The Tories have not responded particularly graciously to losing their flagship London borough, Hammersmith and Fulham, in last month’s local elections. But it does look like a case of “methinks they doth protest too much”, and shows that, in opposition, the local party has already lurched to the right, although many might have thought that H&F Tories were already right-wing enough already.
Having lost control directly to Labour, the Tories decided on a new leader for their group on the council. Step forward Greg Smith, a co-founder, along with NHS hater and gun advocate Donal Blaney (see Zelo Street passim) of the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF), the self-styled “Conservative Madrasa”, which trains and places “ideologically sound Conservatives” in like-minded businesses.
As Dave Hill at the deeply subversive Guardian has observed, Smith “has taken to calling the incoming Labour administration ‘the socialists’”, a typical YBF styling: his pal Blaney has subscribed to the school of thought much in evidence on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) of calling any social democratic party “socialists”, even extending the characterisation to the US Democrats.
Smith and his pals, such as Harry Phibbs (he does? Now there’s a surprise), have been accusing Labour of dishonesty, while managing not to notice that areas where the Tories were about to let their developer pals loose to “redevelop” social housing in the name of More And Bigger Paycheques For Themselves Personally Now had taken exception to the idea and voted them out.
Nor is Phibbs keen on being straight with the electorate in the aftermath of his team’s ousting. “Labour-run LBHF inherits £7m underspend from [2013-4] from Conservatives to spend in [2014-5]. Will they send a thank you note?” he asks, more in hope than anticipation. Well, not if the first message to voters from new leader Stephen Cowan is anything to go by, they won’t.
“We will stick to and work within the former administration’s budget forecast totals. But we have inherited a £20.1 million gap in next year's budget. We will tackle this deficit by cutting structural waste” was the bad news from the Labour side. Cowan also told “Last week we also shut down nearly £300,000 worth of council magazines and leaflets as well as ending the practice of hanging council promotional messages from lamp posts across the borough”.
That, had it been a Tory administration following a Labour one, would have been all over the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate as a prime example of “loony left profligacy” and Eric Pickles would have been sounding off about “Town Hall Pravdas”. But Phibbs can just trust his press pals to ignore it.
Yes, Harry really Phibbs. And he’s still getting away with it.