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Day: May 21, 2012

A bad error of judgement by the Southend Lib Dems

Not sure this will go down well with the locals but heck facts are facts. Holding on to the three defending seats at the locals was solid albeit our thanks must be given to the UK Independence Party for fielding candidates in Blenheim Park and Prittlewell wards. That is not what this blog post is about.

A week later the council had to vote for a new leader after Cllr Holdcroft resigned following the Tories losing control of the chamber. He always knew he would win re-election due to the two facts of a Lib Dem Councillor being absent from the chamber and the mayor’s casting vote – and the mayor was always going Tory so he couldn’t lose. However the way the vote went down was bad for the Lib Dems.

The decision was made to abstain from this vote. No Lib Dem put themselves forward to be part of the vote and they didn’t want to endorse either Cllr. Holdcroft (Con) or Cllr. Woodley (Ind). Abstaining is in this member and voters opinion bullshit. You are elected to actually make a decision and not sit on the fence.

If we didn’t want to endorse either of the two candidates then put up our own. However the Lib Dems voted the numbers due to the absence of a councillor and the casting vote of the mayor meant that the result was a foregone conclusion but don’t do nothing. Big props to Cllr. Morgan who did vote and voted for Cllr. Woodley. He was the only Lib Dem to actually vote and has (rightly) received much praise for doing so.

Look I am a Lib Dem and some may say this is disloyal but they made a monumental cock-up here. Did they believe that by abstaining they might be putting themselves in a better position to get a cabinet portfolio due to the minority administration? That is the only way that this plan of action could be defended surely but it didn’t tuirn out that way.

With the news that Cllr. Woodley and his fellow Independent councillors here in Thorpe have entered into an understanding with the Tories to help vote through what the Tories want for specific benefits for Thorpe ward. A wonderful piece of work by Cllr. Woodley it must be said as he has outmanoeuvred more seasoned local politicians comprehensively.

Some have argued how the residents of Thorpe might feel that these independents that they voted in have an understanding with the Tories well lets be honest – they’ll love it. Thorpe is true blue and they’ll love the idea that their councillors have got extra benefits for the ward at the cost of supporting the Conservative administration. I live in Thorpe and I’ll enjoy these extra benefits not that Thorpe needs them. It would be so much more preferable if these extra benefits went to other areas of the town like Westborough, Kursaal, St. Lukes etc… where any extra money should be ploughed into.

I hope the Lib Dems on the Council learn from this. They were outmanoeuvred and in the public eye showed that they won’t vote against a deposed Tory administration. I know they couldn’t defeat the Tories anyway due to the member being absent and the fact an independent also decided to abstain but sitting on your hands and doing nothing.

That isn’t what the public expect and no surprise that the party have taken a kicking in the local media and in the blogosphere. Even in my local Indian last night the management were stunned that the Lib Dems had abstained from voting in the leadership vote (they knew I was a candidate so asked wtf the Lib Dems were thinking).

However there was one piece of good news coming out of the party in the past fortnight. After the sad passing of Nigel Lancaster it has been decided that Cllr. Betson will be the new chairperson of the Chalkwell/Prittlewell/Westborough Lib Dem group. I have a lot of time for Mary and having spoken to her I do believe she will re-energise the group. Changes need to happen across the town for the Lib Dems to prosper because if we continue down this road then in five years time the Lib Dems will be the fourth ‘party’ in the town.

Happily others recognise this as well. However as Cllr. Betson said just the other night ‘we always have these good intentions but we never see them through’ well this time we really have to otherwise Southend is set for many years of Tory control with help from a select group of independents who’ll self-serve their own ward and not the town as a whole.

I suspect this won’t go down well somehow but one thing I am is honest. The Lib Dems made an error of judgement here and hopefully they will have learnt from this and can continue to do many good things.

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