Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Tories say Assembly elections a 'squalid stich-up'

The Conservatives today declared the election of a Green party member to Chair the London Assembly as a 'squalid stitch up' by 'a ragbag of minorities'

Speaking at today's Assembly AGM, Tony Arbour said:

"London is a Conservative City. We control all of the boroughs. Last year we demonstrated we dominate London-wide politics and on June 4th we will be crushing all of the other parties in London...

"We have had a demonstration this morning of how ridiculous proportional representation really is. Because of a squalid stitch up between a rag bag of minorities, has meant that this Assembly in its every day activities is dominated by people who do not represent London."

Also speaking against the election of Darren Johnson, disgraced former Chairman Brian Coleman said:

"In moving [for Andrew Boff instead of Johnson] the Assembly will have a Chairman who will not be briefed against by their own group. Who will turn up at functions when he is expected to turn up at functions. Who will not have to be accompanied by an officer on to the eighth floor in case they say something out of place or surrender without a fight...

"Who can make a decent speech at a public function. Who does not need a word for word briefing for Assembly meetings and can deal with unexpected occurrences whether they're in the public gallery or on the floor of this chamber. Who can restore the dignity of this Assembly and reassert its authority in relation to the Executive and allow this Assembly to do the job that Londoner's elected it to do...
"and who also won't serve roast beef without horseradish sauce at dinner."

The speech by Coleman (who did not go into detail about the horseradish incident) was described as 'offensive' by other AMs.

Departing Chair Jennette Arnold also pointed out that she had attented functions at 'a quarter' of the cost of Brian Coleman when he had been the Assembly Chair.

Why the Conservatives should be stitched up

If the London Assembly was a legislative body then of course I agree that it should be led by the group with the largest share of the vote.

But with it's only role being to scrutinise a Conservative Mayor then it makes no sense that the scrutinising should be led by the Conservative AMs themselves.

And while Andrew Boff would also probably make a good chairman, the same cannot be said of the Tories' candidate for Deputy Chair Lady Victoria Borwick. 

Earlier this year Borwick was investigated and then apologised for using her position on the Transport Committee to promote her husband's electric vehicle business. 

You can read a very interesting interview with the new Chairman of the Assembly over at Mayorwatch.

-Update- Nick points out in the comments that the Tory group made a very similar 'stitch-up' deal with the Lib Dems in 2004. Hypocrites.


Tom said...

Coleman goes beyond parody again.

Arbour is my AM. Not impressed with his pant-wetting shrillness here, I'm afraid. What with this and the 'hand it to the boroughs' plans, it does appear that the Tories prefer complete control under less democratic electoral rules.

Also, shouldn't someone tell him the Euros are PR, too? Bet he won't be complaining if the Tories get 40% of the vote there.

AdamB said...

It's also worth pointing out that Darren Johnson did win more than half the votes from other Assembly Members to be chair. Whichever system you prefer it's hard to argue that this wasn't a fair vote.

Jim said...

Someone also needs to tell Arbour that no, the Conservatives do not 'control all of the boroughs'. Even if you do refuse to recognise the existence of Inner London.

AdamB said...

Some of them try their best to.

Tom said...

Can we secede from the South West constuency now, please? I'm not some bloody petty minded suburbanite. Give me London back, you bastards. Where have you put it?

Helen said...

I'm also part of Arbour's SW blueness, albeit on a red island in the middle - I vote we construct a bridge across to Southall Broadway and declare an independent state!

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has got to go said...

That Coleman fellow is obsessed with freeloaded functions and freeloaded food.

Brian Coleman hosts lavish lunches at our expenseColeman's astonishing list of free lunches is exposed by 'The Barnet Eye'Incidentally, that horseradish comment has got me wondering - he's not one of the Colemans of Norwich is he?

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the conflated links in that last comment

Jared, London said...

Tony Arbour- "we control all of the boroughs"- a complete lie! (see bottom)...and how the man can claim in one breathe how stupid proportional representation is and in another, claim the collective authority of those in control does not represent Londoners is staggering in its arrogance and/or sheer stupidity?! it's one or the other surely?!

How a group elected directly by the electorate to come together in whatever 'shabby' way he wishes to refer to them as- is as mature as any coalition govt in the world that accurately reflects the will of the people- not the ludicrous farce of a democracy that operates in this country nationally- where the electorate has a choice between two parties, regardless of how much of the vote they get. I mean, the Lib Dems got 28% of the vote in 2005's general election, yet hold 14% of the seats.

The Tories or Labour can rule on 40% of the vote, if people live in the right places- but why should geography influence national govt and how they spend national taxes in this day and age? How anyone can think that local electorates are more relevant/important than a true democratic voice that comes from proportional representation is beyond me- don't get me wrong, I understand the need for local accountability- but that's why we have local, and in london, regionally elected govt. Surely the need to truly represent the idea of 'one person, one vote' and its eventual representation in Govt is far more important than where you live, where the current govt sets electorate boundaries, or whether I can speak to my 'local MP'? (we can give the latter responsibility to local politicians- ie local councillors!!).

And to reiterate the nonsensical point about controlling all the boroughs, in no particular order the current political control of boroughs is as follows...
Newham- LABOUR
Barking & Dagenham- LABOUR
Sutton- LIB DEM
Kingston- LIB DEM
Richmond- LIB DEM
Greenwich- LABOUR
Lewisham- no overall control (NOC)- LABOUR minority
Camden-NOC- joint LIB DEM/TORY coalition
Waltham Forest-NOC- LAB/LIB DEM coaltion
Islington- NOC- LIB DEM minority control
Tower Hamlets- LABOUR
Hackney- LABOUR
Haringey- LABOUR
Lambeth- LABOUR
Southwark- NOC- LIB DEM / TORY coaltion
Brent-NOC- LIB DEM / TORY coalition
Hounslow- CON minority
Merton- CON minority

which leaves Hillingdon, Harrow, Havering, Croydon, Bromley, Wesminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Barnet, Ealing, Bexley, Redbridge, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Enfield- all in Tory control.

Therefore, even including the minority controlled two, and the joint administrations with the LIB DEMS, this makes 18 out of 33 by my calculation, with the CITY being non-political party where Tony Arbour gets such ludicrous claims from is ludicrous?! And yet it is using this proportionality that he seems to rail against that the Tories use to control Merton and Hounslow, control the boroughs' representative body 'London Councils, as well as share power (mmm, now who's "rag bag"??) in Camden, Brent, and the like...

Nick said...

As the leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Mike Tuffrey told the meeting, it’s exactly the same deal that the Lib Dems and Tories had between 2000 and 2008.

The over-arching principle is that if you have an executive Mayor, then its best if members of a political party other than the Mayor’s, chair the committees that scrutinise that Mayors actions, strategies and decisions.

Anonymous said...

Well done Darren! Boris has backtracked on so many of his green policies it will be nice to have a Green member to hold him to account. Having met Andrew Boff he too would make an excellent chair and I have found him to be very impartial so hopefully he will be voted next chair.

AdamB said...

Yes I agree. From what I've seen, Andrew Boff is a good London-wide representative. Quite why Boris chose to give extra responsibilities to the serial embarrassment that is Brian Coleman whilst apparently ignoring Boff is beyond me.

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has got to go said...

Adam, could you please elaborate, or point me towards information about these extra responsibilities given to Brian 'King of Condiments' Coleman?

Many thanks

AdamB said...

I was referring his Chairmanship of LFEPA, from which he does very well for himself thank you very much.

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has got to go said...

Ah yes - no shortage of the correct condiments at that table!Thank you for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

If indeed it is true that the Conservative Party had an agreement with other parties, in the days of Ken, so that the chair of the Assembly was always a member of a party in opposition to the Mayor, it is a complete disgrace that they now want one of their members to be chair of the Assembly.


Nick said...


To prove the Lib Dems and Torys had a similar agreement when Ken was Mayor take a look at

AdamB said...

And that was the right decision for the Lib Dems to make at the time as well. The stance taken on this now by Barnes, Arbour et al is just rank hypocrisy.

harold said...

Boris should be pleased that someone other than Coleman is elected to any prominent position.If he wishes to cut GLA expenditure, Darren Johnson would certainly succeed more with both travel and luncheons.
If Coleman wasn't chair of LFDA, we'd probably have 5 more fire stations in London just by savings on expenses.
A definiton of Brian Coleman is that he makes Jacqui Smith look good value for money

Don't Call Me Dave said...

I wonder if a certain GLA member has a view on people who earn more than £100,00 p.a. living in rent controlled flats intended for the needy?

Rog T said...

Noel Lynch (green party activist) left a message on my blog to say that it's Jeanette Arnold who doesn't serve the horseradish, not Darren Johnson.

I think maybe he took what I thought was a witty comment as a heinous insult.

Rather surreal really.

AdamB said...

The saga continues!

Anonymous said...

There is a wider question beyond hypocrisy, and that is the question of accountability. When you have an executive Mayor it is important that you have a good system to question what the Mayor is doing. Presumably, in the days of Ken, the Conservatives were in favour of a Chair of the Assembly who had plenty of incentive to allow lots of questioning. They now seem to be saying that, with Boris as Mayor, there's no need for that kind of questioning.


Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has got to go said...

'Don't call me Dave' - Is Coleman really living in living in a rent controlled flat intended for the needy?

I would be very grateful if you could elaborate/substantiate please.

Thank you very much