What A Weekend

What A Weekend

That’s quite a weekend I’ve just had.  Spent Saturday at Wisbech Castle running the Cafe and it was a busy one.  Then I had to rush home and pack the car with disco equipment as I provided the free disco for the FACET charity fundraising party in March.

Despite the late night working I was up early to help set up Armed Forces Day in Wisbech Market Place and then manning the Air Cadets stall with cadets and other volunteers.

In the afternoon I had the great pleasure to attend the Nine Lives Live show at Wisbech Institute.   It was an incredible, exceptionally, inspirational show.  These guys just get better and better.  I have always enjoyed their shows before, but this time my Son was part of the show with two solo songs and lots of other acting and singing parts and even some tap dancing.  My Wife and I were very proud parents.

Unfortunately, the day ended a little sadly as the Castle CCTV and a local witness saw kids trespassing into the Castle grounds.  They did some minor mischief but nothing major.  We have very clear pictures of them and know exactly who they are.  We will be alerting the Police.

The week ahead is pretty crazy.  Now that I’m a Cabinet Member at FDC its pretty “full on” with meetings almost every day this week alongside my normal jobs.  I’m enjoying it though.  I’ve long felt that Communications (a part of my new portfolio) needed a shake up and that’s precisely what I am trying to do.  Officers have been very helpful so far and I think a lot can be achieved.

Rory Stewart? Really?

Rory Stewart? Really?

Come on.

My fellow Conservatives.

If you think that the person to lead the Conservative party after the disaster that was Mrs May, after the colossal clusterduck (colloquialism) that has been the Brexit situation so far is Rory Stewart you must be off your rocker.

You must be in cloud cuckoo land.

Seriously.

What is the matter with you?

The future of the Conservative party cannot possibly be more of the same.   The next Leader must be a strong Leader, not a soft left apologist who would be as comfortable in the Lib Dems as the Conservatives.

The next Leader MUST be a LEAVER, not a Remainer.

And not just a lip service Leaver.

A full-on, no qualms, no backpedalling, ready to go, relaxed about No Deal if necessary, proper Leaver.

Rory Stewart?  You have GOT to be joking.  You really have.

 

Well, That Was Dramatic

Well, That Was Dramatic

… but really no surprise.  We all pretty much knew that Brexit Party were going to clean up on a Leave message and Lib Dems were going to clean up on a Remain message.

I am sad that so many Conservatives lost, but not that sad, because they lost an election for a job that wasn’t mean to exist.  And the people who won, won a job that is unlikely to exist for very long.  (But probably long enough for some funny moments to play out in Brussels.)

Thank goodness, Theresa May has gone.  You would think that we would now choose a strong Brexiteer as Leader.  You would think that the soft wet left edge of the party might shush for a bit and stop with the blathering that has led us to this impasse.  You would think that a powerful Leader who is not afraid of WTO Brexit if the EU won’t budge would take us out in October and be done with the whole sorry charade.

But too many of the Parliamentary Conservative Party have shown themselves to be very slow to pick up on Brexit clues, oblivious to what their members and supporters want, and willing to let that self-same soft wet Left of the party run the show too often.

Make no mistake – picking another Remainer, or some EU apologist who is terrified of No Deal, will lead to disaster.  We are pretty much out of time and face an existential threat to the future of one of the oldest political parties in the world.  We appear to have woken up at last – stay strong now, please.   Every step must now be the right one.

Pleased to see Dan Hannan MEP won, at least.  Hope to see him in Parliament in the future.

 

 

New Council At FDC

New Council At FDC

We have only had our first meeting today, so its very early days, but I do feel pretty excited about the way things have started.

With a lot of new faces and some old faces in different places, I really had no idea how it was going to go.  Broadly, I think it went pretty well.

Almost all of the various opposition, Indies, Lib Dems, etc, have formed an opposition party/group called the Fenland Independent Alliance.  Which isn’t a terrible name, particularly concerned with some that have gone before.

They put in a handful of motions and the motions were what you would expect, a mixture of ideas and political shots fired.  But they were well put together and seemed to be well-intentioned.  There were some amendments and some discussion, but it was all fairly good spirited.  I enjoyed it, and I have the feeling that most other Councillors of all stripes did too.  There was a feeling of change and of a fresh start and for the most part people seemed happy with that.  Sure, we disagreed, debated and verbally jousted, but most of the bitterness was gone and it seemed like the Council was ready to move on in its new incarnation.

After quite a few years as a backbencher, I was appointed to a Cabinet post by the new Leader, Cllr. Chris Boden.  I have been given the role of Cabinet Member for Communication and Transformation, which I think is a pretty good “fit” for me and I’m excited about the promotion.  I am particularly pleased as I think Chris Boden is going to be a fantastic Leader and I want to be a part of this fresh start and new journey that I believe he will lead us on.  I will, as ever, aim to do the absolute best I can do in the role, for the people of Fenland.

For anybody interested in knowing the whole of the new Cabinet (and what the roles entail), this is it:

Chairman: Kay Mayor.  Vice-Chairman: Alex Miscandlon.

Chris Boden – Leader of the Council and Finance: Finance/Budgets (Financial & Performance Management); Benefits (strategic); Corporate Governance; Electoral Services; Business Rates; Policy & Resources; Capital Programme; IDBs (strategic)

Jan French – Deputy Leader of the Council: Benefits (operational); ARP; Parking; Member Services

Steve Tierney – Transformation & Communication: Customer Access; Marketing & Communications; ICT & Broadband; Waste & Recycling (strategic); Energy Conservation; Equalities; Emergency Planning

Sam Hoy – Housing: Housing Strategy; Regulated Providers (strategic); Private Sector Housing; Homelessness; Rough Sleeping; Environmental Health (incl enforcement)

Sam Clark – Social Housing and Leisure:  Regulated Providers (operational); Licensing (incl. enforcement); Travellers; Sports Development; Leisure Services

Chris Seaton – Social Mobility and Heritage:  Skills; Transport; Rural Affairs; Community Cohesion; Education; Children & Young People; Tourism; Conservation; Heritage; Dilapidated Buildings & Enforcement;

Peter Murphy – Environment: Waste & Recycling (operational); Cleansing; Grounds Maintenance; Parks & Open Spaces; Markets & Events; War Memorials;

Ian Benney – Economic Growth: Strategic Assets & Management; Growth; Inward Investment; Port & Marine Services; Job stimulation; Asset disposal; Renaissance; Emergency Planning Deputy.

Maureen Davis – Communities: Health Inequalities; Health & Wellbeing; Supporting Vulnerable People; Golden Age Fairs; Community Partnerships; Community Grants; Police Liaison; CCTV; Community Safety; Pride in Fenland

Dee Laws – Planning: Local Plan; Neighbourhood Planning; Building Control; Planning Policy; Planning Delivery; Planning (operational); Building Communities & Neighbourhood Management; Section 106 & CIL; Flooding & IDBs (operational)

Going forwards I expect a number of challenges, no doubt.  To quote Captain Ahab <ahem>: “Nothing is plain sailing.”  It is going to take some original and innovative thinking to make sure that we can deliver better services, better savings for the taxpayer and a modern Council that will be able to face the future boldly.  But this is a team I’m proud to serve alongside and I’m excited to get started.

Bedazzled In Wisbech

Bedazzled In Wisbech

It was a great pleasure to join Bedazzle Inclusive Theatre on Wisbech Market Place today.  The team had prepared a “flashmob” series of dance routines that they performed to an enthusiastic and surprised crowd.

I had volunteered to provide the PA for their music and when I began to set up passers-by were clearly curious as to what was going on.

What a treat they had in store as Bedazzle lived up to their name and wowed the crowd with an energetic dance set.

Great fun!

Very pleased with my bag of gifts

Very pleased with my bag of gifts

It was very nice to be presented with a card and a bag of gifts from my Wisbech Conservative colleagues this evening.

I acted as Campaign Manager here in Wisbech and we bucked the national trend and had a pretty good result, improving on our previous election results from four years ago.

It was a lot of hard work, but I really can’t take any credit.  We had a brilliant raft of candidates and I am proud to serve alongside them.

I’m only sorry for the three that we lost – but there will be other days.

What I Don’t Get

What I Don’t Get

I’ve been puzzling over something that I can’t quite get my head around.  It has been clear since last year that Theresa May was – and I put this as diplomatically as I can – not working out as Leader of the Conservative Party.  But the full gravity of it had perhaps not dawned on all Conservative MPs when the vote of no confidence took place last year.

What I don’t get is why – as the situation has got worse and worse and worse – nobody seems able to do anything about it.

Yes, I understand we have a constitutional crisis.  I get that the country is split and the Remainers will do anything and everything to prevent us leaving.  I get that the Leavers are split on the right way forwards.  I get that the media are just impossibly biased on the whole thing and are broadly for Remain also.  I even get that there are some (too many) Conservative MPs who seem willing to join the Lefties in frustrating Brexit.  They should all have the whip withdrawn, in my view.

But that’s not what I’m asking.

I understand why the Parliamentary system is in a mess and I can see that maneuvers are being used to frustrate and prevent any sort of true Brexit.  I know that the Prime Minister doesn’t have the power to brute force a Leave through, even if she wanted to.   I know that Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP etc etc are all trying to prevent Brexit and all for their own nuanced reasons.  Labour really just want a General Election to install Corbyn as the horror PM for a new generation.

But what I don’t get is this:

Theresa May must now be up there with the most unpopular Prime Ministers in modern times.  I mean, I remember how much the country grew to dislike Gordon Brown, and I’m not sure he was as disliked as Theresa May is now.  She has systematically proven to be all the things some of us predicted but most of all she is quite clearly something that should never ever have happened – a Remainer in Charge of Leaving the European Union.  It was always bonkers to have somebody at the head of such a huge change who didn’t want or believe in that change.  So given that we missed the legal date to leave, missed the extension, brought loss to hundreds and hundreds of excellent Councillors who had no fault in their own election result, and are now about to have a set of European Elections we were NEVER MEANT TO HAVE, consider this…

Theresa May’s leadership is systematically tearing the heart out of the Conservative party.  It’s destroying one of the oldest political parties in the world.  It is smashing the faith that our voters had in us.  It is consistently shedding us of our lifeblood, the Councillors and activists and supporters and grass roots that are everything to us.

It’s a joke, right?  We are polling 22% in national polls.  Not Euro polls.  22 percent would be a good score for us right now in Euro polls.  In NATIONAL polls.

SO WHY ISN’T ANYBODY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT?

Whatever the levers and wheels of power are in Westminster Conservative circles, start them turning.  Get off your benches and our of your aisles and DO SOMETHING.  This fundamental breakdown of the Conservative Party is being delivered to us by our abject failure to deliver Brexit AS A PARTY and as a Parliament, and by desperately poor leadership from Theresa May.  The opposition parties are laughing at it all.  I don’t have anything against the Prime Minister, I’m sure she is a lovely lady and I’m sure she means well.  But if ever there was a time for her to be leading our party, this is not it.  For the love of God, Powers That Be, stop this madness before our party is destroyed forever.

The country expects a Conservative Party to deliver on its election and manifesto promises and the largest vote this country has ever taken.  Give us a new leader who will be like a piece of iron, who will deliver us a clear, complete and full Brexit in short order and say to those who would stand against it: “This is the will of the people and it will happen.  Now.”