Friday, 29 January 2010

Call me cynical...!

The Labour Party's Parliamentary Candidate for Darlington has come out publicly in opposition to her Council Group's deplorable plan to axe the Early Year's Inclusion Service. Cllr Chapman, who has only just stepped down from the Cabinet to concentrate on fighting the General Election, would have been party to the decision to propose the axing of this service.

The Labour Group is firmly whipped: yet here is one of their most prominent members speaking publicly against a Labour Group proposal: a proposal, by the way, which would save relatively little money, yet which would remove an invaluable caring and life-enhancing facility from a very disadvantaged group in our town.

Call me cynical (and, where the Labour Party is concerned I plead guilty) but it seems to me that they have caused huge anxiety and distress among parents and staff by proposing to axe this service, yet have never had any intention of actually doing so. I'm prepared to bet that this proposal will be dropped following the "consultation" phase, allowing Cllr Chapman to claim the credit for saving the service.

After all, the alternative, if they do go ahead with their proposals, will be to paint Cllr Chapman as ineffective - and, of course, she'd be morally bound to vote against the budget proposals when they come to Council (though she was not at Council last night, so maybe she would find some other pressing engagement when the Budget Council Meeting is held) and in so doing would presumably be expelled from the Labour Group.

If my suspicions are correct, this would be an entirely reprehensible and cynical ploy by the Labour Party: to cause huge public upset and anxiety, simply to gain a short-term political advantage for their Parliamentary Candidate. Mind you, that's what they're doing over the Stroke Unit, so it's not as if they haven't got previous here.


Anonymous said...

I’ll have to call you cynical then Mike... it is - as it is... Jenny is genuine, and not this spin type character you’re trying to imply. Jenny has some real concerns over this proposal.

Don’t you think your efforts are wasted being so cynical? Where do you stand on these issues man!

Stop moaning about other Parliamentary Candidate’s - let’s see the Liberal Democrats view.

Here's a couple of nice links for you to read through;

Whi is Mrs E Hibbert-Foy any way?

Mike Barker said...

His mum, presumably.

I think the evidence of disarray within the local Labour Party, where we have the parliamentary candidate campaigning publicly against a key budget proposal put forward by the Leader of the Labour Group, deserves to be highlighted.

If it's not disarray, it must be a pre-planned ploy. In which case it brings into question the suitability of the Labour Party to continue to represent the people of Darlington both in Parliament and in the Council.

A party which is prepared to toy with the anxieties and emotions of local elderly people and create speculation and worry about the job prospects of the Council's workforce, simply in order to gain political advantage, is not a fit organisation to represent this constituency or Borough.

Voters are rightly sceptical about politicians, especially in Darlington where we have had to put up with an absentee MP holding down five other jobs. The current cynical way in which the local Labour Party is operating deserves to be highlighted.

Anonymous said...

See there you go again... it's very easy to point the finger and have ago, but we’re not interested in that right now.

We're not as stupid as you'd like to believe. We know how the council works and that, for the most part, the MTFP proposals are council officer proposals which are out to consultation, not just to residents and council employees but to Councillors too - Councillor’s who listen and want to hear various opinions and then, if it warrens, take action - unlike, as it sounds, yourself.

You’ve read these proposals, how would the Liberal Democrats balance the books?

Would you freeze the council tax, make redundancies and cut overtime allowances ect or would you increase the council tax and take a chance on being able to manage the councils finances in the coming years?

Let us hear the Liberal Democrats version of the whole MTFP!

Mike Barker said...

As you say, the consultation process is ongoing, not only in the public domain but also within our local party. At its conclusion, the Lib Dems will make their position clear.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous

I was talking to a Council worker in Streetscene in the street this week. He said that the Council had cut jobs at his level the people who carry out the work on the streets and as a result they could not cope with the demands placed on them. He also said that they were stuffed full of managers, several tiers in fact and that is right across the Council as well. All the lads in Streetscene are hacked off with all the cuts and the fact that the upper levels are protected.

The savings should be made at the management levels. Flatten the management levels and protect the people who are actually delivering the services.

Anonymous said...

Floating Voter says..

Councillor Barker. Why are the Labour Party in so much denial? They deny that the Council finances are in one heck of a mess? They deny that Council Tax in Darlington according to your Focus has risen by 132%. They deny that the Iraq war was illegal and they are in denial that they are going to lose heavilly on May 6th. I dont get it.

james said...

Cabinet forms of government tend to have personal disagreements hushed up after a decision has been made.

Since Cllr Chapman is no longer in the cabinet, she's free to say what she likes - other Labour councilors who are outside the cabinet have been critical of proposals in the past without expulsion from the group.

I think, Mike, that it's probably best to focus on policies like your previous post on speed limits which is the kind of politics that engages people.

Mike Barker said...

Why, I wonder, is it members of the Labour Party who are advising me to concentrate on my own policies rather than draw attention to some of the ways the Labour Party operates?

Anonymous said...

Hi Floating Voter, can you find out what the council tax for band 'D' is throughout the Northeast and post it on here along with Darlington's?

Mike, why wait until its conclusion... that's after the fact. You have all the fact's and figures... let's see it now. Let's see how the Liberal Democrats would ballance the books.

james said...

"Why, I wonder, is it members of the Labour Party who are advising me to concentrate on my own policies rather than draw attention to some of the ways the Labour Party operates?"

Because you have evidence for your policies, but no evidence for the conspiracy theory that you outline in this blog post.

"they have caused huge anxiety and distress among parents and staff by proposing to axe this service, yet have never had any intention of actually doing so"

Where is the evidence for this?

Mike Barker said...

Anonymous: on behalf of Floating Voter, you are right: Darlington does still (just) have the lowest Council Tax in the region. But then Darlington is, compared to other authorities in the region, blessed with a tight geographical area and relatively good social conditions, so it was able to start its life as a UA with a relatively low Council Tax.

At the same time: our borrowing has been very high, creating a level of debt which costs millions of pounds to service each year and which is projected to increase by even more over the next three years. Also, Darlington has had the highest rate of increase in Council Tax of any LA in the region since 1997, and only five LAs in the whole country have increased their Council Tax by more than 132%.

Anonymous, again: calm down, you'll just have to be patient. You'll find out our position on the budget when it comes before Cabinet and Council for discussion.

James: let's just wait and see, shall we?

Paul said...

Surely Jenny Chapman as cabinet member for children was actually party to making this decision in the first place never mind now trying to save it.

I share your cynicismm about but we shall see once a final decision is made.

Anonymous said...

thankyou for your post, Gill. Fancy calling yourself Paul!!