Saturday, 28 March 2009

"Not born in Darlo? Then don't tell us what to do! And don't talk about ward issues in Council either!"

Council on Thursday night witnessed the latest nonsense from an increasingly desperate Labour Group. Sent out to savage the opposition parties, the Labour Group’s Rottweiler, Cllr Bill Dixon, shouted across the Chamber at Conservative Councillor Ian Galletley, “It’s our town, it’s our tradition and I’d thank you for leaving it alone!”

What prompted this xenophobic outburst? Well, Cllr Galletley, seconded by myself, had moved a motion that would require future ceremonial mayors to resign from other positions of paid responsibility during their year in office. Prompted by overtly political interventions by the current mayor, we were attempting to bring the role of Mayor into line with that practised in other local authorities, thereby to protect the position of mayor from accusations of political bias.

Unable to muster an intellectual argument between them (the best attempt being, “It ain’t fixed, so why change it?”) Labour councillors fell back on the standard response of those hemmed into a corner, using their hatred of “outsiders” to attack the rights of others to propose change. All communities, to a greater or lesser extent, can display elements of xenophobia at times of stress: I didn’t expect to see it quite so baldly on display in the Council Chamber. The true nature of Labourism in Darlington was there for all to see: if you’re not “one of us”, your views don’t count.

Another worrying comment from the Labour side came when I used my experiences in North Road ward, the ward I represent, to illustrate my concerns about the Labour Party’s abolition of our uniformed warden service: one of those front-line services, you’ll remember, which weren’t going to be affected by their swingeing budget cuts (yeh, right!).

The comment was made that, “We don’t usually discuss ward issues to this extent in Council. Surely there is somewhere better you could raise those issues.”

What absolute bollocks! I was using the experiences of the residents I represent to criticise a Labour policy. Without such concrete examples, any criticism, which is my right and duty as an opposition councillor, would be less effective. Furthermore, it is the Labour Government which wants to turn non-executive councillors into champions of the local communities in the wards they represent. That is exactly what I was doing. The attempt by Labour to denigrate the use of ward issues to illustrate a wider point shows the reality of their centrist, undemocratic nature.


Anonymous said...

Gives us a taste of their campaign for 2011, how does one deal with such matters without sinking to their level...

ianh said...

I have no idea if the current mayor has made "political" interventions during his period in office. However,I have been aware of the bias of earlier mayors, both in and out of the council chamber. Having only read of the events of last weeks council on here and in the echo I apreciate there may be more to this story , but It would appear to be very sad that the labour group must once again resort to their front bench "rottweiler" rather than engage in a serious debate on a serious matter of transparency and integrity in office. The Mayor must surely be SEEN to be above party politics during his or her one year tenure in office.

Mike Barker said...

Gill Cartwright has also blogged about Full Council:
You may have to copy and paste to your browser to follow this link.

miketually said...

Gill Cartwright has also blogged about Full Council - clickable link that will take you straight to the post.