The right to to vote is something we take for granted, isn't it? And yet it is less than a hundred years since women won that right, and working men were excluded from the democratic process for almost as long.
For all the empty promises of Eric Pickles' localism agenda, the harsh truth is that the only challenge to the rule of a failed administration is an election: the democratic process, as we see it here in Broken Barnet, anyway, from one election to the next, offers no other way to influence the course of political decision making.
Everything the current Tory administration could do to act in defiance of the spirit of localism has been done, in fact - even to the extent of silencing the voices of its own residents at public meetings, and forbidding all reference to their disastrous policies.
So this next election, in less than a month's time, is hugely significant. After all the controversy of the last four years, and a litany of catastrophic stories engendered by the current administration's increasingly deluded activities, there is everything at stake: the future of a borough that saw itself as a flagship of privatisation, just itching to get back in power and hand over the last of the keys to Capita, and allow it to ransack what is left of our council services.
There are many well known Tory figures who are at risk of losing their seats, and some very good candidates standing for Labour in areas which they stand a good chance of winning.
Other interesting factors include the unknown impact of the collapse of the Libdem vote, the absence of the resident association candidates who split the vote in several wards last time round - and the threat of protest vote for UKIP.
Ah: UKIP. More of that anon: first let us consider a very worrying prospect.
That right to vote which we take for granted: will you be able to exercise that right, and vote in next month's elections?
A couple of weeks ago, Mrs Angry was asked to sign some election nomination papers. When the person organising this went to check her name on the electoral register - it wasn't there.
This was a real shock, as Mrs Angry had sent in a form weeks earlier.She rang the electoral registration department, and an officer confirmed that her form had not been processed. Why? A serious backlog, due to shortage of staff. The officer had three boxes of forms sitting by her feet. But there is an election next month ... Yes, she said, I know.
The next day, Mrs Angry, her son and daughter - first time voters - received the following form:
Mrs Angry's son was outraged (yes, inherited characteristic) - Does this mean I can't vote? In fact, that is not the case, but many people who received this letter, sent out weeks after registration should have been confirmed, will imagine that they are not able to vote next month.
Another call to the electoral registration office. A different officer said there were 'thousands' of forms waiting to be processed and added to the electoral register, but the problem was shortage of staff.
Mrs Angry wrote to the Returning Officer, ie Chief Executive Andrew Travers, and the leaders of all the parties in Barnet pointing out the implications of such a backlog.
The Libdem leader replied immediately that he thought the situation was appalling. The Tory leader replied - and he almost never acknowledges correspondance with Mrs Angry - very early the next morning, to say he was concerned. The Returning Officer sent an out of office reply. He was away - rather incredibly - at this crucial time before the election.
Panic stations at NLBP, and then a political whitewash. The Tory leader was assured by officers that there was absolutely no problem. In the place of the missing Returning Officer, Monitoring Officer Mary Ellen Salter sent a typically rude response telling Mrs Angry that it was her fault she had been disenfranchised - as she should have sent in her form last year.
Mrs Angry sent a response to Ms Salter objecting to the tone and content of her reply - which for some reason, despite the personal information it contained, had been copied to others - and saying that not that it was any of Ms Salter's business, but there were personal and perfectly valid reasons for submitting her form more recently, and clearly the main issue is that the council should not be taking weeks to process registration, just before an election.
More worryingly rumours emerged that not only were there delays in registration, some forms may even have been lost. Lost? How?
If they have been lost, this maybe how.
Despite promises that the Royal Mail would carry all election material, Barnet has a contract for delivery of much of its post with TNT.
As was revealed last week, TNT has come under criticism for poor standards of delivery:
So already there are reports of electoral material - polling cards, for example, going missing and being delivered to the wrong address, as well as other mail.
While out canvassing in West Hendon two weeks ago, Mrs Angry herself spotted this TNT bike left parked - see pic below - unguarded for two hours - if there was any post in the bags, clearly there was a grave risk of theft, and one can only ask how widespread such laxity might be.
Then just this morning, a story in the Barnet Press tells us that more dumped TNT post - including sensitive Barnet Council mail - has been found dumped near the Silkstream river in Colindale, by, of all people, Hendon Tory MP Matthew Offord.
The significance of TNT's questionable reliability is that the postcodes covered by the Barnet contract are in the west and north west of the borough: largely Labour voting areas. In what might be a fiercely close contest in many marginal wards, such unreliability might well have a serious impact on the outcome of the election.
Which brings us back to where we started.
In Mrs Angry's view, both Tories and Labour are underestimating the risk posed by vote splitting UKIP support. In fact, it is an immeasurable factor, and hard to predict. One thing is sure: the campaign, if that is what you can call it, is not working to the advantage of party interests. Indeed, some candidates appear not to know where they are standing: Mrs Angry was puzzled to receive the following leaflet from her local UKIP candidate, who seems like a nice old boy, posing in his photo in a kipper tie outside a pub. On one side of the leaflet he says he is standing in West Finchley. On the other he says it is West Hendon.
On one side of the leaflet he says he is standing in West Finchley. On the other he says it is West Hendon. Someone dealt with this confusion with later leaflet deliveries by - no, none of this red tape, bureacratic shillyshallying - taking out his biro, and casually crossing out 'West Hendon'. No need to panic. This is the sort of practical, no nonsense approach for which we British are renowned, after all.
Ted wants more grammar schools, and to protect our green spaces, and oh: to 'challenge and review One Barnet' ...
Well, that's more than Labour has promised, to be fair ...
There is another interesting leaflet Mrs Angry has seen in the last few days: yes - one for the independent candidate in Totteridge. You won't have heard of him. Chap called Brian Coleman. Used to be a Tory. Beat up a woman in the high road, got thrown out of the Tory party - eventually - by Conservative central office, as his own former colleagues - including his fellow Totteridge councillor and Tory leader Richard Cornelius - were too scared.
A few weeks ago an early election leaflet poked its head through the letter boxes of Totteridge Ward - one grateful constituent posted a picture on twitter:
But that was just a softening up exercise, all part of Brian's masterful campaign strategy. He taught Lynton Crosby everything he knows, of course, and do you know, Brian rarely gets the credit.
The old 'dogwhistle' thing: Brian's idea. Well, not so much a dogwhistle, as an all out attack by a particularly rabid pitbull. Of course the law does have certain restraints which even Coleman must abide by, and the pitbull must be kept on a leash, when it comes to election material. The leaflet that our Brian has produced, however - printed in the Netherlands, for some reason - displays the temper not so much of a pitbull, as a particularly peevish poodle. Yap, yap, yap.
Brian has never forgiven Cornelius for what he sees as his 'betrayal' - and has used his election leaflet to try to smear the leader and his wife, by making rather ill advised claims about the allowances they have received from their time in office:
Wonder where he got that pic? Hope you're not infringing copyright, Brian.
So, he reckons, and of course he offers no evidence, that over seven years Cllr Cornelius and Cllr Cornelius raked in £314,786, oh - and 82 pence, let's not forget.
According to Mrs Angry's slow calculations ... that's around £45,000 a year, between the two of them, just over £22k each. And yes, that is about £22k more than Mrs Angry thinks they deserve, but then, this is all relative, isn't it?
We need a comparison, for the sake of balance. Let's see.
On his uppers now, poor old love, lives in a charity owned flat, fixed rent, down to only basic councillor allowance, due to run out any time now ... but once upon a time, readers: once upon a time ...
Take a look at this forensically adduced piece of auditing by one of Mrs Angry's extensive, and only mildly exploited, team of unpaid intern researchers, back in 2010:
ah, those were the days, weren't they Brian? Years of raking in an annual income from the public purse of at least £128,864 ... Rather makes the Cornelius income pale by comparison, no?
So there he is, our man, standing as usual in a Joseph Paxton sized glasshouse, throwing large pieces of concrete, oblivious to his own failings, because of course, in his own mind, Brian Coleman is above the rules that apply to other mortals: he has appeared on earth to lead us wheresover he should choose, unquestioning, and he must be revered and feted at every step, and at every expense to the taxpayer. Yes, because only he, of all us who dwell in the demi paradise that is Broken Barnet, is worth it.
Will the residents of Totteridge care, when they read of their councillors earning £314,786 - and 82 pence, over six years? Mrs Angry suspects most of them will not give a flying f*ck, as if you live in Totteridge Lane, you would spend that on having your new swimming pool installed, without batting so much as an eyelid.
What else does our candidate have to say, in terms of policies?
First of all please note Brian has paid his own tribute to his blogging mentor/muse, ie Mrs Angry, by pinching a photo from this blog of him and Boris outside Temple Fortune police station.
I know what you are thinking. Which of them, Mrs Angry, had been helping the police with their enquiries? Not Brian, this time, although as we know, he is familiar with the inside of a police station, and indeed has spent the night in a custody cell, after the Helen Michael assault. Hold on. Let us enjoy that thought for a moment. Itchy blanket. No room service. Full English breakfast, but courtesy of HM constabulary.
In fact, Mrs Angry had found this picture after a long search as for some reason, it is practically the only one in existence that features the pair of them standing close together. How odd, that the Mayor of London has not willingly posed with Brian Coleman more often. Can't imagine why.
The quote used here 'Bring Back Brian', which has rather touchingly been used as a reference, was in fact made in a moment of despair recently by the Mayor, when facing the awkward questioning of Labour AM Andrew Dismore, who took Coleman's seat. Brian - read this carefully: let Mrs Angry translate. It meant: oh God, when Coleman was here I could get away with anything, and now look, or words to that effect ...
Moving on. The policies. More grammar schools, and to protect our Green Belt, out of Europe, end immigration - hang on ... that sounds familiar ... You a kipper, now, Brian?
Except of course that the UKIP candidates round here don't even go as far as that. No mention in Ted's leaflet about immigration, or Europe.
We don't know how the currently non-aligned member for Totteridge would align himself, in an ideal world, in fact: there is no description on the nomination form, just a blank space. His twitter profile describes him as a 'true' Conservative. It may well be, of course, that the Returning Officer would not allow the c word on the nomination form.
There was a UKIP candidate supposed to stand in the ward, but his nomination appears to have been missed off the list.*
This is rather curious: take a look at this post by the Barnet Bugle,
*Update Monday: the Bugle reports that the missing candidate has been found and returned to the nomination list. Curious, because the documentation appears to be dated the day on which the original list was published, without him. An administrative error, we hear. So now we must welcome Keith Graham Fraser, who is nominated by an Elizabeth D Herit.
Another candidate in Totteridge has chosen to leave his details undisclosed too, a George Linskey. Checking him out on social media sites it would appear that this rather confused young man is a UKIP supporter, but presumably not a member. Very odd. And his nominee ... is a Raymond Herit. Odder still.
There are in all nine UKIP candidates standing in Barnet at this election. With changing demographic profiles in many wards, and the collapse of support for Libdems, the UKIP factor will play even more of significant role in affecting the outcome of the election, and unpredictable in the way it takes votes from both Tory and Labour parties.
Finchley Church End - Amir Latif
A Tory ward, but perhaps not as safe as the current rather complacent councillors - Eva Greenspan, Daniel Thomas and Graham Old like to think.
Hendon - Barry Ryan
Tory ward, but not immune from challenge.
Mill Hill - George Alfred Jones
Tory ward, Libdems used to come second, a lot of voters annoyed by parking and planning issues: unlikely to pick up from UKIP but will be interesting to see the outcome.
Oakleigh - Victor Kaye
Labour and Libdems with comparable votes last time: difficult to predict ...
Totteridge - Keith Graham Fraser - bound to pick up some votes, but competing with entrenched Tories. And Brian Coleman, who may grab all the Monster Raving Looney tendency voters for himself.
Underhill - John Jeffrey Baskin
Split ward: two Tories, one Labour. Likely to want to divest itself of the two Tories.
West Finchley - Ted Anderson
Labour stronghold. Not a chance of a look in by anyone else.
West Hendon - Adrian Murray-Leonard
Adrian is something of a loveable rogue - (and keeps trying to kiss Mrs Angry in the Greyhound). Grateful though she is for the attention, he is on to a loser with her, and with the voters of Labour held West Hendon, where last time he stood as a Tory candidate.
Woodhouse - Karl Khan
The collapse in Libdem support should help safely to return this ward to Labour. UKIP factor unknown.
Of course what is interesting, from a brief look at the UKIP candidates, is the curious fact that so many representatives of the party which is so opposed to immigration, are themselves clearly here to delight us all with their UKIP focused views because someone in their own family was ... an immigrant.
Not just the candidates, but many of those signing the nominations are clearly from families who came to this country relatively recently. Why do they want to deny to others the opportunities they have enjoyed?
It seems to Mrs Angry, dabbling her toe in very dangerous waters, that those of us whose grandparents came to this country from elsewhere should be last in the queue when it comes to excluding the same privileges to others.
It is a curiousity of human nature, of course, that those whose connection to the place where they live is more tenuous than others feel the need to exaggerate their own rights of identity.
Let us take an interesting diversion, and examine the case of Mr Nigel Farage.
In hot water, this week, for employing his German wife in a post funded by public money, at the same time as running a campaign focused on whipping up hysteria about European workers stealing British jobs. Hmm.
Mrs Angry thought it would be interesting to look at Farage's own background.
He likes to spin the story behind his own unusual surname as being of Huguenot origin: sort of foreign, yes, a bit French but you know, way back, and Protestant. None of that foreign Papist nonsense.
In fact a quick look on Ancestry.co.uk reveals that the Farage name, to be pronounced, we are told, Far-AGE, is more likely to be rather more boring Ferridge, from the home counties, generations back.
We know of course that Mr Ferridge has a German wife, and secretary, but last year the Express ran a short story, curiously overlooked, revealing that Farage had German ancestry.
Nigel's grandmother was a Gladys Schrod, and the Express article claimed that the family arrived a couple of years 'after 1861' . Nigel's great grandfather Carl Julius/Justus Schrod was born here in 1864.
In fact the Express and apparently everyone else has failed to spot the 1911 census return which includes the surviving grandmother, Bina Schrod, who was born in Friedberg by Frankfurt. She would appear not to be a naturalised British citizen, all those years later, and still have German nationality:
Until the coming of the Holocaust, Friedberg had a large Jewish population, and Bina is, or was, a common German Jewish forename, of Hebrew origin, meaning 'understanding, intelligence, wisdom'. If the UKIP leader's family were from such a community, it would seem possible his family settled in London at a time when many Jewish communities were finding increasing persecution and social isolation, as well as economic difficulties: coming to England was easy enough during this period due to the absence of any restrictions on immigration, of course.
Does any of this matter?
Yes, it does: the European origins of our Mr Ferridge's own family, and the immigrant background of local UKIP candidates is deeply interesting, from both a pyschological and political point of view.
Only today we here former Tory cash for questions MP Neil Hamilton promoting UKIP on the basis that it is the party for 'decent BNP voters'.
Second and third generation families often feel the need to overcompensate by identifying strongly with establishment values, and political values. But in truth their own family's experience, if honestly acknowledged, proves the point that UKIP and any other right wing anti-immigration party is trying to exploit: that this is an island nation, and all of us in the UK are self evidently here because we arrived from somewhere else.
We are what we are, due to immigration, and if we had, in the nineteenth century, the sort of restrictions on immigration that UKIP wants, very few of us would be here, and many of our families would not have survived, whether from genocide in Europe, state sponsored starvation in Ireland, the aftermath of post-colonialism, or the extremes of poverty and persecution in too many countries around the world.
It is the people who came here who have made Great Britain great: and our democracy is built on a legacy of tolerance, legally protected rights, and a political system aimed at giving a voice to everyone, regardless of their background, or class. Here in Broken Barnet that voice needs to be heard, loud and clear: and so does a rejection of the divisive, hate fuelled policies of UKIP.
So: Barnet decides, you decide: make sure you vote, and before you vote, make sure your vote is registered: you might find only too late that your voice isn't going to be heard at all ... doubts about registration, postal votes, polling cards, nominations - and now there are the questions raised about the security of the ballot papers overnight, in Allianz Park ...
Perhaps it is an ill omen, as Councillor Coleman has observed, in a complaint to the Returning Officer, that the count will be held in a stadium renamed after a company associated with the Nazi era.
Or maybe it's time to demand the presence of a team of observers from the United Nations, to ensure this election runs smoothly, and uncompromised by error.
Just a thought.
This is Broken Barnet, after all.