Monday, November 13, 2006

Those Fib Dems (again)

Just to underline that LibDem tactics are unscrupulous country-wide, check out a post from London blogger Gary Chick-Mackay here.

I think it's probably time to take down my poll on how to describe LibDem lies in Full Council now - unfortunately, the runaway winner was "complete and utter b*llocks" which I don't suppose the Mayor will be very happy with either. I guess we'll have to settle with "Lib Fibs".

I'll put up a new poll tonight.


Mike said...

That's an interesting blog, thanks for linking to it.

It's very easy to see how people become disenfranchised with politics and why we have such a low turnout at the polls. I could never physically make myself place a cross next to a Conservative candidate and many of Labour's recent decisions have gone totally against what I believe (Iraq, ID Cards and tuition fees to name three examples).

But, where's the choice after the two main parties have been ruled out? If there were a local candidate, I'd probably vote Green as a symbolic gesture. As it stands, the Lib Dems will probably get my vote again.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, Mike.

What you describe is to some extent the unfortunate result of being in power for 9 years - we have taken decisions which have caused some of our supporters pain. I still believe, however, that the Government is heading this country in the right direction, which is why I remain a committed Labour supporter.

Sometimes voting LibDem looks like a risk-free option, particularly at a local level. Can I urge you to be cautious, however - LibDems locally are often (but not always, of course) a value-free option too. Frankly (and this is why I posted the link), LibDems around the country are prepared to say almost anything to curry favour with voters. It's not unusual in big conurbations to find LibDems saying one thing to Labour supporters they are trying to woo, whilst giving a right-wing message to former Tories in another part of town.

In other words, always read the small print before placing your cross!

Mike said...

I've heard a lot of that about Lib Dem tactics before, which is why I'm doubtful about who to vote for. In part, I think it's caused by being positioned in such a way that they're having to fight elections on two fronts.

At the moment, spoiling the ballot paper seems like the best option :(

ian holme said...

I an fully understand Mikes point of view.
Whilst generally supporting labour on a national basis, (with many of the same exceptions as Mike) I cannot do this at local level due to the behaviour of many individual labour councillors.
Mr Williams obviuously considers himself above the democratic process by insisting his tesco "view" was heard, whilst days earlier insisting that councillors stating their own views would be banned from voting on the subject. It would appear that all councillors are created equal, but some are more equal than others..........
Personally i do not think party politics should have any role at local level. We should be represented by local people, for the benefit of local people, without following any party allegiance.
Also of real concern is the naivity of come prospective tory candidates, who seem to believe that there will not be whip if they get elected. They genuinley believe this to be the case, think they will be in for a nasty shock, especially should they get into power with a narrow majority.

In the end, the only option at local level for me is to vote for the person, and that person will need to convince me of his or her ability to vote in the best interest of his ward. To do this the candidate will have to activley campaign in the ward and knock on doors, something i think i will have a very long wait for a labour candidate to do in Hurworth....

Mike said...

I have to agree with Ian in that, at a local level, we should be represented by independant councillors, rather than people with a party allegiance. Unfortunately, as most voters don't really know who their councillors are or what they do, it's almost impossible for an independent to get elected, since most voters just vote for the party they would vote for in a general election.

Looking at recent elections, there's an obvious bias for certain wards to vote for certain parties, with just a few wards seeming to decide the balance of the council.

That's why I think more councillors should be blogging about their activities, so I think Nick should be congratulated for setting up this blog.

(I think our MP should be blogging as well, though my attempt to get him to do so didn't go too well.)

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks Ian and Mike.

Ian: -

I think your criticism of John Williams is misplaced. Councillors were advised entirely correctly by the Borough Solicitor of the stance that they should take prior to Full Council, when of course they would be free to vote as they wished. John felt as Council Leader that he needed to give some direction as far as the public mood is concerned, which is why he made his statement. I think that is what the people of Darlington would expect of him.

Both of you touch on the role of "independent" councillors in local politics. But what do we mean by independent? It is a sad fact that in many Councils, independents are in fact candidates who could not get elected under their party political banner, and so the "independent" tag is a flag of convenience. Down south, for example, "independent" or "Rate Payers' Association" can mean "Tory".

Perhaps more fundamentally, can local politics be a value-free, politics-free area? I don't believe that it can. Darlington Borough Council has an annual budget of £100 million plus. If politics, as Nye Bevan said, is all about priorities, then how bthis money is spent is profoundly political, with a big "P". Should SureStart and Children's Centres be built across the town to give children the best start in life? Should public transport and cycling be promoted, or should we surrender to a free-for-all where the car is king? These are two examples of where national politics inevitably intrudes on local decision-making. Inevitably, national political parties stand and are elected locally.

Ian - I think you're absolutely right to have high expectations of the candidates you will vote for next May. I can say for certain that in 1999 Labour conducted a comprehensive canvass in Hurworth, because I helped co-ordinate it. It is a fact that all the parties' resources are stretched, and so they have to work out where to concentrate their resources. For example, in 16 years on the Council, there's never been any LibDem canvassing in Haughton West because they've never stood a candidate in local elections here. Inevitably, Mike, the so-called "marginal" wards then come into play, just as their counterpart constituencies do in national elections. Both national and local issues, however, tend to decide what is and isn't marginal.

Finally (after thanks to Mike about his comments on the blog), I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Ian about the comments about Tory candidates regarding whipping. Mike Barker's letter in the Echo this morning seemed driven by similar naivety, albeit that Mike knows exactly what he's doing.

I guess all we can do is pray for another thumping Labour majority..... :)