Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Coriolanus, Max, and Major Blunder: a week in politics in Broken Barnet

Updated below Thursday:

Time to leave behind the world of love, romance, and men in lederhosen, I think, and return to the harsh reality of political life in Broken Barnet; a bleak and loveless landscape, alas.

But what has been happening this week?

Well, our local Tory MPs have been the subject of much speculation - and some criticism - after their interesting behaviour in relation to the European referendum vote.

Mike Freer, above, left, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, looking awfully pleased with himself, (but then we can't see what is happening out of shot, can we?) appears to have made a journey of 360 degrees from a position of supporting the referendum, to one of not supporting the referendum - and all in the space of a week, as seen in his tweetings. On 19th October he said:

Mike Freer MP
Motion on EU and the UK would give people a say on our relationship with the EU. People should have another say - the EU has changed

By 23rd October, however, he was finding reasons to backtrack:

Mike Freer MP
How important is the EU debate to my voters? So far 10 emails on the EU, 40 about planning reforms and 220 on the ditched forestry reforms.

and later the same day he announced:

Mike Freer MP
I support George Eustace's amend. Yes to reform of our relat with EU. Yes to referend at some pt. No to distracting the PM from econ now.

No. For f*cks sake don't distract David Cameron from the economy now. If he loses concentration, the whole thing might go horribly wrong.


Well anyway ... Hendon's very own Action Man, and Armed Forces Parliamentary Service officer, Major Blunder- aka Matthew Offord - on the other hand, said he was going to oppose the referendum, and did. All very peculiar, you might think. As Tory blogger the Barnet Bugle points out, Offord, whose campaign in the Hendon marginal constituency was boosted during the election period by a flying visit from David Cameron, appears not to have shown any great enthusiasm for a referendum in the past, so this new position is perhaps something of a mystery.

Some of the Barnet bloggers are arguing amongst themselves as to why the MPs chose to vote the way they did. Boys, boys: calm down. Listen to Mrs Angry's theory.

Mike Freer is ambitious: unrealistically ambitious, true, but that's what you might expect from him. If the men in grey suits came calling with threats or promises, it may have given him pause for thought.

Offord, on the other hand, has not exactly covered himself in glory in his parliamentary career, and hasn't got a hope in hell of getting any big promotion in say, the next thirty years, or before hell freezes over. So not much to lose by being awkward.

Mrs Angry can exclusively reveal, in fact, that Max, his chief political advisor, pictured above, after his little accident on Matthew's shoulder, (it was a heavy lunch) suggested that more would be gained by nailing his colours to the anti European mast. Any publicity is better than no publicity, he told him. Gets you in the papers. Of course, Max may well be leading Matthew up the garden path, a naughty thing to do, Max, if so, and rather foolish if you don't want to end up in Battersea Dogs Home after the next election.

So. What else has been going on? Ah. Boris and Brian. A resident has sent Mrs Angry a couple of amusing publications from the Back Boris campaign. For some reason Boris has not bothered to send copies to Mrs Angry. The first one starts promisingly, with Boris telling us:

"A pretty great Londoner (William Shakespeare) once asked: 'What is the city but the people' before answering 'The people are the the city' ... "

Hmm. As you say, Boris, (see what a classical education does for you) pretty great, Shakespeare, but not really a Londoner, was he? Interesting that you seem to be comparing yourself with the figure of Coriolanus: someone's getting a teeny weeny bit big for their boots aren't they?

This attempt to suck up to the voters before next May's GLA and mayoral election is presented in the guise of a questionnaire, after a preamble telling us how marvellous the last few years have been under the benign dictatorship of Boris and Brian. There is an improbable photograph of Brian in ha ha- a tube station, looking stern, and some ridiculously edited 'statistics' about crime reduction in the capital. 'In Barnet and Camden', we are told, 'by working with Brian Coleman, we have so far delivered 75 more police officers on your streets, cut crime by almost 13% and 14% in Camden ...' Really? Shame then, that burglary figures in Barnet have gone through the roof, and that Boris has cut vitally needed Safer Neighbourhood sergeants' posts in this borough, isn't it?

Mrs Angry would like to be shown examples of Brian working to - no, working, full stop - but especially in helping to cut crime. Has he perhaps been moonlighting as a special policeman? I imagine he would be a bit old school: Dixon of Dock Green, or grumpy PC Plod in Noddy - the clip round the ear, on your way sonny type.

Never mind: the questionnaire asks us to 'Tell Boris what you think'. Back to Coriolanus, then Boris, and Brian, for Mrs Angry's response to this drivel:

"You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcases of unburied men

That do corrupt my air,--I banish you.

Oh but there is more ... look: here is another Back Boris letter ... all about 'Where You Are'. yes, thank you, I know where I am, Mr Mayor: I am in Broken Barnet.

Boris has remembered some more good things what he has done.

He planted 88 trees. Good.

He changed the timings of 26 traffic lights. Well done.

Er ...

Oh: hang on, remember this:

Beating the Recession

  • £650,000 economic boost for Chipping Barnet sponsored by the Mayor’s £50m Outer London Fund to support the capital’s high streets

Mmm. The most affluent high street in the borough, by coincidence the same area represented by the holy terror that is the Chipping Barnet Conservative Association, won a completely unnecessary grant from the Mayor, rather than one of the many high streets in our disadvantaged areas of the borough which are dying on their feet, desperate for support and investment, but which are, of course, situated in Labour wards. Shameful.

Ah: good news though: next comes ...

Quality of Life

Boris has made our lives more worth living by two remarkable achievments. He has 'created 28 green spaces for Barnet residents to grow their own food' ... what? Is this a reference to Brian Coleman's decision, as a Barnet councillor with responsibility for the Environment, to dispose of local authority allotments? If so, that was a local Barnet decision, and nothing to do with the GLA.

*Update Thursday:

How very odd - look at this story in our local Times group paper which has just been published online: here headed: "Mayor of London offers cash to Barnet’s gardening groups" ... this tells us:

"THE Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is calling on green-fingered volunteers to bid for a share of £35,000 to cultivate food gardens across Barnet.

Budding community gardening groups can apply for up to £750 before November 7 to grow fruit and vegetables as part of the Mayor’s Capital Growth programme. "

Erm: is the same scheme? In which case, where are the 28 green spaces, or why are bids only being invited now, on October 25th, just two weeks before the deadline?

It is lucky, though, that Boris is finding all this loose change down the back of his City Hall sofa, with just six months to go before the election.

And here is another boast:

  • Dorris Valley Green Walk in Barnet has received £400,000 as part of the Mayor’s £6m fund to improve the quality and safety of London’s parks

Yes. Dorris Valley Green Walk, it says.

Mrs Angry imagines that we are being prepared for the renaming of the walk, from Dollis to Dorris to Boris Valley Green Walk. As she has told you, this venture is yet another shameless grant grabbing exercise, in this case resulting in a mess up over the issue of cycling paths. Both the walk and the Chipping Barnet grant are perfectly timed, with completion dates mysteriously delayed in the case of the walk: both projects will no doubt result in a formal opening ceremony, attended by Boris in the run up to the election, and a photo opportunity for himself and local candidate Brian. Or maybe not.

This is a rare photo of Boris and Brian together: so rare it is unique. The body language tells you all you need to know: Boris avoiding eye contact, Coleman deferring to Boris rather uneasily. The reason this photo is so rare is of course because association with Brian is now clearly something to be avoided at all costs by any Tory politician who wants to be taken seriously.

As it happens, as you will see from Mrs Angry's blogroll, not only does Broken Barnet now have a racing tipster, Mr Tom Roper, we have also appointed a new Westminster correspondent, veteran journalist (rumoured to have started his long career as a lobby reporter with the young Charles Dickens), and up and coming blogger, David Hencke. Mr Hencke was present at last week's Parliamentary Press Club lunch, apparently, and asked Boris Johnson if he would like to take the opportunity to endorse the privatisation plans of his colleague Brian Coleman, here in Barnet. Boris scowled. NO, he retorted, he would not.

Oops. Poor Brian.

Last word to Brian's former colleague, Tory councillor and Barnet Bugle blogger Dan Hope:

"Senior Conservative sources have made their worries clear to us that, simply put, Brian Coleman has now become a ball and chain around the party's neck. Whereas once his quirky style was an asset, the serial rudeness and arrogance displayed in the media, and the public, over recent years has grated on the electorate. Sources tell us that the Conservative Party in Barnet and Camden have taken the decision that 2012 is going to be a "Boris, Boris, Boris" campaign - the secret motto is "Don't mention Coleman"."

Ok. Let's not. Let's hope if we stop talking about him, he'll get his coat and leave the room quietly.

SShhhh ...


Mrs Angry said...

Regarding Brian Coleman and his love of the tube, and all forms of public transport, a reader tells Mrs Angry that TFL have apparently erected a sign to West Finchley station bang opposite his charity owned flat: helpful, and most amusing - well done chaps!

Mr Mustard said...

28 green spaces against a probable waiting list of several hundred for allotments + the people who would like one but don't go on the list because the wait is too long.

Mrs Angry said...

Yes, yes, but do keep up Mr Mustard: the point here is was the claim to have produced these 28 food producing spaces actually valid, and is today's announcement a hasty move to belatedly kick a non existant scheme into action? I think we should be told, don't you?

Mrs Angry said...

btw: I should add a warning that the last horse Mrs Angry backed, on the advice of her racing correspondant, is still on the run somewhere in the Epsom area.

Mrs Angry: please stop commenting on your own blog: it is rather sad.

Oh: several people have been moaning about not being able to comment - apparently it is something to do with cookies. Don't ask me, you know I don't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

The jumps season is with us now, Mrs A, real racing, not the over-in-a-blink-of-the-eye superficiality of the flat.
My tweeds are back from the cleaners, my shooting-stick sharpened and my binoculars oiled and polished. Let the bookies beware!

APML said...

I can`t help cracking up with laughter over that picture with action man and his dog..Everytime i look at the picture it gets more commical..