Monday, 1 March 2010

Interesting snippets

Following last week's Council Meeting to consider next year's budget for Darlington a couple of mildy interesting things happened.

First, down the Quaker, I discovered that the original proposed budget was not shown to or discussed within the Labour Group before it was published. It was the work solely of officers and the Cabinet. As an only slightly-the-worse-for-wear Labour councillor told me, "If we'd have known about the plans for the Early Years Inclusion Service it would never have got in the budget in the first place".

I suppose I should have realised this, but nevertheless it does show how closed and centralised Labour in Darlington is. Sadly, if those in power spend too long without effective criticism from within, they become detached from reality and lack understanding of what rest of us want. We saw that four years ago when the Labour Cabinet and senior officers wanted to foist a giant Tesco store on the town. Nothing much has changed it seems.

The second development followed a sentence in my speech where, as an aside, I suggested that Cabinet's plans for increased income when the recession ends would be put in jeopardy if the Conservatives won the General Election and George Osbourne's plans for immediate public sector cuts plunged us back in to recession.

At the Best of Darlington Awards the next evening, I sensed a slight frostiness from the senior Conservatives present. And then one of them said, "You stabbed us in the back last night, Mike".

Gosh, how exciting! I have to say, though, it will do the Lib Dems no harm at all to have a line in the sand drawn between ourselves and the Conservatives. We share a common opposition to the Labour Party, and may sometimes come together in Council to criticise Labour, but we are an independent political party with our own platform and approach to politics. We may be the smallest party in the Chamber, but we are not in anyone's pocket. Just as our support will have to be fought for at Westminster in the event of a hung Parliament, so locally we will continue to fight for what we believe in - which will often not necessarily be what the Conservatives believe in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike sorry but not true. labour member did have time and opportunity to review the budget.