Out Of The Frying Pan
*See Note At Bottom
Down in Cambridge today the Liberal Democrat leader of the city council, Sian Reid, has quit. And let’s face it, given the drubbing Labour gave her party at the recent elections she really had to. She has said she needs: “Time out to recover from her surgery earlier in the year” and I certainly wish her well with that – surgery being nothing to take lightly. But the timing of her surgical time-out with getting the electoral living daylights beaten out of her team of Yellow Perils must surely also have played a part?
To be honest, I feel sorry for Cambridge. I mean it’s true, Lib Dems (as a political beast) do seem to prefer a good natter to actually doing anything and they do seem to enjoy opposing – well – everything, but with that said they do have among their ranks some sound-ish thinkers. While a horde of them are socialists of one brand or another, there are also a not-insignificant number of ‘Orange Bookers’ and traditional Liberals and even the occasional supporter of free markets. Furthermore, although they are famous for producing the world’s most dodgy graphs come election time, many of them are good at analysing complex data and of spotting trends and patterns (something I saw first hand during my time as chairman of an overview and scrutiny committee.) And they’re not bad with the public either. With a winning smile they can get people to sign almost anything. So with Labour coming back strongly into the frame the phrase “Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire” springs to mind.
Ah Labour. The real socialists whose ‘right-wing’ tend to authoritarian corporatism and whose left-wing are absolutely terrifying marxists, hard-core unionists (a-la the Winter Of Discontent), and grand-scale shopaholics who have never seen a pound coin they couldn’t spend twelve ways to Sunday before it has even arrived in their bank account. There are one of two pleasant moderates in there too (Hi Tariq!) but as a group they’re red in tooth and claw.
Cambridge have a “proud” history of electing lefties to govern them. To tax them blind, smother them in rules and regulations and tell them how to live. They seem to like it. And that’s entirely their democratic right. But in the recent elections they delivered a drubbing to one bunch of smiley happy lefties and elected another lot of smiley crusading lefties. And they did so in almost even numbers so that, to get anything done at all, the chairman will often have to use the casting vote. The Lib Dems new Leader of the Council (just) will be Cllr Bick who looks like a nice chap but must surely be thinking: “Oh my God, what have I got myself into?” This is not going to be fun for them.
But amidst all these socialists, quasi-socialist, socialist-deniers, wannabe-socialists, social democrats, democratic socialists, liberal socialists, green socialists and liberal quasi socialist democrats there is a ray of light. Conservative Shapour Meftah has won a seat on the City Council, beating the incumbent Lib Dem councillor by 723 votes to 644. So we can rest in the knowledge that amid all the demands to spend spend spend and borrow borrow borrow and control there might be one voice saying: “Let’s take a minute to think this through, guys.” And most interesting of all, given the close balance of power on the city council, one single Conservative voice might prove to be of more influence than he expects.
*Tongue In Cheek Post. There are good people in all parties. But more in the Conservatives, obviously.
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