The deeply subversive Guardian’s London point man Dave Hill has noted that the Tories over in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) have not taken their local election losses at all well. The reverse suffered by Young Dave’s favourite Council was sufficient to take the administration directly from their hands and into Labour control for the first time in eight years.
And when one looks at the common theme in the witterings from the Blue Team, beginning before the election and continuing through the post-mortem, it is a distinct lack of honesty, both with the electorate, and with themselves. They were right and Labour were wrong. They told the truth and Labour lied. Therefore they should have been re-elected to continue their historic mission.
This, one need hardly say, is weapons grade horseshit. The pre-election bulletin from Greg Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, is a case in point: he talks of Labour’s campaign on the NHS and says – rightly – that LBHF does not control the NHS, then he gives the Council credit for crime falling by a quarter in the past eight years, when any fule kno that LBHF does not have control over the Police.
Then Hands tells that “the popular Boris Bike cycle hire scheme has been brought to the borough at zero cost to the taxpayer”. LBHF has little say in that either – plus the scheme has lost money hand over fist, and there is only one source of revenue to prop it up – yes, that would be the taxpayer. Moreover, taking credit for the opening of Free Schools, not in local authority control, is equally dishonest.
The theme of less than total candour extended beyond the election, and here we encounter Harry Phibbs (he does? What a surprise). Phibbs seems unable in his ConHome rant the day after his party was ejected by the voters to tell the real story: closing perfectly good schools while egging on Free Schools, not all of which are universally welcomed by prospective parents is one part.
Hospital provision was another reason the Tories lost. But what Phibbs and Hands do not talk about is the greedy and inconsiderate trashing of the Earl’s Court exhibition centre and the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates. As Hill has pointed out, the Tories won two out of three seats in the North End ward in 2010. This contains Gibbs Green and West Kensington. This time they won none.
Also not mentioned is the sale of council housing, with none of the recent receipts reinvested. Flogging off assets just to lower debts and make incremental Council Tax cuts may give Phibbs and Hands a nice warm feeling. But the Tory-run LBHF cared so little about its tenants, and parents of the borough’s pupils, that the voters were not interested. If they can’t admit to that, they don’t deserve another chance.
You want to win again, Greg and Harry, be honest with the voters. Or don’t bother.