I thought that one central tenet of the Conservative Party approach was that whatever they are, they should be competent. After all, they represent the managerial classes, the business-owning classes, the people who run the economy, more than any other party in the UK.
So it must gall them when they look really stupid.
For example, this week’s Crawley News has a ‘leaked email’ containing the words of Brenda Burgess, Executive Member for Housing.
Michael Barrett, one of the Defend Council Housing campaigners had asked some fairly direct questions about the financial case for transfer in November. He’d been told that a response would come later. By the January 10th meeting, no answers had been forthcoming, and so he asked them again.
Brenda’s response was that answers would come later, which was not particularly well received.
The email, from the same day contains:
Mr B also said something about a blackhole for either revenue or capital. Any idea what he’s talking about? I was not prepared to ask him or answer any of his questions. No point. I just listen
I think (and I could be wrong) that the ‘blackhole’ that ‘Mr B’ referred to was the £12M deficit that the Tories kept telling us about (and continued to after they lost the vote). If the person in charge of the Housing Department and leading the transfer process doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that is massively worrying.
That she sees no point in dialogue with a member of the public speaks volumes. In May, the Tories won the council with, amongst others, a pledge to be ‘inclusive’ and create a new culture where ‘everyone is welcome’. Sure. As long as you don’t ask awkward questions though, eh?
Councillor Burgess has said she will not resign.
January 25, 2007 at 23:01
I was interested that her defence was to repeat that she was not being rude. I didn’t get the impression that anyone was accusing her of being rude, but of being “ignorant and misinformed”.
Its almost as if she missed the point completely…
But what interests me is how the e-mail came to be in the public domain. It is extremely unlikely that she released it, but I can’t see Jim leaking it deliberately either. We are not told how many CCs were on it though.
Did a recipient leak it or are there still people printing out their e-mails to read on the train home? Once they are printed out they can get left lying around…
If this sort of correspondence can find its way out of the town hall what about all the commercially sensitive stuff?
January 26, 2007 at 16:27
Much in agreement with you, Skuds, especially your first two paragraphs.
Is she on something, or just stupid – or both ?
I feel sorry for her really…
January 26, 2007 at 19:59
I have to say, I did have some sympathy with her at the last Extraordinary Council meeting. However, when I remembered that she had sought elected office, and that she had accepted the post she holds on the Executive, and my sympathy dissipated somewhat.
She appears totally out of her depth – not too dissimilar from John Reid at the moment.
On the document leak I suspect that it was deliberate, or the News would be questioning how it came to light.
January 27, 2007 at 02:37
Is Reid out of his depth?
it is hard to tell in the Home Office. You get the feeling that the staff enjoy thwarting their ministers.
Whatever he wants to do, the people who have to do it are the same ones who had previously been telling him that everything is OK.
January 27, 2007 at 10:59
With Reid, it appears to be the case that he knows what he’s about, but to be fair to the Doc, he does not come accross as completely bewildered by reasonable and erudite questions.
However, his job is slightly more important than Burgess’ and he kind of brought internal dissent on himself by slagging the department off in his first week.
I do think he has a point on the Home Office, but perhaps his management skills are not quite as refined as they could be.