I have written before about the Standards system in local government, how undemocratic it is that a panel made up of opposition councillors and non-elected individuals can sit in judgement on elected councillors, even depriving the electorate of one of their representatives.
This is not a party political issue, and I have rallied to the defence of both Green councillor Jason Kitcat and the Matriarch of Hangleton and Knoll, Dawn Barnett. Not just that, but future Tory Leader, Grant Shapps, tweeted in support of Jason! Jason was accused of posting selected extracts of video from council meetings featuring Tory councillor Geoffrey Theobald. It must be stated that the People’s Geoffrey did not support the actions taken by one of his fellow Conservatives.
The Matriarch, it has been reported, was referred to the Standards Committee for handing out leaflets directing travellers camped in her ward to open spaces in wards held by Green councillors. While I do not like the tone of much of the anti-traveller debate, I thought that what the Matriarch did was imaginative touched with humour. She made her point very well. It was rumoured that it was a Green councillor who made that referral but I am yet to see any firm evidence to confirm this. I have previously written about Dawn’s “sheer cheek”.
Jason’s case was thrown out while Dawn’s has gone quiet (although I may have missed developments during my two month sabbatical in Italy over the summer.
The latest fiasco relates to Ben Duncan, the Green councillor for Queens Park, cabinet member for public protection and representative of Brighton and Hove City Council on the Sussex Police Authority. An anonymous complaint was made against him about posts on his blog and for attending various demonstrations. The investigation took over a year and found that he had done nothing wrong. I have previously posted on Ben Duncan’s case.
Quoted in the Argus he said it was wrong for standards procedures to be used to complain about people’s opinions. ”It is an abuse of the system and a waste of public money. This must have cost thousands of pounds. The standards board should be used to tackle allegations of real wrongdoing. It is not just that there is nothing wrong with expressing an opinion on policing, you could say if you’re not doing that you’re not doing the job properly.”
The implication of this case, more so that the cases of Jason and The Matriarch, would have been more sinister had it been found that Ben had been in the wrong. It would mean that a councillor could not be involved in certain activities, in this case, anti-way activities. It would have meant that only those with more conventional views would be allowed to serve on the Police Authority. What would be the point of that?
I recall a Conservative councillor once saying to me that he wished that Labour wouldn’t be so political on the Council, that the Conservatives were apolitical in local government! I got it, you are only political if you disagreed with the status quo. Thank goodness for The Boy David, his mate Boy George and Little Nick, standing up for the status quo, and doing it, if I may say so, very well indeed.
Filed under: blogging, Politics, Protest | Tagged: Argus, Ben Duncan, David Cameron, Dawn Barnett, Geoffrey Theobald, George Osborne, Grant Shapps, Jason Kitcat, Nick Clegg, Standards Committee, Sussex Police Authority, Travellers | 8 Comments »