John's Jottings for February 2005

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.

Is there a Psychiatrist in the Chamber?

Last time I felt compelled to wonder about the mental state of the local Liberal Democrats. Recent experience, most notably at the last full Council meeting, has prompted me to wonder whether there is at least as big a psychological problem with the entire Labour group on Medway Council!

I put forward a motion to the Council on 20th January in connection with the dismal financial settlement from central government again this year. There is no real argument about this, which amounts to a shortfall of nearly eight million pounds (which would require a good twelve percent extra on the Council tax to make up) as it is shown very clearly in the national table of all settlements, and the relevant Minister has already (last year, which was similar) accepted our case, but didn't do anything to remedy it. That was supposed to be fixed this year, but hasn't been.

Our local MPs have not (as I write this) done anything to support the people of Medway in pressing for a better settlement, which seems to have been purely through loyalty to their political party, so my motion was as follows:

"That this council asks the Leader to write to the three local Members of Parliament urging them to support the people of Medway in securing, alongside Medway Council, a better final settlement from central government than has been provided so far. This must be considered a far higher priority by those members than blind loyalty to their political party."
Note that, although it is firm where it needs to be, it is not critical of the MPs and is not negative in any way. No-one stands to lose anything by this proposal, and indeed a quarter of a million residents could well benefit from what it sets out to do. My introduction to this motion in the Council Chamber was as helpful and positive as anyone could possibly make it, upbeat and targeted against no-one.

Therefore how was it that the Labour group found a (very warped!) way to pretend it was hostile, critical and otherwise undesirable? Their leader even presented an amandment that sought to congratulate the three local MPs even though they have done absolutely nothing about the glaringly obvious unfairness of the deficient settlement for Medway!

As Victor Meldrew would no doubt put it: "I just don't believe it!"

It takes a very severely kinked mentality to distort reality so severely; and the entire Labour group voted against my motion, and therefore against the people of Medway: there is no other possible interpretation. Oh, the LibDems didn't bother to vote one way or the other, so they obviously aren't bothered about Medway's finances, despite their group's leader agreeing with us that we have been diddled out of millions of pounds.

They're not very useful in reality, these other parties, are they? Lots of words but nothing of any real value to the people of Medway. Their respective attitudes did not surprise me (the benefit of inside knowledge of how they really behave!) but I was still disgusted with both groups.

As for the motion, we had enough votes to carry it anyway, and to defeat the worthless Labour amendment. Whether or not it will achieve any results, I do not know; but I for one wasn't prepared to give up without a fight, and without inviting the MPs to come on board and stand by our side if they had the guts and integrity to do so—their choice, but at least it will now be offered.

Meanwhile, for the Labour group in particular, with their weirdly warped way of thinking: is there a psychiatrist in the Council Chamber?

Next time: Opposition