It was not the best of nights for my team.

Labour managed to gain control of the Council.

What are my initial thoughts on the campaign?

People told us last night that they weren’t coming out to vote for a wide variety of reasons, but not one of those reasons was about Local Council issues. Not one. We had a large number of people who regularly vote Conservative who decided to just stay at home. All of them wanted to send David Cameron and George Osborne, be it over general dissatisfaction with the government direction, fuel tax, not liking the Coalition, Cameron’s comments on gay marriage, defence cuts, budget mess ups, grannies, pasties and a general malaise with the national politicians.

Taking a quick look at the stats also shows me, that in Harlow, we outperformed the national; which suggests our campaigning was good and that our Party locally, including our very good MP Rob Halfon are respected by a core of our voters.

Overall my message to David Cameron today?

Get a grip!

The country is facing hard times and we have seen enough cock ups from Downing Street.

You might have seen David Cameron responding to our MP Robert Halfon at Prime Ministers Questions the other day, about Harlow being the best place in the country for business growth.

Jokingly the Prime Minister said “The only way is Essex!”

But he is not wrong, as Amy Childs points out in the Sun, talking about his comment, Essex is a business powerhouse and things are moving in the right direction here, actually helped by Amy and her Towie friends.

Do people still take the mick a bit? Yes.

Are we ashamed of Essex? No!

And frankly if others want to laugh and perpetuate rubbish about Essex just because of petty mindedness, whilst we storm ahead economically, then let them…………..cos obviously they are just well jell!

This really annoyed me when I read it this evening.

How dare over very special friends the Americans stab us in the back like this…..again!

There was a time when American and British soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder, fighting and dying to repel the forces of tyranny. In fact that is exactly what they are still doing in Afghanistan.

Over the years Britain and America have been the strongest of Allies, so much so that we always speak of the special relationship without having to qualify because everyone knows who it is between.

I don’t think the special relationship really exists anymore, and to be honest I think its time that David Cameron said something.

Can you imagine if some nutty Japanese group demanded that the US handed over it’s 50th state of Hawaii to them to rule? Not only would the Americans treat the proposals as insane and be mightily offended, their closest allies would stand with them in decrying such proposals.

Yet when the boot is on the other foot they feel they can bin their allies for closer pan American ties and of course the prospect of vast oil reserves much closer to home than the unstable middle east.

But really this is not surprising, America has often been a bully and recently President Obama has shown he has no love for Britain, with some of his comments over the BP affair.

I think its time someone stood up to the playground bully. For me that someone is David Cameron. I am not looking for the scene from “Love Actually” – you know the one, that makes every British heart sing to be British, but I do expect our Prime Minister to stand up for the nation – all of the nation, even if they are a few islands thousands of miles from London.

Come on David. Tell Obama he is wrong and remind him that he is in serious danger of losing the special relationship.

BBC news reports this morning that,

Prime Minister David Cameron is set to deliver a stark warning about the action needed to tackle Britain’s budget deficit and public debt. He is expected to say the UK’s economic problems are “even worse than we thought” as he sets out why he believes “painful” cuts are necessary.

Well to those of us in Harlow that’s not really surprising. We had exactly the same situation in 2008 when we took control of Harlow Council for the first time. We had a fairly good idea that the books were in a mess, but there is only so much that the opposition really ever know. What we did know was that Labour over many years in Harlow had been wasteful and not tended to the budget carefully, putting off painful decisions to a later date and trying to spend its way out of other decisions. Sounds fairly similar to the national situation.

So what did we do in Harlow and what learning can I pass on to the new Government (albeit from a much smaller perspective)

  1. Open the books up to public inspection and let the journalists/public know why the economic mess happened. Transparency is just the start though.
  2. Be honest about the depth of the problem and how painful the solution is going to be. People appreciate it so much more when politicians give a straight answer, even if it’s not the answer that they want
  3. Keep people informed regularly about your thinking on recovering the situation. Its no good solving the problem behind closed doors and then failing to bring people with you on the journey.
  4. Share the pain equally. In Harlow this meant a freeze in allowances and councillors as well as staff paying for their car parking, not easy decisions but the public were more accepting of the other financial decisions because it was apparent, that just like the campaign slogan “we’re all in this together”

To be fair I think David Cameron knows these things already and has shown that he is following a similar play book nationally. Will it work? I think the national economy is in a bad state, but I think Cameron and his team do have the guts to make the changes that need to be made even though they will be painful.

Will the public accept and understand? I really think that there is a chance they will, but Cameron will really have to remember to bring a wider audience of people with him, and ultimately the government will stand or fall on whether we really are ALL in this together.