The decision by seven cabinet members, none of whom represent wards in Northampton to close Weston Favell Secondary and gift it and the surrounding land to the United Learning Trust to be run as an academy had done irreparable damage to the Councils reputation and it is difficult to see just what their motive was.
Rallying against the plans were the pupils, the teachers, the schools governors, the parents, the town's two MP's, the prospective parliamentary candidates from all other party's and none, the entire Borough Council and Conservative County Councillors from within their own group who knew that what they were doing was not only wrong, but that it was also an act of political suicide on behalf of the Conservative Party given the 97% opposition to their plans.
At the meeting 24 members of the public, spoke passionately against the plans, and opposition councillors including myself pleaded with the Squirocracy to have a change of heart and not undermine the community's interests.
References were made to the fact that if the meeting were a boxing match then the referee would have stopped the contest way before its conclusion, but it would seem not one of the punches thrown from the opponents of the plan landed on the 7 Tory members who took the decision. I also pointed out to those in the chamber that boxing matches are about brute force, but Council chambers should more about reasoned argument than simply the Council imposing its will on the community just because they can.
The public however won the day on reasoned argument as well, as speaker after speaker pointed out that the school had met all the targets it had been set and was well on the road to recovery and beyond without having to risk that turnaround with further change and upheaval. But still the recalcitrant seven dug their heels even further into the County Hall carpet.
The outcome was a victory for the anarchists who tell us that no governance is worth defending and it was terminal defeat for local democracy and the future of Education in our town.
I felt powerless in trying to explain to young people who had campaigned to protect the stability of their schooling that the first time they had tasted democracy it had poisoned them. What hope have we ever got of convincing young people that politics really matters when they see such blatant abuse of power being exercised by the Tory elite on the County Council.
And what message does it send to our young people when we try to tell them that Bully's never prosper? These seven "Stalinist's" (as their one of their own Conservative MP's referred to them in today's press) used their block vote to impose their political will on all present and on the general populous as callously as a any bully taking dinner money away from the weak.
It was a lesson in how not to govern, a reminder that hidden under the friendly conservative mask of electoral niceties lies an ugly, rancid and fettered creature of unlistening and uncaring conservatism still waiting and willing to do the bidding of the privileged few at the expense of the needy majority.
After the meeting, opposition Councillors rightfully called in writing, as is allowed for in the constitution for the decision to be decided by motion at Full Council by way of having no confidence in the Cabinets actions and asking for the Secretary of State to refuse to yield to their plans.
So, seconds out, round two in January where no doubt even more people will want to speak and play their part in informing our local democratic processes, but will they listen this time? and if not is it because they are brave Tory's of the "not for turning" fraternity, or Stupid enough not to see a political own goal right before their eyes, or maybe its that they are simply so arrogant they care nothing for the views of the public and care nothing for the future of the children who will inevitably suffer as a result of their continued interference and political dogma?
Finally, a huge well done to all those who took the trouble to speak at the meeting, you were concise by necessity (unlike the 20 questions afforded to the director at the whim of Cabinet) you were competent in putting facts before the cabinet, (unlike the very one sided report placed in front of members) and you won the argument hand and mind over fist.
Its just a pity and an outrage that the seven members of cabinet didn't listen to a word you said.