NO nonsense bring-back-hanging Conservative Priti Patel, MP for somewhere a fair few miles away from here, has been poking her nose in Camden’s business. There she was, in Monday’s Evening Standardcomplaining that the council lets Camden Unison have an office to work out of.
There is also obviously a message from up high in the Conservative Party to members everywhere that they must query any council that spends money on union officials. It was noticable again at last week’s full council meeting. Tory councillors were heckling, arguing that Labour should cut financial assistance to the unions. The idea seemed to be going nowhere among the ruling Labour group.
It’s Priti who bags the headlines, though.
Quoted by the Standard, she told us what we’d think of it: “Taxpayers will be shocked to see the freebies given out to the trade unions by Camden Council. Families feeling the squeeze will be appalled. This is money that should be spent on the front line, repairing school buildings and fixing roads.”
Never one to let a nasty press headline go (and every journalist who has ever written a slightly mean word about the council has had on him on the phone the next day at some stage in their career), Labour’s Theo Blackwell fizzed a letter straight back at her. A kinda: wozzitgottadowivyouuu? The content is what you might expect: the unions are helping staff during an unprecedented period of cuts and stress, the atmosphere should be negotiation rather than conflict. And so on.
But it’s always the bitchy bits that catch the eye. Theo clearly could not resist this poke in the eye: “While your intervention was most unexpected, I can only assume the boundary changes have meant you are casting your eye further afield for 2015 – though the proposed Camden and Regent’s Park constituency might be a bit of an ask for a Conservative next time around.”
This was a pretend polite way of simply saying to an MP capable of conjuring headlines whenever she wants: Swivel. And nothing will have seared like being reminded that the Witham seat is set to merge under boundary changes with Braintree. Essex will have one less MP. A recipe to make everybody look over their shoulders.
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