A Principled Decision
Today the Conservative Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council resigned his post as Leader. I thought it was an excellent decision, a principled decision.
Martin Curtis has taken the whole situation at the Council – which is messy and unpleasant and farcical in many ways – and managed to make a good fist of it. His friendly style and genuine manner has proven that despite having all the odds stacked against him, a clever leader can still get great work done.
A bit less than a year ago I wrote a blog post that suggested Martin should not take the leadership of the County Council. In the face of the Opposition tactics, the way such dismally different parties were combining simply in a bloody-minded coup to “get the Conservatives”, it was always going to be a bitter year. I knew what he was letting himself in for – a situation where the opposition could create problems for everything and anything he tried to do, while simultaneously blaming him for anything that went wrong. But to be entirely fair, Martin has weathered the storm very well, standing in the face of their manipulations and their tricks and their backdoor deals. But it couldn’t last.
For some time now I’ve been trying to get a copy of the bit of the New Constitution which details the Councillor’s Allowances. I wondered just how much money this marvellous new system – much loved by those who revel in chaos and instability – was going to save us. I couldn’t get that information and neither could anybody else – because it didn’t exist yet. It’s a problem, you see. Because allowances is one of the tricky subjects and when you create a load of new roles, you have to announce what those roles are going to be paid and whose “snouts” are going to be “in the trough” – if you’ll excuse the populist rhetoric. At which point, people start paying attention. People start noticing what is going on and some of the thinking behind it becomes suspect. They wake up and smell the coffee, as it were.
As the deadline for the move to the Committee System loomed ever closer it was always going to get bloody – and that is precisely what has happened. Where once we had a proud Council of different political flavours, stating their intentions in bold colours and opposing one another with principle, there is now a squabbling, scheming, grasping Opposition who consider My Enemy’s Enemy Is My Friend – at least until the dust settles. After than, watch and see, it will be every Gender Variation for themselves.
UKIP led this, I strongly suspect. Some say it is their plan across the country – the best way for a disparate bunch like that to gain influence and ever more places to shout stuff IN CAPITAL LETTERS to the world. Meanwhile, proud and righteous Liberals and Socialists and a select bunch of Lefty Independents (are ALL Independents just left wing cast offs? Must investigate.) follow meekly behind them, trying not to listen to the Immigrant Bashing rhetoric, or the Homophobia, or any of the bizarre antics that the party is so well-known for. I wonder if they have their fingers in their ears while they make their deals with the Devil?
If Cambridgeshire County Council has a Conservative leader during this period of regression, they will be a party to it. It will be impossible to avoid catching some of the blame for the shambles that is to come. Much better to take a step back, let the Rainbow Coalition stack it’s members into the new well-paid positions and then grandstand, and posture and argue about everything for hours and hours and hours while Officers quietly make all the significant decisions in back rooms. Then watch them squirm and all deny responsibility every time the public doesn’t like one of those decisions. This is a period for opposition. Proper, principled opposition. To demonstrate that there is a better way. And to give this malevolent rabble enough rope to hang themselves. Metaphorically.