Birds Of A Feather
I often hear local opposition Councillors bemoaning the way the local Conservative group have “ganged up” on them, or sprung to one another’s defence. They always try to peddle this like some diabolical conspiracy, rather than what it actually is.
Put simply, the reason people are in the same political party is because we broadly share a similar group of political views. We aren’t the same though – even within the Conservatives there is a wide range of opinion. We also tend to have worked together for years and so many of us become friends. When you get good friends, who share political views, it shouldn’t really surprise you if they are ranged on the same side of an argument.
What makes their objections more mystifying is that the opposition do exactly the same. Just look at the way local UKIP roll up to support whatever the latest Bucknor wheeze is on regular occasions. Given that the Bucknors’ politics are way over to the Left on most issues, and UKIPs policies sit in a different part of the political spectrum altogether, this isn’t an obvious partnership. But due to the history of local politics, and the fact that local ‘Kippers are not really very “traditional UKIP” in their views, its pretty common. In the same way, Virginia Bucknor has sprung to Paul Clapp’s defence this weekend as people began pointing out the various falsehoods in his ridiculous letter to the paper this week. This is what she says:-
In some Tory 2015 Election leaflets they wrote about tackling speeding vehicles. I’m guessing this may have been what Cllr Paul Clapp was referring to. He may also have been referring to the previous Tory election promises made about 20 mph.
The Waterless Tory leaflet had read: “We will not let …. the petition for the 20 mph speed limit rest”. (There had been a huge petition which the Tory Cllrs for Waterlees had been involved with).
Also the request to introduce 20 mph was raised at every one of our street surgeries so, like the 2 other town councillors for Waterlees who were Tories, we were trying to do what residents were asking.
Sadly though, Virginia’s defence of Paul Clapp is as misleading as the original diatribe. She suggests that the fact that we have said we want to combat speeding in recent literature is the reason Paul is claiming we support her 20 MPH zones – despite this making no sense whatsoever. I am sure that virtually every Councillor wants to stop people driving dangerously and thereby keep local folk safe. What we disagree on is how to go about that. So us saying we’d like to work to slow people down certainly does not mean we will support her idea, nor have we ever said it did. We don’t think 20 MPH blanket zones will do what they claim in Wisbech, we think they would be a waste of time and money and we think that it is County Councils job to handle highways issues, not that of Wisbech Town Council. Her attempt to conflate the two is pretty desperate.
Virginia Bucknor spends some time talking about her “street surgeries.” It’s pretty hard to verify the truth of this since we have no records of the Street Surgeries, nor of what was said or to whom. Nor even if it was said by different people, or the same person over and again. (Which might seem a little distrustful,but see the following paragraph for an example of how words can be used to mislead.) It’s funny that despite the Bucknors continually claiming to have “mass support”, there’s really no evidence that this is the case. Even Labour recognised this. In their election literature this year they said they backed the 20 MPH zones but only if a local referendum proved public support. Good position that, I commend them on it. What if another Councillor claimed that they had done street surgeries in Waterlees and had been given the opposite steer from local people? They haven’t, but the point is good. If this is strongly supported, let’s have a local referendum and let’s ask local people who vote “yes” to chip in a pound each to make it happen. In short order the Bucknors would have proof of the support *and* all the money they need, if they were right.
She then goes on to refer to election literature and Councillors in Waterlees who supported her policy. She does this cleverly, almost immediately after talking about this year’s election literature, so that the reader will link the two. But this is spin. In fact, the literature she is referring to is from four years ago and a completely different set of Waterlees candidates, none of whom are still Councillors and none of whom stood for election this year. So hardly relevant to the current debate or Paul Clapp’s bizarre letter. There was no mention of support for 20 MPH in any of this year’s Conservative literature, and I would know since I was campaign manager for most of the town’s seats and was involved in the design of most of the literature, alongside the candidates.
I suppose, when perhaps you only win your seat because another party stands aside to give you a free run, you probably feel some obligation to stick up for them. Particularly if they’ve lost a huge number of their activists over the issue, because those were winnable seats dammit and winnable seats are rare these days. But that’s just guessing. What would I know about it?