John's Jottings for April 2004

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.

Odd One Out

A very noticeable facet of the sheer desperation of the Labour group in Medway recently has been their strong tendency to be the "odd one out".

Where all the evidence, and indeed even their own Party colleagues in the Blair government, has pointed one way, if this doesn't suit the Medway Labourites they are perfectly at ease contradicting just about everyone else on the face of the Earth to have a dig at the Conservative administration of Medway Council.

Frankly, it doesn't work!

When government Ministers, the Audit Commission, governmental websites and other such published information, and other agencies besides, all agree with our claims and standpoint, hardly anyone is fooled by Labour claims any more.

Take the recent budget settlement. After visits by our Cabinet leaders to Downing Street, at which the Minister (Nick Raynsford) was in agreement with our claim that we have been significantly underfunded in the settlement, how is it that Councillor Glyn Griffiths (during a 36-minute speech that said virtually nothing!) can claim at the special budget-setting Council meeting that the fault lies with poor financial management by the Conservatives? It looks even more stupid as the Audit Commission have praised the financial management of Medway Council. They do at least have some knowledge of the subject!

Yes, Cllr Griffiths is the odd one out.

On other occasions, Labour leaders berate the Conservatives for taking over the chairmanships of the scrutiny committees and tell anyone who will listen that "scrutiny isn't working".


Scrutiny wasn't working when they and their Liberal Democrat some-time buddies chaired the scrutiny committees, as was criticised in the council's initial Comprehensive Performance Assessment. Indeed, it was an area that we were instructed to improve.

This is now happening, and we have been praised for the improvements we have achieved since taking over running the committees. Not that there isn't still a way to go, but informal disclosures by those in the know have told us that we are well ahead of many other local authorities in scrutiny standards.

Again, Labour are the odd ones out, on this occasion sometimes joined by one or two of the few remaining LibDems on the Council.

There are numerous other examples, but I'm sure you've got the point by now. If even the Labour government, its Ministers, agencies and other sources all echo our viewpoint, and only Labour (and occasionally LibDem) Medway Councillors take the opposite line, whom do you believe? The rest of us can't all be wrong!

Next time: Focus Pocus