Festive Full Council
Yesterday we had the last County Full Council of the year. Normally these aren’t too controversial (we save all our really serious arguments for budget time in the following months) but the peace and goodwill were ruined by three issues; The Living Wage, Global Warming Climate Change and AJC committees.
Labour tried to talk us into giving 800+ people who earn a bit above the minimum wage at county council all a payrise to the “Living Wage.” The Living Wage is a figure that has been plucked out of the air scientifically-determined to be the exact amount everybody in the country, no matter where they call home, needs to live on. Except London, which has its own slightly-higher rate. The Lib Dems all agreed. UKIP didn’t, but didn’t want to be drawn on it. The debate went to-and-fro with esoteric arguments about price controls and economics, to emotional calls for another prune of the Magic Money Tree ™.
In particular, the Lib Dems tried to get us all to say we didn’t support the Minimum Wage – no doubt in order to run a leaflet about it at some point. Some Conservatives do support the Minimum Wage. I’m one of them, though for an odd reason. If we didn’t have the minimum wage right now, I’d be arguing against it – for good economic reasons. Price controls of this type generally do the opposite of what they intend, or at very least do nothing, making them a giant Con Trick. But this country has voted for and supported the Minimum Wage and that’s good enough for me. That argument is over, and I support the majority decision, because I believe in Democracy. For the same reason, if this country voted in a referendum to stay in the EU I’d support that too – though it’d be a sad, sad, sad day. But it’s a long stretch from supporting a democratically-decided existing level to standing mute while Marxists (not my label, their own) put motions like this to full council. If they think the minimum wage is not high enough they should go make their case to parliament – not frivolously spend the taxpayer’s money on grand gestures.
The Lib Dems wanted to talk about the leader of the council’s personal blog, in which he challenged the orthodoxy of Climate Alarmism and called on them to stop silencing debate and counter-argument. They wanted to demonise, but I think they served only in weakening their position. Nick Clark’s case, that there should be no “taboo” subject in a democracy, that people (scientists or otherwise) shouldn’t be afraid of debate – was only proved by the rather hysterical tones of the opposition. In this case, if you’ll excuse the reuse of a classic phrase, I agree with Nick.
Oddly, Lib Dems then suggested that this was “more evidence” that county Conservatives were: “more extreme” than their national party. Perhaps they thought this would be a damaging accusation? Personally, most Conservatives and like-minded folk I know would prefer a “more extreme” form of classical Conservatism than is currently being practised in government – and isn’t the rise of UKIP in the East of England evidence of that? If by “extreme” you mean climate realist, sound money, family supportive, personal liberties, law and order, anti-EU, controlled immigration, personal responsibility, hard work and community-minded, then yes. Guilty as charged. Mind you – I don’t blame the government for their softer positions. After all, we are not shackled to a soft socialist eco-alarmist partner party.
As for AJCs – the old Area Joint Committees. The opposition, in a standard Cambridge city-centric style, were furious that we were doing away with them. As were the lefties on Twitter who raged with typical drama about the whole thing. The fact is they are a committee style that’s passed its sell-by date and it’s time to move on. The Lib Dems and Labour frantically tried to argue that somehow the loss of the committee was the end of the world as we know it. It isn’t really. The new ‘cabinet member and local member” system is simply a method of empowering local councillors to engage, consult and take decisions instead of a faceless, expensive, bureaucratic and slow committee system which often froze voices out of the debate entirely. I think its broadly a good decision, but it may need some tweaking to get it precisely right. That’s okay too, things can be tweaked. What’s the matter with these lefties lately that they are so frightened of change? Isn’t that, traditionally, meant to be a Conservative trait?test Filed under Cambs County Council | Comment (1)