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Brentford TVAdmin  · 6 h  · "BE WORRIED," SAYS ONE PROMINENT COUNCILLOR. "WITH A WEAK OPPOSITION, EVEN MORE DECISIONS WILL TAKE PLACE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. WHO WILL HOLD POWER TO ACCOUNT? IT COULD BE FOUR YEARS OF A VERY UNHEALTHY DEMOCRACY."Fists thumping the air, Tory candidates put on a brave face as they launched their Council campaign two months ago. Most of them never stood a chance. Despite valiant efforts, they found Borough issues were soon mixed up with national ones – the cost of living crisis and Boris. And the indications are that they face near extinction in the Hounslow Council elections tomorrow, Thursday. By Friday Labour candidates are likely to be celebrating victory, both collective and individual. Yet, for some, that triumph will be accompanied by a sense of unease. Even they don't want to see the Opposition effectively wiped out.The Tories look like the dinosaurs before the meteor hit. Even Chiswick seats are at risk, threatening the loss of the most experienced Tories – current leader Gerald McGregor and stalwarts such as John Todd, Jo Biddolph, Ron Mushiso and Gabriella Giles, as well as returning leader Peter Thompson and newcomer Jack Emsley. Wiser Labour heads may not agree with them on many matters but they acknowledge their contribution to Council work, asking questions, proposing amendments and motions, scrutinising policy and strategy and publicly challenging the Leadership, often in blunt and personal terms. That is their role: to hold power to account. Without them, who will keep challenging the new Council Leader, likely to be Cllr Shantanu Rajawat? The fear is that even more major decisions will be taken in Cabinet, by a small group behind closed doors, without full public airing and vigorous debate. Labour might argue that they are pushing forward with much needed action regarding regeneration, more homes, traffic schemes, climate change and suchlike. They say it's a matter of "getting things done". Others say it creates an unhealthy democratic process (and that you don't have to be a Tory to see it).We may have to rely on Labour's own internal opposition. The Labour group may divide upon various lines, such as between the two constituencies – Isleworth & Brentford versus Feltham & Heston. And there are a very few mavericks, willing to put their head above the trench. One, Tony Louki, still faces disciplinary proceedings if re-elected. Another, Richard Eason, was not approved as a candidate and has been sidelined.Apart from that, there is the simple unfairness of many thousands of Tory votes going completely unrepresented across the Borough, a result of the first-past-the-post electoral system.One surprise factor could be the election of strong Independent candidates such as Theo Dennison (Syon & Brentford Lock) and Gurpal Virdi (Cranford). Both are ex-Labour and would be frank and fearless. But just getting sufficient votes tomorrow is a challenge for them, although Cllr Dennison in particular stands a chance. And then there are the Greens and the Lib Dems, but their campaigning has been less evident and energetic than expected, with the exception of Stephen Clark (Green, Brentford West). We will see.

Vanessa Smith ● 63d