“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?” John Maynard Keynes
My long held belief was that Conservatives were lackeys of business. They loved small shopkeepers, favoured car ownership, hated stealth taxes and were competent. These beliefs have collapsed like a pack of cards. Boris Johnson’s infamous ‘F—k business’,* was his colourful pivoting away from traditional allies. We’ll soon see if this was empty rhetoric now he’s PM.
Havering’s Conservatives are catching up. Havering has the highest number of cars per 100 citizens in London. Car owning elderly people will use their vote to punish those they dislike. (The Cranham by-election and the Euro elections, both 2019, illustrate this rather well.) Handing out punishment beatings to voters who vote, isn’t a good idea. And especially not when you’re a minority administration. **
Therefore ferocious increases in car parking charges isn’t politically clever, as numerous letters in the Romford Recorder illustrate. Boris Johnson has destroyed Viddy Persaud’s scheme of five additional policemen with his allocation of 50 policemen for Havering.*** Johnson has given the Conservatives a graceful way of backing out, without loss of face. Additionally he’s released £300,000 with immediate effect. Candidates for this money include Chafford’s leisure pool but it could also pay for 30 minutes free parking. For everyone! Now that is a vote winner.
Destroying the high street is irrelevant for Damian and Viddy but Johnson’s half billion pound announcement (bribe?) has rescued them. The loss of the free 30 minute parking period means people aren’t ‘popping’ to the shops any more. The effect on thousands of elderly voters, living on fixed incomes, is political dynamite. The 30 minute free period should be reintroduced immediately.
** The Conservative administration works hard at keeping the council tax as low as possible even when it’s political insanity like in the 2019 budget for example.
*** My recent blog explains the apparent merits of Viddy’s scheme for Havering’s Conservatives. Johnson has used the same logic but on a national scale. https://havering.blog/2019/06/22/two-conservative-party-leaflets-and-one-cunning-plan/