Thursday, 9 September 2010

Can Barnet Tories vote according to conscience?

Mark Shooter, if the rumours are correct, only avoided becoming leader of the Barnet Tory group on Tuesday night by one vote (he's rumoured to have got 18 votes to Lynne Hillan's 19). I don't know what they put in the water at the Town Hall but Shooter's comments to the Times series afterwards sound distinctly sheeplike:
Speaking after the meeting, Hendon ward councillor, Mr Shooter, said he would now work with his party colleagues for the good of the borough.

He said: “I am happy to say that I will support unity and work with the group for the sake of the people of Barnet.

“Obviously I am disappointed after receiving tremendous support. I would like to thank my supporters but I accept the decision as being fully democratic.

“I will do my part to get behind the group and make sure the authority and the councillors do the best for the borough.”
From this, you wouldn't think that all hell had just been unleashed in the Barnet Tory group - publicly, at that. I can only think that during the meeting, which I understand to have gone on for three hours, an awful lot of air was cleared.

The odds of Shooter and his supporters backing the no confidence vote in Hillan next Tuesday appear to have lengthened considerably.

So, this is my question now. Do Shooter and those who backed him believe that the Tory group should vote with their conscience in future or simply toe the line?

This matters because Shooter highlighted a number of issues in his final pitch to councillors before Tuesday night where he is wildly at odds with the current leadership. Those issues, with my interpretation/comment in brackets, are:
"...fully erase the decisions of that flawed Council meeting of July 13th; the allowances will then revert to the previously agreed scheme." (We should reverse the rise in senior Cabinet members' allowances and the rise in allowances for committee chairs.)

"...leadership is a lot more than cobbling together some decisions with a few friends and then bullying others into submission." (Does it include allowing councillors to vote according to conscience?)

"Before Labour’s change to the law in 2000, all Councillors ran the Council. This had worked well for a very long time." (Exclusive rule by Cabinet should end.)

"Why, if our highly paid directors are so skilled in local government affairs do we need to spend millions of pounds on consultants? One or the other has got to go." (Look to your laurels, Nick Walkley et al.)

"I do not believe Soviet bureaucratic initiatives like One Public Sector, Labour’s Total Place (and Barnet’s Future Shape / Easy Council) ideas are not [sic] the way forward." (Needs no comment!)

"...we can avoid morally dubious decisions such as the scrapping of the warden service, the closing of libraries and the selling off of the allotments." (Could Shooter support it at a council meeting should the wardens cut be voted on again? Could he in all conscience vote to close a library, should that question arise?)
Shooter and his supporters might - or might not! We'll know on Tuesday - have decided to close ranks for the good of the Barnet Tory party, and they might have screwed some commitments out of Hillan et al on the strength of the vote on Tuesday night. But how long could such an arrangement last? And how foolish would Shooter look if he now voted at variance with the manifesto he outlined during his challenge?


Mrs Angry said...

Oh Vicki, I despair ... what is wrong with these councillors? If Shooter has any balls, he will not allow himself to be licked into shape by these sheep in wolves clothing. If he does, then it just demonstrates he is not suited to a career in politics.

Anonymous said...

Shooter and his posse will be backing up their leader. That is is nature of chancers, the question is will he get another chance to shoot for the moon?

baarnett said...

Wow! If that last comment is genuine, then a pro-Hillan campaigner has spoken!