Being busily wrapped up in election campaigning at the moment, my odd flights of fancy are often election related.

I can easily imagine the following scenario:

The Morning of May 6th dawns

The Labour party have made a lot of inroads in councils up and down the country, winning seats mainly at the expense of the Lib Dems.  Conservative heartland has not been decimated, as a lot of Conservative voters are giving the coalition a chance, and the council tax freeze has had the effect of softening the other cuts.

The Lib Dems have frankly been torn apart, losing 1000 councillors, particularly in University Towns and Cities where angry students leave them in droves.

They also lost the AV vote.

Their leader is talking up the party but lid dem activists, who have been given a mid term bloody nose that the conservatives are all to used to, are not used to feeling like this. They are not used to being the party that is being protested against, more used to picking up anti-government votes.

They are angry, and most of them are considerably more left than their leader, who to top it all is caught on microphone congratulating his mate Cameron on a better performance.

Most of the activists only stomached the coalition in the first place because of the offer of AV, now that it has failed a number of disheartened and defeated councillors and candidates are wondering why they bothered.

Within hours the revolt is underway.

Huhne, who has been rumoured to be sniffing about on manoeuvres for months, is refusing to talk to the media to offer opinions, but “sources close to him” say he is considering if his position in the coalition is now untenable.

Cable is telling anyone who will listen that if only George Osborne had taken more of his advice the country’s economy would be far better off already.

Meanwhile Charles Kennedy is making no comment on reports that he is in secret talks with Ed Milliband to bring a sizeable contingent of the party across the floor in one go; reports that no Labour Minister will deny.

A group of sandal wearing party members have already launched a Facebook campaign to call on their political seniors to cut ties with the Tories, and a number of constituency parties are organising Special General Meetings.

Caroline Lucas, who had a good night picking up more councillors, is touring the TV studios talking once more about a progressive coalition…..


Tonight’s Executive Committee meeting of Harlow Council had the very sensitive issue of the future of Parndon Wood Cemetery and Crematorium discussed at it.

Sadly Harlow Council, over the last couple of decades, has not looked after Parndon Wood as well as it could have done; Today there are a number of issues with the site, not least poor road surfaces, a leaky building that does not have the right facilities for a modern Burial or Cremation service. Behind the scenes there are issues too, with new equipment needed to comply with National and European legislation. As we know the council has very little money to spend on these items, yet rightly so the money must be spent on making sure that our local cemetery and crematorium is of a high standard and  provides a good and dignified service to those in a time of grief.

So what other option is there? Well getting a Private Company to come in and help us run the site, one with experience of running similar sites around the country was an obvious answer; to be fair it was the answer selected by the previous Labour/Lib Dem coalition that ran Harlow Council, as they voted to do in January 2008 (5 months before I took over running the council). We have continued the process and voted to confirm one of the companies tonight.

The Lib Dem group stayed sure in their support for the process joining us in accepting the deal as a great chance to make the much needed improvements that are needed at Parndon Wood at as little cost to the taxpayer as possible. The Labour Group denied ever looking for a private bidder despite printed evidence to the contrary here, which clearly shows that they not only resolved to seek an external partner but that one of their cllrs was actually chairing the meeting that decided it. Instead tonight we saw the Labour Group start to play politics with grief and moving back to the very left wing ideological position that private equals evil.

I commend the members of my group and indeed the leader of the Lib Dems who tried to deal with the issue sensitively and without thought of the politics of the situation.

As we all return to work in 2011, I have found myself looking back over 2010.

2010 was the year I really “got” blogging, reading much more than in previous years, and starting to blog properly myself.

Its been a year that has seen the demise of some notable blogs, with Iain Dale, Tom Harris and Tory Bear “passing away”, but I think the Blogosphere has changed in more ways than losing some serious bloggers and gaining new talents too…

The main stream media is now much more blog aware, and blogs are starting to lead rather than just follow the media cycle. With the rise of twitter for advertising ones blog, bloggers are now setting the agenda.

We have also seen blogs branching out, take ConHome as an example, with the launch of their USA site; looking at new material and new audiences.

Talking of ConHome, it may just be me, but I think it has changed in the last three months. Not dramatically. Not even really perceptibly even, but it has changed, I am sure of it! It doesn’t seem to cover as much material and it certainly has decided to be “a critical friend” to the Coalition…

But more than anything I think the Left are catching up on the right in their use of the Blogosphere and the Right of British Politics need to respond. I am not saying that British Right of Centre Blogs are not good, they most assuredly are! But they need to organise, they need to fight their corner and they need to not drift to the left as the Conservative Party is naturally doing due to its working relationship with the Lib Dems in Parliament.

There is something to be said for the Centre Right of the Blogosphere standing loud and proud and laying out who we are and what we stand for.

Tonight was the first meeting of the new Regeneration & Enterprise Policy Working Group.

Sadly it was not attended by all political parties. The Lib Dems didn’t send anyone, just like they didn’t send anyone to the Resources working Group the night before. I hope this is not to be a trend. The working groups are an important part of the life of the council and need all the politica groups representated to take part to fully represent the range of views in the town.

The first meeting was concerned with setting the terms of reference for the group, the forward work plan (a couple of good suggestions from the labour member on the group) and recieving some reports on ongoing work.

It’s a slow start but I am very pleased that we have this new working group. It reflects Harlow Conservatives committment to business in the town and a desire to do things differently from how they have always been done and reflects our top Corporate priority – to regenerate Harlow.

If we were to have a Cabinet system tomorrow I would definatly have a cabinet member for Regeneration and Enterprise because the two subject matters are so important to Harlow.

My name’s Andrew, and I’ve worked with the Lib dems….

There, I have said it.

Against all the warnings of other Council Group Leaders and CCHQ, whose advice interestingly was “Never do it!” I did.

And lived to regret it.

Well kind of….

You see in Harlow before 2002 the town was ALWAYS run by the labour party. It was laughingly referred to by those who lived and worked around it, as the “Socialist Republic of Harlow”. So in 2002, when for the first time ever, the electorate delivered a council with the make up 12 Con, 12 LD, 9 Lab, not only did we cheer hard, but we had to think very hard about what that electorate were telling us.

We knew the years of disastrous profligate labour administrations had to end but I didn’t have the votes to do anything about it in real terms.We were driven by high ideals of changing our town for the better, of a once in a generation chance to stop the financial rot and actually achieve something for our voters. It drove us to “want” to work with the Liberals, just to ensure that our town had steady governance and we could actually put things right.

The Libs just wanted power. To be honest, I realise now that is all they ever want. I and my colleagues failed in our logic when we ascribed to them the same high ideals of “sorting the town out” that we had

The first six to nine months went well. There were successes for the “joint administration”, bringing in a council tax cut and starting to get committees working. But within 15 months the whole thing was on the rocks.


Because for the Lib Dems the grass was always greener, Labour were the more natural bed fellows of our left left leaning colleagues and the new Labour leader in the town was keen to offer lots behind close doors to the Liberals, who decided to turn on us with Labour in an orchestrated move to bring down the administration and frustratingly (we were a larger group by then due to a defection) put the smaller Lib Dems into a minority administration, just to “do over the Torys”.

Did it work for us? Well we knew that we had done “the decent thing”, we got the district council working, and gave residents a relief from the constant spend spend spend of Labour. But we got very burnt in the process. I doubt my group of councillors will trust another party in Harlow for many years to come.

Did it work for the Lib Dems? They got short term power off the back of it and even a couple of years coalition with the Labour party, but eventually the Lib Dem bubble has burst and Harlow has returned to a mainly two party system.

I see many parallels to the national situation to that which we faced in Harlow in 2002.

David Cameron has no choice morally, but to seek with the Lib Dems, unpalatable as it may be to many of us. It is the only sure fire way to get the Government working again. The Lib Dems are only interested in power and what they can get for themselves, and frustratingly we are going to have to give them that power;

My advice to David Cameron is do the deal for the sake of the country but know in the back of your mind that the Liberals will both plan to and try to do the dirty on us, so be prepared for it!