On Mary Mears: a shrewd operator you underestimate at your peril

There seems to be a lot of dissention over my appraisal of Mary Mears.  I have said on several occasions that Labour and Green activists underestimate her at their peril.  How she may relate to opposition councillors is one thing, how she relates to the general public is another.  She is one smart cookie (if you forgive the expression).

Mary has gone out of her way over several years to win support and gain respect.  To have become the leader of the Conservative Group in the first place was no mean feat, especially given she was up against establishment figures such as Geoffrey Theobald.  Various people have dismissed my description of an ‘invisible’ split in the local Tory Party.  “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” asks one.  “ Theobald and Mears openly loathe each other.  GT is open about his ambitions”.  However, in my humble opinion, it will take a Tory meltdown to see Mary replaced by Geoffrey.  The working class Tories are a determined bunch.

Under her leadership, the Tories are in much better shape in Brighton and Hove than I understand them to be elsewhere.  Unlike the predicted meltdown of the Lib Dems here, there and everywhere in Brighton and Hove, the Tories will retain a respectable number of seats, enough to deny the Greens overall control.  I suspect that the Tories will even win all three seats in the Labour heartland of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.

‘HP’ is less charitable than me (not that I am being charitable).  He says: “A conservative majority will never occur under Mary Mears. When the Goldsmid by-election occured the Tories were on the up nationally (pre-cuts), yet she managed to throw away the tory seat, and with it their effective control of the council, at a time she should have been building the majority.”  I don’t agree.  Goldsmid had the amiable Andrew Wealls as its candidate, and in normal circumstances he would have won.  But it wasn’t the Mears Effect that lost it, it was the Lucas Effect that won it, that and a first rate candidate in Alex Phillips.  At that stage all attention was on Caroline Lucas, and the Greens locally had the Big Mo, momentum.

HP suggests that we “put to bed BPB’s myth that Mears is an intelligent and shrewd operator who is dismissed at your peril. Yes, she has a core vote among the entrepreneurial working class, but she is not a clever person. Time and again my dealings with her have disabused me of my initial notion that I shouldn’t underestimate her. There is a fundamental vacuum of strategic thinking or adequate comprehension at the top of the council while Mears is there – and most of her party group know it.”  Not so.  My dealings with her, and those around her, suggest shrewd political operators.

However, I do find HP’s observation intriguing that the “new directors (and chief exec) were not to overcome a lack of ideas (that really doesn’t bother her). They were in fact part of a decapitation strategy that is presently working fine. As much as Mary Mears dislikes the Greens and Labour, her true enemy is the officer class at the council, who she believes are a load of trots all out to stab her in the back.”   And then he concedes: “Perhaps I was wrong when I said she’s not a shrewd operator……”.

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6 Responses

  1. BPB: so what is Mary Mears’ strategic thinking, then, if HP’s post was so off the mark? I’m interested to know.

    With a divided opposition more interested in discussing Caroline Lucas’s house than a post-Tory future in B&H, she could well end up back in charge regardless. Truly depressing.

  2. She has got to hold her seat first

  3. I see that Roy Pennington has been exposed as BPB.

    He of course holds huge grudges towards Mears, Fitch, Bodfish, Burgess, Lepper, Theobald, Taylor and every Lib Dem on the planet (without exception). He fell out with them all, big time.

    That makes this blog the sad musings of a nasty old man.

  4. Oh dear, it really isn’t that surprising that most people can’t be bothered to vote in local elections, is it?

    My only other observation is that if the blogger has a huge grudge against Mary Mears, he has an odd way of showing it.

  5. While I was canvassing, a man said that his damp work had been subcontracted by Mears builders to some other firm and he’d had problems ever since. Gallantly, I said that in fact Mary M is not a part of the firm as it was the subject of the Council which had made him offer this view.

    That said, I think there is a general assumption that firm, Council, veg etc is all one thing. Par for the course in vocal Brighton.

  6. […] Clive has also commented on my alleged ‘grudge’ against Mary Mears, as suggested by ‘The truth’: “if the blogger has a huge grudge against Mary Mears, he has an odd way of showing it.”  I recently posted an item describing Mary Mears as a shrewd operator you underestimate at your peril.  Read that post here. […]

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