A packed Town Hall, last night, for the Full Council Meeting, as was expected, with the proposed savage cuts to Barnet libraries and nursery provision on the agenda, followed by an 'Extraordinary' meeting held to debate Labour's motion of no confidence in the Tory leader, Richard Cornelius, in the aftermath of the highly critical Lloyd-Jones report into the failure of governance, and legal services.
All Barnet Full Council Meetings are pretty Extraordinary, to be fair: an ungainly combination of pantomime and farce, played out to an audience of unruly residents, cramped into a tiny public gallery, overlooking the council chamber, separated from their superiors by a safety glass wall, for fear, one imagines, of projectiles, or being spat upon - or at least close contact with the electorate they so despise.
So many residents turned up last night the council was obliged to open up an overspill room, which itself overflowed- hundreds of people, many of them parents at Moss Hall, one of the nurseries affected by the cuts.
Hidden away at the end of the same corridor, as one of Mrs Angry's spies noted, was an emergency bunker for our paranoid elected members, should the apocalypse dawn, and their ungrateful residents do what they could hardly be blamed for, jump over the glass wall, and take over the council.
Outside the building two police vans waited, in case of trouble, and inside extra security officers prowled the corridors, and monitored events in the public gallery, peering anxiously through the glass in the doors, and once or twice coming in to stand, rather pointlessly, arms folded, when the yelling was loudest. And there was a lot of yelling. And not all of it from Mrs Angry.
The proceedings were filmed by an Occupy London activist, and streamed live on Bambuser, and also filming was a documentary film maker who works for the BBC. Barnet, once again, is in the news, and once again, all because of the political lunacy that prevails in the administration nominally run by our council's Tory party. Nominally, of course, because this is now the London Borough of Capita, and subject to the rule of private enterprise, and senior officers, rather than our elected representatives. It's just that, as yet, only a few Tories have cottoned on to this; and one of them, as we will see, was the cause of a major humiliation for his own party, later on in the proceedings.
Hugh Rayner is of course the perfect Mayor of Capitaville, bringing, as he does, the exact level of dignity in office that you would imagine might be appropriate to such a role.
He opened the proceedings, and asked his chaplain to say a few words. The Pastor obliged, and asked the Almighty to bestow upon the meeting 'the peace which surpasses all understanding', as well as the gift of wisdom, and clarity of thought.
Oh dear. It would seem that God was not listening to our entreaties, and there was to be no peace, understood or not, precious little wisdom, and on the Tory side of the chamber, at least, as usual, no detectable sign of any clear thinking.
No Full Council meeting can begin in this borough without tributes to someone who has escaped the boundaries of life in Barnet into a better one, possibly via the newly expanded services at the Hendon Easycrem facility, and almost certainly marked with a funeral or memorial service attended by the former Tory member Brian Coleman, who seems to spend all his time at such events, or tweeting remarks for or against the obituaries of the great and good, that exclusive club to which he will never belong.
These tributes serve to prolong the nuisance of having to get on with council business, and also compels members of the public to be upstanding, and bow their heads, in the way our Tory members wish we would do as a natural course of action, in their presence.
This time we were told of the sad passing of sometime Barnet Tory MP Sydney Chapman, whose service to the area was marked by the naming of a road in Hadley Green, Sydney Chapman Way, regularly altered by local dissenters to ' Sydney Chapman, No Way'.
Veteran Tory and former MP John Marshall stood to speak about Chapman. He liked trees, we heard, and planted 26 million of them. Not all in his own garden, one imagines. He was very welcoming to young new MPs, and keen to 'show them the ropes'. He showed them where the bars were. It wasn't clear what else he did, especially for his constituency, but he seems to have been well liked, an old school Tory, and, as Labour's Kath McGuirk pointed out, unlike the rest of his Conservative colleagues on Barnet Council, he was a staunch supporter of the ArtsDepot, and indeed, the arts. Across the chamber, our culture averse Tory members looked on, indifferently, creatures from another time and place.
No way, now to avoid the inevitable. Time to tackle the first of the incendiary items now gingerly lifted out of the box, and laid before members. Tory councillor Reuben Thompstone stood by, matches in hand, and then - whoosh.
Nurseries. What can you say, to justify cutting funding to early years provision? Well, of course you can't, and even if you could, the insufferable complacency of Reuben Thompstone should automatically bar him from trying. He justified taking the money away by saying to do otherwise would have an impact on children in 'deprived parts of the borough'. This was a novelty, of course, hearing an admission from a Barnet Tory that there are deprived parts of the borough, but shameless using this as a pretext to cover their ruthless budget slashing.
Labour's Rebecca Challice is a new councillor for East Barnet - one of the youngest councillors, if not the youngest councillor in the country - and she is a real asset to the party: bright, charming, and tactful, and her background as a carer, and Chair of the local carers' centre gives her a maturity and sense of compassion that some of the younger Tory members would do well to emulate.
Two of the nurseries under threat are in her ward - which fell to Labour in May, to the shock and dismay of the Tories who had previously held it and had not foreseen the loss - and she had formulated a sensible amendment to the Tory motion, asking for the decision to be deferred, and more thorough consultation undertaken.
Rebecca had thoughtfully given up her right to speak, her maiden speech as a councillor, to her amendment,so as to allow the vice chair of governors of St Margaret's nursery to address the chamber, for three minutes. He did so now, a short but effective speech, remarking on the 100 year history of the school, the outstanding OFSTED reports, the lack of consultation over the cuts, the impact of the loss of key members of staff, the questions not addressed, the decisions made in haste - involve us, he asked.
He received thunderous applause, which annoyed the Mayor, who complained about the length of it, as of course only token signs of approval and dissent may be expressed by members of the public, in the chamber of democratic debate, where our elected representatives speak on our behalves.
Time for Tory Brian Salinger to speak. Salinger, of course, is the Chair of Governors of Moss Hall, and had already spoken furiously against the proposals affecting his nursery at the meeting last week, from which Labour members had moved the issue, despite the disapproval of the Chair, Cllr Thompstone. He repeated his objections to the proposals, pointing out with great impatience that the problem was not, as his fellow Tory had insisted, a matter of subsidy, but due to the core funding of early years provision, which formula was, he barked NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!
Salinger rubbished the idea of amalgamating Moss Hall with the three other nurseries, far away in East Barnet - how could they share staff? No one had seen a budget so they could not tell if it was financially viable, or not. Children, he observed, did not get a second chance at their education - and he moved his own amendment to his own party's proposal.
All very good, but one has to ask if he would have bothered taking this rebellious stand if the nurseries concerned did not include the one with which he is associated.
Labour's Anne Hutton thought the nursery proposals typical of the Tory attitude that so long as something saves money in the short term, that's alright.
Thompson's responses were bizarre. He observed, rather rudely, that some nurseries may be or fifty years old, or a hundred years old: some older than Cllr Salinger (ooh, get you) and said that to oppose the cuts would lead to an impact on less advantaged areas, like Burnt Oak, and Colindale.
This was too much for Mrs Angry. She retorted, from her seat in the public gallery, that he had never worried before about these areas, or their disadvantaged residents.
West Hendon! yelled Jasmin Parsons, one of the residents and activists from a housing estate and community about to be destroyed by the luxury new development by the Welsh Harp.
Mapledown! yelled Mrs Angry.
Reuben Thompstone watched by fellow Golders Green member & environment chair Dean Cohen, who allocated the astronomical sum of £1.1 million to be spent on their ward's pavements & roads in the year before the election, while Labour wards went without - nearly half the money needed to 'save' all our libraries.
There now proceeded what can only be described as a laughably inept handling of the vote for the motion, and the amendments. No one knew what was going on, including the members of both parties, and those councillors who had submitted amendments. Yet again, there appeared to be no one in the chamber with a grip on procedure, and yes, our new interim, part-time, pre-used Monitoring Officer was present, as well as the Chief Executive, who sat there in his usual decorative role, as is the custom at these meetings, and is part of the onerous duties which earn him a larger salary than the Prime Minister.
Despite the findings of the Lloyd-Jones report it seems that Barnet still has no one in place to oversee the management of governance and prevent these cock-ups: why not?
It was hard to follow the sequence of voting, but at the end of it, after a moment of disbelief, a wave of euphoria broke over the heads of the opposition: Rebecca's amendment had been carried, thanks to one Tory rebel - and that's all it takes now. For the first time in many years, Barnet Tories were defeated in a vote, and their scheming, shameless assault on nurseries in Labour wards thrown out - or at least sent back to the drawing board.
A Tory rebellion: Brian Salinger votes with Labour
It was a moment of exquisite pleasure to observe the faces of the Tory leadership - and wonderful to see this moment of triumph won by a new Labour councillor, marking a change in the strength of opposition politics in Broken Barnet, and a huge psychological blow for the Tories.
The Moss Hall parents and protestors were jubilant,of course, and left the Town Hall in a state of noisy excitement, celebrating their successful campaign. Successful so far, of course - a word of warning to them that the Tories are unlikely to leave the matter there.
Next up: libraries. A more sober mood fell on the chamber. Labour's Anne Hutton responded to the pathetic Tory defence of their proposals, that is to say that these savings had to be made, and identified, and Labour had agreed to that principle and now they were 'playing party politics'.
This was a theme throughout the evening, and to be frank, the tactic of accusing Labour of having agreed to all the Tories' nefarious plans is partly the opposition's fault, or at least the party's leaders. Until now the opposition has been too keen to engage in cooperative dialogue, seeing itself as (and please excuse the term) 'holding the ring' with the administration. Critics within and outside the party, however, see this as part of the problem in Barnet, the opposition institutionalised, and tricked into endorsing the Tory agenda.
The new intake of Labour councillors will not be associated with such traditions, hence the new tough love policy of non cooperation with working groups, the tawdry kangaroo court of the leaders' panel, and so on. And the Tories, poised on a precipice with their majority of one, are panicking at the prospect of not being able to continue to dupe their trusting Labour colleagues into facilitating their ghastly regime.
Labour is not playing 'party politics' , said Anne Hutton - this is about caring for our libraries ... she gave some examples of how other London boroughs made provision for libraries, while facing the same economic challenges. Croydon has thirteen libraries, Camden twelve; Hillingdon has rebuilt and refurbished all its libraries. There must be an holistic approach to the library service, and we must take our time to consider the way to do this properly, including looking for alternative sources of funding that we can tap into, to make a library service fit for the 21st century.
Tory Reuben Thompstone said breezily that this was a consultation, this is just the beginning.
Of the end, for you, thought Mrs Angry, with fond memories of the spectacular end of former library member Robert Rams' brilliant career, now evaporated, and leaving as much trace behind him as the invisible library he built, or didn't build, in North Finchley.
The subject of libraries was put aside for a while as other items came up for debate: ah, the Lloyd Jones report.
Barnet Council, said Labour leader Alison Moore, has been made a laughing stock by the failures identified in the report, bringing the council into disrepute. It was not, as the Tory leader has implied, a trivial issue, but had caused a total meltdown. Claer Lloyd-Jones' report was a damning indictment.
Tory leader Richard Cornelius said he thought Ms Lloyd-Jones' report was perfectly clear, Clearer than Alison Moore's speech. And that was that, of course. No harm done, motion lost. Back to business as usual.
Question time now, put back in order to deal with the nursery issue earlier in the evening. Always good for a laugh, of course, and entirely pointless, and plenty of opportunity for the Tories to do that thing so reviled by Reuben Thompstone, playing party politics. Playing internal party politics, perhaps, was Tory Brian Salinger, who asked some awkward questions - real questions, rather than the can the leader confirm how wonderful we are variety usually posed by Tories. Hmm, thought Mrs Angry. Is Brian Salinger warming up to a leadership challenge? He has been leader before, of course, and was deposed in favour of Mike Freer, in a plot engineered by Brian Coleman. He has never quite got over it, and certainly that would liven things up a bit, wouldn't it?
Almost lost amongst the variety of questions was one from Labour's Councillor Charlie O'McCauley, from Burnt Oak, and who wanted to know what the borough did to celebrate Black History Month, an issue of personal significance to him, and countless other residents, of course. The Leader dutifully replied that there had been a number of events and activities held in - oh, held in Barnet's libraries ... wonder if they will be taking place in this borough, ever again, once those libraries have been shut, flogged off, or shrunk in size by 93%?
Charlie referred to the role that a former resident of the borough has played in the abolition of slavery, that is to say William Wilberforce, who lived in Mill Hill, and - as you would know, readers, if you came to Mrs Angry's sell out talk for Finchley Literary Festival on Dickens and the borough - built the church on the Ridgeway, after falling out with the Rector of Hendon, who was a vicious, profligate snob, and came from a long line of plantation owners in Jamaica).
The Tory leader smiled and boasted of course he knew that, and William Wilberforce, he declared, was a good Tory.
Erm: no, he wasn't, as John Marshall, the only Barnet Tory who has ever read a history book -no, ever read a book -informed him, on the quiet.
Of course Wilberforce was a man who followed his own conscience, and judged each issue on its own merit, an idea beyond the comprehension of a Barnet Tory councillor.
Right winger and unapologetically politically incorrect Brian Gordon, whose contribution to Black History Month this year, or any year, is unknown, but once 'blacked up' in fancy dress as a form of entertainment at an old folks party, in a 'tribute' to Nelson Mandela, had a very important question: on the subject of the Edgware Smell.
This 'appalling stench' is apparently from a composting plant out of the borough, and nothing to do with our Tory run council. The malodorous air in the council chamber of Broken Barnet, on the other hand, most certainly is.
More important than any other questions were two posed by Labour's Paul Edwards, on the subject of payments to Capita. More important, in the end, than anything else that was discussed that night, or all year, because the truth that lies beneath this question and answer, whatever it is, puts into perspective all the cuts and closures and loss of services and job losses, sold to us on the basis of the need for 'savings'.
Would the Leader confirm how much the council has paid to Capita to date under the CSG and Re contracts, whether this is in line with the payments profile for both contracts, and if not, how much does it vary by for each contract?
Under the CSG and Re contracts, the council has paid £47.6m (CSG) and £16.1m (Re) by the end of September 2014. These payments are in line with the published payments schedule. The CSG and Re contracts will provide a financial benefit to the Council of £165m through savings and income over 10 years. CSG services now cost £6m less per year.
This answer of course regurgitates the official version that the Tories, senior officers, consultants and Capita stick to, whatever challenge is made to their calculations and projections. The figures are nonsense, because they only tell you part of the overall spread of payments and 'savings', and the 'landscape', as our officers would put it, is never a constant view, but changes with the passing of the season, and out fo the corner of the eye. And this response tells us nothing in terms of hard facts: in line? Prove it. Give us the figures. Which of course we cannot access as the costing that the contract was based on was 'commercially sensitive', and therefore redacted from publication or disclosure.
Have those costs been hiked up, do you think?
Are we paying more than we are saving?
What about the 'gainshare' payments that we have to hand over to Capita, if they say they are saving a certain amount of money and are therefore entitled to an extra fee: are we scrutinising the claims and challenging the figures?
Councillor Edwards' supplementary question asked:
Would the leader confirm that the figure of £63.7m given in his answer does not include the £14.8m paid in 1 July 2013 for and quote “interim measure to provide critical services”? Nor does it include the £16.1m paid to Capita as part of the CSG contract for IT and back office infrastructure, whatever that might mean.
So in fact the LBB has actually paid over £94.6m to Capita since the Council outsourced services to this company, £31m more than in your written answer. Would the leader kindly explain this difference?
Was there an intelligible answer? What do you think?
Mrs Angry was watching the Chief Executive, during this part of the Q&A. He seemed curiously ill at ease - or ill humoured.
Later on in the session Cllr Edwards asked another question about Capita:
On the 8th October the Telegraph’s ‘Questor’ reported that: “INVESTORS have been ignoring the warning signs at outsourcing group Capita [LON:CPI (Other OTC: CPICQ - news) ] as they chase returns and growth. Capita’s return on capital has slumped. Last year the company saw pre-tax profits fall by a total of £260m, with £146.7m related to losses on disposing and closing businesses. The overall conclusion and advice it has given to Capita shareholders is to SELL! In the context of Capita’s falling pretax profits and its slump in return on capital, and the advice to Capita shareholders to sell, would the Leader like to explain what risks he believes there maybe that Capita may not be able to deliver on its ten year contractual obligations to Barnet Council?
Typically absurd answer by the Leader:
Many Labour Members complained at Capita’s past profitability, so should now be pleased that contracts must now be less lucrative for them. I am confident they will continue to deliver improved services for us.
The Tory leader's confidence, of course, is boundless, especially, as we shall see later, in his own abilities, even when all evidence to the contrary is laid out before the world in the pages of the Lloyd-Jones report. In regard to Capita, however, as Cllr Edwards pointed out, his confidence was not widely shared, including, it seems, amongst his own Tory group. He then proceeded to quote a tweet from Ocotber 30th by the globe trotting young councillor Danny Seal in which he complains about the awful IT service for councillors by 'Crapita'.
Watch this clip: it's rather amusing ...
In his supplementary question Paul asks again about the famous £16.1 million of capital investment that you may recall Mrs Angry kicking up a stink about, when it transpired that the so called 'upfront investment' we had been categorically told, over and over again, was the reason we needed to outsource in the first place, was in fact going to be paid for not by Capita, but by us to THEM, in the form of an interest free loan!
Will we ever get a sight of the real state of the balance sheet? Not if any of the interested parties can help it, you may be sure.
QT over, another issue Mrs Angry has been writing about for some time now: the disgraceful actions of the council over the Edwardian park keeper's lodge in Victoria Park, whose tenants were evicted some years ago, since when the property has stood empty as our sweaty palmed Tory councillors found, to their dismay, that they cannot sell off the building and keep the dosh, as there are covenants that restrict the sell off of the house, and mean that any profit must be used for the benefit of the park.
We must keep a sharp eye on that, mustn't we, because of course, at this meeting, despite a brave speech by local Labour councillor Jim Tierney, who reminded us of the 114 year history of the lodge, to no avail, as of course they agreed to approve the sale of the property, as heritage, in Broken Barnet, built or otherwise, is only an asset to be disposed of, not protected.
Back to libraries.
Anne Hutton repeated her plea for a consideration of alternative forms of funding, such as Arts Council England, and the holistic approach to service provision, rather than a hatchet job. Falling on deaf ears, of course.
Deputy Tory leader Dan Thomas burbled on about Totteridge Library, for some reason (the library closure that propelled the Tory leader into his glorious political career, because obviously it was in his back yard, and clearly the back yards of everyone else matter not at all.
Then he said, ooh, look over there, Labour run Brent ... they closed libraries, you know - and was heckled by the public gallery, so he turned to the Labour group in Barnet, and accused them of not telling the Tories how else they can find the money they say they need, which they don't need at all, and why do they need help to run the council anyway, but he ended by rabbiting on about 'fairness', and 'real budgets, not fantasy'.
Behind Mrs Angry in the public gallery some familiar faces began to chant a warning:
OCCUPY THE LIBRARIES! OCCUPY THE LIBRARIES! OCCUPY THE LIBRARIES!
Who could blame them? In Broken Barnet, direct action seems like the only real option to many people, disillusioned by the lunatic Tory administration, and what has been, up til now, a passive opposition.
Up til now, comrades. Keep the faith.
Time for the sole surviving Libdem councillor, Jack Cohen, to speak. As usual his was the voice of reason.
The library consultation was a sham, he said.
They have been trying to close the library in his ward of Childs Hill for forty years. But how funny that they should be trying again now, after gaining two Tory councillors in the ward.
And how shortsighted that was. As Reuben Thompstone sat below him, smiling complacently, Jack reminded everyone that the Brent Cross development meant there would be thousands of new residents in the area - and no library. What were they doing with the Section 106 money, if not for this sort of thing?
Time for Labour's Ammar Naqvi to speak, another maiden speech. He made an eloquent, elegant speech about the role libraries had played in his life, helping him become the person he is today. A library, he said, isn't simply a building with books in it. It is a welcoming, community space, where people can come together and grow. A library is a vehicle for social mobility, he observed, a pathway for personal development ... yes, thought Mrs Angry, and you might expect a real Tory, who really believes in aspiration, and helping people to work their way out of poverty, and a life limited by disadvantage, to support that ideal, and do everything they can to protect such a vital resource for self improvement.
But not, Mrs Angry, in Broken Barnet, where even what passes for Conservative principles must come second to the dominance of the market place, and the price of everything as a commodity, and not an intrinsic, immeasurable value.
Anne Hutton told us an interesting anecdote now: from when the Tories had persuaded Labour to take part in their off the record 'working groups'. A certain Tory councillor, commenting on the proposals to 'shut a few libraries' shrugged and commented coolly that, so what, all that would happen was some residents would 'squeak a bit'.
The only sort of library volunteers approved by Mrs Angry: former occupiers of the People's Library
Well, the Tories voted through the library report, of course. PHILISTINES, yelled a furious man in the public gallery. He is absolutely right, of course.
Remember this, citizens, when the first by-election comes along, or even the general election. Barnet Tories want to kill your library service, and all the councillors voted for these proposals to go forward.
Yes, there will be a nominal consultation.
You will be asked to make a choice that does not exist, but suits their predetermined agenda.
You will not be asked if you accept the basic premise that any cuts are necessary.
It is up to you, if you object to what they are planning, to make your voice known, and take action, now to save your local library. They can find the money, if they want to.
Ask Councillor Cohen where he found the money to spend nearly half of the money they say they need on his own ward's pavements, in the months before the local elections.
Ask the Mayor why so much money was spent on his ward of Hale, in the same period, on pavements, and roads, and on all the other Tory wards.
Ask the Chief Executive why we spend so much money on private consultants, and hand over so much of taxpayers' hard earned cash to Capita, when they are supposed to be saving us money.
On to another subject: a very serious and sensitive subject, and an issue championed by another new Labour councillor, Reema Patel, who has challenged new plans by our Tory members to oblige the victims of domestic violence to declare themselves homeless, before being rehoused. An amendment has now been won, thanks to her sterling efforts, but housing spokesman Tom Davey clearly was not pleased by her campaign.
Davey is perhaps the most politically extreme of all the Tory councillors, despite, or rather because of, his youth, someone who revels in making controversial and provocative comments, such as expressing the desire to see Barnet exclusively populated by the 'well off', and making disparaging remarks about those who rely on council services.
Speaking now, and denigrating Reema's campaign, he chose to talk in a low, cold, and quiet voice, a contrast to his usual rentagob grandstanding, but just as calculated, clearly meant to sound calm and reasonable, but having the effect of sounding rather patronising - and worse, which in the context of the subject under discussion, was unfortunate.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that only five years ago, Davey thought it was amusing to joke about violence against women, as revealed here in Political Scrapbook, earlier this year.
Smacking my bitch up? Just a joke.
Reema, who is an extremely bright lawyer, activist and speaker, despite her profound hearing difficulties, is clearly deeply emotionally invested in the issue she had worked so hard to resolve. She spoke now about the terrible challenges faced by women affected by domestic abuse, whether in terms of physical violence, or, as might also be the case, a partner's controlling behaviour, such as - restricting access to a bank account. It takes immense courage, she said, for a victim to summon up the courage to leave, and here was a moment of opportunity - why wait until physical abuse had occurred to do something?
After the condescension of the housing spokesman, we were treated to the tetchy response from another man, David Longstaff, telling us how grateful we should be for Barnet Tory policy on this subject.
Labour's Kath McGuirk was pretty furious, and remarked that the victims of domestic violence in this borough had been made to pay the price of a shortage of housing.
The People's Mayor, Mr Shepherd, had his own contribution to make, of course, and remarked that in his possibly politically incorrect view, the Tories who were pontificating on the subject of violence against women might be sorted out by a good handbagging from Mrs Thatcher.
Trouble is, thought Mrs Angry, they would have enjoyed it too much. Anyway, they would only have been asking for it, wouldn't they? There's a joke for you, Councillor Davey.
The evening had been long, and still continued: time now for the bit they wanted to put off to the very end, the Extraordinary meeting, to discuss a vote of no confidence in the Tory leader.
Back again to Alison Moore, and Barnet being A Laughing Stock, and in a State of Chaos, and brought into disrepute, and incurring Avoidable Public Criticism.
As she spoke, Chief Executive Andrew 'Blackhole' Travers, slumped back in his seat and looked rather cross. Perhaps he prefers Unavoidable Public Criticism. But of course he is only the Head of Paid Service, and yes, earning more money than David Cameron - (remember when he was just another interim consultant, earning £1,000 a day?) - so nothing that goes wrong can possibly be his fault, as his duties consist only of sitting at his desk, counting paperclips, and throwing darts at pictures of Mrs Angry.
Oh dear, More tactless remarks, from Alison Moore. Incompetence, on a grand scale. And (I'm cutting this short here, as I'm sure you get the general picture, and we were all knackered by now) No Confidence in the Leader. Or the Deputy Leader. So there.
The Tory Leader stood up, full of Confidence in the Leader. Brimming over with it, in fact. He thought the Leader was marvellous. He did graciously agree, however, from his position of absolute innocence, to apologise on behalf of those who were responsible.
Who? yelled Mrs Angry. Who? Make them stand up, and say sorry.
He said then, apropos of nothing, that he had had a letter from Hilary Benn, and that we should all 'wake up'. Erm. And anyway, as he had noted the local press had been keen to report, he was going to vote for himself.
You're in Private Eye, as well, Cllr Cornelius, Mrs Angry pointed out, helpfully.
Here, in case you haven't seen it, Richard:
Jack Cohen remarked that, as the saying goes, a man who can smile when things are going wrong has thought of someone else to blame.
Cornelius always smiles, of course, even as the knife is under the cloke.
Paul Edwards suggested the council was being run by boy racers, who crash the car, but emerge unscathed: another apt analogy.
Deputy leader Dan Thomas thought Labour were playing 'cynical political games' (if only) and that we should stop concentrating on the negative.
Accen-tuate the pos-itive, agreed Mrs Angry. El-im-in-ate the negative.
Cornelius won the vote, of course, albeit by the help of his own vote, and nominally at least,retains the full confidence of his group, just as the chief executive retains the confidence of the Leader.
But, as a comment written and underlined in Mrs Angry's scrawled notes from the meeting suggest - the Tories are losing their grip.
They lost a vote tonight, with one member bailing out. It only takes another disaffected Tory, or one who is absent by accident, design, illness or lateness, for them to lose another, and then: they are only one by election away from losing control of the council.
They have launched into another deeply unpopular set of proposals, and if they continue with the library cuts, or continue with cuts in nursery provision, they will lose bucketloads of Tory voters. This will affect not only their position, but the chances of local Tory MPs trying to get elected in May.
Oh dear. Never mind, Tory councillors of Broken Barnet.
You might be up a Laughing Stock, and incurring Avoidable Public Criticism, and, let's be brutally honest, stranded way, way up Shit Creek, without a paddle, but still ... never underestimate the power of positive thinking.