Do you remember Robert Helpmann’s menacing portrayal of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? I was only seven when the film was released, and boy, did that creepy twisted man give me nightmares?
After the council elections, new Conservative group leader, Cllr Steve Hastings, did his best impersonation of Helpmann’s villainous kiddie snatcher, offering newly-elected non-Tory councillors delicious sweeties, cherry pie and ice-cream. All they need do was emerge from hiding and help the Tories retain control of County Hall. Rumour has it such was the Tories’ desperation, pretty much any job was on offer to two councillors, which was what they needed to keep the dream alive. Alas, it was not to be, despite those friendly Tory overtures – what a principled bunch they are? No, not the Tories; I mean the others who stuck together like glue, simultaneously blowing raspberries in the direction of Mr Hastings’ frantic pleadings.
When the council met for the first-time last week, the Tories thought they were still in with a chance. Surely even at the last minute, someone would crack. What about that Brexit bloke, Daryll Pitcher? He and Hastings used to be in UKIP together; surely, he wouldn’t vote with the Greens and Labour.
Just as Vulgaria was considered too dangerous for children, County Hall was deemed far too treacherous for our newly-elected representatives, so the film, in this case a You Tube video, was shot in the Medina Hall.
After the two potential council leaders were proposed, a couple of carefully selected members were tasked to speak in their favour. Hilariously, Cllr Clare Mosdell seemed blissfully unaware that, since polling day, her champion Cllr Hastings had been frantically offering sweeties to anyone prepared to help him become leader. Until then the mood of the meeting seemed pretty friendly but Cllr Mosdell changed all that. Being nice hadn’t worked – so Clare put on a passable impression of Baroness Bomburst. She glowered across the hall, instructing non-Tories to think carefully about what she (correctly) sensed they were about to do.
“Council jobs should not be given out like sweets, because sweets soon lose their flavour,” pronounced the Baroness. Oops, had candy-man Hastings forgotten to mention his confectionery enticements? Do they no longer speak since he beat her to the Tory leadership job?
Besides, as everyone knows, it’s not sweets that lose their flavour, it’s chewing gum. As my dentist will confirm, sweets give you a sugar rush and mood swings, before slowly disappearing – just like your teeth and the Tories’ ambition to run the council. Spikily, Baroness Mosdell told the independent collective they should abstain on the leadership vote because “none of them had a mandate”. What a bloomin’ cheek. Had she not noticed that just 41 per cent had voted Conservative – they were miles from having a mandate.
There was no sign of party chairman David Pugh, nor MP Bob ‘half-a-sausage’ Seely, one might have expected both to be on hand, given their key roles in the election. Perhaps they were lurking in the shadows, like those two ridiculous spies in the Chitty movie? The pair were sent from Vulgaria to steal the amazing flying car for the evil Baron Bomburst, but – like Pugh and Seely – after lots of comedic bumbling, they fail miserably in their mission. Also like the film, the meeting had an upbeat, happy ending – as the Island’s very own Truly Scrumptious, Lora Peacey-Wilcox was triumphantly elected leader!
The Tories were crestfallen, but other councillors present seemed positively cock-a-hoop. And all because they were taught never to accept sweeties from strange men.