Labour Launch

A constituent of mine phoned me up the other day to tell me they had been called upon by what they described as a “looney Lefty” called Ken, representing the Labour party.

Now I rather like the NE Cambs Labour people that I’ve met, to be honest, and find them to be quite sensible Lefties even if we don’t agree on much of anything.  But I thought it interesting that they are out canvassing already.  Clearly more organised than they’ve been in a while.

I put this down to Dean Reeves, who is an exceptionally bright and eloquent gentleman who I am very fond of.  He’s been a driving force behind local Labour for some time.

A little scouting and I turned up their “Campaign Launch” event.  Here it is.

I guess the “Ken” in this video is the same Ken who was seen canvassing in Medworth.  Hello Ken!  Welcome to Medworth!

It has been edited to show the “highlights.”  I think they need to get somebody else to edit it.  It looks like Dean Reeves, talking for about four hundred years, and some balloons.  :)  As parties go, i’ve seen some that were more kickin’ than this, but I expect it was meant to be a very serious intellectual event, so that’s to be expected.

Our local Labour folk have always been the most honourable and genuine opposition group, sticking to the issues and not getting into dirty tricks.  So with that in mind, my red flagged friends, I’d like to wish you well with “break a leg” in the theatre tradition.  May the best men and women win.

Jobs you want doing? Who ya gonna call?

Jobs you want doing?  Who ya gonna call?

I had to chuckle at the Bucknors attacking local Conservatives, and particularly Rob McLaren, for doing voluntary work in the community.  They tried to make it look like he was going it “for the election” – while apparently missing the fact that he (and the rest of us) are involved in social action projects and volunteering all the time.  Naturally, John Elworthy was out in support of them as ever.  No longer making even the slightest effort to appear unbiased, it seems.  So be it.

I think Bucknor made a mistake attacking Rob.  She and Michael Bucknor can attack me all they like – I’m a Human Shield. :)  But Rob is far more well-liked, probably because he’s a much better man than I am.  I suspect they may have bitten off more than they can chew.  I did have some advice for Rob, though.  In case he finds it helpful.

You know what you *should* have done, Rob? Held a consultation that nobody turned up to because you didn’t advertise it, then blamed your residents for your own failings. Made a webpage listing all the “jobs” you’ve done which mostly features just a few phone calls. Driven your car without proper insurance cover. Benefits fraud. Used your elected role to promote your private business. Claimed to have received “hundreds of calls” while on holiday on the other side of the world. Claimed that local schools didn’t have chairs. Run a petition and proposed a crossing only to completely fail to put a bid in for it. Run a petition to stop the Post Office moving, only to completely fail. Repeatedly reported your enemies to the Standards Board in the hope you would stop them pointing out the things you do. Failed to turn up for pretty much every civic event since the day you were elected. Swore blind that you were going to prevent the taxi rank from moving, then completely fail to do so. Publish your plans for a speed reduction, then go into hiding when it becomes apparent the public don’t support you. Claim that things were going to get closed down which were not going to get closed down, in order to then pretend you had prevented them from closing down. Started an Infrastructure campaign with a website and fifty scrappy flyers and then spend years pretending it was more than a website and fifty scrappy flyers. Oppose and support the Wisbech Rail Project simultaneously. Vote for a rise in Council Tax even though you claim to be from a very deprived ward. Try and stop the Wisbech Adventure Playground from opening, then become Chairman of it and find that nobody wants to serve on the Committee with you. Try and get on the board of the Oasis Centre and be furious that they wont let you on there because they know what you are like. Call UKIP members “bigoted and racist” and then do a sleazy deal with them to protect yourself. Start a political “group” with only two people, which just happens to come with a generous group leaders Special Responsibility Allowance. Call Children in Care “Takers From Society” after they have given you a heartfelt presentation. Propose paid parking for all of Wisbech’s free car parks. Spend every day of your life claiming everybody in the opposition party is “nasty” to you when you are, in fact, the nastiest political individual the Town has ever seen. That’s what you *should* have done, Rob. But you wouldn’t. Because you’re not like that.

But I would like to thank Virginia Bucknor who said: “Wisbech Tories helping us sweep our streets and now painting a garage. If there’s any odd jobs you want doing, who ya gonna call?” (or something very similar) – beautiful quote and headline for next election leaflet, and WHAT an endorsement!

Quiet Zone

Quiet Zone

I must apologise for the sparsity of blog posts of late.  It is election time, and not just any old election time, but a General Election as well as District & Town Council elections.  This is particularly significant for me because I am Chairman of Wisbech Conservatives, a key election planner and organiser, and because most of my friends are candidates or friends of candidates.  It means that my office looks like a bomb has hit it and my “to do list” is more of a novel than a list.

So for most of April and early May I doubt I’ll be posting a very great deal.  I expect I’ll pop on if something funny, strange or annoying crops up.  But other than that this will be a quiet zone for a while, I’m afraid.

White Noise

White Noise

Ah, Election Time in Wisbech.

That wonderful period where the Opposition call people lots of names and say mean things about them and then complain about name-calling and mean things being said, while the local newspaper editor laments at the “bile” he perceives and ignores the “bile” from his mates.  Nothing changes.

I try to ignore the White Noise, primarily because I don’t much care what propaganda their cabal puts out to their thirty-five Twitter followers, or whatever.  But every once in a while something interesting is said that makes my (virtual) ears prick up.

There’s this, for instance:

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This is such a strange comment, since it appears to be suggesting that some or all Members of the Fenland District Council Overview & Scrutiny have “no expertise” to bring to that Committee.

Weird on several counts.  But first you need to understand what an Overview & Scrutiny Committee does.  The Committee’s job is to look at existing Policy to make sure it is working well, to suggest improvements and the like (the Scrutiny part.)  Also to look at forthcoming Policy to suggest potential issues, problems and improvements (the Overview part.)  At Fenland there is only one O&S Committee, which covers all the Council business.  Therefore the Committee needs to have a good spread of different knowledge and experience in order to properly do it’s job.  There is no requirement for “expertise” – this is provided by Officers.  Expertise is useful in some instances, but the point of O&S is to get all different people to look at items in order to get a diverse set of viewpoints and opinions.

So which of the Members of Overview & Scrutiny is it that Virginia Bucknor is suggesting don’t have “expertise” to be on a Committee covering all the business the Council does?  The only Member of the Committee whose background she is really qualified to speak on is her own – so is she saying she doesn’t have the expertise to be on it?  If so, why not just resign from it?  I think she’d be doing herself a disservice, since she surely has some useful experience to offer?

For my part, I have experience in all sorts of elements of what the Council does through my professional career in various areas.  I’ve also Chaired O&S Committees at the highest level of local government on multiple occasions.  But even if I had not – like every Councillor that is elected I’d still have something to add.  That’s why Overview & Scrutiny has diverse Members on the Committee. To make sure that experience and knowledge from all walks of life are included, to make the most of wisdom and intelligence of all sorts of different people coming at issues from all sorts of different angles.

What this shows, in my view, is a standard technocratic approach.   Some folks think that only their experience and input is of value and that anything anybody else says must fall before the power of their experience.  Even if they are as immensely clever as they think they are, this still displays a profound arrogance.  It is just as well that Overview & Scrutiny has a mix of people on its Committee because there are a mix of people in the world and a wide spread of opinions and viewpoints is worth more than a narrow band of so-called “expertise.”

UPDATE:
I asked for the Chairman of FDC’s O&S Committee’s comments, after showing the tweet to her.  This is what Cllr Jan French said:

This individual needs to remember that O/S this year carried out more reviews than any FDC committee ever. I also supported a call in for her. I also put extra Indies on the committee after she made the point that they “could not call anything in without Tory support.”

It appears from this comment that Virginia Bucknor, who is so keen to claim support for the democratic will of the people, has demanded a greater representation for her “Independent Group” than was merited by election results.  Curious.

Finally In The Open

Finally In The Open

Good to see John Elworthy on Facebook leaping to the defence of the Independents and UKIP.  People shouldn’t feel forced to hide their political views and pretend to be neutral and unbiased, even if they are the Editor of a newspaper.

There’s no reason why he shouldn’t hold political views and there’s no reason why his newspaper shouldn’t campaign for a particular group of political people and against another group.  It’s just nice if it’s in the open and transparent so that people aren’t fooled into thinking there’s proper news there, rather than personal comment.  That way, people can choose to read his paper or just bin it, and they can choose whether to advertise in it or in its less political rival – the Fenland Citizen.

Refreshing to finally see it so openly displayed.  Several people have messaged me to say how “gobsmacked” they were by it.  I wasn’t gobsmacked.  I’ve been pointing it out for years.  Every day, more people see it, or admit it.

The truth is out there.

Making It Stop

Making It Stop

I was going to think a little about Virginia’s Bucknor’s latest brainwave of an Anti-Litter Campaign as announced at FDC Full Council a few days ago and immediately picked up by the local press in the usual fashion.  Now I know that sometimes I would just poke holes in the idea and point out what I perceived were the motives behind it, but I thought i’d do something different today.  As regular readers will know I do occasionally like to muse on the way policy is made and consider options.  Given that many people are concerned about the prevalence of litter in our town I thought this would be a more positive way to approach the idea, such as it is.

I have talked previously about the importance of knowing the actual problem you are trying to solve before proposing a remedy for it.  But if you don’t want to spend a lot of time deciding if the thing you want to stop is (1) People dropping litter, (2)  Not enough people picking up litter, (3) There being too much litter, (4) Things being too disposable, (5)  People not having enough respect for their community – all slightly different actually – then you can look at the problem in the round.  In the case of an Anti-Litter Campaign you are usually trying to discourage people from dropping litter.  Simple, right?

There are a limited number of ways of stopping a behaviour that you would like to curtail.  You can; Educate, Persuade or Enforce.  The middle one, persuade, breaks down into three more: Persuade by entreatment, Persuade by Incentives, Persuade by Threat.  So our five methods are; Educate, Entreat, Incentivise, Threat and Enforcement.  Although you can usually try all five, most things you are trying to stop have some that you immediately know will work less well than others.

Let’s consider what those things mean:

Educate
This is where you try and explain to the people doing the thing you want to stop why it is that they would benefit from doing so.  So if the thing were “driving without a seatbelt” you might show them photographs of people who died after an accident without a seatbelt on and point out that, but for the twist of fate, that was them.  For education to work they have to be able to see why choosing what you think is a more altruistic action would be better for them, either directly, or indirectly (for instance, by protecting the people they love, or making their environment better.)  For this to work, the person must not already know or fully understand all the things involved.  If they already know the facts you reveal to them but have chosen to take the action anyway then education will not usually work.  It isn’t telling them anything new, so there cannot be a “eureka” moment which changes their mindset.

Entreat
Entreatment is simply an attempt to charm somebody into agreeing to change their behaviour.  You aren’t suggesting that they will benefit in any way from the change – perhaps because there is no way to do so or perhaps because they have already rejected your attempts to educate – instead you talk to them directly on a person-to-person basis.  Or perhaps you are doing the same thing with a reverse tactic and trying to shame them into changing their behaviour, usually through the way others perceive them.  For entreatment to work, the person has to be open to your charm or your shame or whatever other interpersonal method you are using to try and persuade them.  If they don’t care what you think, or what others think, or if they value their old behaviour more than the one you are suggesting despite your entreatment, it wont work.

Incentivise
Changing somebody’s behaviour by incentive is simply offering them some reward if they make a different choice.  “I’ll give you a pound every time you put your seatbelt on.”  Any economist will tell you that human beings are immensely susceptible to incentives – more than you might ever imagine.  In fact, we often respond to incentives we’d laugh at if presented directly.  But for an incentive to work well it has to have more value than what we perceive as the value of our original behaviour.  So offering £10.00 for every day somebody does not smoke might be effective for a person to whom £70.00 a week was a lot of money but would be much less effective to a billionaire.  You also have to have some way to check the reward has been earned.  For instance, offering £1.00 each time a seatbelt is put on would be ineffective if there was no way to check they had really done it.  They could just claim £500.00 for five hundred journeys and perhaps have not truly done so even once.

Threat
A threat can be anything from: “A bunch of big fellas will come around and beat you up” to “if you do this you will be arrested and locked up for ten years.”  So it can be a legal, or illegal threat.  Either way, the purpose is to create a fear of the consequences of the action you wish to stop.  When the person makes a (subconscious) cost/benefit analysis you want them to be thinking: “Nah, it’s not worth it.”  As the severity of the threat grows, so the number of people who are prepared to change their behaviour does also.  If stealing a loaf of bread has the punishment of a brief telling off, versus stealing a loaf of bread carrying the death penalty – you will get quite different numbers of prospective culprits willing to do so.  How hungry the individual person is, or how many children’s mouths they have to feed, or whether or not this threat is ever enforced, or how good they are at not getting caught, or how great the bread tastes – all these things play a smaller or larger part in the subconscious cost/benefit analysis.  (Note: I am not suggesting there are not millions of people who would never steal – of course there are – this analysis is looking at how to stop some form of behaviour that some number of people are doing.)

Enforcement
Enforcement changes behaviour in two ways; firstly by physically preventing the culprit’s behaviour happening, as it might by putting an electric fence around an apple field to stop scrumpers or posting security guards outside a trouble hotspot. Secondly, by leaving a memory of a punishment that the person does not wish to repeat and therefore works in a similar way to a threat, like D.N.A. testing dog poo compared to a Dog Database and then arriving at the owner’s door to deliver a big fine (or posting the dog poo into their letterbox.) When you physically prevent, fine, arrest, reprimand, or otherwise catch and punish a culprit in some way, that is enforcement.  It only works if the person is caught and if they perceive the punishment to be in some way worse than the value of continuing the behaviour you are trying to prevent.

So:

Education only works if they don’t already know the facts and consequences.
Entreatment only works if they care what you or others think.
Incentivisation only works if the incentive is greater than the perceived value of the behaviour to the culprit.
Threat only works if the perceived threat is greater than the perceived benefit of continuing the behaviour and if they believe the threat is real.
Enforcement only works if you can stop them, or catch them (if the personal cost of the punishment is greater than the perceived value of continuing the behaviour.)

There is a final consideration which must be made.  Whether it “matters” or not depends on individual perceptions, but the issue is the cost of any action you choose to take.  All five methods have a cost involved in time, resources, money etc.  If the cost of preventing the behaviour is greater than the cost of allowing it to continue, then that must surely challenge the method of interaction chosen.  So let’s say you print 50,000 flyers saying: “Please do not throw stones at the windows” in order to prevent your windows getting broken about three times a year.  Putting aside whether that method would actually work and just presuming it did – If the cost of the 50,000 flyers is greater than the cost of repairing the window three times, was it worth doing?  Maybe you think it was because that behaviour change has knock-on effects.  Or maybe you think it wasn’t because you don’t have much money and every penny counts.  But it’s got to be in your considerations either way if you want to be fully informed.  Only an idiot or somebody with more money than sense (or somebody spending somebody else’s money) makes suggestions without at least considering the cost.

So there we have it.  My potted logic for Making It Stop – whatever “it” is.

With that in mind, how does a “Campaign” to prevent littering by using some colourful new signs and a new logo fit in?  Particularly one which claims it will “save thousands?”

Education:  Signs may be considered to educate, for sure.  But do the people who are littering not know they are littering?  Do they not realise they shouldn’t do it?  Do they not realise that it makes the environment look bad, encourages vermin, has health consequences?  If they don’t have a clue, then a new sign and logo  might work.  If they know and just don’t care, it won’t.

Entreatment:  Signs with a colourful new logo and some press releases and the like might be considered entreatment.  They might appeal to the culprit’s sense of civic responsibility, or they might shame them into changing their behaviour.  Do you think that prolific litter bugs are likely to have a strong sense of civic responsibility?  Are they likely to be plagued with guilt when they see that sign after just dropping a chip carton on the floor?  If you do think so, the campaign will probably work.  If you don’t, it probably won’t.

Incentivisation:  No incentive is offered as part of the campaign.  It doesn’t say: “Pick up a bag of litter and bring it to the One Stop Shop to get a £2.00 voucher for Tesco” or anything like that.  So this doesn’t apply.

Threat:  The signs carry no additional threat beyond the ones which already exist.  They don’t say: “£10,000 Litter Fine in this Hot Zone” or something.  So this doesn’t apply.

Enforcement:  The Campaign carries no additional enforcement that I’m aware of so far that doesn’t already exist.  So this doesn’t apply.

Even if some degree of threat and additional enforcement were later added to the campaign there would be a cost involved.

So the final test – what is the cost compared to the result?  A bit of free publicity in the paper doesn’t have much cost.  A few signs don’t have an enormous cost, although if the Council is delivering them then they’ll probably cost more than you would expect them to.  How many people would change their behaviour based on these new signs?

There have been plenty of signs in the past, and there’s no shortage of people trying to entreat and shame folks into putting their litter in the bin instead of dumping it on the floor or in a bush.  So my strong suspicion is that the campaign – even if it were rolled out with new signs everywhere – would have a very limited success rate.  But it might still have a marginally positive success rate by reminding people who are just careless (for instance) and with that in mind it could, possibly, have a greater benefit than cost.  I doubt it.  But it could.  The idea that it will save “thousands” though?  Seems desperately unlikely.

I can’t see it doing any harm so I certainly won’t be opposing it, as long as the costs of delivering it are kept in check.  And even if I suspect that the timing – a few weeks before an election – is a mighty convenient way to get your picture in the paper again.   I reckon just encouraging more people to join the excellent Street Pride folk would be a more effective solution, but what do I know?

I can’t shake the feeling that “pick up some litter” would be a better campaign than “stop littering.”  Because I reckon the number of litterbugs is tiny compared to the decent folks who wouldn’t drop their rubbish.  If every person picked up just one thing each time they went out and put it in a bin – we’d have zero litter and it wouldn’t cost the Council a penny.  In fact, it might save the Council thousands.  Have a think about it.  Run it through my five methods above – and see if you don’t agree.

Rambling Post

Rambling Post

Hectic times right now as it’s election season all over.  We’re also beginning to see – both locally and nationally – the campaigns begin to take shape from different areas.  Labour and the Greens desperately trying to pretend the NHS is about to be sold off as they always do.  UKIP still pretending they are Left-Wing to left-wingers and Right-Wing to right-wingers.  Nobody really listening to the Lib Dems anymore.

Locally the Wisbech Conservatives have organised well.  We have a good team out every Saturday in the market place, literature going out in most parts of Wisbech, candidates selected for every seat in every ward who are all champing at the bit to get out there.  In my opinion we have some of the best teams we have ever had and I’m looking forward to following their efforts as the election season commences.  They are certainly going to put the fear of God into lazy opposition Councillors who think they can just swan into re-election without doing anything.

I’ve had a really busy week with Overview & Scrutiny on Monday, Wisbech Conservatives Branch meeting on Wednesday, FDC Full Council today followed by a North-East Cambs Conservatives A.G.M. this evening.  Tomorrow I’m meeting residents in the morning to try and help resolve a thorny issue and then in the afternoon I’m working with Waterlees Conservatives to get the message out that doom and gloom is no sort of solution and photo opportunities don’t represent success.

On Saturday I’m out with the wider Conservative team in the morning and then on to my Councillor Surgery in the afternoon.  For any Medworth residents who would like to come visit me, report problems, make suggestions or just have a natter I will be at The Angel Pub on Alexandra Road from Midday until 2PM in the lower bar area (suitable for families.)  There will be coffee and cake.

I was pleased to be able to vote for a Council Tax Freeze again today.  Which means that both the Councils I am involved with – Wisbech Town Council and Fenland District Council have delivered a freeze for the second year on the trot.  I was the only person on the Scrutiny Committee to vote against a rise and at that time I was mocked by a number of individuals for that.  It appears that my position, lonely though it was at the time, has won out, since FDC voted unanimously for a freeze today.  I promised when I stood for election that I would fight for a freeze and I have kept my promise.  I argued for it, I voted for it, and it was been delivered.  It is thanks, once again, to good financial management and hard work by Officers and staff on this Conservative-run Council that it has been possible to protect and improve services for people, while keeping the cost of doing so down.

One interesting thing at Full Council today.  Virginia Bucknor has become “Leader of the Biggest Opposition Group.”  Previously, the leader of the Biggest Opposition Group (three of them) was Cllr Gavin Booth, a Liberal Democrat who led the Liberal Democrat Alliance; himself, Cllr David Patrick (was Lib Dem then Independent) and Mark Archer (Independent.)  But Dave “Taxi” Patrick went off to join UKIP and Mark Archer went off to find himself on the other side of the world, leaving poor Gavin Booth all alone.  Which means that the new Biggest Opposition Group (two of them, married) is now the Bucknors’ Really Really Really Truly Independents.  I wonder what it’s like being the leader of the Biggest Group which comprises of you and your husband?  Group meetings must be a blast.  I notice that the local press never really mentioned the way the people of Manea were left in the lurch with no representation for a year, nor the interesting idea of claiming a Special Responsibility Allowance for being the “leader” of a tiny little two-person group.  Nice work if you can get it.  :)

Having resigned from the Executive Officers Committee of North-East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association a couple of weeks ago on a point of principle, at the A.G.M. tonight I was nominated to stand for election in a more senior role.  I was previously an “additional officer” but tonight I was nominated to stand as Deputy Chair Political.  I accepted the nomination.  I am proud that I was elected by N.E.C.C.A. members to take on that role.  With many of the old Officers standing down there was a lot of competition for the empty posts – the most competition for those positions that I have ever seen.  With only a limited number of positions available there was going to be some disappointment and that meant some really good people didn’t manage to get elected this time.  But it was great to see such interest and competition and I am looking forward to working with the brand new team going forwards.  We have a lot of work to do helping the Association to grow and prosper in order that we can continue to carry the Conservative message far and wide in Fenland, to work hard for our communities across the area, and to help sound hard-working Conservatives get elected in as many places as possible.

As an aside, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw UKIP making claims that they “support the Wisbech Rail Link” in their newspaper advert last week.  As far as I am aware, none of the local UKIP County Councillors have ever done so.  I don’t know what Lagoda thought, since he left UKIP under the cloud of being a benefits cheat before we could find out.  But the others have long been vocal critics.  Even at the most recent full Council meeting one of our Wisbech ‘Kippers reportedly referred to the rail link as: “a train set for boys who have never grown up.”  I wonder, is there anything that UKIP wont suddenly do a U-Turn on and make dodgy claims about as they grubbily clutch for votes?  Anything at all?

It is the local Conservatives who have worked hard to repair our dilapidated buildings.  Local Conservatives who have overseen a period of expansion and growth in the Town.  Local Conservatives who have worked hard with the Wisbech Society and others to secure grant funding to improve our Town Centre.  Local Conservatives who have led on Festivals and events for our town.  Local Conservatives who have helped deliver thousands of pounds of arts funding for the area.  I know that not all readers of my blog are Conservatives.  However, I hope you will appreciate that the Tories of Fenland want only the best for the people who live here.  Difficult choices must be made and nothing is easy anymore, for sure.  But you can count on your local Conservatives to fight for all the things the area needs, while making sure that you don’t get stung with gigantic council tax rises.  it is not by accident that the only Council to increase it’s Council Taxes this year is the one which is not controlled by the Conservatives, but by a hotch-potch kind of unofficial Rainbow Alliance under the sclerotic, paralysed Committee System.  I hate to say I Told You So.  But I did.

Stop Hitting Yourself

Stop Hitting Yourself

I don’t know if this is a common thing or not, but it certainly goes back a few generations in my family – the game that adults play with kids where you (very gently) pretend they are punching themselves in the face while you say: “Stop hitting yourself!” and they squeal with laughter*.  Well, I think I saw the same game played with an adult today!  I shall endeavor to explain.

For the last few Saturdays the local Conservatives have been visiting Wisbech Marketplace handing out leaflets, talking to local people and generally being “out and about” when the market is at its busiest.  The first time we went we saw UKIP, briefly, promoting their End Of The World Is Nigh Message to a handful of angry-looking people.  Another time we saw an Anti-UKIP group handing out leaflets to “Stop the fascist racist UKIP” or whatever, which was nothing to do with us, but which he heartily applauded.

Other than that it’s just been us each week.

This week, guess what, the Bucknors (Independent Councillors for Waterlees) were there.  Well, as you might imagine, we were gobsmacked.  We rarely see them at anything they don’t absolutely have to go to and it’s become something of a running joke that any time they turn up it’s usually just before the cameras arrive and then they tend to disappear just after the cameras leave.   (It’s not a joke they approve of, but then they don’t seem to approve of many things.)  To cap it all they seemed to be in a “team” with the local Green Party lady and Cllr Alan Lay (UKIP).  What a strange collection of politicians!  Well, we thought, if the Bucknors are going to be out campaigning on the Marketplace then this election is going to be a whole lot more interesting.

However, not too long after the Bucknors and their team arrived – a photographer from the Wisbech Standard appeared, as if by magic!  Quelle surprise, as they say in the French.  Some lovely photos were taken and then not an immensely long time after the press left … guess what happened?  You’ll never guess.  Go on try.  Yep, the Bucknors moved on too.  Who’d a thunk it?  Something of a sigh of relief.  The sort of sigh that comes from realising that all is right with the world once more.

A couple of funny things did happen during the morning.  The first was that the Wisbech Standard photographer noticed there were rather a lot of Conservatives in the Market and asked if he could take our picture also.  Imagine how you’d feel if you’d planned a special photo shoot to make it look like you were really hard on the campaign trail, only to have your opposition also get the photo shoot.  It was quite funny.  Of course, this is the Wisbech Standard, so I doubt our picture will be used.  Or maybe it’ll be used under some misleading headline?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The other funny thing was what happened to poor Cllr Alan Lay (UKIP).  I rarely feel sorry for Alan, but today I did.  He was out in a team with the Bucknors and the lady from the Green Party.  Which is odd enough in itself, if you think about it.  They were all handing out the same leaflet.  Imagine our surprised when we were handed a copy of the leaflet and saw that it was the dramatic: “Save our NHS” and that it was an attack on both the Conservative Party … and UKIP!  Alan Lay was handing out leaflets that damned his own party.  Did he know?  Did they say: “Look, Alan, this leaflet isn’t very nice about UKIP I hope you don’t mind?”  Or did they just hand them to him and be like: “Give these out, no need to read what they say.”  No idea.  I hope it was the latter though, because that would be a somewhat audacious con.  Very much the adult equivalent of the “Stop Hitting Yourself!” game.   Don’t you think?

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*Thank you Garry Tibbs for the metaphor suggestion

Insurance Void?

Insurance Void?

http://www.wisbechstandard.co.uk/…/wisbech_councillor_break…

Let me get this straight. UKIP Councillor Dave Patrick, a professional Taxi Driver, decided that the best thing to do was drive to the local Hospital on a broken foot? A foot that he describes as “extremely painful” and that he could “barely hobble” on.  That didn’t seem at all dangerous or careless?

What if he had to make an emergency maneuver?

What if his inability to control the car had caused a serious accident?

Was his insurance valid while driving with a broken ankle?

Hardly a surprise really. Invalid insurance wouldn’t be a lot different to “no tax.” http://www.cambstimes.co.uk/…/no_tax_councillor_and…

I don’t expect Dave Patrick meant any harm, and perhaps his mind was clouded by pain.  In this instance no harm came of it and all is well.  But I still don’t think it’s anything to crow about.

I nevertheless wish him a speedy recovery and hope he feels better soon.

UPDATE:

Dave Patrick feels that he has a case against me for defamation, both for the comments I have made and those of others. I think he will find, when he checks, that asking a series of questions is not defamatory. But in the interest of balance, I’m going to print a screen shot of his message to me, as I promised him I would.

2

The point remains that driving on an injured ankle runs the risk of invalidating your insurance. It doesn’t take much Googling to find this out. Dave says his insurance company have told him that he has done nothing wrong. Cool – maybe so, if he has really asked them. But did he ask them *before* he drove? No mention of him doing so anywhere. So how did he know until after the fact? Also, any driver must surely know that if your foot is in agony and you can only “hobble”, which he has said was his circumstances, then it must SURELY be dangerous to drive unless you have to make an emergency maneuver. Dave feels I’m being rotten to him – I think if I’d wanted to be rotten I could have done a lot more than a vague few questions on Facebook. And I don’t think I’ve said anything untrue, have I? So how is it defamatory? Answer = I don’t believe it is.

It surprises me that Taxi Dave feels he can say anything he likes about other people: For instance when he was telling everybody my businesses have failed (when they are doing fine, thanks) – but that when somebody points out actual facts about things he says and does he starts making threats to silence them.   I don’t believe I’ve done anything other than tell the truth and discuss issues he made public by giving an interview to the newspaper about them.   In the same way that he failed to silence me with the bogus Standards Board report a year ago, he wont silence me now.  I was happy to let this sorry story quietly blur away, but he seems intent on keeping it in focus.   That’s his call, I guess.