tended to use predominantly Friern Barnet library (we live equidistant form both).
I had to explain to her that any resident in Barnet is free to use any library within the Borough anyway, whichever is more convenient to them.
So, I asked again whether she would support re-opening of the Library. She tried find an excuse and said that she’s “not familiar with the case” (where has she been for the past year to claim not to be familiar with the case! – you must notice I am getting increasingly more angry, like you.)
Then she started explaining that the council had to close the library because there weren’t enough people using it, and council has to make so and so many savings etc. And told me that they have a door count at libraries to see how many people use it and not enough people used Friern Barnet Library.
I pointed out to her that the new facility in Tally Ho has now significantly lower door count.
At that point I think she had enough of talking to me, tried to change subject of the issue of those car parks that are still remaining free of charge in our ward and then said that she is in a rush and left saying that she hopes that she could count on my vote for her ....
...and she rushed to a car parked outside in the middle of the road packed with people who presumably were other canvassers . Although they stayed outside my house for quite a long time after she left, I couldn’t see who they were."
Mrs Angry had a chat with Andreas Ioannides, the Labour candidate for Brunswick Park last night.
He is a lovely chap, and clearly really committed to winning this seat. He told Mrs Angry that he has had a hugely positive reception from the residents of Brunswick Park. Mrs Angry was not surprised.
Oh ... and Mrs Angry has just heard of yet another leaflet being distributed in Brunswick Park, which is causing yet more upset. More later.
Oh dear. The latest leaflet. Dear me.
The latest leaflet has a big daft map with a dramatic red arrow showing where the Labour candidate lives, and a blue one pointing to where Mrs Mahmood resides. This will make thousands of voters rush to the polling station to vote Tory, no doubt, especially when they have read the accompanying 'check list' supposedly comparing the Labour and Tory candidates potential for representing the ward 'effectively'. Guess what, the Tory candidate gets a lovely tick in every box: and the big bad Labour candidate (no name, no picture) gets A Big Bad Cross in every one.
Mrs Angry's cynical & twisted comments in red, of course.
- lives in Brunswick Park ( well, yes, she does have an address in the area)
- 'positive ideas to improve the area' (erm ... a couple of crossings, and ....?)
- member of a team with a proven record of action for getting things done (ie some Tory councillors are now getting - or saying they have - some of their own policy decisions partly undone in panic after adverse reaction - see car parks above)
- knowledge of the area (erm ... but not knowing about the Friern Barnet Library issue ?)
- understands the local issues faced by fellow residents (oh dear, as above)
- has run a positive campaign (mmm, yes: as exemplified by this desperate leaflet)
Update: the Tory blogger Barnet Bugle has published a very interesting post
Which clearly indicates the ludicrous argument being frantically deployed in this latest leaflet is compromised by an embarrassing fact: most Tory candidates who have stood recently for Barnet wards do not live in them.
Mrs Angry understands that an offical complaint has now been made to the Returning Officer by the Labour party in regard to an allegation of misleading information in the third leaflet published and delivered by representatives of the Conservative candidate in the Brunswick Park by election.