I’ve been watching “A Christmas Carol” a lot this year – I have 8 different versions on DVD! I always like the bit where Mrs Cratchit reluctantly drinks a toast to Mr Scrooge, the founder of the feast. “It would have to be Christmas day says Mrs S, “to drink the health of an odious old skin flint like Mr Scrooge!” So on that basis let me say my last piece (for this year!) about Laurel and Hardy so that we can then enjoy our Christmas without them.
But first an honourable mention for their new friend Mr Grumpy. This is, of course, my latest Nemesis Matthew D’Ancona. I’d never heard of this chap before – he normally writes for the Telegraph and I am far too young to be a reader of that paper. However last week several people sent me a link to an article that he had written in the Evening Standard. Now Mr. D’Ancona is obviously deaf or daft or possibly both. Apparently he heard my ding dong with the thin one of the comedy duo (is it Laurel or Hardy I can never remember) on the Today programme but only half heard it.
He seems to have missed the point I made about the fact that local government made bankable savings of 3% a year for the least 8 years and that we can, should and will continue to make savings at this rate. I then argued that anything over 3% cannot be a saving but a cut. Grumpy forget to mention any of this and seems to be claiming that I have gone into the trenches to defend old style bureaucratic local government. Apparently there are a lot of people like me about – he calls them Kempocrats. I will return to the idea of Kempocrats later.
On Monday Laurel and Hardy made a rare public appearance together. They appeared at the DCLG Select Committee and apparently got more than a little annoyed that the world at large approves of my naming of them. Of course the committee wanted to ask a series of important questions that would challenge the knowledge of the pair of them. But the thin one wanted to show us once again his anal obsession with other people’s earnings. He wanted to know how much the Kemp operation cost.
I’m a bit lost for words really. The Kemp operation is……… well it’s just me really. I am clothed and fed by that angel known universally as the nice Cllr Kemp and in my council, LGA and Housing Association positions I am supported by appropriate secretarial etc back up but that is it. For the record (and it is all on the record) I earn about £50,000 a year for being Vice Chair of the LGA, a councillor in Liverpool and the deputy chair of a medium sized RSL in the North West. Not bad pay but I do work a 70 hour week and have to spend a lot of time in places like Portcullis House, the Commons and the Lords – I need some reward for going into those bear pits (incidentally my next performance in the House of Horrors will be appearing before the Bill Committee looking at Police Reform.
Apart from attacking me their replies were light-weight. Isn’t it sad that the LGA has better working relationships with the Secretaries of State for Health and Education than with their own sponsoring Ministry? I have been in national roles in the last years of the Major Government, in 13 years of the Labour Government and I can say that relationships between the sector and their sponsoring Ministry have never been so bad.
So on the one hand you have Kempocrats. These are Stakhanovite toilers on behalf of local government who believe passionately in localism and practice it. On the other you have , shall we name them, the Shappsistas. Lightweight blow-ins who will stick with local government until they are given a ‘better’ job!
So it’s now up to you. Whose gang do you want to be in – mine or his? Why don’t you tell me on this site or my twitter account (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my face book account if you want to be a Kempocrat. If so why and if not why not! Perhaps we could get a Kempocrat ribbon or hashtag going (No I don’t know how to do them). This might not be the thin red line defending local government but on the other hand it might!
You never know this group might just be the group to be seen with in 2011!