Royal Shakespeare Company has nothing on the Truro players
London Editor Graeme Demianyk watched the comedy wrapped inside a tragedy that was the ousting of Cornwall Council’s leader.
"Will you get security!," demanded Pat Harvey, the evergreen chairman of Cornwall Council, as all hell threatened to break loose. At that moment, you knew. This was County Hall in Truro like never before. They will be talking about this for years. Where were you when Alec Robertson was sacked?
Brave souls who regularly bear witness to local politics will know that feeling of time moving at a glacial speed. So long are these marathon sessions you could enter as a stripling yet emerge with a desert island beard and a blackbird taking refuge.
But not yesterday. Yesterday was box office. To take your eye off the screen – more than a thousand of us watched the council's online webcast – was to miss another twist of the knife or impassioned defence. The Royal Shakespeare Company has nothing on the Truro players.
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To recap: Tory leader Alec Robertson, under-fire for pushing through a part-privatisation scheme, faced a vote of no confidence and the welly boot. Yet you suspected the jig was up when even supporters insisted they were four-square behind one "Alex Robinson". Odder still was "Councillor Robinson" leaving the wicket before the first ball was bowled, citing a conflict of interest, and leaving others to fend off the barrage of bouncers.
Opinion was divided. And how. At one point "Councillor Robinson" was compared to "the Pope or Jesus Christ", the next "Ethelred the Unready". Opposition Lib Dem leader Jeremy Rowe was unequivocal. The less-than-glorious leader was at the heart of a regime guilty of bullying, cronyism and a bunker mentality, obsessed with "grand schemes when they can't even collect people's bins". Mr Rowe countered claims of "Councillor Robinson" being the victim of Cornwall's "hostile and vitriolic" media. He suggested former Lib Dem county council leader David Whalley received death threats in the past amid a row over a new logo.
Cabinet member Mark Kaczmarek, an Independent, had heard enough. Mr Rowe was a "back-stabber", he alleged, sending Madam Chairman into a fit of pique after refusing to withdraw the remark. Well, he started it, appeared to be the justification amid the howls of protest, a two-minute suspension and a webcast black-out. It was a drum-roll short of an EastEnders cliffhanger.
When battle resumed, security stationed "just in case", the end was in sight. The vote – correction, the "secret ballot" – served "Councillor Robinson" his P45. Yet fate, that cruel mistress, had another card to play. Deputy leader and arch-critic Jim Currie was named the new boss of the Tory-Indie coalition. A bucket of salt in the wound.
Anything else? Just a spate of Cabinet resignations, leaving a Tory party riven and part-privatisation plans weeping in the ditch.
Roll credits. Fade to black. There's only one question left. When is the DVD out?