This website doesn’t feature Greenwich borough’s Conservatives very often for two very simple reasons. Firstly, they’re not in power, and unlikely to get into power any day soon, so whatever they do doesn’t mean very much. Secondly, and more pertinently, most of them represent seats in and around Eltham, while this site rarely ventures beyond the South Circular.
(Which isn’t to say that Eltham’s not newsworthy – on the contrary, the area would make for a fascinating local blog; indeed, as this tale will prove, there be gold in SE9; but it’s not my patch and deserves someone knows it well and can do it justice.)
But even for those of us with photographs of George Osborne imprinted on our toilet roll, it’s important that Greenwich borough’s ruling Labour clique faces a decent opposition. Unfortunately, the Eltham Popular Front seem to be turning their guns on each other.
If you ever go to a council meeting, the best performers are always the two older Tories. There’s the fabulously erudite Dermot Poston – a councillor, on and off, since 1968 – who brooks no nonsense yet is happy to send himself up; one time having the council chamber in stitches by referring to his days as a rollerskater.
And there’s Eileen Glover, who doesn’t have Dermot’s long years of service, but packs a mean punch beneath her senior citizen demeanour. With a withering turn of phrase and a dedication to serving her Eltham South constituents, she’s ace at exposing the hypocrisy of the council’s leadership.
At the last meeting, just before Christmas, she asked about the retail offer in Eltham High Street, as she’d noticed shops offering less and less. Could the council talk to retailers about offering more? Into the Glover trap walked Denise “Bridge The Gap” Hyland, who blethered on about how it wasn’t the council’s job to tell retailers what to sell, despite the council very much endorsing the huge new Tesco in Woolwich; before going into a weird spiel about how much she loved the borough’s three town centres, as if they were errant children.
Sadly for the Eltham Tories, nobody’s there to report their tactical victories in making the ruling Labour clique look stupid.
Which may be why last week, Eileen Glover found herself deselected by her local party. Should she be tubthumping for privatising everything in sight and sending the unemployed to work in Tesco for nothing instead of sticking up for her residents? Was she not male enough for the Tories? In the mind of the average Conservative Party member in Eltham (you don’t see them show their faces at council meetings, that’s for sure), her work’s not good enough.
Word quickly got out. But curiously, fellow councillor Neil Dickinson was moved to post his support for her on the Facebook page for Greenwich.co.uk. And then he made digs at colleagues Matt Clare and local party leader Spencer Drury, and ex-party leader Peter King. Whoops.
While the Greenwich Tories generally seem more left-wing than their national counterparts – leader Spencer Drury is well-liked and is the only Conservative politician I’ve ever heard express concern for the welfare of council tenants – it seems they share the same tendency to have their rows in public.
A Greenwich Conservatives statement says:
In our opinion, it is unfortunate that this issue has come become the subject of discussion in the week that the Labour Council’s Financial Strategy for the next two years is to be decided. As Conservatives we would wish to focus upon our alternative, which attempts to decentralise power to areas such as New Eltham and support local businesses in an attempt to improve employment and prosperity in our area.
With Greenwich Labour fumbling towards the self-destruct button over the ruling clique’s Bridge The Gap fiasco, the Tories might be better off focusing on scrutinising the current sorry shambles rather than bickering among each other, if only to improve their own chances of employment and prosperity next year.
“While the Greenwich Tories generally seem more left-wing than their economy-wrecking national counterparts…”
Spencer Drury is indeed well liked and a great credit to his Party. I wouldn’t call him left wing though. His political debut was as the Referendum Party candidate in Lewisham East in 1997.and he leans towards the socially conservative wing of the Tories. On one occasion their Group on Greenwich Council split three ways on a motion congratulating Kidbrooke School on its sex education programme. Spencer I think was the only one to vote against the motion, taking the view that schools shouldn’t interfere in what is parents’ business.
I believe that Mark Elliott, the new candidate in Eltham South, is the civil partner of David Gold,who stood for the Tories in Eltham in the last General Election.
Eileen Glover isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but she has a lot of guts and was certainly a more active councillor between 2006-10 than her ward mate Elizabeth Truss who is now a rising star in the Government.
Yeah – the only time Elizabeth Truss ever spoke to me was to complain that I was harrassing her when I suggested that perhaps she might like to make a contribution to the work of the Scrutiny Panel I was chairing.
Dermot Poston was my English teacher from 1969-1973 and, along with the rest of 1/3/4/5R, I can vouch for his erudition. It rings in my ears still, and I am forever grateful for such little of it as managed to rub off.
I would not want to comment on Tory internal democracy but would say that Eileen Glover is frosty and very committed. She also is passionate about social inclusion and when I chaired that scrutiny panel, we often achieved a cross party consensus. BUT you are very wrong about Labour pressing the self destruct button about Bridge the Gap, we have a lively debate with a range of views but respect others’ genuine opinions and share the same core values of economic prosperity for all social justice and environmental sustainability. This is the sign of a mature and open democratic party.
Daryl: no you don’t get across the south circular do you! If you did you’d know there was a 40 page monthly magazine covering SE9 with news, comment, features, pictures and gossip, called SEnine magazine (www.senine.co.uk). Unfortunately, nothing that Eltham Tories say in the council chamber or anywhere else is likely to be of any interest to the general populace, therefore, they don’t get a mention. You can read their own website if you want to know what they’re up to, does anyone? SEnine is full of things that people find interesting, newsy and funny.and not just a bit of inner-local politico small change typed up on a blog and read by a self-selecting group of a few people hoping they’re mentioned. Isn’t it time Greenwich had a fascinating local blog?
Greenwich does have a fascinating local blog – try The Greenwich Phantom. Loads of great stuff about Greenwich in there.
Someone in Eltham could do the same for Eltham. Maybe a publisher of a 40 page monthly magazine.
oh yes, you’re right, shows what happens when you talk glibly about other areas..
Despite its focus on “a bit of inner-local politico small change typed up on a blog and read by a self-selecting group of a few people hoping they’re mentioned”, 8https://853london.com seems to attract a bigger readership than senine.co.uk.
Perhaps you need to reconsider your attitude to local politics?
Calling the Torys “their economy-wrecking national counterparts ” – is one of the funniest things I have heard in ages…….you have a very short memory mate!
If I were you, Mick, I’d be more worried about your favoured party squabbling in public than what some idiot with a blog thinks about them.
I’m more worried about democracy turning into a private members club.
[…] for Greenwich Conservatives, they got their rows out of the way early with the debacle over dumping Eileen Glover out in Eltham South. And they’re being more open about who they’ve […]
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