Thursday, 30 April 2015

The election comes to Temple Fortune

The election comes to Temple Fortune

On a short late lunch break from interviews and campaigning and tweeting and supporting the Unison strike, I'm writing my first blog for ages because I just can't manage to tell you in 140 characters about all the exciting election action that took place this morning in Temple Fortune.  This tiny hamlet in Margaret Thatcher's old constituency of Finchley and Golders Green is attracting attention as being too close to call between incumbent, Tory's Mike Freer and challenger, Labour's Sarah Sackman whose success is taking everyone by storm making the fight too close to call.

There we were, me and Mrs Angry, sipping our Americanos with hot milk on the side, nibbling on a shared pain au raisin to minimise the calories, being interviewed by a charming French journalist in a cafe in Temple Fortune, discussing the local candidates, and by total coincidence Mike Freer walks past with none other than Boris Johnson. The Tories are bringing in the big guns in panic at the real possibility of losing the constituency. Boris looked to have got his temper under control since his tantrum on the Marr Show last Sunday when he was flustered by Ed getting the better of him, making him look like a spoilt brat throwing his rattle out of the pram. 

This morning I saw Mike Freer's latest leaflet. It is difficult to see that it has anything to do with Mike Freer because though it is very big (they have the money to burn) it is a warning about the SNP who the Tories know ruin their chances of getting back into power.

I know that the major Parties don't like to speculate about what sort of deals may be done if we end up with a minority government, but I must speak up because there would be a very different way of doing things and neither the SNP nor other small parties would wield as much power as they might hope. For example, on the Trident issue, both Labour and the Tories are in favour of its being retained and can vote together - that would be presumably around 600 votes - so even if the SNP won every seat in Scotland they would have no influence. All this Tory scaremongering about our security is dishonest and a sign of their desperation and in any case, it has been been the Tories who have cut our conventional military forces to the point where military experts have said that we are put at risk. And their inadequate support of our brave servicemen has been appalling.  

Freer has shown us the limits of his capabilities over the past 5 years. His first election leaflet, considerably smaller than his latest, produced when he believed he had a walkover, had so little to say about his achievements that the back of the leaflet was taken up with a game of Sudoku.  In contrast, Sarah Sackman is constantly being lauded as future Cabinet material, someone who will soar. When you see them side by side the difference is immediately obvious. Watch the video on YouTube of Freer's visit to Archer's Academy school with the PM.  You have to feel sorry for Freer, ex-councillor whose greatest achievement was to initiate the privatization of Barnet's services to Capita who are now running/ruining our services for Capita's profit on a 10-year contract that is costing us money rather than saving it (see Mr Reasonable's alarming figures on Twitter @ReasonableNB). The video shows that Freer said nothing, not engaging, looking awkward, as if he would rather not be there.  Watch Sarah anywhere and the crowds eat her up.  She is not only a very bright and successful human rights barrister, she is charismatic, engaging, listens and acts, and what draws activists in droves to her as well as voters, is that she is warm, a people's person. That is a characteristic that even those closest to Freer might find a difficult trait to attribute to him. 

Anyway, back to the morning, and yet more coincidental meetings. After our interview, Mrs A and I went to do a little food shopping across the road.  A lady who I had never met before wearing a Sarah Sackman badge saw my enormous Ed Miliband badge and asked if I was a member of the local Labour Party and then told me she was Sarah Sackman's mother! We three Labour muses then engaged in animated political discussion, our trolleys blocking the salad isle and we parted with much hand shaking and kissing.  On my way home through Temple Fortune I saw a forlorn looking Barnet Bugle, camera and tripod in hand, having missed all the action. 

Now for more leafleting for that much loved Hendon Labour candidate, Andrew Dismore, and then off tonight for an exciting prospect, another unexpected rise of a Labour candidate in a seemingly safe Tory seat of Chipping Barnet held by Theresa Villiers of leafy Arkley, being challenged by the born and bred local girl from the other side of the tracks, Amy Trevethan, who got a scholarship to Oxford from a local school and came back home to work, got elected as a Labour Councillor and is known and loved locally by those of all parties. She is giving Villiers a run for her money and red and yellow posters abound as never before.  Tonight on stage: Villiers v Trevethan.  Should be good. At Barnet Church (St John the Baptist) at 7.45. Be there or be very square indeed.

And I really hope the Bugle comes across something worthy enough for him to film.