Ray Skinner’s election pitch at London Borough of Merton, Cannon Hill ward – May 2010:

The Cannon Hill ward voting record for Thurs May 6th, the first three were elected:

Shears, Deborah Jane The Conservative Party – 2195 votes
Windsor, Miles Patrick James The Conservative Party – 1967
Lohendran, Logie The Conservative Party – 1860
Boodram, Leslie The Labour Party – 1355
Carter, Helen Margaret Liberal Democrat – 1195
McNicol, Shelley The Labour Party – 1169
Khanzada, Aejaz Ali The Labour Party – 1094
Rutledge, Hazel Rita Liberal Democrat – 1050
Lambert, Barrie Ritchie Liberal Democrat – 1007
Skinner, Ray Independent  – 498
Laws, Paul British National Party  – 378
Jayakrishna, Samuel Jayarajasingham Christian Peoples Alliance – 149

“A respectable result” was the comment made by the mayor.

For me to win, the issue of Morden Park’s mismanagement by previous administrations needed four times as many concerned people who agreed with me. On the one hand I was disappointed, but I have no envy for those elected; managing the swingeing cuts that are going to have to be made will be a nightmare, in the light of the national economic situation.

What I wanted for the Borough did in fact materialise. In my “I ask for your vote” section, I said “Four years ago, Merton’s election result was 30 Conservative, 27 Labour, and 3 Independents, which has meant that on contentious issues the largest group did not have a majority. Instead we have had a measure of consensus politics. I would like to see that continue.”  The overall result yesterday was 27 Conservative, 28 Labour, 3 independents ( Merton Park) and 2 LibDems (West Barnes).

It is also a fact that this weekend, the leaders of the three main parties are having to see if consensus politics can be made to work on a national scale.  For those who pray, they need our prayers.  So to the end of this election weblog.  Thank you to those who have bothered to check it out.  A bigger thank-you to the 498 who took the risk of voting for me!

Welcome to the weblog of Ray Skinner, Independent candidate for Cannon Hill ward, London Borough of Merton

In my election leaflet distributed around the doors of Cannon Hill ward, I said that because of the several distinct communities within our Borough, we needed a more constructive balance between them all, and argued for more Independent councilors.  I wrote positively about this last Merton council, being a ‘hung’ council.

It looks like we may well have a ‘hung’ national government on Friday, and I’m not sure that will be such a good thing.  Short term it could mean more chaos on the international markets, longer term, I am not at all sure politicians generally have the maturity and interest of the nation at heart to make coalition government work.  Our nation, our world, desperately needs leaders who genuinely, not just in words, put the interests of the whole community first, before their own.

I presume Terry Duffy is no relation to Gillian Duffy (see last Thursday blog, including my reference then to George Orwell’s ‘1984’).  Terry Duffy painted a large crucifix after the Liverpool riots in 1981, he called it “Victim, no resurrection”; it will next be on display in Coventry Cathedral in the autumn, then next year in Dresden’s Lutheran cathedral.  In 2014, at Easter it is scheduled to be displayed in Jerusalem.  The painting has at least several enigmatic messages, including its title, which I don’t like; but make your own mind up, the link is www.terryduffy.info/2007/victim.html  and the critique attached to it is worth a read.

George Orwell wrote another satire ‘Animal Farm’.  Napoleon the pig becomes the leader of the animals once the humans are chased off the farm, but becomes more and more horribly human until the other animals can’t tell the difference between the pigs and humans.  The hero is cart-horse Boxer, who tries to stand up against Napoleon and the pigs, but is foully tricked and murdered.

I don’t know of any power able to direct human destiny better than the cross of Christ. Yesterday I visited a 97-year old friend, Bishop Kenneth Cragg.  I agree with his view of the cross, as being “the only sufficient answer both to the credible trustworthiness of a good creation, and a sane and sober realism about humankind.”

On that note, I must finish what is likely to be the last weblog of my local election campaign, I will comment on the result!

‘Cannondownhyll’, and Merton Priory

Yesterday I had a fifth service (St Lawrence has Sunday services at 8am, 9am, 10.30am and 6.30pm). I had been invited to “Nones” – an annual service held at the Chapter House ruins of Merton Priory, under Merantun Way. At the ninth (nonth?) hour of daylight, medieval monks had this service to break up their working day.

I came to realise the importance of history as a schoolboy, suddenly inspired by Richard Bradley my history teacher who brought the battles of the English Civil War to vivid life for the class;  he went on to be Warden of St Edward’s School, Oxford.  In my April 23rd blog (see below), I commented on the importance of the Puritans, “for whom our parliamentary processes were very important, founded on the Biblical understanding of the equality of humankind under God.”

It would seem that in the 1500s the Augustinian Canons of Merton Priory owned the land of what came to be called “CannondownhyII” – probably because Parliament’s army occupied the hill in the 1640’s during the English Civil War and had the benefit of being armed with a cannon.  Being the fourth highest hill on this side of London it could have provided a form of defence from the King’s Cavaliers if they were to attack London, controlled as it was by Parliament.

Now only four days before the 2010 elections for both Parliament, and London Councils.  Unlike parliamentary candidates for election rushing around, local council independent candidates can relax this Bank Holiday day – we don’t want to become a nuisance to voters.  I hope that Cannon Hill electors have some sense of the history of our nation, and the sacrifices made by our forebears to enable us to enjoy the freedoms, and all the good things of life that we enjoy, which they could only dream of.  Most of the U.K. ‘Baby Boomers’ generation has had a pretty good life, all in all.  I hope I still have some energy left, to pass on a worthwhile legacy for my grandchildren’s generation.

How NOT to handle the economy

The local Guardian newspaper this week highlights the impending closure of FISH – Friends in St Helier, due to its Merton Council annual grant of £50,000 being cut by half.  Three days ago I wrote about this (see April 28th below), the club secretary Mary Curtin is quoted by the Guardian: “This organisation should be the jewel in the crown for any local authority.  Closure would confine some of merton’s most vulnerable to their homes without any social interaction and would mean a bigger overall bill for social services.”  Cllr Maurice Groves directs responsibility for the grant cut onto Merton Voluntary Service Council.  But surely Maurice, their funding comes from the Council?

FISH did begin life through the efforts of my colleague Revd Bill Muncey at St George’s, Morden, but is now a charity in its own right.  St George’s continues to make a significant contribution through making premises available one day a week for the day club, and an office, with running costs met by the Church Council.  FISH relies heavily on other voluntary giving of money and a lot of the time of cheerful volunteers.  Mary Curtin’s description of FISH as among the ‘crown jewels’ of the Borough is surely apt?

Funding for such groups such as FISH I would count as a lot more important than most other council expenditure.