Thursday, 15 July 2010

Freer and Hillan - no hard feelings, I'm sure

Apparently, newly elected Golders Green and Finchley MP Mike Freer is backing Local Government Minister Grant Shapps over Barnet councillors' allowances hike.

The Times series has a report. Freer is supposed to have said:

"It is not justifiable for hikes in councillor allowances when public sector workers are facing a two-year pay freeze.

“We're all in this together, and those who hold public office need to lead by example."
The other Barnet MPs, also Tories, Matthew Offord and Theresa Villiers are taking the same line. It shows the tension that can exist in party politics between the national and the local tiers.

These tensions will be there in all parties. Barnet Lib Dems went along with all the major policy statements of the Barnet Tories on Tuesday night - academies and free schools, the emergency budget and, roughly, where the cuts must fall, cuts to housing benefits - but you could see they relished the opportunity to have a go at the Tories over allowances.

Recently, the local Labour group sometimes took a line somewhat independent of the Labour government - for example, opposing the sheltered housing warden cuts, when it was government policy that gave councils the green light to make such cuts. But their mood music at the council meeting on Tuesday echoed the national party "explanations" of the crisis: it was a global economic crisis, making drastic cuts now will jeopardise the recovery.

There was no sign of any independent analysis of, well, "the system" as such, a system that Labour in its New Labour guise and the Tories and the Lib Dems all support, more or less enthusiastically: free market, globalised capitalism.

What was I expecting?!

Back to Mike Freer. Former leader of Barnet council, and a big crony of Lynne Hillan, I can't believe that he isn't simply saying now what he has to say. Just as Barnet's Tory councillors on Tuesday night were under the thumb of the whip, Freer has to say what national government is saying. It won't do his career any harm either. And I imagine that in a phone call to Lynne and Brian he can smoothe things over on a personal level.

Council reported

Meanwhile, Barnet Lib Dems have reported the council to its own standards committee for failing to give sufficient public notice of the proposal to raise Leader and Cabinet member allowances. Times series report here.

1 comment:

Mrs Angry said...

Whatever Freer, Offord and Villiers are saying now is meaningless as the vote has been passed. If they really opposed the proposals, the time to speak out was before hand. They don't give a monkeys, and there will be no falling out between the Tory group on the coucnil and the three MPs.