Typically they will own a house and a car. The are most likely to be middle class. If they are in the 35-55 age group, they are likely to have children at a local school. If they are younger, they are likely to have a job which involves commuting by public transport into central London or work in a local office and drive to work. If they are older, they are likely to be retired or semi retired and living on a pension. They are likely to have time on their hands and have cash to spend on leisure activities. (stereo)Typically if they are male in the 35-55 age group, they are likely to be working harder and be less well off than they were two years ago. females in the same age group may be in the same position, or they may be full time mothers, with concerns of school runs, places at schools and worries about University fees for their children. Of course there are thousands of people who don't fit these stereotypes, but if we look for MR & Mrs Average Conservative, many will conform to this.
They are also likely to be "not political". They vote Conservative, not out of deep commitments to the ideology of the Conservative Party, but because they have a perception that the Conservatives will look after them. Many of these voters believe that apart from emptying their dusbin, the council does nothing for the tax they pay. They perceive Labour as simply charging more to empty your bin. That is why they put their "X" in the box marked Conservative.
Brian Coleman has changed all that. In his role as parking supremo at Barnet Council, he has launched a war on his own core voters. His hike of CPZ charges hits car owners, often in key wards. The abolition of Pay and Display and the hiking of charges affects anyone who owns a car in Barnet and ever uses a High Street. It also affects hard working business owners, who are generally solid Conservatives. Yesterday, I witnessed a lady receive a parking ticket in North Finchley for staying five minutes over the hour she'd paid for on her phone. She was adamant that she'd paid for two hours, but the warden smugly showed her his system, displaying all her details. She was livid. She spent nearly 20 minutes pleading with the parking warden. As she had a rather nice sports car, I suspect she was bang smack in the Conservative core voter demographic. Whilst Barnet Council may have stung her for £50 for her five minute overrun, I doubt she'll forgive or forget. She noted the fact that she'd read that the "council had privatised this". This is the coalface of outsourcing. Every parking ticket that NSL issue unfairly (in the eyes of the recepient) is another lost Conservative voter.
Brian Coleman is the poster boy for parking rip off charges. The Big Smoke website does some great number crunching which shows conclusively that Brian Coleman's personality was the kiss of death to the Tories in Barnet and Camden, check this out - http://www.bigsmoke.org.uk/?p=79099 - in short they look at the votes for Coleman and Dismore and compare them to the list votes for Tory and Labour
Constituency results in Barnet and Camden:
|DISMORE Andrew Hartley||Labour Party Candidate||44.7%||+14.7|
|COLEMAN Brian John||Conservative Party Candidate||31.9%||-9.2|
List vote in Barnet and Camden :
|Barnet & Camden List votes for||Labour Party Candidate||37.94%||-6.76|
|Barnet & Camden List votes for||Conservative Party Candidate||36.26%||+4.36|
In other words the name Brian Coleman was responsible for a 10% difference. between the candidates. Given that Camdenians have never heard of Coleman, this translates to a doomsday scenario in Barnet. There are reports that he may have even lost to Dismore in Totteridge ward.
In short, the average Conservative voters of Barnet realise that Brian Coleman has betrayed them and their families. Stealth taxes such as those levied on parking are forming an ever bigger part of our daily expenses. When the Conservatives took over the Council in 2002, it cost £2 a day to park in Mill Hill Broadway Station car park. Now it costs £5 per day. If you work in the city, that has added £750 a year to your household bill. With inflation, the cost should be £2.50. Why has it spiralled out of control? Either the council have become far less efficient at running parking and require a small fortune to balance the books, or they are fleecing the motorist. Given that they make a £5 million surpless on the Parking account, it is clear what the truth of this is. You may ask what they do with this cash? They certainly don't spend it on road maintenance. We all have our favourite pothole on a local road, unfixed for years. We all remember the harsh winter of two years ago when Barnet ran out of grit for our roads. So what do they do with the money? It was revealaed that 47 senior executives at the Council got paid over £100,000 last year. You don't have to be a genius to work out that this is roughly the amount that the motorist has been clobbered for.
Anyone who follows this blog will know that Barnet has been chopping services everywhere. The simple mantra is that we pay more and we get less. The other rule seems to be that senior bosses on the Council gravy train get paid more and do less. Ten years ago, Only CEO Leo Bolland was on more than £100,000. Now there are 47 of them. the deputy CEO, Andrew Travers is not even an employee, he's a consultant. Ironically the Tories pilloried Ken Livingstone for using a "tax efficient" company to minimise his tax bill. In Barnet, the Council offices in a Tory Council are packed to the rafters with consultants pulling the same stunt.
What has happened in Barnet is that the Mr & Mrs Average Conservative voters have woken up to the fact they are being fleeced. Sadly for the Barnet Conservatives, such a rude awakening is like losing your political virginity to a deceitful lothario, who casually casts you aside when they have had their wicked way with your vote. Such betrayal is not quickly forgotten.
Many Conservative voters will awake feeling chuffed that the embarrassment that is Brian Coleman has been banished from Barnet. He hasn't. He is still in the Council chamber and he is still in charge of parking. The people of Barnet have spoken. We now have to see if Council Leader Richard Cornelius is prepared to listen. If he doesn't, then he will be next