Monday 25 July 2011

Recall: performance appraisal for Councillor Longstaff

Broken Barnet's favourite stand up comedian

Well, it's been a hard week again, hasn't it, and a difficult weekend -or is that just me: my life, eh, who would believe it? So let's have some Monday fun, as we continue our personal sofa audit of Tory councillors here in Broken Barnet. Coming later.

Before we summon the next councillor to Mrs Angry's parlour, though, we must pause and recall the last subject, for a bit of a telling off. Yes, I'm talking to you, Councillor David Longstaff. Stand up when Mrs Angry is speaking. Oh, you are? Fair enough, so.

Mrs Angry recently reviewed the many performances, clothed and unclothed, of actor, comedian and Tory councillor Mr Longstaff in 'The business that is show in Broken Barnet'. Councillor Longstaff's appraisal was very popular, you know, and drew attention from a global audience: even the scientists at NASA were moved to take a very close interest in his performance assessment, although possibly not in the way he may have expected. There are some very naughty scientists, ladies and gentlemen, working on the space project, with too much time, and one or two other things, in hand now the shuttle has landed for the last time, it seems.

Back to earth, though. Last week, fellow blogger Mr Mustard sent a polite email to all Barnet Councillors, wishing to draw their attention to an important report in which he had found some very serious errors. A perfectly reasonable matter to contact them about, you might think. Unfortunately, Councillor Longstaff took a different position, and sent the following response:

Dear Mr Mustard, Please remove me from your mailing list.

I have no wish to read any more of your anonymous blogs, that contain gratuitous insults about Barnet Officers and Councillors.

These are decent people; and whilst you may have some points to discuss regarding the borough, they would be better served without the rudeness.
Cllr. David Longstaff

PS As to your ‘urgent’ emails regarding procurement, which I found slightly manipulative, I’ll decide what’s urgent in my life, Mr *******, not you.

Ooh, er: get you, Councillor Longstaff: Mr Mustard immediately grabbed hold of his handbag, I am told. Now, in Mrs Angry's view, not only was Mr Mustard perfectly entitled to raise a legitimate issue of concern with our elected representatives, in this case it was particularly appropriate as David Longstaff happens to be Mr Mustard's local councillor. Amusingly, this councillor has also just been appointed as a Cabinet member by the new Tory leader, Richard Cornelius. Oh, his responsibilities? For 'safety', and er ... 'resident engagement'. Yes, really.

What is it with the Tory councillors of the Chipping Barnet Conservative association? With one or two honourable exceptions, it would seem, frankly, to be something of a nest of vipers, seething with Tory troublemaking and hard line, and noticeably disengaged, political sympathies. It's no wonder a couple of disaffected Tories who felt their views marginalised within this network of numpties took to blogging to publicise their discontent. Or maybe it was the incessant routine of fundraising candlit suppers and garden parties from hell that drove them to despair - I've seen the photo gallery: goodness me - imagine Brian Coleman sat in a deckchair clutching a glass of lambrusco and a tupperware plate of sausage rolls, and you'll get an idea of the sheer unbridled horror of such events.

Perhaps it is the rarefied atmosphere of Chipping Barnet, the highest point for miles around, which breeds such contemptuous Tories: there they sit, like the Greek gods on Mount Olympus, hatching their plots, and meddling in the lives of we mortals down below. Of course that wouldn't explain Brian Coleman's lofty attitude, as he has somehow tumbled all the way down to the foetid, MetPro guarded lowlands of Totteridge: a descent into hades, maybe.

On balance, however, thinking it through, I would say that, even in Broken Barnet, with its history of institutionalised contempt for the opinion of the borough's long suffering residents, a Cabinet member paid an extra allowance for the duty of engaging with the community probably ought not to be, and I am trying to be polite here, so intemperate and dismissive, wouldn't you agree, citizens?

But let's get to the bottom of all this. Was there something more behind the bare faced cheek of such a response?

Mr Mustard is a lovely man and very well mannered, and does not deserve to be spoken to in such a way. Mrs Angry suspects, in fact, that in this case he may well be the whipping boy for Councillor Longstaff's reaction to her performance appraisal, which concluded, I seem to remember, in a mark of, let me just look it up in my ledger: ah yes, 2/10, or D-. Oh dear, not very good, and now Mrs Angry must deduct a further three points for impertinence: that will be -1/10, and unclassified, I'm afraid. Please try harder: stay behind after the next council meeting, and write out a hundred times - 'I must remember that I am an elected representative of the residents and tax payers of the London Borough of Broken Barnet.' There's a good boy.

As you know, Mrs Angry has felt compelled to offer, in addition to her Pickles approved armchair audit service, her voluntary appraisal system for our grasping Tory councillors, after they have mysteriously failed to honour the promise they made to submit to such scrutiny, last year, when they tried to sneakily award themselves whopping great rises in the allowances we pay them, whilst at the same time lecturing us on the necessity for crippling budget cuts, and staff redundancies - and preparing to emasculate the council consitution in order to minimise the rights of opposition councillors and residents to take part in the local democratic process.

Councillor Longstaff put himself on the shortlist of urgent appraisals - and Mrs Angry will decide what is an urgent appraisal, councillors, not you - after his rather abrasive performance at the last full council meeting, where yet again Mrs Angry spotted signs of latent Colemanism in his attitude. This is not a good thing, and she advises Tory councillors to cleanse themselves of this dangerous tendency, before their turn comes around.

Mrs Angry was reminded yesterday of the exemplary behaviour of former Conservative councillor Leslie Sussman, who sadly passed away recently. Mrs Angry understands that this gentleman, and she uses the term deliberately, appears never to have claimed an allowance for his long service to the community, simply because he saw his work as a contribution to the public good, and a position of honour. How times have changed.


Mr Mustard said...

You must only know one stand-up comedian then Mrs A

Mr Mustard said...

I think I will have to put an application in with the soi-disant Innovation Bank for the costs of "post councillor encounter counselling" for Barnet's blogger community. So Big Society.

And a new handbag to make me feel better. It usually works.

Mrs Angry said...

Mr Mustard: my life is full to the brim with slapstick humour and perfomance artists of all types, but I doff my hat to Mr Longstaff for his marvellously attuned sense of fun and comic timing.

And yes: a new handbag always cheers, doesn't it? And possibly some new shoes to match. Ask Roger Evans: but stay out of Romford.

Mrs Angry said...

By the way, there is a self help group for the victims of Tory councillor rudeness: it meets every Sunday morning, in the Brian Coleman room, Finchley Methodist Church Hall,Essex Park N3.

Mrs Angry said...

Here is an afterthought for all keen scholars of linguistics: yes, that's you, DCMD - and of course, Councillor John Hart, although from a slightly different position - have you noticed there appears to be a correlation between People Who Put Capital Letters in Inapppropriate places and a need to impose authority, possibly due to feelings of inadequacy? It's a form of literary aggression, I Would Say. Not just here, Brian does it, and even The Man from Grant Thornton.