Monthly Archives: May, 2019
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
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
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.
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
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.”
That Was Quite Something
Wow, that was an eventful campaign.
I was very sad to lose David Oliver and Garry Tibbs to FDC. It’s unfortunate for Walsoken and Peckover too, as they’ve replaced two hard-working, decent men for … well, you know. But, as my old pal Rollinson used to say if electorate who vote in people like this: “you get what you vote for.”
The mixup of Independents, Lib Dems and otherness that now form the FDC opposition isn’t a massive change from before really. Having opposition who were never really Conservatives move from being in your ranks to outside of them is really just the same people doing what they do a little more openly. I would not rule out one or two more “surprises” even after the elections are over. I think its actually quite healthy for individuals to be revealed for what they really are, rather than what they pretend to be. At least, when the dust settles, the picture is clear.
All in all, given the national trend delivered by the Brexit Fiasco, we did well compared to many areas. I was particularly pleased that Wisbech Town Council remains almost the same and actually had a slighter better result than four years ago. Then, the voters delivered us four opposition (two Independents and two ‘Kippers) and this time they delivered us three. It was nice to take a District Council seat from the opposition in Waterlees and to secure three Town Council seats there. The new Conservative Councillors will be a great team.
Hill Ward was brilliant. A great deal of effort was put in to take this from us, including the massively biased local press doing everything they could (as predicted) right up to the eve of election front page attack article (as predicted) and they must be absolutely fuming that the effort failed. In the current political climate that’s really quite a feat to have overcome such a gargantuan #Fakenews effort. Well done to all involved. Peter Freeman was the only opposition candidate who I noted was a gentleman about the whole thing. Fair play for that.
I rather enjoyed getting blamed by the opposition for everything (as usual). I don’t mind. I am the bogeyman of the opposition, who spend many hours in their tiny moist online hideyhole frothing about me and believing I am responsible for everything from the big bang to the end of time. As with many other events over the last few years, if they believe I am somehow behind everything that happens that makes them angry it’s no concern to me.
It’s a different local political landscape, for sure. Interestingly, an area where some people say they want “party politics out of local Government” have just elected probably the most political Council this area has ever seen. The speed with which an “Independent” “Group” forms and gives itself a leader and Special Responsibility Allowances will be a sight to see, I suspect. How long before the first “group meeting” is called for the party that isn’t a party? But I could be wrong. Maybe they’ll all stay true to their “Independent” claims and not form a group etc. We shall see.
A sad day to see some truly wonderful Councillors lost to our area. I suspect we will feel the consequences of those losses in the months and years to come. But onwards and upwards. Local Conservatives will now have to work even harder for our towns, for Fenland and for the people that live here. I feel confident that’s what we will all do.