I’m pretty sure that most readers, the local ones at least, keep their eye on local
news outlets so no one is likely to have missed two recent items on the News Shopper’s website,
and in one case, in today’s paper edition.
There is ‘the whitewash’ over deputy mayor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis unlicensed strip show at her Crayford pub - was she ever likely to be prosecuted like any ordinary publican? - and the supremely arrogant Teresa O’Neill is reported to have said about the forthcoming elections “we are hoping for a complete whiteout win, taking every seat in the borough”.
With her 52:11 majority she has only ever had one voting hand go up contrary to her demands, she’s never lost a vote or got anywhere near it; but now she wants no opposition at all. It sums up Teresa O’Neill’s attitude up so very precisely. She’ll countenance no criticism in the council chamber and none without. Stalin would be proud.
To those ends she will happily abuse her relationship with the police to arrest residents who, to quote the police’s threatening letters, “criticise councillors”. If the result is that police officers find themselves on the wrong side of the law, it’s a necessary sacrifice to Teresa O’Neill’s dictatorial ambitions.
The News Shopper quotes a deluded Teresa O’Neill as seeing herself as “trustworthy” when that is the very last thing she is. Few will not have read the Cheryl Bacon saga, so the fact that lying is a way of life for too many of Bexley’s Tories is not a secret any more. They buy support and loyalty with almost the highest senior staff salaries in the country - 6th highest according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The News Shopper says of the Tories, “the best hope of breaking their stranglehold is UKIP” but on a purely arithmetical basis surely that cannot be true? Labour is fielding 63 candidates to UKIP’s 19. It is true that in the south of the borough the party of 63 probably has little hope whereas it might be foolhardy to rule out all of UKIP’s 19. If the noise on Twitter is a reliable guide UKIP will surprise and shock us all.
I don’t believe what the two big parties say on Twitter; apparently Bexley residents are gushing with praise for the Tories and at the same time cannot wait to see Labour back in power. The Conservatives Tweet their optimism every day, maybe it helps to keep their spirits up.
Their reception might well be warm on occasions. “I had a canvassing visit from the Tories last week and made it quite clear I won't be voting Conservative again. He went away with the sound of ‘You’re a bunch of corrupt bastards’ ringing in his ears!” is extracted from a recent email. I’ve also had a few comments from those in the thick of it - not Tories obviously - and the expectations of the other parties may be a more realistic guide to the future.
I could make a prediction based on insider comments but that would not be fair. In any case things get very complicated where the main contenders may be Labour and UKIP. That is new and unpredictable territory in Bexley.
There are fewer doubts about the Conservative’s prospects. Without Gordon Brown on their side their majorities must surely fall and some are small enough to see them lose seats.
Using all three of your votes can be counter-productive. If you are true blue, obviously you vote for three Conservatives and if your colour is red the answer is equally obvious, but if you are out to cause an upset then you would be better off using only one vote (except in Barnehurst and Blackfen). Voting one UKIP (or one anything else) plus two Conservative would be particularly silly for the Tory votes effectively cancel out the UKIP - Green, Lib Dem, BNP or whatever.
In Blackfen things are even more complicated. Probably the best choice if you are really fed up with Peter Craske and Co. is to go for the three Independents. UKIP plus two Independents becomes a bit of a lottery if the intention is to teach the Tories a lesson, because not everyone will choose the same Independent candidate.
I am getting into dangerous territory here but it cannot be any great secret that I believe Bexley council would be enormously improved by the removal of as few as a dozen of the worst Tories. Some have shown themselves not to be at ease with the differences between right and wrong, the public good and their own, democracy and their personal egos. So think of what you are trying to do with your X and remember that splitting your three votes across multiple parties will dilute your intentions. Only dyed-in-the-wool Tory and Labour supporters should absolutely definitely use all three.