Thursday, 14 May 2015

Fair Play and UKIP

As the local elections came I'm sure many were looking forward to a refreshed Council with less of the back-biting and bickering between Councillors. That good Councillors were stepping down due to the antics of the last Council was a damning indictment of the last four years. Would the polls provide a fresh start that might go some way to meeting the things I had talked about well over two years ago?

UKIP decisively won the Thanet election and will take control at next Thursday's Annual Council meeting. We've already had a taster of their plans with TDC Leader-elect Chris Wells pledging to take immediate action on the Manston CPO, no doubt bolstered by the Conservatives and the Save Manston campaigners, the latter forming part of their group.

I don't much like UKIP. Some of their policies are backwards and some of their supporters unsavoury. A lot of them of course have switched allegiance from the Conservatives, though I also know some who have since returned. Chris Wells is indeed one of those former Tories. No bad blood on that one. He's a grown man and made a choice.

Matthew Brown of Thanet Star has posted an article, querying whether Wells is the right man for Leader. While its to be expected we would see a certain level of bite, I'm disheartened to see an attack via Wells's past financial problems, listing some (rhetorical?) questions related to it, in the absence of any detail of what happened.

People get into problems for all sorts of reasons. Brown simply states the bankruptcy and leaves it hanging in the air without explanation, as if bankruptcy is in itself enough to say someone is not fit for office. Its a low blow and says more about Brown's desire to attack UKIP than tackling the issues.

There will be plenty of opportunities to hold the new leadership to account and when that happens we bloggers will surely do so. But with so few local political bloggers around, this sort of personal attack stains us all. At our best, blogs raise the standard of debate and awareness of issues close to the public. The level of depth and variety of opinion that we provide into key issues can offer something fresh alongside the local press. At our worst, we are just gossip columns. We can do better than this.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that like many Liberal Democrats, Matt Brown is feeling especially sore, but that shouldn't prompt him to make personal attacks on others. I presume that whatever lies behind Councillor Wells' financial troubles, he has done nothing illegal and nothing that makes him unfit to hold public office?

I deplore UKIP's policies and the attitudes of many of their supporters. But they won Thanet fairly and quite overwhelmingly. They now need to be given the chance to demonstrate whether the public were right to invest their trust in them. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that If you attempt to become a company director while your bankruptcy is undischarged, you will be breaking the law but its ok for you to be the leader of a council that is responsible for overseeing a budget of £15 millions of public money?
The law is there to protect the public and include prohibiting bankrupts from being solicitors or estate agents.
Maybe cllr Wells can explain to the public why he should be exempt from such safeguards and why we should trust him to do the right thing with our money.

Anonymous said...

The Law may well be (strangely) inadequate here, Anon, but if it allows Wells to be a) a Councillor, and b) a Council Leader despite his bankruptcy status, the argument becomes a moral and ethical one.

I think many would agree with you that there is an argument here.

Michael Child said...

James while I can see where you are coming from I think the mitigating factor here is that when anyone puts themselves forward as council leader, then it is inevitable that there will be considerable public interest in their past.

I really think the onus here is in Chris to give us a potted bio with an explanation about the bankruptcy.

I guess the real issue here is that for most people all they have is his name and address from the list of persons nominated on the council’s website, and when you put that in a search engine it is the bankruptcy that comes up.

James Maskell said...

The Council Leader doesn't make the budgetary decisions in isolation. As we know, there's a lengthy process and Full Council get the final say.

The South Thanet Conservatives posted a statement online alluding to this way back in October and I know Bayford spoke publicly about it in the Council Chamber. Even without the address, this would have been spotted, so it was never a secret.

I haven't seen a TDC nomination paper in three years but don't you have to sign that you aren't disqualified for any of the reasons listed in the LGA 1972, which include bankruptcy restriction orders? He would have been discharged by then.

Don Wood said...

James I to dislike UKIP but seeing as they are democratically elected to TDC I shall not voice anything about them as I feel me moaning will not help Thanet. I try and promote Thanet and attacking the council only causes people to question the whole area so I try as much as possible not to do it. Bee interesting though because if the fall I shall not offer a hand to help them back up.