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It’s my party………

August 17, 2011

I well remember those  heady days just after New Labour were elected in 1997, Tony Blair was still a regular guy next door with no grey hair and in opposition Billy Haigh, to prove his cred with the youth wore a baseball cap and we all laughed. Shortly after Tony B made a statement something along the lines of “the best place for a child to be brought up is within a married family”.

Following this Billy H said “It’s ok for a child to be raised by a single parent”.

A totally unnecessary exchange of views – I suggest not even views they had serious concerns about. But because one had spoken out the other had to say the opposite. Like an old married couple – only with perhaps more in common than most old marries couples.

This is the problem with party politics, it is unusual for them to agree on issues – petty ones like the above or major ones like finance or The NHS, and it appears that the driving force in these differences seems to be that the other party said this …. so we have to say the opposite.

In my work against the planning application for the Sowerby Bridge/Copley Valley project  I run the website .  I wrote to all the candidates before the last election and asked what they thought of the scheme. Of  those who replied I had one who said what they thought and then added “but if I am elected, I shall follow the party line”.

When it comes to local politics then I can say that I have seen some of this being worked out in CMBC. My first ever visit to a full council they were discussing something – I admit to not remembering what but it makes no difference to this tale. Ex-leader of the council Coun Baines (conservative) asked of the new leader, Coun Battye (Lib Dem) why they did something in a certain way. The answer was that they had not changed the way it was done since the previous party did whatever it was. A nonsense question asked to cause mischief?

Then – in a moment straight out of Yes Minister, Coun Whittaker (conservative MP for Calder Valley and at the time also a councillor) waded in and asked why the council were consulting with the electorate about cuts instead of showing good leadership and just doing it. The thing was that it was exactly what the Lib Dem/Conservatice coalition claimed they were doing in Westminister – it had seemingly passed this particular MP without him noticing it at all.

I’m sure that, besides making themselves look complete prats – they were probably doing what had been decided or suggested by the local party. I think it was just an attempt at point scoring – a silly game when serious issues needed to be addressed. I’ve no doubt that this is not just the preserve of any particular party and that they all partake at some point.

Party politics is wasting time that should be devoted to proper, effective government. When a candidate-either local or national-is elected then they should be doing what is best for the electorate. The electorate are their first priority, not the party.

I read with interest the coverage from Doncaster and their elected mayor. His personal politics may not be mine or yours but the possibilities about the way the council could operate were very interesting. You see, because he was not a member of any other party represented on the council it meant that he could choose from any other councillor to take any post. If say there was a position that needed certain skills and knowledge then he wouldn’t be constrained by looking only at the people in the ruling party – he could ask any other councillor and find the best person for the job. I understand that he is having difficulty doing this because………..other parties are not playing ball – but the possibilites are there for all to see of a better way to work in Government.

This is why I am interested in a change in politics – more candidates could stand as independents and the electorate could be educated that just ticking the box you usually tick might not be the best way forward. Instead look at what the candidate stands for – look for the best person for the job. Nationally just because a candidates family are well connected doesn’t mean the candidate will be able to do the job better than one who has worked to get where they are and wish to do the best for the country. Locally, just because a candidate has good standing in the local (enter favourite colour here) party doesn’t mean they will be the best person for the job. I can understand why the leading 3 parties would find this a problem as it would upset the status quo – but perhaps that is what is needed to get more people to engage in politics.


From → cbmc, politics

One Comment
  1. Robert Reynolds permalink

    Having a degree in politics (already I’m light years ahead of most Councillors) and six years experience of 2 Councils (Bradford/Calderdale), I can see the problems and there are many. Ultimately it depends on what type of political process you want. Do you want a quick authoritarian State? Have a President at national level and a Governor at local levels. They can appoint whoever they like (experts? But remember an amateur built the ark, experts built the Titanic) and be held to account by MPs. Locally, Governors can appoint the experts and Councillors will be pushed back to unpaid positions (an allowance of £2,000 is adequate) where they question the Governor at full Council. Alternatively, you can have a slow, cumbersome, more democratic system, but it throws out No Overall Control and the mess we have now. Ultimately, the system depends upon the personalities of the individuals. I was appalled at the careless, weak kneed, wobbly, incompetent and visionless approaches of my colleagues, whether Tory, Lib-Dem, Labour. When I actually did my job, to question and challenge policy, I was summoned into the Whips office as Officers and the Portfolio holder had complained!!! Apparently I was “delaying the process”! No, I was asking tough questions which were embarrassing people who hadn’t done their jobs properly.

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