Let’s hear it for Jason Kitcat – the victim of a Labour, Lib Dem and Tory stitch-up

Anybody who takes a close interest in the politics within Brighton and Hove City Council (and we are few and far between) will continue to be appalled at the treatment of Cllr Jason Kitcat. He is facing a six month ban from public office unless he apologises for not showing Cllr Geoffrey Theobald “respect”.

His crime? Posting extracts from a Council meeting on You Tube and on his blog when giving Cllr Theobald a hard time over communal bins.  I kid you not.

A complaint was lodged by Tory Cllr Ted Kemble to the Council’s Standard’s Committee.  The Panel which heard the complaint was made up of an independent chair, and Labour councillor Jeane Lepper and Lib Dem councillor David Watkins.  Cllr Kitcat was found guilty and was asked to apologise to Cllr Theobald.  It is not clear whether both councillors voted against Cllr Kitcat.  If they did they should be ashamed of themselves.  In a democracy, the only people who should be able to prevent an elected councillor from representing his constituents are his or her constituents themselves, through the ballot box.

Geoffrey Theobald, to his credit, isn’t in the slightest bit fussed by any of this.  He has been around long enough and has been called worse (probably by me at some point!).

And Jason Kitcat is getting support from some unlikely quarters, not least from the Tory Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps.  You can read a full account of the whole sorry saga on Jason Kitcat’s blog.

Perhaps an appropriate outcome would be defeat at the polls next May for Cllr Kemble and a massive scare for Cllr Lepper (she is too popular in her ward and works too hard for her to lose her seat – and I personally wouldn’t want her to).  As for Cllr Watkins, if he stands again, he should in any case get beaten on the anti-Lib Dem backlash.

And what about Cllr Kitcat.  If he is suspended, there should be such a huge vote next May to re-elect him in Regency Ward.  Ordinary voters don’t like people being victimised, and Jason Kitcat is one of the hardest working councillors in my memory, one of the truly exceptional local ward councillors of our time.

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14 Responses

  1. I think you should be honest about the clips.

    They weren’t all just ongoing exchanges – one was a very tight edit of one particular exchange. And it was the chairs response that was so cutting (and out of context?).

    Giving the impression that it was just the re-publishing publicly available video material is disingenuous and makes Kitcat seem shifty – whether or not you think the editing was appropriate/fair/funny etc…

    It was first class youtube fodder, but not as ‘innocent’ as you suggest.

    If correct procedure has been followed then the ball is in Kitcats court as far as whether he wants to represent his ward or not…

    Maybe next time a member of the public could ‘discover’ and post such gems.

  2. @Paul the film you linked to is only 11 seconds long. I can’t actually hear what was said but I’m even more concerned about this case if that’s the best evidence that can be found for the prosecution.

  3. @Tom,

    Thats the clip edited and published by Kitcat himself – so qualtiy issues should be directed to him 😉


    Theobold:
    I mean sometimes I wish I could have answer these questions because…
    Chariman (interrupting):
    So do I, but I think well move on

    I think the questions ‘could not be answered’ due to time limitations, not ‘incompetence’. But it is a funny clip, and Theobold is the butt of the joke.

    I have no particular respect for anyone just by virtue of their office, so think the clip is a good laugh (particularly as Theobold reminds me of norman wisdom).

    But if procedure has been followed then the ‘solution’ is in Kitcats hands… Maybe he can campaign to change the procedure in future…

  4. Thanks for the transcription Paul. I assume that the juxtaposition of these two statements was contemporaneous only in Jason’s youtube version, and you consider this to be a misrepresentation of what actually took place due to some post production editing by the green councillor?

    As I understand it that is not the charge being levelled. The complaint is misuse of council property by making it accessible through youtube. Or in their words failure to treat his fellow councillors with respect breach of the council’s copyright. I think you’re the first to suggest the clips have been edited to mislead, but if true I guess that’s another reason to waste time and to persecute a a councillor whose only crime was to expose the conservative’s inability or unwillingness to answer straightforward questions.

  5. @Tom

    I think the exchange happened as shown, but has been cropped start and end for comic effect.

    You surely can’t be suggesting that that clip was extracted and presented like that for any other reason?

    I think thats the ‘disrepsect’ (I could be wrong).

    To be honest I am far more pi**ed off over the councils schools lottery cr*p.– the gerrymandering of the education committee just before the crucial votes was disgusting.

  6. @Paul thanks for the clarification. I’m *beginning* to understand why some took exception to the presentation of this video now, but it remains a mystery to me why the original footage is in any way copyright or why the film you linked to was deemed disrespectful even though, as you suggest, there’s definitely an element of comedy there, but this was only made possible by the comments that were actually made by third parties, and even that assumes you can understand what was said. Maybe it would be useful to add subtitles so the hard of hearing can also appreciate the joke?

    Having intermittently read Jason’s blog (which started by linking to the official feed which was 4 hours long, used weird codecs and didn’t allow time shortcuts), I was delighted when he started embedding the relevant clips to youtube. If this isn’t bringing democracy to a wider audience I don’t know what is, and if memory serves all the embeds in the blog were a lot more substantial than the one you selected.

    To qualify as “first class youtube fodder” I’d expect a lot more cutting, dubbing and special fx, but it seems a bit of accidental humour has triggered something that is now completely out of proportion to the alleged misdemeanour.

  7. @Tom

    I am with you 100% on the copyright issue. And accessibility.

    It is a shame that the council don’t do this themselves – its not a good use of a councillors time.

    I do like the idea of adding subtitles though — but as the clip is on his you tube account, only he could do that. I don’t think it would go down well with the other councillors though – mind you, I guess if he stands by it being acceptible/useful, he should indeed add subtitles where the sound is not clear…

  8. So it would seem that we are actually singing from the same hymn-sheet!

    If the extreme left and far right can concur with the greens on this issue, it makes you wonder from which planet the dissent originates?

  9. I am not far anything…

    But the dissent comes from traditional party politics. Its pretty standard bullying to gang up on anyone/thing that does something different.

  10. I thought I’d exempt you from my self assigned “extreme” label but still think “far” is a reasonable compromise to embellish my point if you’re still aligned with UKIP which is a bit removed from mainstream by definition.

    Anyway let’s not spoil our historic moment of consent!

  11. Generally people who say UKIP is right wing have been listening to UKIP opponents with an agenda, rather than hearing what UKIP policies really are.

  12. At least we ignoramuses have something in common with Baron Pearson of Rannoch 😉

    If you don’t think UKIP’s wiki entry you should change it from “The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is a political party which adheres to a right-wing ideology that has been identified as being eurosceptic, populist and conservative”. Or maybe just redefine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_wing

  13. I wouldn’t call Jeanne Lepper ‘hardworking’. She’s been silent on the the closing of Connexions in the Hollingdean Dip.

    In fact, I visited the workers in the centre on Tuesday and asked them if the Hollingdean councillors had been in and the reply I received was a resounding ‘No.’ Though, funnily enough, Patrick Lowe, the Tory candidate, had popped in and received a mouthfull when he told them he disagreed with the cuts to Connexions!

    Also, the Labour councillors in Hollingdean have been silent on the Dudney Lodge ‘concrete’ incident and probably have no idea about the state of council housing in the ward.

    I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the back of them.

  14. I feel sure that the Tories are so locked into old style that they do not understand how much the world has changed in the past decade, and that Cllr Ted Kemble has absolutely no idea of the amount that he will bring down upon himself as his absurd complaint about Cllr Kitcat works towards the Tribunal hearing.

    Why did Cllr Kemble feel it incumbent upon himself to make this complaint when Cllr Theobald was savvy enough to let the matter pass?

    And why is the Council paying out money to a solicitor to present its case at the Tribunal? Especially when Cllr Kitcat is presenting his own case?

    I feel sure that if Cllr Kemble continues in this way, then his Wish ward could prove very interesting in May. People do not like a bully.

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