CAMDEN’S Conservative group says it is considering a complaint to an ombudsman after a Labour rival suggested Tories were ‘lower than vermin’ during last night’s full council meeting.
Councillors on the opposition benches were left seething when Labour’s Douglas Beattie (above) evoked a famous Nye Bevan quote.
He told the full council chamber that the Conservative government was “ripping apart communities”, adding: “It reminds me of the words of the great Nye Bevan. Nye Bevan was interested, just as these guys are interested, in vermin control. They worry about bins and vermin and so on, but Nye had an answer to that. He said that ‘the Tories are lower than vermin’. I don’t blame him for saying that. They don’t understand the context of ordinary to people’s lives. It’s absolutely ridiculous. ”
The reference to vermin led Camden mayor Richard Cotton to remind the room that “we are political opponents, not enemies”.
Cllr Beattie had been discussing whether the rise in knife crime was linked to austerity budgets, and suggested there was little chance of Labour and the Tories working together with the blunt words: Forget it.
“I think the Conservatives in this chamber, since I have been a member, have tried to depoliticise things here, and say oh there’s a terrible problem with the leaves up in Hampstead and so on, and we should all just work together,” he said. “Forget it. Our communities are being ripped apart by what the Conservative government is doing in Downing Street. I think it’s absolutely disgusting.”
Aneurin Bevan said in 1948 that “no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party… So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.” The quote has been reheated many times over the decades and is a slogan t-shirt for some left-wingers.
“We are considering all options,” said a Conservative source. “You can have a political argument but the language Labour is using is unacceptable. It reminds us of the time Awale Olad called us heartless bastards in the council chamber. It’s unacceptable.”
Councillors were meeting last night to set a budget and a council tax tax increase.
Oliver Cooper, a Conservative councillor in Hampstead (pictured), said: “They say instead of working with people across the borough, they say their political opponents are vermin. When we are a strong opposition that counter the arguments of the Labour administration, they call us vermin on this side for standing up for residents. By extension, they are calling residents vermin.”
He added: “We are not vermin, we are people with ideas, that can make the best for our borough.”