THE story went that Jonny Bucknell had decided to step down ahead of next year’s council elections and not face the public vote because his housing case was hanging over him. Not so, it turns out. He says he did want to stand but was de-selected by the party.
He sent over a long account of what’s been going on, which is a little long for the whole whack to go into the CNJ. But there’s no restrictions on length here, so you can read all of his side of the story here. The Tories locally say it was a hard decision because of the “affection and respect” they have for him.
“I have mixed feelings about being deselected. On the one hand I have been knocking around in politics for 14 years and it might be time for a break, on the other hand I am slightly irritated with the selection committee. The next year could be quite fun because I will be a very loose cannon.
I was de-selected because of my fine from Camden for failing to complete works on time. I was so incensed with the prosecution that I went into court intending to plead not guilty but changed my plea as I went into courtroom on the basis that no one can ever defend a prosecution by the local authority and if your lose you are wiped out. Camden have virtually unlimited legal resources. They threw £100,000 at a lap dancing club on the definition of a private booth and the committee never found out.
The delay was completing works to the temporary accommodation and I was completing the snagging with my own hands working late into the evenings. My family have had an excellent record as landlords but there are times when everything goes wrong from start to finish and the judges words were completely unfair. My accountant was not sure about the statement of earnings. I later realised that there were errors in my paperwork and the fine should have been more like £2,000 not £20,000.
The de-selection process was also flawed, there were behind the scenes discussions without me. They should have taken a lot longer to consider my situation.
The funny part was that I actually quite enjoyed the selection meeting. I was on form and gave as good as I got. The most difficult decision that the Conservative Association has ever had to make should never have been taken in a ten minute question and answer session. I could tell from the questions and eye contact that it was a wafer thin vote.
I think I could have won the 2018 batting back against any flack. I had the highest vote in Belsize, but just like Margaret Thatcher, the party considered me too hot to handle and decided to ditch both of us.
I will miss the people of Belsize, there are some great characters out there. I think that they will miss me invariably trying to support the underdog.
It has been such fun working with Claire-Louise and Leila who are such good friends. Leila is so passionate when she gets stewed up. Claire-Louise is formidable with her ‘it is simply unacceptable’ but has a wicked laugh after a couple of glasses of white wine.
We have a great communications network with regular group Skype meetings with the housing officers.
I will also miss friends in the Labour Party and Lib Dems.
‘Doing a Jonny’ is becoming known for saying something outspoken. Leila goes into a panic before I speak and Claire-Louise gives me a look of a plane passenger told to ‘brace brace brace’ before a crash landing. Somehow we all survive.
I always joked that my political career would end with some form of scandal, just like my father’s did when he was a Labour councillor and was caught off guard in an interview about a corruption in the building department. He got some bad publicity and did not run for a second term.
I do hope that Steve, Claire-Louise and Leila win the 2018 election.
I will remain loyal to the Conservative party till the day I die and will finish my term of office going down will all guns firing. Growing old disgracefully is far more fun.”