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.
There can be a problem with elected members putting a controversial view to the media, and most especially so if one is a spokesman for a particular political group. Now, all the formal groups on Medway Council have spekesmen in one form or another, and of course the group leaders (and, to an extent, the deputy leaders) must also realise that their comments will be taken as being representative of their whole group's view or position, unless it is made very clear that it is not. This is one reason why every one of these Jottings columns makes it clear from the start that it is just my personal view, for one example of how to handle this whole business properly.
Okay, so that's where we stand when speaking to the local press, for example, and especially when such a member (especially a group leader!) has made the contact with the newspaper (or radio or TV station).
Imagine the disgust that was recently felt by the other members of the Liberal Democrat Group when their leader, Cllr Geoff Juby, went to the local newspapers who make a nasty (and unwarranted) attack on one of the Conservative members! They were not pleased at all, and several of them have come forward to make it clear to both the member concerned and the rest of the Conservative membership that they do not agree with what their leader said.
As the next local elections loom, I remind all my readers to be prepared for all kinds of really quite low party political behaviour from the opposition parties. Okay, so it's accepted that we'll all have to be "political" to some extent—there's really no way around that entirely—but how one conducts oneself during this crucial time is always a mark of the true quality of each participant.
The most frequent effect of such activity on the public at large is a complete turn-off, which though understandable isn't the best way to be, as it's merely avoiding the issue and—frankly—produces no benefit. They'll still behave the same way next time.
The local elections are vitally important, though many people seem to think of them as of little concern. Everything that happens affects local communities some way or another, so it is in building a solid local representation that one can put together a functioning society. With the various attempts by national governments over the years to centralise power and govern remotely and uncaringly, aided by convenient statistics such as low turnouts at local elections, our society is strongly tending toward being ever more dysfunctional.
My commitment is made in full awareness of just how crucial this is, which is why I try to ensure that I never behave badly in any way, from the Council Chamber to the local media, when being stopped in the street or sent emails—even from those who got their ward mixed up with mine and wrote to me in error (this has happened a few times recently!)
I know I'm not perfect (none of us is, of course) and I am bound to get something wrong occasionally, but my belief is that if one's heart is in the right place, and one strives to be completely straight with everyone—even one's political opponents, and even to be kind to them wherever possible—then just possibly the voting public will realise that it can be done and is worth supporting.
And with that I confidently look forward to a 99% turnout next May(!)