After the nasty attacks on Christopher Hawtree, I am considering closing down this blog

I have seriously considered closing down this blog over the last few days.  I have several reasons for this but uppermost in my mind is the tone of the debate over libraries and, in particular, the nasty personal attacks on councillor Christopher Hawtree.

The library issue, as with everything to do with the budget of Brighton and Hove City Council, is fraught with difficulties, and ethical dilemmas for those involved. But attacks on an individual’s integrity is not acceptable.

We should also remember that no party is immune from some culpability in what is happening:

  • The Tories and Lib Dems are imposing cuts of 35% on the City Council. There are alternatives, but this is a government with an ideological commitment to cutting government. That is a political choice.
  • Labour failed to maintain confidence of the electorate, are not mobilising opposition, are more interested in who should lead their party, and they are failing locally and nationally to provide a viable alternative to the cuts agenda.  Nationally, their political choice is to make cuts but not as quickly.
  • The Greens have made the political choice to form the administration locally, and to best manage the level of cuts imposed on them.

Within each party there are honourable people trying to do their best.  For many it is a question of compromise which, after all, is the most common feature of politics.  For some, it might lead to resignation.

I find it unacceptable to question, in such personal terms, the integrity, morality, even the mental health, of someone who is struggling with issues. I can only conclude that those who indulge in this political form of bear baiting have no positive policies or proposals of their own. It says more about them than the target of their vitriol.

We are fortunate to have the likes of councillor Hawtree in Brighton and Hove, just as we are fortunate to have the likes of the Hangleton Twins (Barnett and Janio) and many others who sacrifice a great deal to stand to become and then serve as councillors. Let us start all debate by recognising this, and then, by all means, question the policies being implemented, but keep the debate about policy, priorities and alternatives, or as Craig Turton always says, stick to the ishoos. 

I once referred on this blog to Thumper from Bambi who said “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say anythin’ at all”.  There are some who could learn from Thumper.

I am still considering whether or not to close down this blog.

206 Responses

  1. To some extent what you say is true – Christopher Hawtree is not directly responsible for library cuts, and it is somewhat unfair for Mike Weatherley to describe them as such in his press release.

    However, let us not forget that Christopher has quite a history – not only one of superb work with regard to saving Hove Library, but also a darker side … spin, lies and intrigue.

    If you were to choose to close this excellent blog, then I would suggest you do it for a principle, or person, rather more worthy than Christopher Hawtree.

  2. Don’t close the blog.

    Things do appear to have gone rather OTT and I found myself empathising with Chris, something I thought I would never do. It’s clear you need a thick skin in politics but some of the comments made were inappropriate. Discussing and challenging the issues is what it’s all about but overt personal attacks are

    Closing the blog would be a loss, I enjoy following it even if it annoys me at times. BPB
    consider carefully please.

  3. Please don’t close this blog down – it’s an unique insight into Brighton politics, for good and ill.

  4. The sad question in my mind is whether the venomous baiting of the Green Administration and this latest nonsense trying to get Christopher Hawtree to lose it and go bonkers reflects Mike Weatherley of his own volition or very, very poor advice.

    Too much of his press release output of late bears the bellicose Hangleton Hallmark rather than the Inspired Action Man label. It may have begun when the Constituency boundaries were re-jigged and reflect a cynical pandering to reactionary voters within the constituency he will contest at the next General Election.

    The libraries/budget cuts press release attacking Hawtree was an exercise in wild overstretching and, even if worth putting out, should have come from the Opposition Conservative City leadership (or Cllr David Smith!) and not the MP for Hove. Mike Weatherley is ursurping the job of opposition councillors and it is an undignified sight. Sluggers like Dawn Barnet and Tony Janio can swagger about on that stage cracking their knuckles (for want of any better contribution to make); Mike Weatherley should not.

    It is undignified B-movie overdrive stuff and calls the high office of MP into question for him to engage in hysteria-driven cheap shots and venomous baitings of the local authority or its councillors (like, “The Greens are COMMUNISTS! Shock! Horror!) and, indeed to be pronouncing on issues as though he is the de facto Leader of the city’s Conservative opposition.

    Given the level and kind of cuts from central government, it is also smoke and mirrors hypocrisy and not his best shot.

    Climb back inside yourself, Mike!

  5. I’d be very sorry to see this blog close. But I can fully understand why the Blogger is so perturbed by the personal attacks on Christopher Hawtree. I’m all in favour of robust, vigorous political debate; but these attacks are something altogether nastier and darker – reflecting the ethos of the overweening school playground bully. Mike Weatherley’s press notice demeans the office of Member of Parliament and raises serious questions about his judgement and his fitness to hold that office. If the press release was drafted by one of his aides he should take full responsibility for what has been done on his watch. It also incidentally suggests that, despite the Westbourne result, the Tories are still desperately scared of the Greens in Hove.

    Either way, Christopher Hawtree is owed a full and handsome apology. It remains to be seen whether Weatherley is big enough to provide it.

  6. Hawtree has harried others over libraries relentlessly – it clearly got to David Smith during his spell at culture.

    As such he should not be surprised, and nor should anyone else, when he is targetted as (a vocal) part of an administration implementing cuts to libraries.

    I’ve just been to read Mike W’s press release, thanks to this post: strong, but nothing I couldn’t see Cllr Hawtree resorting to in his pre-Cllr days.

    As to comments on this blog – the ones seemingly objected to were questioning the sanity of calling the Westbourne result encouraging, a fair calling of BS from my perspective.

    I also note the persistent questioning of Lib Dem integrity by the blogger and suggest he move form his glass house, rather than shutting down what is a very good blog.

    • Can you agree that the libraries/cuts missive from Weatherley should more appropriately have gone out from the Opposition Tory Cllrs? That it was churlish, thuggish and unpleasant in any case: venomous indeed?

      • Happy to concede it would have been more appropriate from Cllrs. I don’t by this mean that Mike W, or any other MP, shouldn’t involve themselves in such issues in the future though.

        I thing you’re rather over-egging the offensiveness of the press release, but again, agree ot would have been more effective if more temperate.

      • George, my speaking out has been brewing for a bit. Hence the strength of my dismay. This baiting of CH, coming the day after the “Communist” jibe in the Argus was the last straw, so to speak, and not something in its own right to get me appalled and scribbling. I think enough of Mike Weatherley’s capabilities to be concerned seeing him or his office appearing to have decided it is A Good Thing to become a hyperactive PR machine sending out regular big swinging dick press releases and baitings concerning the current City Administration. THAT is the job of the Opposition cllrs.

        I’m naive. I think of the position of MP as ‘high office’ that requires a certain level of gravitas, restraint and decorum for the public to respect it.

      • Valerie. Fair enough – though little restraint or decorum was shown in claiming expenses. The reality is most MPs are self-deluding egoists – even the good ones, who, I admit, can do sterling work for others.

  7. Valerie – here is Caroline Lucas backing the council’s meat free Mondays ont he BBC:

    Again, consistency please.

    • The Lucas stance is a national party stance and she gave support. She did not ursurp or go bonkers at local councillors – indeed I have seen no comment or annoyance voiced (which would have been appropriate) that the MP for Hove took a camera crew into HER constituency to berate activity happening in HER constituency that was nothing to do with his own.

      But then the Greens are not terribly good at self defence which has the effect of making some politicians think they’ve spotted an easy kill. Reminds me of that American movie saying “never give a sucker an even chance”.

      All this stalker like hounding is about forcing the Greens to fight back. That they don’t do it, just makes their attackers throw wobblies it seems to me.

      • I think it a bit rich for anyone to complain about Caroline’s ‘patch’ being invaded when she persistently styles herself MP for Brighton.

        I also see no lack of self-defence from the Greens, and plenty of ability in attacking others.

    • Actually….there was a time when I thought Caroline Lucas needed to step back a bit and not be the one giving the automatic Green representative quotes all the time like SHE was the B&H City Council de facto Leaderine. After the count in May I was appalled that the BBC reporter and cameras wanted her interview as representative of Green reaction to winning. She should have refused, I was thinking.

      And I said so at the time to a few of the senior Greens. I notice the Argus now routinely goes to Bill Randall where once their instinct was to go to the former MEP and perceived “Star” of the Green Show (forgetting that it was the Brighton Green Machine that made her into an MP).

      She too went through her moment of seeming to stand in front of the local Green Administration. But then it quietly stopped and she got back being the supportive MP – she doesn’t send out press releases attacking and sneering at local councillors that I am aware of.

      I suspect Mike Weatherley is exasperated with the extreme weakness of the local Tory Opposition leadership and can’t stop himself from stepping in and taking over somewhat.

      • You may well be right about his sensing the need to step-in. Opposition to the administration seems weak across the board to me.

      • I believe Ms Lucas is very keen not to do anything that may cause others to examine Green policy more closely… In which case her stance is for self-preservation not some kind of respect for local councillors…

  8. Tories trying to push The Hawtree over the edge and take their seat back VS Blogger trying to keep Hawtree in with a threat of closing the blog…

    I am sure Hawtree is sane, but the only thing that made me doubt it is his comments on here!! Perhaps this brings out the insane in Chris? Really though, if you U turn on a key issue that got you elected then what do you expect? Criticism will happen! Get used to it.

    Thick skin is needed to get through it, and I hope Chris will not throw a paddy over something like this, but will look at his and his parties position on public libraries, and not make a U turn and cut these services.

    Yea too many people think the real world actually reads this blog… even though i like both of your posts, please scrap it (or at least the bias)

    • Can you agree that the missive targetting Hawtree should, if at all, have come from the local Tory opposition party rather than the Hove MP?

      • I think you are right in a way. But if the Tories wanted to get some publicity on the issue then you have to understand why they used the “big gun”.

        Cruel hypocrisy that he is spear heading this. When he and his mates in govt are ruining our country with their cuts.

        I think its time the Greens realise that sooner or later criticising them will not be like “clubbing seals”.

  9. The nature of political debate, particularly in the UK, is often tribal and adversarial, with hyperbole about the negative nature of our opponents policies a key element. Mike Weatherley’s press release is such an example – but in this case its crass unpleasantness is much more likely to make it counterproductive. All parties indulge in this, I quite enjoy it myself, having my own tribal loyalties, but it is usually the use of some wit and subtlety that is likely to be the most effective. With non-Green Party supporters like Mr Gillman and myself both feeling sympathy for Chris, Mr Weatherley and his young Turks, should realise that a far more nuanced approach is required.

    As for this blog – the recent comments about libraries are not typical of the usual exchanges – which, although often sharp and caustic from all sides, are usually on the right side of civility. Heaven forbid that we should not be able to criticise, and even riddicule our political opponents, and be able to expect it in return.

  10. Come now, bloggy, you always told me that a sense of humour was key to politics. Don’t you go throwing your toys out of the pram, too!

    • The bellicose Tory missives and posturings have been precisely about throwing toys out of the pram – ever since the May local elections and Mike should remain above THAT fray and more appropriately, just represent and support Hove and its issues and promote his government’s policies. Which include heavy-duty cuts, alas! The very thing he so wrongly weighs in on where the local authority is concerned.

  11. There, Blogger. I hope a few of us have given you pause to consider today that debate that is actually political can be coaxed onto this blog. That you need not despair.

  12. Kitcat and Bassam have set a standard for discussions with Brighton Council Greens.

    I’d rather have robust people openly accessible, than sensitive souls hidden away from accountability.

    I said before that I thought Bassam/Labour were seeking to discredit this new digital accessibility – maybe Weatherly/Conservatives are too.

    If the Greens are committed to better democracy through on-line accessibility they need councillors robust enough to handle it.

    • And we need MP’s to know their place, where best to deploy their power, and to let local councillors get on with doing their jobs and not try to do it for them.

  13. Cllr Hawtree campaigned on a pro-library platform, and is now part of an administration that is cutting library services. How can he not expect some criticism given his hypocrisy on the issue? This all boils down to the fact that the Greens were ill-prepared for the responsibilities of forming an administration, with their many ill-considered, unfunded policies that simply do not stack up when confronted with the realities of governance.

    They should expect to be held to account as they make a shambles of running the council, with debacles over issues such as travellers and Council Tax and the impossibility of their ridiculous pledge to “resist all cuts”.

    If Cllr Hawtree can’t stand the heat he should get out of the kitchen.

    • Question for us all (and Cllr Hawtree): To what extent was Cllr Hawtree involved in budget discussions about library prunings? Public Question to Council anyone?

      • Budget planning started last summer with Cllrs Bowden and Hawtree jointly fighting Libraries’ corner from what I have heard. The final proposal is certainly a lot more encouraging than many of us initially feared, and – as with the rest of the budget – a lot of care has gone into intelligently protecting services and jobs. John Barradell and Val Pearce also deserve credit for their foresight in adding value to libraries by promoting them as proactive citizen advice services which will reduce other service costs down the line.

    • The place for calling CH to account is the Council Chamber, with either a deputation or a few public questions. Simon Kirby has been seen doing exactly this concerning Saltdean Lido. A Big Swinging Dick, sneering come-on Press Release from the MP was WRONG.

  14. Quick, call the remit police!

    Looking back over election literature from campaigns in which I have personally been involved over the past eight years, I am reminded that Greens have done very well from painting politics as a cartoonish battle of good against evil – fairness fighting unfairness, the needy against the greedy, freedom versus tyranny.

    Having entered politics through a love of architecture and science, being presented in such a negative light by opponents has never felt right but I have spent very little time losing sleep over it. I’d prefer to get down to proper policy debate but that is not the game that the Green Party plays. It can’t be had both ways.

    So stop the mock shock please. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that Chris Hawtree entered politics through a blind – and very personal – passion for libraries whilst simultaneously mentioning that he is immersed in a campaign of library cuts of the type that he would have previously fought.

    • Spin. C-

    • I’d question how much your average Green actually knows about wider Green party policy.

      I was genuinely surprised that they objected to being called marxist or communist… I think many don’t actually have a clue what the Party is really about (and those that do, know publicity would destroy the party!).

      It could be that now the Greens are leading the council and putting their policies into practice, some green councillors are actually shocked at what they find they have got involved with…

      • The fact of the matter is that the Green party is a far left party comprising a membership that is anarchic and most certainly have either communist or marxist leanings (most are ex Labourites who think the Labour party is too right wing) . Talk about deluded, I read a green cllrs comments once where he stated and seemed to actually believe that they saw themselves as social crusaders and were the “party of the poor”. We should ask who do they actually represent? They loath all the aspects that the majority of UK residents believe make up the fabric of our national identity, i.e.the monarchy, christianity, a strong armed forces with nuclear deterent, etc, etc.Hawtree was quite happy to sneer at the tory administration week after week, asking repeated questions about libraries. He should put up or shut up. Walk away if being a councillor is to tough. Finally, while on the subject of commitment, why are some of his colleagues playing hide and seek with the residents. They appear to have become more elusive than Lord Lucan or Shergar. I believe that some do not even reside in the country, never mind in the city, never mind in the ward. The entire raggamuffin bunch are nauseating hypocrites who have been found out.

    • “Mock Shock”? This is an inappropriate attempt at damage limitation, Robert. Had recent insult-and-sneer-missives come from a common or garden gutter politician, people would have just smirked in a dismissive ‘there he goes again’ way, but Mike Weatherley was given credit for being rather better than that.

      People who did not vote for him in the general election were impressed and saying they might HAVE to vote for him next time!

      The shock reactions are about seeing a good MP, gung-ho, seeming to relish Rambo gutter political tactics. What you are seeing is concern and dismay at seeing him play fast and loose with his reputation and pushing a credibility self-destruct button.

      He’s running enthusiastically in front of a bus and my complaint at least is about asking him to look up and see it coming and step aside before he is discredited and destroyed by it. We would then lose a good MP.

      I suggest too that you read this, Robert:

      In particular note the rise of extreme neo-fascists (Hungary!) he draws attention to. Is Mike now setting himself up to appeal to the extremely cruel and heartless in our society and the nasty-party bullies and aggressive reactionaries of old? Is that the voting community he hopes to encourage and get voting for him at the next General Election? Does he now cynically see them as the majority of voters in this country or at least within the redrawn boundaries within which he will seek his votes?

      We are moving into a deeply dangerous era when cool heads will be needed along with cool-headed, minded and dignified politicians who can steady the nerves of the public, not inflame their insecurities and encourage their worst yah, boo, sucks lowest instincts to attack.

  15. i am up early but still some way behind those commenting by candlelight!

    Of course the Blogger should keep at it.

    Things moved quickly on Wednesday and yesterday, and came to a head at the beginning of the workshop for the Scrutiny session on the three-year Libraries plan, whose draft now moves through various stages until July or so (taking in the return of the Committee system).

    As i remarked yesterday, what has been achieved at this stage of the Budget for libraries is very encouraging. Not least that stock is made a top priority.

    I shall write on this Wetherley situation on my site later. What shocked me most of all is that Cllr Wealls did not condemn the MP’s mendacity.

    I could tell at yesterday’s meeting, from Cllr Brown’s manner, that there is a split in the Tory party.

    I was much encouraged by Leigh Farrow’s remarks, and await Labour’s take on the libraries situation.

    • By the way – what is actually so wrong with the current mobile library vehicle that it can’t be patched up to get through another year?

    • Mr Hawtry, or perhaps more appropriately, Mr Pastry, you and your colleagues actually represent only a miniscule number of people in the UK, and again only through a concerted effort by your organisation, which involved haranging and pressurising the hoards of temporary resident naive young students from the Uni’s, did you get lucky in May. The only comment i would make is, if being a councillor attracts to much pressure, walk away. Several of your brethren have been found out as totally useless and ineffective by the residents.

  16. And if this blog closed, when would I ever get the opportunity to ask the greens about (say) their national policy of restricting goods-vehicle access to areas to ‘protect’ ‘local’ businesses?

    With Brighton/Hove roads being narrowed with super-expensive kerbed cycle lanes, that reduce efficient road use and are massively expensive to reverse one has to wonder if the two are linked.

    Green national policy would also seek to close all shops that belong to chains, and for shops to only serve those who can walk, cycle or (maybe) bus to them.

    Our councils parking and traffic policies seem to support this too.

    I have found the Greens very reticent to discuss their policies generally – but with this new openness, I look forward such discussions…

    • Where do you stand on shopping accessibility for the elderly and disabled without cars or access to car travel?

      • What do you mean ‘where do I stand’?

        Is there a particular problem that the council need concern itself with?

        If so what is it? If not, the council shouldn’t waste taxpayers money trying to fix things that aren’t broken by financing pet vanity projects.

    • Perhaps in the NORMAL manner… rather than a blog where you dont know if you are actually talking to a green or someone completely different

  17. Anyone want to comment on La Bassams full page ‘editorial’ in the Argus today? He’s having a swipe at the Green buget proposals and the management of the council.

    He comes across as arrogant and aggressive and seems to forget all the financial problems Labour had whilst they were in power (in much more benign cricumstances)

    I just wish he spent as much time Lords promoting the city as he has attacking it politically.

    • A timely comment from both Bassam and yourself, further illustrating the need to question of “remit” and what the extent of a Lord, an MP or a councillor’s territory should be.

      • Bassam and Weatherly are both (I believe) local people with as much right to a view and to be heard as any other resident.

        If Councillors choose to give their views more attention that the views of other residents, then it is the councillors who are at fault.

  18. I hope you don’t close down the blog, but I wish it was more of a space for actual political debate.

    I’ve been trying to follow events on Twitter since the publication of the draft budget, but Twitter seems to be a singularly inappropriate medium for a serious discussion. Not that anyone seems particularly interested in having a serious discussion.

    I’ve seen plenty of people objecting (with good reason) to individual cuts proposed in the budget. Personally, I think cutting the mobile library, bus subsidies, and public toilets is a dangerous combination for poor, elderly and disabled people in particular.

    But whatever you do, if you are going to work within the law and within the spending limit created by a reduced government grant, you will end up cutting something that’s important to somebody. Council services are valuable and necessary. Whatever you cut, it will be damaging.

    A food waste collection service, for example, is not some kind of faddy Green luxury item. It’s an essential building block of a sustainable city. Leeds had a food waste collection service over 20 years ago. It’s a scandal that Brighton & Hove has not had one up to now.

    I don’t know what I would have done if I were in the position of the Green group on the council. They have been knocked sideways by the Feed-in Tariff decision, and are generally between a rock and a hard place. Making change in a big organisation like a local authority is like turning round a juggernaut. You just can’t do it quickly. But quick and radical change is what Green voters (and, I suspect, Councillors) want and expect.

    I would have liked to see (at least as a campaigning tool) a budget that reflects the real needs of the city, to show that the funding available from the government is woefully inadequate, and that is where the real attack on our citizens comes from.

    I would like to see the council using its physical assets to generate more income. Increasing parking charges is good, but how about opening up school buildings for community use outside school hours?

    And why are we still paying millions to private companies in PFI contracts when we have already paid off the cost of building the library and school buildings?

    I would also have liked them to really tackle the issue of pay inequality within the council. The living wage they have introduced is good, and important. But why are some officers still paid such excessive salaries?

    I think publishing the draft budget so early was a genuine invitation to debate, and it has been met with nothing but partisan point-scoring. Where are the alternative suggestions from the other parties?

    • The ppor, elderly and disabled are sidelined by ALL political shades and parties in favour of the (perceived) economically active who are thought in the best position to generate income for the city (or country) and therefore the taxes to pay for services.

      • You can’t mix ‘elderly, poor and disabled’

        1) age is not necessarily an indication of anything
        2) being poor is not genetic its a (potentially) temporary state of affairs
        3) ‘disabled’ could mean quadriplegic or difficulty with reading, it is too wide a description to have any real meaning whatsoever

        The worst thing about socialism is the way it rejects individuals and can only deal with collectives, labels, groups, communities or whatever other device it choose to avoid being judged and answerable to real people.

  19. @Dani – you and other Green voters may want to see quick and radical change but this administration has no such mandate. It’s the biggest party, but has no majority (and the vote share is roughly equal between the three main parties).

    The administration has been given a highly limited mandate to show that they can run the city in a responsible fashion – no more. Given the levels of controversy and disappointment they have managed to engender thus far it’s a test they may well be failing.

    • Well clarified. There is a sad possibility that travellers will destroy the Greens at the next election. For the rest, whatever party is forming any administration, it is the officers and their expertise that ultimately determine what comes out of councillors mouths and gets written into their meeting agendas. All political cant is castrated in this way.

  20. As far as I’m aware, there are/were only a few councils that were going to increase CT; mainly in themost severely deprived areas in the North and Midlands.

    I’ve researched some of those councils through The Guardian Datablog(hardly a right wing site) that are proposing to increase and came up with these interesting facts:

    In Teeside they are proposing a 3.5% increase but are an honest 12th in the league of the most deprived places in England

    Middlesborough proposes a 3.5% increase and is a hefty 9th most deprived.

    Nottingham proposes a 2.5% increase and is the 17th most deprived area.

    Leicester a 3.5% increase and a suitable candidate as 28th most deprived.

    Stockton propose a 2.5% increase and a barely there 75th most deprived

    Hartlepool have rejected the proposed 2.5% even though they are a worthy 21st most deprived

    Cumbria have rejected the proposed 2.5% increase even though they are an upright 38th most deprived

    Brighton & Hove Greens are insisting they need a 3.5% increase and are only a paltry 84th in the most deprived league table.

    Notwithstanding this, Scotland with many deprived areas, has confirmed they are freezing Council Tax.

    So will the Greens please expain why they can’t manage their budgets like the majority of other local authorities?.

    • I can’t see why deprivation should be the sole determinant of whether council taxes rise or not, which seems to be your notion.

      What’s more to the point is why the really seriously deprived areas that you list have been put in a position where, by your own admission, they have to tax their already hard-pressed residents even more. It does not reflect well on the national government, does it?

  21. I have read the responses to this blog with interest. Are we not all missing the essential point? Namely, that we should attempt to retain a divide between our ‘private’ and ‘political’ lives?

    By moaning about how bad we feel every time somebody criticises our political statements or views, we simply invitie a tirade of personal abuse to return with interest.

    Here comes the cliché – if you can’t stand the heat ……………

    Keep the blog open.

  22. In regards to Mr Hawtree unfortunately if you make cuts you must expect to bleed!
    I think that some people feel they should protect the Green’s (I remember my childs first day at playgroup!) but unfortunately in politics you simply can’t make strong claims and promises whilst on the periphery and expect the sheer nature of politics (strong debate, often heated) to dissapear once in power! They wanted it, they got it and unfortunately they must deal with it!
    P.S And it isn’t going to get any easier!

  23. This blog is so pro Green if it closed we would just go to the Green party website instead. Cllr Hawtree was very hostile to the Conservatives, especially Cllr Smith even challenging him to a dual if I remember. I don’t agree with nasty comments as this is what puts ordinary folk, like me off politics but I also remember BPB has made some sharp comments about previous councillors in the past, obviously not of the Green shade, calling one tired and wash out at one point. so let he without sin cast the first stone

  24. Credit to the BPB for a very strategically sound start to 2012!
    Taking my green inspired mantra “The only thing that cannot be recycled is wasted time!” im now off to see my idol….The Iron Lady at the cinema!

  25. We should bring this debate back around to the subject of policy.

    Are the Greens cutting library services or not? if so, does it represent a u-turn? If it does, what others are planned on top of those that we have already seen? Issues of remit are smoke and mirrors.

    Organic chickens are coming home to roost – get over it.

    • I’m no fan of Cllr Hawtree or of his party – I believe they are wrong on politics, wrong on policy and irrelevant to the greater thrust of politics here or anywhere else; but he might start getting over it if hypocritical interventions from you and your MP and his payrolled staff were to stop.

      In a similar vein to your Westbourne victor’s posturing over Hove police station, you and your fellow Tories’ contributions to this debate are made entirely in bad faith, given that it’s your party’s policy, as it ever was, to decimate public services (including libraries) in pusuit of your ideological aversion to collective provision of public goods.

      You stand before us in clothes entirely woven of invisible thread in this matter. A Tory council, under a Tory government, would cut harder, faster and with less regard to ordinary residents’ wellbeing than an administration of any other possible complexion.

  26. Blogger: take a quick trip over the Argus and spent a few minutes sampling the quality of the debate there.

    I hope you will then decide that you should keep this blog open. There’s nothing else like it.

  27. So the Library is being done too and our food waste is also on the Cranked Green agenda i read..”All our food waste will be gathered together in a huge vat, and flown to Africa to feed the starving millions. To stay fresh on the long journey the food will need to be packed full of preservatives, flavourings, pesticides and other additives. So to make it more appealing, the food will be re-packaged as “Aunt Bessie’s Industrial Slop”. ..All the people who voted Green in May because they liked the idea of fun nudists and a possible weed shop in the lanes.

    • What with the Library, toilets and their rediculous standpoint on the use of recreational drugs I am starting to wonder if the communist party would like us to just stay at home, eating recycled food, on the toilet smoking drugs?
      I couldn’t think of anything worse than being served a large bowl of okra infused tofu when all i crave is curry and m&m’s!
      Many people I know are starting to be very wary indeed of anyone incorporating any wicker jumpers in to their attire.

  28. Remit police take note. Greens to be held to account at council meeting over Hawtree’s proposed library cuts:

    • So why didn’t she speak like this at yesterday’s Scrutiny workshop? I asked at the very beginning for a statement about the sally Budget, and this was answered at various points during the meeting by Sally McMahon and other officers.

      Frankly, I am wondering now whether it was wise to have that meeting, chaired by Cllr Brown, if what i had thought was fair and frank discussion is now being turned into what she is apparently, according to Mr Nemuth, calling “Hawtree cuts”.

      • You lot want Central Hove back right??

      • Cllr Hawtree, when you stood for election, did you imagine you were joining a knitting circle or a book debating group?

        People say nasty vituperative things in politics and try as hard as they can to portray their opponents in the worst possible light.

        That’s because politics matters – as I’ve said here before it carries the power to transform or destroy the lives of the poor bloody electorate (ie., all of us).

        Too often your contributions here reek of self-pity and special pleading. If you don’t soon toughen up and concentrate on your electorate’s concerns rather than your own you’ll be doing the residents of Central Hove – and the wider city – a severe disservice.

      • … and I say that as someone who has shared a beer with you and who thinks you’re a nice guy – but perhaps you’re too nice for the world in which you have embroiled yourself.

      • How good are the Minutes for that meeting likely to be and when viewable?

  29. Chris

    Are you deliberately spelling my name wrong as part of some snobbish joke? It’s going over my head if so.

    • No, Mr Nemeth, I think perhaps i had always thought that was the spelling! But a small point beside the extraordinary news that Cllr Vanessa Brown is apparently referring to ‘Hawtree cuts”. This makes the Scrutiny position extremely awkward.

      Despite yesterday’s Scrutiny meeting now appearing in a very different light after your news, I still feel pleased that stock has become a top priority.

  30. “I am not a psychologist but I suspect it is always going to be hard to please a man with the time and inclination to count all the plug sockets in a large public building, as he did last March.”

    • That was a Tory slur, for which they had to apologise. I am struck by the behaviour of Cllr Smith’s replacement, Cllr Browm.

      At Thursday’s Scrutiny meeting, she congratulated Sally McMahon on managing a libraries budget in these times, where some adroit work means that the overall reduction is about 4% – and this when the Government is cutting Council funding by a huge percentage.

      I find it strange that Cllr Brown can turn like this from one day congratulating Sally McMahon to the next, according to Mr Nemeth, being about to attack “Hawtree cuts”.

      The Libraries subject continues.

      • Christopher 1.23am?…have you been taking ‘Disco Biscuits’?

      • The spikes and barbs accruing from the release of MP Weatherley’s thoughts on ‘Comrade Hawtree’ (as he would have it) and proposed budget cuts to library services have found a backside and spurred it into action – towit, a little light something at Council from Cllr Brown. The Cllrs have been shamed into making an opposition-like effort.

  31. The truth be told, all parties had an opportunity to shape the proposed budget. All party leaders were invited to the star chamber meetings and were kept informed of every single development of the budget. As far as I’m concerned, they had the opportunity to work constructively with the administration but the Tories and Labour were told from Westminster not to work with the Green council.

    The local councillors know full well that they had an opportunity to shape the proposed budget, hence why opposition to the proposals is being led by the Westminster forces of Weatherley and Lord Bassam.

    It has been two months since the budget proposals were released and still no sign of an alternative budget of the Labour or Tory groups. I ask: where is the alternative to what has been proposed?

    PS Don’t close down this blog.

  32. Rumour has it Greens are due to meet to decide whether they should go for a few By-Elections for those that got elected and aren’t upto the job and are letting the other comrades down..Bill who is still seething from the last ‘coup de tat’ against him for caning the ‘Tequila worm’..”year as Mayor and sorry old boy you’re off the firm” is understood to be most unimpressed, surely Servalan Lucas must step in soon ” I am the MP, so I shall be leader. ‘
    ‘Why should you get to be Leader?’
    ‘Because I’m the MP, stupid.’

    • Nobby, I too have heard that rumour. Don’t think that the electorate would look kindly on the Greens if they were to go down this path.

      Clearly the lustre is wearing off as people begin to wonder what on earth they’ve voted for and for this reason their most marginal gains from last year would disappear like snow off a wall.

      Will Mr Hawtree be first to realise that he could have more fun reverting to sniping from the sidelines rather than standing up to his anti library comrades in the Green party?

      • He’s actually pulling his weight quite capably on the Planning Committee.

  33. First of all, don’t close the blog. If you do anything, consider moderation of comments, removing anything that gets out of hand and let us know what you have done and why. But it is useful to have this opportunity for discussion and airing of views.

    In terms of the balance on here, Labour feel hard done by when you are honest in you views (and this is your blog after all) – but you have criticised Greens too, including me directly. I can take that – if people are not happy with the way you have set your case, they can respond, and to your credit you allow all responses to stand so there is no stifling of debate or denial of opportunity. Overall, seems pretty even handed, even if one party does get more praise, but it is for all of us to consider criticisms and determine if we are still comfortable with what we are doing and representing in the face of those criticisms.

    Perhaps Labours annoyance at your criticisms is a reflection of their own discomfort with the current state and direction of their own party. I went through that stage, and realised my allegiances could not stay with a party that I felt had moved too far from its core principles. If others feel that they can stick it out, or are comfortable with where things are, that’s their choice which I respect, but respectfully disagree with. But they, like me, need to take criticisms in good faith and deal with it, defend their position or adapt them as they see fit. Simply complaining in the face of criticism is not constructive.

    Which brings me on to what has happened with Christopher Hawtree. Where does valid political debate and criticism cross the line and become something more damaging? I think there are two groups we need to look at here – elected politicians, and the public we represent (which itself falls into two groups – the affiliated political activists, and those with no political axe to grind).

    To deal with the latter group first, Those with no political allegiances are able to do and say what they want, and we elected folk have to deal with that as it comes up. We can’t tell people how to behave, and criticism of whatever nature is just what we have to expect. There have been occassions where individuals have become threatening and where personal safety is concerned there are channels we can take to protect ourselves, but this is rare, and overall working with the general public is pretty enjoyable, notwithstanding some of the stuff that gets said.

    The other group of unelected members of the public, those with political allegiances are again free agents, and entitled to say what they want, but they need to remain conscious of how their behaviour affects the reputation of the party they are supporting. Sometimes I think that the behaviour is ill judged, and reflects badly on them and on their party, but other than any internal pressures on them as a party member they are entitled to do and say what they want. Again though, elected representatives have to just learn to deal with that with as much grace as we can muster.

    The final group – elected politicians is a different kettle of fish altogether. We are elected to serve the public, which is our primary role. As public representatives there is also, rightly, a reasonable expectation of us to behave in a mature way in working with political colleagues and opponents. That does not always work. All too often the attitudes that have been expressed here of ‘if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’ are offered as an excuse for juvenile, rude and hurtful behaviour.

    Of course robust challenges of the way the administration are operating are expected and to be welcomed in our democracy, however uncomfortable they make us feel, but spite, name calling, and dare I say it lies should play no part in the political landscape. Those who engage in it bring their position and their party into disrepute.

    I have genuinely felt weary with politics on numerous occassions since I was elected in 2007 – and it has always been in the face of what I felt to be behaviour beyond the pale from political opponents. Not I must be clear just because of the criticism, but the way that was presented. I know other former councillors who found the atmosphere in council meetings to be so unpleasant that it formed a large part of the reason for leaving politics. This unacceptable behaviour drives capable people away which serves no-one well, least of all the public we represent.

    Let us not forget that at the end of the day, politicians are people too, and we are as vulnerable to feeling the barbs of bullying and bad behaviour as anyone else. The ‘kitchen too hot’ mentality is utterly bogus, and shows a real immaturity, in my view. It blocks constructive engagement between political groups that allows genuine differences to be worked out and the best solutions found for the city. It is a smokescreen behind which party tribalism hides – my party at all costs. That is not what we are elected for.

    • Sven- there is much to agree with in your comments, much political discource, locally and nationally, is of poor quality and unpleasant in tone. However I am rather more fond of tribal party allegiance than you appear to be. Anyone can just find a more comfy home if things get a bit tricky. However you cannot deny that the ‘my party at all costs mentality’ has been the core basis of the Green Party approach, particularly its endless assault on the Labour Party, which is where it rightly identified its support would cone from. It has consistantly refused to give credit for the advances made under Labour. Many Labour supporters locally, including myself, find it hard to work alongside a Green Party whose main political aim has been to kill off the Labour Party in B+H

      • It isn’t the case in quite the way you say it that it is ‘My Party at any cost’ for the Greens, as many/most of us have had to make a deliberate move away from our natural home, the Labour party, when that home became one that was failing in what we hoped for from it.

        I don’t really care if there is never another Green elected anywhere, as long as the right arguments are being made by someone. It is not about the Green Party, it is about the outcomes, and that is where I see the Labour Party has failed us. The lurch to the right in pursuit of office has abandoned those core principles that the Labour movement was founded on, and without those, there’s nothing left (sic).

        Perhaps the strength of reaction from Greens is a result of that disappointment at seeing a once great party abandon so much of what was good about it, for political expediency. I never deny that good things have happened under labour (eg minimum wage), but that is sooo swamped by the negatives, (PFI, Academies, Iraq, etc….) If we had PR as an electoral system, perhaps Labour would feel it had the space to move back to the left rather than chase the handful of centre/right votes it needs for national success in the few marginal seats that swing it in general elections. But where we are, you have moved too far – some stayed the course, others like me felt left behind.

        To be a bit cheeky and give a Green view on the mutual antagonism between our parties. Greens target Labour as they have failed to do the job we expected of them. Labour target Greens as we represent the threat of a good example. The key to future Labour success is to become once again the party you were founded as.

      • Quite a spot on post in my opinion Sven.

        Summed up why people have left LP and joined Greens.

        Disagree that they were the Minimum wage was the only thing that they did well in govt. Was a few other pretty good things!

        Sounds like you really are in it for the right reasons, however I would still say you are on the wrong side sir.

      • That is a bit cheeky Sven. You try to paint yourselves as somehow above the grubby practise of grabbing votes. You target Labour wards because you know that the voters in them are far more likely to be swayed by your opportunistic brand of green/red politics than those in Tory-held wards.

        We target you to try to get them back. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

      • No Tim, that;s not right. I never said we didn’t want to win. Of course we are after the votes, of course we want the seats we contest – what I said was that for my part at least, I wouldn’t care about Green success if I felt that the alternative would do the job I think needs doing. And since Labour repositioned itself so badly in recent years, they have left a void that it is important to fill. I want the Greens to succeed as there is (in my humble opinion) no suitable progressive alternative. If Labour hadn’t created that void, who knows, I might not be doing this now. The same might apply for many of our ex-labour members and councillors.

      • Sven – what you term Labour’s ‘lurch to the right in pursuit of office’ is mistaken. The reality was that in 1983 Labour stood on the notorious ‘longest suicide note in history’ and was on the brink of becoming electorally irrelevant. Remaining as the vehicle by which most people could have their legitimate aspirations articulated and met is the fundamental principle that the Labour Party exists for, and so the party had to change. The were no longer representing the aspirations of those they sought to serve.

        What they achieved was the power to deliver people’s aspirations. You may wish to belittle these achievements, but the list is long and would include – highest ever levels of employment, devolution, sure start, debt cancellation, low interest rate, civil partnerships, huge investment in public services, massively reduced waiting times for NHS treatment. Such success has not come without some compromises, but the quality of life for the great majority is better as the result of having had a Labour government. The Green Party represents a return to the endless opposition of the Thatcher years for the sake of ideological purity and hankering after a golden age of public services that never existed. Do you really want the NHS of the 60’s and 70’s? Such self indulgence has no value to those who need change now.

        If you want to see the outcomes you are looking for actually be delivered then I suggest you use your energy and committment within the Labour Party.

    • Your contribution is considerably more measured than those of your colleague, but I feel it necessary to take issue with a couple of your points.

      First and most important (in the context of this particular discussion) is your assertion that posters suggestions that Cllr. Hawtree should consider whether the kitchen is a suitable place for him to be are somehow immature or out of bounds. They are entirely, in my view, justified.

      If he feels that he has been libelled then it’s open to him to go to law. Otherwise he should brush off well-known bully boy Weatherley’s barbs and move on to representing the interests of his constituents. Don’t forget, much of the ire he’s inspired on here is his announcement that he is to cut off all contact with his fellow Central Hove councillor – hardly ‘[behaving].. in a mature way in working with political colleagues and opponents’. He wasn’t elected to pursue misguided personal spats yet this is the second time (see Tony Janio) that he has chosen to waste his time doing so. A more mature and confident personality, politician or otherwise, wouldn’t dignify these types of comment with a response, let alone such a full blown emptying of the pram.

      Secondly, while you may have decided that Labour wasn’t for you, to imply that Labour activists’ objections to some of the content herein is borne of some psychological unease with their own party is projection on a grand scale. Most Labour people I know object not so much to BPB’s criticisms but rather to his disingenuous positioning of his blog as ‘left-leaning’. We welcome robust debate but too often what we are faced with is the working out of the blogger’s personal animosity towards a party by which he somehow feels betrayed. Were the positioning of the blog more honest this wouldn’t be a problem.

      Lastly politics – and by extension council meetings – aren’t meant to be pleasant. Politics, in that it sets the basis of a community’s economic, social and cultural existence, hence affecting every other facet of its life, excites passions, animosities and, occasionally, intemperate outbursts. Personally I’m rather glad that individuals who were unable to face this fact have chosen to leave the stage as, patently, their passion and commitment to fulfilling their promises to electors were insufficient to sustain them in office and we are better off without them.

      • My understanding of Chris’s position is that the efforts to work together constructively with his ward colleague are proving to be conter productive to getting the job done well, and the withdrawal of contact is not so much that he will walk out of the room when he is there, but will rather just plough his own furrough in Central rather than continue to try to build joint efforts for the benefit of the ward as was his intention whn elected. He seems to particularly attract the ire of Tory councillors, another of whom openly called him a clown. That is not a hot kitchen, that is juvenile. I totally stand by that assertion.

        My comments about Labours reaction to this is not made as a wild presumptive statement, but based on private conversations I have had with current Labour members, previous election candidates, and dare I say it, even one or two current and ex-councillors. I acknowledge that this won’t necessarily be the case for everyone, but it is a genuine current in your party. It is for the party to try to reconcile itself with the views of the members, failing which members have to reconcile themselves to the true nature of their party, or leave it. This is not an easy process for many people to go through, and sometimes that internal conflict can manifest itself in attacking those who highlight your own insecurities. By no means is it across the board, but it exists.

        Finally, your last paragraph exemplifies the failings of our political culture. Machismo is no way to get business done. Brighton’s Labour Party recently rebadged itself as the Labour and Co-operative Party. Notwithstanding that, there has been scant evidence of any co-operative attitudes coming forward in terms of building and enhancing construcive debate. We can differ, and at times in fundamenntal ways, but that does not excuse a purely adversarial approach to debating, there are ways in which differences can be unpicked to find common ground and build towards concensus decision making, which results in more stable decision making as it has wider buy in and is consequently less subject to arbitrary change every 4 years. To wish to see the back of very capable people simply because they don’t like the hot house of your version of politics is doing a great disservice to the people of the city who want to see the most capable people representing them, not the most thuggish.

        I won’t pretend that my own party is immune to it – I myself have at times found myself getting sucked in to that sort of behaviour. It can be very difficult to remove yourself entirely from an all pervasive culture of enmity and maintain the standards I try to set myself. But I am aware of it when it happens, and I don’t like it, and I do try to stop myself. Even though it happens from all sides, one very important reason I am a Green is that the culture of work is very much more inclusive and respectful than I have witnessed elsewhere. It is important, and to diminish the value of mutual respect in favour of posturing and bluster is a great shame.

      • A politician has to be capable of dealing with whatever situation they find themselves in.

        Wishing that everything and everybody was nice doesn’t cut it.

        If people are behaving in a way unacceptable to their voters, simply make sure the voters know about it – twitter, you-tube etc. Let the public decide – it’s their council and their councillors after all.

      • I stand by what I have written (and am chuffed by comments about my longish and I hope droll piece on my site this morning).

        Sven is right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for the knockabout stuff, jokes, but I continue to think that Mike Weatherley’s vile piece cannot simply be set aside as a “game”. I found on the doorsteps that people want more than that, and have had a similar reaction while walking around today.

        I have no enmity for Andrew Wealls but this Weatherlety incident confirmed for me that we approach matters in a different way (and that was a few days after I had been out in quest of a joint venue). I am continually being stopped for discussions, and that is pleasing. As i say: I think there is a new and interesting, and enjoyable, way of doing things. Which was very much the feeling on those doorsteps.

        Meanwhile, I feel chuffed that stock is made a key point of the new Libraries Plan. So much good comes from that.

        Oh, Mr Sewell (with whom i had a pleasant time despite my cold) might like to ask Brian Fitch about his experience in sharing the Hangleton ward. I chortled as Brian and i stood in Kensngton Gardens one afternoon last year.

      • I agree with Tim. Politics is too important to be neutered by a requirement to always be ‘pleasant’.

        Believing that politics is at heart conflictual is not equivalent to being thuggish, nor does it necessarily end in posturing and bluster.

        On the specific issue, perhaps Sven could apply his psychological insights to see why criticism of Cllr Hawtree over libraries affects him so much. Perhaps there is internal conflict?

    • Well Cllr Rufus and I will have to agree to disagree on the need or otherwise for those involved in electoral politics to have skins considerably thicker than those who are not. As for co-operation – it has its place, no doubt, but believing one’s opponents are simply flat out wrong doesn’t mean one is wilfully uncooperative – it means one is completely opposed to their point of view.

      The fact remains that Mike Weatherley is plainly a politician on the make (and a particularly odious one at that), seeking to attract attention from the more thuggish element of his own leadership in the hope of preferment when next the red boxes are being handed out – fancies himself as a Tebbit de no jours, it would appear. It’s a shame that Cllr. Hawtree’s reaction has aided him in that, rather than allowing his rather desperate press release to remain in deserved obscurity.

      I would point out to Sven, however, that when in the course of debate my interlocutor resorts to referencing ‘private conversations’ with unnamed individuals on my side of the political divide which, surprise surprise, vindicate his previously stated position, my eyelids begin to droop and my breathing becomes more stentorian. Indeed, I have had many such private conversations with Green councillors and activists in which they have expressed considerable dismay at pretty much anything I have happened to suggest to them that they might be dismayed by – but that, perhaps, is for another day.

      • “As for co-operation – it has its place, no doubt, but believing one’s opponents are simply flat out wrong doesn’t mean one is wilfully uncooperative – it means one is completely opposed to their point of view”
        Quite, but the tone and manner of engagement even when fundamentally disgreeing with someone can be constructive or needlessly aggressive. Passion for what we do and believe in does not necessarily need to be expressed in table thumping and invective. Looking at former Cllr Oxley, with whom I disagreed massively on most things, there was never that sort of behaviour from him – he remained calm and measured at all times, and was all the more compelling as a result.

        There’s not much I can do about the fact that I have had conversations in private with people who I think it would be unfair on to name in public. Yes, I can understand that it might look suspiciously convenient, but it remains true. Again, the lack of mutual repsect and trust (in general, not specifically on this exchange) between parties despite disagreements creates the situation where the sort of statement I made might lack some credibility. I’m not going to say that you’re conversations alluded to aren’t real, there will be disillusionment and disagreements in all parties. But I’m not making it up, and would hope that you could acknowledge that the nature of political parties is that they contain a broad range of views, and so inevitably people will at times feel uncomfortable within them.

    • Conviction politics vs the sheer, wallowing lust-for-power politics and the goodies it can bring when its on the cv…… Remember that theme tune back in 1997? “Things can only get better”. Some thought that was for themselves.

    • Comrade Sven – heat – kitchen – if too hot walk away. Actually, talk of kitchen etc, tends to cut to the chase and blocks the BS. Generally, i believe that a lot of your group are very decent people.Talking of unpleasant people in politics – the Brighton labourite rabble top the poll.

      • Blowtorch politics somehow just burns up issues – leaving ash and fevered brows…..

  34. ‘As we sail forth with the new administration, may I express the hope that we
    can all pull together for a smooth voyage.’
    ‘ But Cllr Hawtree remember that rowers were historically usually put in
    chains and whipped. And if the ship sank, they went down with it’.

  35. While on the subject of libraries…

    (a service which I fully support and think should be expanded/developed)

    I also read that the plan is to use libraries as ‘day centres’ – while I think far better use could be made of libraries as centres for information and communication, Using them purely as warm buildings doesn’t enhance their function, it detracts from it.

    ps. Bassams Argus article seemed about right regarding the Green administration, but very rose tinted on the Labour administration.

    • Libraries as day centres has been commonplace since the days of Labour in control. Alas they are gathering places for foreign students who sit texting and laptopping, having totally overwhelmed table availability so people reading newspapers are having to do so standing up and propped against wall.

      Then there is baby boogy…..

      And the Hove Local Studies room is often closed due to having been booked for some private thing or other. You can no longer go there without ringing in advance to see if it will be open to the public. And actually engaging in local studies does mean using a lot of library books and does need table space.

      I’ve not gone to Hove Library for sometime as a consequence – except to use the loo.

    • 99 replies to this latest post of yours BPB. As post number 100 let’s just say that there is clearly a demand for the blog.

  36. Politics can be done differently. There will be fundamental differences in opinion but respect for people can still shine through It is time to stop this old nasty back stabbing style.

    • Politics cannot be ‘done’ at all. There is no such thing as politics, just individuals and….

      You turn up and deal with the people you are confronted with – how they behave is entirely up to them, how you behave is entirely up to you. Common patterns may emerge and be called ‘politics’ but it is peoples behaviour that defines politics, not ‘politics’ that controls peoples behaviour.

      Utopian dreams of a nicey, nicey world where everyone agrees on everything don’t get anyone anywhere in the real world.

      In many situations, there will be a winner and loser, both parties have every right to try to be the winner. The fight is entirely rational, acceptible, healthy and part of life.

      If you and one other were on a plane about to crash, and there is only one parachute – you may choose to give it up, but there’s no shame in fighting for your life.

    • Blowtorch politics somehow just burns up issues – leaving ash and fevered brows…..

  37. With over 100 comments here, Chris Hawtree must have upset someone with his antics.

    Shame some people use libraries just for the loo now.

  38. It’s interesting that the picture some on here are trying to paint is that the Green party are well-meaning and visionary, but somewhat politically naive and too polite when it comes to defending themselves. What nonsense. They are a well organised and ruthless political group (but in fairness to them, no different from any other political party).

    With regard to Christopher Hawtree: before stepping into elected office he spent quite some time – as has been pointed out here by others – baiting Councillor David Smith, who at the time was Cabinet Member for Culture. Every little thing about libraries that did not meet Mr. Hawtree’s exacting standards was David Smith’s fault, from the lack of books and opening hours to the high number of plug sockets in the Jubilee Library. When David Smith jokingly suggested that in olden days the two of them would have had a duel over the issues, this became Christopher’s new mating call to anyone who could be drawn in, implying to them that he had been asked to duel in ernest by a Tory councillor. This was Chris “spinning” as usual.

    When David Smith responded (rather wittily I thought) to a letter from Mr. Hawtree about the library plug socket abundance, suggesting he (Smith) was not a psychiatrist but that one had to wonder about someone with the time and inclination to count every plug socket in the Jubilee Library (it’s quoted verbatim by Andy above), Christopher Hawtree slapped him with a Standards Board complaint. Now – and here’s the rather malicious part – Christopher immediately told the Argus all about it and agitated for a story, which he duly got.

    Now let me tell you a story (one that can be filed under the “Non-Fiction” section of your local library). Last year I had reason to bring a Standards Complaint against a councillor. I won’t go into details (who knows – a libel action may be forthcoming!) but in a nutshell this councillor publicly called into question my integrity and my background. These were malicious insinuations and suggested things that the councillor in question knew to be false, but he made them anyway to try and deflect from the issue at hand, and score points. I take a dim view of such behaviour, hence my Standards complaint. Unlike Mr. Hawtree I didn’t go running to Argus to viciously try to garner as much publicity and make as much political capital out of this as I could. Ultimately it was decided that the councillor in question should be forced to attend a training course on how to deal with the public. The councillor’s name? Christopher Hawtree.

    So as I said in another thread, he is very good at dishing it out, but doesn’t like taking it. Frankly, anyone’s pity (or party political mock pity) for Christopher Hawtree is misguided. Yes, these library cuts are not “Hawtree cuts”, but he has traded on spin and barefaced lies about others, so it is perhaps poetic justice that he is slapped down with the same thing.

    A person of integrity and morals who had campaigned on issues of public libraries would have resigned their position when faced with having to support their party in reducing library facilities.

    Rest assured, Christopher Hawtree will not be resigning anytime soon.

    • Pretty much ‘On the money’

    • In his defence, Hawtree will be able to say its not this fault, because he is just implementing Green Budget cuts.

    • What lie did CH tell? You did change your surname from Davies to Davenport. His jibe was surely considered inappropriate behaviour – hence the course on dealing with the public.

      I wonder if MP’s get training of that sort……

      • That I have engaged in a change of identity, plus the statement that my previous surname was a “moniker” – that is to say another alias.

        It’s certainly true that I changed my surname – nothing odd about that, but a change of identity is something entirely different.

        By way of example to illustrate the difference between commenting on a change of surname and a change of identity, let’s imaging that you had been married in the past, and “Paynter” was the name you took when you got married. You might be more than a little miffed if during a public discussion on a planning matter someone suggested you had previously engaged in a change of identity, and then went on to invite readers to question why you would have done such a thing. It might make you all the more annoyed when the person in question knew why you had changed your name and that it was for purely benign reasons. The only conclusion that you could reasonably come to is that person is just being malicious, and doing their best to “blacken” your name.

        Even now Christopher is trying to spin things. See for yourself below: “Mr Davenport’s complaint, however, was that i had somehow touched some nerve or other.” No it wasn’t. His implications were downright deceitful, and that he made them knowing that to be the case – *that* was the source of my complaint.

        Did it “touch a nerve”? No. Why would it? But he wants everyone reading this to think that it did, thereby trying again to form the impression that there is something to what he insinuates. What I *did* think unacceptable was that an elected councillor would stoop to this kind of behaviour and I was concerned that Mr. Hawtree might try similar things against another member of the public, perhaps one (if you’ll forgive the lack of modesty!) not quite as intelligent or articulate as myself.

        Reasoned and intelligent debate about a topic is to be welcomed and encouraged, however, to be colloquial, “making sh*t up” is not.

  39. I have set out in some detail on my site an account of Thursday’s Scrutiny “workshop” for the three-year Libraries Plan, which continues, and which, being chaired by Cllr Vaness Brown continues to make me wonder about her part in – and attitude towards – the Weatherley affair. She was evasive at the meeting, something woolly about “that’s politics”, but, according to Mr Nemeth, she will be speaking about “Hawtree cuts” at the Full Council.

    Which sits very oddly with that “workshop”, where she praised Sally McMahon for her handling of the libraries in these times (Government funding cuts of a third): all libraries remain open, Woodingdean gains a new one, and, for me, a delight is that stock will be made a top priority: more, and better, stock provides a solid basis for library growth. I likened it to Dockerills or the Nut and Bolt Store: being able to go in and, sure that the item will be in stock, buy two or three, or a gross, and be regarded in the same way. If, in the face of the Tory/LibDem coalition’s cutting of Council funding by a third, the libraries continue with a reduction of 4%, as a Council offset said when I asked for a clear figure. In these times, that is pretty good – contrast Brent, and many other places in the country. As i say, the new emphasis upon stock – in response to continued public comment which I have certainly encouraged these past eight years – is something by which I feel heartened.

    This is all detail, something lacking in Mr Weatherley’s press release.

    In fact, the situation has worsened overnight. it turns out that he has been e-mailing that mendacious screed to residents as is.

    I await Cllr Vanessa Brown’s comments with keen interest.

    Library matters have a habit of leaping from the short-story shelves to the epic, and it looks as if this one will keep on going.

    As for Mr Davenport, he sent a Complaint to the Standards Board after he had written a letter to the Argus about my identity, and i had banteringly ended my reply by pointing out that he had… changed his surname. No big deal, I thought. Mr Davenport’s complaint, however, was that i had somehow touched some nerve or other. He could have clarified the situation with a letter to the Argus. In fact, the Standards complaint did not go anywhere: the panel to which Mr Davenport refers will be attended by all Councillors, a routine gathering for which no date has yet been set. In the meanwhile, I must say that I would certainly not write in the “Nurse Ratched…. take the pills” tone that Mr Davenport has used elsewhere in these comments.

    Contrary to Mr Weatherley’s assertion, I shall not be changing my name to Cllr Beeching.

    • More spin from Christopher Hawtree. He did not ‘benignly’ just mention that I had changed my surname – he implied that I had engaged in a complete change of identity (something very different), and furthermore implied that my previous surname was also some sort of alias. He’s not an idiot and he knows how the English language works. He knew why I had changed my name to my family name – purely benign reasons – and we had even discussed the matter at a council meeting. His letter was pure malevolence. Furthermore to accuse others of multiple identities or changes in identity is somewhat rich from someone with a whole series of different identities on the web (as Mr. Hawtree has).

      To try and imply that I have been equally malicious to him is absurd. My references on here to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” or “The Wizard of Oz” are reaction to his ‘mad’ defence of the Green performance in Westbourne. To the statements themselves, not the person making them. This is a far cry from Mr. Hawtree’s ad hominem attack on me, employing unpleasant insinuation.

      As for his claim that the Standards Board complaint “did not go anywhere” I was informed that a meeting had taken place and that, as a result of their deliberations, he had been ordered to attend a training session. As you suggesting, Christopher, that you have NOT attended such a session as a result of this complaint? Are you saying that the council have lied to me and covered things up? That would make for a fine story!

      • No, I am simply saying that it is to be a routine meeting of all councillors, nobody in particular, and has not yet been scheduled. As for the family bit about the name change, i do not recall any mention of this at a Council meeting, and have no idea of what the details might be. If this is such a burning issue for Mr Davenport, that is unfortunate, but I doubt that any Argus reader was any the wiser than myself, and therefore any attempt at insinuation would have been futile.

        I remember the letter now. it was perhaps the first Argus one to mention Pessoa and his heteronyms.

        I have a website but no web aliases.personae/herteronyms: too busy being myself

      • This is most fascinating. So, Chris, you seem to be saying that there has been no meeting about it, and by virtue of that, no resolution has been taken. This is in direct conflict with what I was told by the responsible council department. They said that a) there had been in a meeting about it and b) as a result of that meeting you were required to attend a training session. Who is telling the truth?

        On the issue of other personas, would you kind enough to confirm that you have never posted under the names “Infinite Poppadum” or “Control Panel” (to name but two) on the Brighton Livewire forum?

    • All this talk of name changes reminds me that I believe I am correct in saying that Caroline Lucas’s birth was registered as ‘Carol (Patricia) Lucas, a name she is apparently not over fond of, so changed to something more of her liking. This is pretty common, my daughter has just been discussing what variant of her name she will be using at university next year.

      • Beware, your right to be called whatever you please is under constant pressure from the creeping tendrils of the state.

        Commonly called by a nickname/contraction? Try paying in a cheque, or even opening an account…

        Nonsense relating to ID cards has been arrested, but not reversed.

        “Every … Labour government has encroached upon the liberty of the individual citizen. Every subsequent Conservative government has failed to do more than only marginally restore it.”

        As someone said in 1977 at the peak of their mental powers (as it now transpires).

      • Friday’s Guardian had a piece about the names that are forbidden in New Zealand. Over there you cannot name a child Justice, for example.

        There is that social commentator who, for some reason, named himself Perri 6.

    • The confusion in this seems to come from Councillor Hawtree’s strange use of the word “panel” as opposed to “meeting”. So yes there was a scrutiny “panel” and they decided that he needed to attend a training “meeting” (not a “panel”). Still fail to see how he feels that this has ‘come to nothing’. Any other attendees will be there of their own free will – Councillor Hawtree is required to attend.

  40. As we are now starting to open our souls on the BPB, I thought I’d have a go – as it does help to shed some light on the current discussion.

    I am sorry to get all highbrow, but the very nature of our existence depends not only on the physical world our forbearers have bequeathed us, but also, crucially, their morals, traditions and institutions.

    It is well known within the council that my sartorial elegance is often not what others would expect of a city councillor (a Facebook search will find me meeting DC wearing shorts and loud shirt – he made a good joke about it and wasn’t at all offended), but when I attend Full Council, I try to look as smart as possible, for one with such ‘big bones’, although I do occasionally wear a ‘bright’ tie, in an attempt to make a statement. I make an effort to show some respect, because not only is the Mayor running the show, but I feel the need to show some respect for the institution of Council.

    Cllr Hawtree wears ‘colourful’ clothing, I believe,almost as a mark of disrespect. (By the way, I will always defend his right to do so).

    At one meeting, he happened to be standing in a doorway, that I was invited to step through by my ‘Hangleton Twin’ Dawn Barnett, and I simply responded that I couldn’t because ‘Coco the Clown’ was in the way. No reference was made to Cllr Hawtree, but he must have made the link between his dress sense and the institution of ‘Clowning’.

    Cllr Hawtree has spun this incident out of all proportion (and moaned about me for ages – thanks for the publicity Christopher), and I am afraid that I can no longer trust anything that he does or says.

    Another cliché – He who lives by the Sword …………

    • It’s the Clowns shoes! you’re insinuating they leave a larger carbon footprint- I still don’t believe Cllr hawtree is genuinely upset by that comment,in Christophers shoes I would have laughed it off and asked to loan a few ties from a certain tory Cllr!

    • I am rather more concerned about libraries than I am Cllr Janio but, as i recall, he made the remark to me while i was talking with Leo who has mentioned it subsequently.

      Until now, I was unaware that Cllr Janio was referring to whatever it was that I was wearing. My mind was on the meeting. I should have thought that my wardrobe is less colourful than that sported by some of Cllr Janio’s party, whose penchant for red makes me wonder whether they are switching to Labour.

      Certainly his Stars and Stripes kipper-tie might have him barred from less democratic establishments than the Council chamber.

      Be that as it may, in a spirit of cross-party working, i am now willing to lend him a black tie – with white skulls upon it, which I found on a Broadway stall and wore to a Hallowe’en party and always thought could find a new use.

      A pretty clownish comment, perhaps, but – well, talking of skulls, I look forward to Cllr Janio’s views upon the narrative structure of Hamlet, a long play which is shorter than a Full Council meeting

      For the record, I wore a brown jumper and Armani jeans to the Library Plan “workshop”. These kept their shape despite then weight of books in my bag.

      Never were my clothes criticised on hundreds and hundreds of Central doorsteps.

      This blog is certainly getting surreal.

    • I agree that all councillors should turn up for Committee, Cabinet and Full Council meetings looking serious and soberly well-attired, ‘in role’ as councillors and not just in any old street clothes. It signals that you are doing something ‘other’ and it has ritual significance that messages gravitas to the public if councillors look dignified and a bit dressed up like they feel they are doing something significant and responsible and not just having a yah, boo sucks day at the Forum.

      One or two of the Tory ladies wear dressy statement colours which look good on the webcam. But somehow a statement colour on a man (Bright yellow jumper at Brighton full council, Christopher) comes across as rebellious and defiantly individualistic – but not, as you would perhaps have it, Cllr Janio, as conscious disrespect for the office and the chamber.

      There is a huge psychological significance in not bending the knee, so to speak, where dressing for the Chamber is concerned. There is a certain defiance and middle-finger quality to dressing down for the Chamber. For some it will reflect a ‘right-on’ mindset. For others it will be about saying that they may be in a bureaucratic setting, but they are damned if they will be seen as bureaucrats. And then there is the self-consciously ‘arty’ statement-dressing game. Clothes message loudly.

      Rightly or wrongly I take a man in a suit more seriously in there and the best dressed councillor de nos jours is probably Geoffrey Bowden. And in my mind there is a dress code that should apply, however voluntarily adopted.

      How would anyone feel if John Barradell turned up in shabby, creased trackie bottoms and trainers or looking like a builder? Why should a councillor be any different or freed from the need to dress the part of ‘councllor’.

      As a Group, however, I think the Conservatives dress the most appropriately at Council meetings and I for one appreciate it. Pity that is as good as it gets.

      • Bobby Short, often voted one of the best-dressed men in America, remarked one day that a suit hangs well on me. I had forgotten that until this blog took this turn. i replied that he wore casual clothes to better effect than those who have consciously tried to dress up to the nines. Which also reminds me: I still have the fine coat, bought for twenty pounds in a charity shop, which led a check-in to assume I was travelling first class (tho’ I didn’t get that upgrade).

        Now, don’t get me started on the mysteries of the sock drawer.

  41. Many years ago I refused to shake hands with the then tory MP Andrew Bowden. At the time I was a Labour activist/councillor. Politics can give you a very one-dimensional view of the world, where you cannot think kindly of opponents and see conspiracies where none exist.

    Being tribal in loyalty is to take a Taylorist approach to politics,ie there is only one best way. That can make you insensible to others and pursue your views at the expense of parodying others and undermining their political credibility through personal villification.

    BPB you are right to be questioning of whether to continue when you see personal villification but do not throw out the baby with the bath water-as other bloggers have stated.

    If Cllr Hawtree makes his case and gets a fair press that is the best answer to personal attacks from the Hove MP and others.

  42. Zombie is right. I had thought that free and fair discussion was the order of the day, in these times. I was up for that. The very opposite – with Mike Weatherley’s press release/e-mail to residents about Beeching etc – is deeply shocking. I feel sure that he has created special damage for the Conservatives.

    By contrast, as I described on my site, when writing about the Pavilion and Madelaine Peyroux, I can speak happily with each Labour councillor.

    Louisa Greenbaum was round here just now to collect some things – and to lend me The Thick Of It – and she said well done over Weatherley hoo-ha: shows you’re human. And that chimes with talk throughout Hove this afternoon. People are shocked at his oafishness when I describe the situation. And of course I liked the bit in one shop on Thursday when somebody said, “who’s Mike Weatherley? Never heard of him, but I know you!”

    As Louisa said, Weatherley’s press release smacks of desperation. It’s becoming clear that he will lose the seat. The data show that Hove is not Tory. I have written before about the underlying trend, and i stand by that.

    A call from Ollie confirms Liz’s report of amazingly unpleasant scenes at budget Scrutiny on Friday by Tories, so much so that it did not feel like Scrutiny at all. While Gill Mitchell was civil at it. Another one tomorrow. I said, jeez, this makes Thursday’s library workshop seem like a novel by Thomas Love Peacock.

    Wild times.

    Seems to me that Mike Weatherley’s press release has fomented much else.

    Who will play him, and Vanessa Brown, in the Brighton and Hove version of The Thick of it? Perhaps there should be the take on it that Todd Haynes brought to his view of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. Very Brighton. And if I had to have one Dylan song it would be “I’m Not There”: the masterpiece.

    • Reading this, replete with the usual regaling about the people you bump into and who all think you’re wonderful whilst they simultaneously (and conveniently) hate the people you dislike, surely you would favour The Archies?

      “I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning
      Like a whirlpool, it never ends”


      • I prefer “Brown Sugar”, and right now it does take something to type that adjective.

        I have always described things as they strike me (without giving too much away). Read my piece on Jane Jacobs. She knew how to do it.

        And, hey, I did top the poll. News of which first reached me from Andrew Wealls, at which moment Rob said, “that’s the first time i’ve seen you speechless, Chris!”

        I liked the bit when the Chief Executive, with a twinkle, said something about he was reading out the right result.

        As for Bob D, he is not fazed by anything about changing his name. Same goes for Michael Caine and Cary Grant. Bob D also calls himself Jack Frost. and sometimes took the surname Grunt.

        Top session musicians chose to call themselves The Archies.

      • Chris, what it certainly smacks of is anything but desperation, it does however smack of a Brighton Conservative fightback. They want central Hove back! You are standing in the way of this. You quit and call a by election and the Tories will win it. Greens got lucky because the voters saw you as a fresh start. Now… well its not really all gone you’re way has it.

        They want a by election, this is all.

      • I’ll take your defence of famous people using different personas as a response to the question I posed, and a tacit acceptance that, in something of a shift from your previous statement, you DO in fact post under other names on the internet. Of course I must confess to knowing the answer (and the intimate details!) before I asked the question.

        Now that we have that out in the open, let me explain to you, Chris, why I doubted your various claims of widespread support from people in Central Hove, how they all know who you are and adore you, how they all dislike everyone you have taken a dislike to etc. etc. etc.

        Your “personas” are littered around the Brighton Livewire Forum and The Argus comments, and …. THEY TALK TO EACH OTHER! It’s hilarious. You seem to post under one and make a point, and then another pops up to agree with the first one!

        This, sir, is the very definition of spin.

        Care to comment Christopher?!

  43. “Only in Brighton” – the term my friends from around the country have echoed at the election of a Green MP and council.

    You realise that the rest of the country is taking the piss out of us right? Now I know there are a few good greens, one in particular so I am not having a go. But if the rest of the country could get hold of this weird bickering that councillors are doing among themselves, they would have a go at me even more for being from Brighton!!!

    So please guys, for my sake, stop this. Debate in the council.

  44. Damn, I go away for one weekend and there’s over 100 replies to this blog!

    I think I need a sedative.

  45. Weatherly is undoubtedly a politcal thug – but so what? More people voted for him than any other candidate…

    The day before the 2010 election, a number of people received a letter from him including a letter from ‘the former UKIP candidate’ endorsing him for the election. It wasn’t clear how many people it was sent to, nor how he came about their addresses, the police declined to ask him as ‘he is now an MP and a busy man’.

    He wants to wear a T-Shirt while sitting in the House of Commons.

    (deleted by the Blogger)

    But he got the votes…

    Note from BPB: Please note that I have removed a sentence from this comment as it contained an insinuation about conduct in his personal life that cannot be justified.

    • Very interesting, Mr Perrin. How long until Mr Weatherley wants to take the New Labour approach of “drawing a line under this”?

      • Draw a line under what? Its the way he is, it seems to work for him.

        And being a thug doesn’t automatically make him wrong (he often is wrong, but that can be for all kinds of reasons).

        And you may be passionate about your image of libraries, but it doesn’t seem to chime with mine…

      • ps. just to clarify I don’t rate Brighton/Hove libraries as they are, and don’t see the proposed changes as improving them either… Bassam is correct in saying the Council needs to be radical if it is to be anything – but Brightons ConLabGrns have all shown themselves to be ‘fiddlers’ and ‘tweakers’ without a radical bone in their bodies…

    • BPB!!!!! THERE you are….I thought we’d lost you…

    • I take it you mean you can’t justify the story being included in your blog, rather than suggesting that I wrote something that cannot be supported? And will modify your comment to make that clear?

  46. Chris

    You’re making stuff up – I haven’t said anything about Cllr Vanessa Brown mentioning “Hawtree cuts”. Stick with the facts please.

    You are taking the heat for these sweeping cuts because of the way in which you treated people when you campaigned other parties, but principally Labour when Sue John was in office.

    I am sure that you must have toyed with the idea of resignation when your team began cutting library services. It really is a case of gamekeeper turning poacher.

    • You mentioned “Hawtree cuts” in the same announcement here as Cllr Vanessa Brown’s imminent Question (to which she knows the answer as she was at the meeting – where she praised Sally McMahon’s proposed budget and Plan).

      The simple fact is that the Dr Beeching of libraries a job-share – between Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt.

      The catalogue of savage Tory library cuts is extraordinary, and one Council had to back down after a lawsuit.

      Far from “sweeping”, what is proposed in Hove and Brighton is – in these times – not only as modest as possible but leaves opportunity for growth. If you want “sweeping”, please consider, amongst dozens of Tory councils, Buckinghamshire and Surrey (where the LibDems are furious…).

      As I have said before, the fact that book stocks will be made a top priority heartens me. Something for which I have long campaigned, backed up by every public survey.This means that libraries should grow. More on that anon.

      Meanwhile there is yet to be an answer to a crucial question. Was Councillor Vanessa Brown privy to Mr Weatherley’s press release/e-mail and its being issued a day before a crucial discussion? if so, that is deplorable. If not, why was he acting without reference to the key Opposition councillor for this subject?

      And now the controversy is receiving many national “hits”.

      • OH-ooooooooooooo! Blown it out everywhere, have you? Wonder what ‘Call-me-Dave’ thinks of it.

    • Robert, I think the moment for tipping CH into resigning has now passed…and it is inefficient thinking to wistfully hope it can be conjured now.

  47. As a testament to which side the personal nastiness is coming from in this debate, cast your mind back to the revelations concerning Mike Weatherley’s wife shortly after the general election. The press whirred into action, but there were no jibes or cheap shots from the Greens or Labour over what was eminently a personal issue. They were mature enough to just ignore it and get on with their work.

    Contrast that to casual oafish references to the “Communist Green Party”, press releases riddled with half-truths, and attacks on the personal integrity of Cllr. Hawtree and it’s fairly clear that the blue corner the main source of political thuggery in Brighton and Hove.

    • ouch…………!

    • You know, this is just such a great post that it should stand as The Last Word on this subject and as the best way of explaining to the MW camp just where and why there is a line you just don’t cross – especially if you are an MP who (presumably) wants to be well thought of, trusted and returned to office.

      • BPB doesn’t want specific details here, which is fine – its his/her blog.

        But suggesting that an MP should not ‘cross the line’ because otherwise their past may be dragged up, is, to my mind, entirely the *wrong* reasons to not cross a line. It would be little short of conspiracy.

        The MPs expenses scandal appears to have been based on no-one telling on anyone else because they were in it too…

      • Ever heard of the word metaphor, Paul? Your post misreads mine 1,000%. Can you not see the post by Jon as a ‘for example’ illustration of bad practice, as a parallel example…..

      • Put more simply, Paul. Jon is suggesting “live by the sword, die by the sword” and commenting that Greens and Labour understood that there was a line they were not prepared to cross because the publicity about Mike’s wife was not about political issues and not something to be condoned or dignified with cluckings. Also saying that you should perhaps “do unto others as you would be done to”….even in politics.

  48. I can’t quite believe the Greens have the audacity to harp on about Mike Weatherley making things “personal”.

    If you want to talk about being personal, let’s take a look at Chris Hawtree’s blog post about Mike, shall we?

    It’s absolutely riddled with personal remarks. Hypocrisy is rife!

    • BPB, have you now decided to continue writing your blog? The number of comments here shows that there is a demand. Perhaps as one contributor previously mentioned, the facility to moderate inappropriate posts would be useful, but that could be awkward. Maybe a few ground rules as a reminder at the front of each blog and a bit more policing would suffice.

    • I cannot make personal remarks about Mr Weatherley as I do not know him. Though people say that it has some rather better jokes than his “Dr Beeching” sneer.

      However, I am thinking that this evening, on the BPB, I shall write something about my extraordinary series of meetings with “Mr Weatherley”.

      That is, once I have had further thoughts about the Planning agenda because, of course, life goes on. You might not think that buildings can answer back, but i rather think they do.

      I rather think that Mr Weatherley should have realised that Libraries matters have a habit of going on and on. Many of those children who counted the 5000 SAVE HOVE LIBRARY posters will be able to vote in 2015.

      • If, of course, these children who went around counting thousands of Save Hove Library posters full of wonderment are real.

        Do please address my posting from last night – I’d be fascinated to know the answer: why, Chris, are your various identities around the web having discussions with each other? It does seem rather odd (to say the least!) …

        Perhaps we could have a show of hands on this thread – is anyone else Christopher Hawtree, except for er … Christopher Hawtree?!

    • I would hope Mike would hoe his own furrow and not take his cue from CH. You think CH is out of order. So you should also think that similar behaviour from the MP is out of order. Two wrongs do not make a right. No wrong should be emulated or gone ‘one better’.

  49. As remarked yesterday, or the day before,. I do not have web aliases. I am too busy being me.

    • So I guess that’s a politician’s answer meaning, “I do have lots of web aliases, but I haven’t *used* them for a while. I don’t have any plans to use them at the moment, so it is perfectly valid for me to say “I do not have any web aliases”.”

  50. Just this morning as I tripped happily through the glistening streets of Central Hove, drinking in the positively Batesian sunshine and trying gamely to avoid the grateful children scattering rose petals at my feet I was only mildly surprised to hear the steadily growing hum of residents’ voices venting their dismay at the vile, mendacious, thuggish pronouncements lately emanating from the House of Commons, SW1.

    At each door upon which I ventured a fluttersome knock I was gratified to receive, between the offerings of warm croissants and piping coffee, kind approbations of my courageous stand and outright praise of my ceaseless efforts to ensure sufficient stocks of Cookson, Dostoevsky, Archer et al to see my adoring electorate through the shrill winter months ahead.

    I think it was Phil Spector, or perhaps the more prosaic (yet still gratifyingly obscure) Bachman Turner Overdrive, who opined ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet’. Wise words from young Randy Bachman and ones my opponents, both future and erstwhile, would do well to remember.

  51. i am writing my piece about the meetings with Mike Weatherley on my own site, usefully publicised above by “Tell Me Momma” Bates.

  52. I can’t of course say too much, but a couple of snapshots.

    Today’s Planning Committee. Cllr Vanessa Brown came along to speak against an Application in Hove Park for which, as it turned out, there was a majority in favour (I think that some of her party abstained) . That is not the point. Her letter of objection was signed by her as “Cabinet Member for Children and Young People”, and dated November. After asking her a question or two, i then drew her attention to this and mock-congratulated her on joining the Green Party, at which she had the grace to laugh (and blamed the computer) while her party’s members on the Committee shrieked “never!”

    Bill deputised on the Committee, and was very good, After the meeting there was three hours’ discussion in nearby – er – premises, and that was very rewarding. (I often think that such informal talk is the most productive.) Most interestingly, no sooner had he left, and others arrived, and i was about to leave than there appeared Planning Committee Member Lynda Hyde with a friend. I said to them that I could not stay, that “ahem, I feel a bit under the weatherley”. Not the world’s greatest joke, perhaps, but it brought an immediate guffaw from them.

    I can only wonder what the Leader of the Conservative Party, Geoffrey Theobald, will make of the local uproar when he and Carol get back from a sojourn in the South African sun.

    I like Geoffrey. I shall always treasure our banter early that morning in May 2010 when I cycled from Hove to Patcham to be ready for telling as the doors opened at 7am, and he arrived, by car, from much closer but was fifteen minutes late (typical Geoffrey, I learn). The whole thing was worth it for me when somebody arrived to vote, saw my rosette and declared, “I’m voting for you, mate! Up the revolution!” Geoffrey’s face said this isn’t meant to be happening, this is Patcham… I told Caroline about this, in the middle of the night at the Brighton Centre count sixteen hours later, when she had doubts, and her face brightened. And I was right.

    All of which is to say that I think there is a divide between Mr Weatherley and the local Conservatives. My inference is that he, or his minions, has made difficulties for them.

    • Christopher.

      You are so funny. And, of course, quite deluded.

      Let me state this as plainly as I can. I have never heard a single Member of The Federation of Brighton Pavilion and Hove & Portslade Conservatives say a bad word about Mike Weatherley in the 20 months he has been the MP for Hove and Portslade. Actually, because Mike is a ‘real person’, rather than a ‘Dogmatic Doyenne’, we think he is great. And, of course, he has been able to notch up some stunning achievements. In Pavilion, I hear, the Green Party have available for sale the smallest book in the world – ‘Caroline – My Achievements So Far’. So, sorry Christopher, no splits to report in the Conservative ranks – honest!

      Where shall we start with the Green Party splits ………..

      Now to Planning. I urge caution here. Remember Planning is not whipped. You state ‘(I think that some of her party abstained)’’. This is quite dangerous talk, as I am able to infer from this that the Green Party reach a ‘consensus’ over planning decisions, before the committee meetings. Would you like to comment on this?

      Lastly Christopher (and I am sorry fellow Bloggers if I have come to this rather late), that great philosophical construct, McFly, probably had you in mind when they wrote – ‘It’s all about you’. Everything you write, Christopher, is about you. Unless, of course, you are belittling those of us who are neither as well educated nor as erudite as The Great Christopher Hawtree.

      That was always the thing about Marxists – they knew they were better that the rest of us. Oh – but of course they weren’t.

      • Cllr Janio,

        I do not think that i am erudite, and i do not know why you make such an assertion (flattering as it is): that would be a fatal assumption: seems to me that every day is a matter of learning – not least in the mysterious ways of local government, and I am much enjoy conversations with Council officers of all kinds: a whole new world to me.

        I simply pointed out – in a post that was meant to bring some humour to this saga – that, at the Planning meeting, members indeed voted in various ways, as they always do. The Greens are most certainly not whipped. None of us discusses it with the others, until afterwards perhaps. That is evident from the way in which the voting goes, if you look it up. Most memorable for me perhaps was the occasion when, against the recommendation, Cllr Cobb and myself voted for residents to be allowed to keep a roof garden and improve a balcony while the other ten abstained. (I think more can be made of roofs but that’s another subject.) I think that Cllr Brown was sporting in laughing at my suggestion, on the evidence in front of me, that she had joined the Green Party.

        If Mr Weatherley is held in the esteem you claim, then it is all the more surprising that he issued a press release / e-mail full of bile, empty of substance. I continue to think it wildly misjudged, as do so many others. While some here sneer, the fact is that one is elected by dint of talking with many people, of all sorts and interests, and that is very enjoyable: this means that since May in walking around and looking in shops, all manner of talk ensues, people come up: this past week I have found continual astonishment that an MP should act in such a way. But there it is, i cannot repine but instead get used to the way of that particular world.Shucks.

        All this made me wonder for a moment whether we had been naive in issuing a draft Budget three months before the matter is settled. The idea, of course, was to bring debate, a chipping in of ideas to boost Brighton and Hove in these times. (A far cry from the short notice of your Budget last year.) Of course, in the event, it has brought such flak as Mr Weatherley’s press release / e-mail but, as I think about it, I feel sure that the underlying mood is a recognition that the Green Party has done the right thing in this. Back in the cold of early December, Ruth and I were struck by the interest shown when we were on a stall with details about the Budget. We had both felt trepidation about what would happen but, hours later, were heartened.

        Interestingly, the Labour Party has not gone in for the jibes about Libraries favoured by Mr Weatherley. Indeed Gill Mitchell offered some ideas at Scrutiny this week, and last week – at the “workshop” – Leigh Farrow was often chiming with the remarks by Bill, Lizzie, Geoffrey and myself; and us with him.

        Enough! I’m going to watch The Thick of It.

        Apart, Cllr Janio, from adding that I thought your comment far more interesting than “the Argus readers” tone elsewhere apparent on this this byte-hungry saga. We might yet find the casting vote remained a tie-breaker.

    • “My inference is that he, or his minions, has made difficulties for them.”

      Minions? Come now, Christopher, I thought we weren’t meant to be personal! I guess the blogger should change my moniker to Minion Grizzly from now on…

  53. Before this slips back into ‘being nasty to hawtree’ (deserved or otherwise)…

    I see there are government grants available for large cities to develop high speed internet access. The city has a thriving and energetic new IT and new-media sector (web/internet development) which would undoubtedly benefit from city wide high-speed internet.

    While anything the government has to do with the internet (or technology generally… or anything really) is usually an almighty cock up, if this is has no strings attached it would be a shame to miss out.

    However, our city is not quite big enough to bid for this funding. Ms Lucas has highlighted this and is organising a delegation to plead Brighton as a special case – further she has asked the citys two other MPs (Weatherly and Kirby) if they would support this… It will be interesting to see if they can all put the city before politics and work together on this (or if the tories, can just pull some government strings and get it delivered!).

    I dread to think what may happen if this involves the council at all(!).

    • I am doing my very best to argue that Brighton and Hove should be an exception despite its relative small population. High(est) speed broadband would help many of our local businesses.

      For the record: I will be working with both Mike Weatherley and Caroline Lucas to do what’s best for everyone in the City.

      I stood for election to be a strong voice for our area in Westminster and always do my utmost to represent all of my constituents, regardless of how they vote.

  54. Well I am glad the other MP’s got their support on record before the whole Argus/Caroline Lucas road-show got going.

    Getting a branded band-wagon moving is a certain way to alienate other MPs.

  55. Bored, can’t sleep (thanks student party next door) but have until now resisted joning in BUT….as BPB stated at the start of this topic (and quoting me quoting Tony Benn), where are the policy issues here? If you’re only obsessed with personality he said/she said stufff, fuck off and watch EastEnders – it’s probably more your level.

    If you are really interested in what will affect the people we should be privileged to serve, then ask yourself why, despite the savage Con-Dem cuts, the Greens are proposing to inflict a 3.5% Council Tax rise whilst turning down a £2.5 million grant from the Government if they freeze Council Tax.. If they did, then cuts to frontline services are only 1%. Why would you inflict more deeper, more savage cuts than necessary unless you can’t/won’t compromise and want those vulnerable groups of people you pretend to support to suffer more to fit your ideology? I await the usual “You invaded Iraq/betrayed the working class/split to join the People’s Front of Judea” bollocks which avoids answering the question. Politics is, in part, the art of negotiation and compromoise and from my experience there are only 3 Greens who are adult and not student amateurs (Oh no, a personal insult – you hypocrite Turton!) who can do it. Without Bill Randall and Amy Kennedy (and Geoffrey Bowden too busy), the Greens have nobody who can do clever politics. Discuss. (oh, and obviously any Greens please DO make a point of drawing everyone’s attention yo my hypocrisy)!

  56. It’s become a saga, Cllr Hawtree entered the Politics game a world of deception and coups. And whether you want to play or not, you’re in the game.
    It takes at least two people for a lie to be effective—one to offer the lie and one to believe it. And while we certainly can’t stop people from trying to lie to us, we can keep them from being successful which is what has happened with the MP for Hove making press releases and highlighting the changes in the Greens as they move forward..if the current administration as whole isn’t left of “Red Ed’s”Labour?..then where are they?.
    And forget the spiel about Trees, Wind Farms and saving Whales..I give far more to the Sea Shepherd organisation then they do.
    Isn’t the true underlying issue here that the Greens lost a By-Election many (including myself) thought they stood a real chance of winning and they now know they may be unintentionally scuttling their ship with the help of Mr Weatherley reporting the events as they happen.

  57. BPB – 176 comments is surely enough – we are now going round in circles and need saving from ourselves. I await your take on the prolonged exchanges, and hope we can move on to new concerns.

  58. It might be worth pointing out that today’s article on libraries in the Argus has startling inaccuracies, which it will correct. Such as Jubilee opening hours.

    Meanwhile, the Ghost returns to Westbourne. Surely, even the result as it stands, without the sub-plot, shows that Hove is not Tory. I maintain that if Mr Weatherley continues in the way that he is doing over this Libraries saga, he will do himself no favours with the electorate. Last May, after the Election, Cllr Wealls put out a letter to residents which was fairly graceful – although one could detect an undertow of surprise at losing a seat – and I think that letter at odds with the turn to events which is Mr Weatherley’s press release / e-mail.

    Of course, nothing is complete without couture commentary. At the Planning meeting on Wednesday, Bill was sporting denim trousers and denim shirt. The walls did not fall down (unlike the Sackville Hotel).

  59. At last I shall comment now that I have initiated the public consultation on the Green administration’s budget proposals for the city’s library services. Mike Weatherly’s unjust and undignified personal attack on Christopher Hawtree was inaccurate on so many fronts one hardly knows where to begin. Christopher is not responsible for any cuts. The coalition certainly is – £17 million worth of them.

    Christopher is not the decision-maker on libraries in the city, that responsibility falls on my shoulders and if the MP for Hove has any manners or honour he would apologise for the unwarranted personal attack on an honest and hard working champion of the library cause.

    As Mike Weatherly will discover when the library consultation starts on Monday:

    – all Brighton & Hove’s 14 libraries are staying open
    – only two are having minor adjustments to their opening hours
    – the flagship Jubilee Library’s hours are NOT being reduced as inaccurately reported in the Argus today. We are listening to library users and adding an hour on Sunday opening times, while reducing by an hour on Thursday evenings because the stats show its less popular
    – we are proposing to end the mobile library service, because the vehicle is old and getting increasingly expensive to run (£77k and rising) and we simply can’t afford the £120,000 replacement costs. More tellingly though is the startling fact nearly 70% of registered mobile library users are already signed up and happily visiting to static libraries. Of the remainder there are just 3 who are housebound. For them and those who find it difficult to get to libraries our excellent Home Delivery Service will continue
    – the RNIB subscription service is being replaced by a free service from the charity Calibre Audio Library, together with implementation of the national Six Steps initiative, to ensure that users with visual impairment do not suffer in the provision of services
    – as a result of Christopher Hawtree’s contribution to the Culture Scrutiny committee’s recent workshop that is feeding into the on-going development of the three year library strategy, expanding the book stock will be high up on the priority list

    If readers of this blog wish to contribute to the consultation, visit the council’s consultation portal.

    • You say

      “Christopher is not the decision-maker on libraries in the city, that responsibility falls on my shoulders”

      I say

      As long as Hawtree didn’t campaign on the pretence that he would influence library services that is fine,

      Jubilee library? I have no idea what it is popular or successful for, but it isn’t for its service as a library… It should be closed, then the building could be used for something useful… like a library maybe?

      The UK public elected a UK government who would stop p*ing taxpayers money up the wall – I am sorry if you don’t like it, and you despise the UK public for being sick of their money being wasted – but politicians are there to serve the public, not visa-versa.

      Remembering who you serve would be a very good lesson for Mr Kitcat as he chooses to take money from local residents instead of from central taxes.

      • As Geoffrey says, stock is being made a top priority. I am pleased at this. so much follows from good stock. Look at City Books and the fiction section in Waterstone’s.

    • Geoffrey

      Crikey! I retreat to my slumbers, only to wake to the news that that there must have been a Bolshevik, sorry that should have read Green Party, coup in Brighton and Hove!

      Unless of course ……….

      Budget Council will still be allocating the ‘moolah for stuff’ later in the year, and you haven’t actually made the decision on libraries before the consultation has begun (as I infer from your blog).

      Have a good day Comrade.

      • I am sure that now Ed Balls has backed all of the Chancellor’s spending decisions the BlueLabour love-in in B&H will be putting forward their joint budget proposals with all the city’s services in tact.

        We have published our budget proposals that have been developed with the input of Labour and Tory councillors who all sat in on the Star Chamber process. Those proposals – and that’s what they still are – we’re deliberately published well in advance to give the public and other political parties (yours included) the opportunity to put forward their ideas and alternative spending plans – its called the Open Book approach. Contrast this with the last Tory administration’s approach of keeping everything close to their chests till about a week before budget setting.

        I am certain that there will be changes to the proposals. We are a minority administration and if Tories and Labour decide to vote together to overturn our proposals then the voters will know where to lay the blame if vital services, such libraries suddenly start disappearing. Tory and Labour controlled local authorities up and down the land are closing their libraries with gusto in order to balance the books. Our proposals combine efficiencies to enable us to meet stringent budgetary targets and yet continue to provide Brighton and Hove with an excellent service where virtually everyone has a library within walking distance and library services continuing to be available seven days a week.

        Oh and while I’m on the question of libraries a Green administration has found half a million quid in a really difficult economic climate to build a brand new library double the size of the existing ‘temporary’ one in the Tory-controlled ward of Woodingdean. Your lot and previous Labour administrations failed to solve that little problem – even though you both had 50 years to come up with a solution. Greens embraced the challenge to provide the ward councillors with a result for which they’d worked hard for, but even their own party was unable to deliver when it was in office.

      • Geoffrey

        On the first reading of your last blog, I felt so sad that the Green Party haven’t been running things in Brighton and Hove, and indeed the UK and the World, over the last couple of centuries.

        However, study them in slightly greater detail, and you will start to see the cracks appear.

        There is your ‘Open Book’ approach to budget setting. I am told that this was, in reality, just a ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’ approach, designed to do nothing more that spread the blame around a bit, as your party doesn’t really understand what the hell is going on.

        I admit that The Conservative proposals were a tad late last time (and the next bit may have escaped your notice), but we had a General Election in 2010, and the measures that were needed to save our country from Greek-style ruin (sorry Labour readers, but you did screw things up a bit), meant that we did not know the LA settlement until very late.

        Actually, this is just one more example of how, over the last qazillion years, the Tory/Conservative Party has always had to step up to the mark and sort out the problems left by a previous ruinous Government. And, I fear, this is what we, The Conservatives, will be required to do after four long years of suffering and torment from a Green Administration that has clearly lost the plot.

        And, now I get to the point. The Green party has never actually had to make any decisions before – apart from maybe a decision to ‘hate/not hate’ All Capitalists (which is quite amusing, given the Green Councillor demographics).

        The Green Party has always been able to promise everything, to anybody who would listen, in order to gain seats (a tactic used by the Lib Dems over the years as they, of course, knew that they would NEVER form part of a Government!!). Be honest Geoffrey, you never really expected to get the most seats, and you don’t really know what to do now that you have them.

        Your pressure group turned party, has had to start making a few decisions, and it is finding the art of compromise tough. (I would love to be a fly-on-the-wall in your Group meetings!). This skill can only come from experience. I wonder if, following the next Local Election, the residents of Brighton and Hove will allow you to gain any more experience, given that your policies are actually annoying them quite a bit (list can be provided on demand).

        By the way, to end on a positive note, I am pleased to see that your party has finally abandoned the most cherished of its founding principles, inherited from The Ecology Party, and is now a party of growth. Fantastic! Let’s face it, if you held to the belief that ‘Zero’ or ‘Negative’ growth was desirable (read unemployment and knitting your socks with used spaghetti), then you would never have been elected.

        Indeed, isn’t it time you abandoned several of your other nutty ideas, before it is too late?

        Have a good day.

      • Geoffrey you say:

        “We have published our budget proposals that have been developed with the input of Labour and Tory councillors who all sat in on the Star Chamber process”

        I think one of the things that alienates a lot of people is the pretence that participation in some way implies consent.

        Many people may well have been unwilling to participate in the (poorly attended) ‘public budget consultations’ because they believe that the greens would ignore what they actually said, but then be told that because they had ‘participated’ they are in some way morally obliged to accept the final budget.

        How many people need to say ‘take the freeze grant’ for it to be accepted? How many need to say ‘ditch the strategic directors’? How many need to say ‘Don’t spent £500,000 on a food waste trial?’

        Do the public really have any influence?

        Do the other councillors really have any influence?

      • Tony Janio says the greens are no longer ‘zero growth’.

        Has anyone got a link/reference to this policy change?

        There are plenty of other things to criticize the Greens for, but zero growth has always been one of the easiest – does it still stand or has it been dropped?

      • Oh no! Have I got it wrong? Is The Green Party still a party of Zero Growth? I didn’t read it in their manifesto.

        Geoffrey Bowden – where are you?

    • Aaah, Geoffrey. This is why I think you should be asked to succeed Bill in May (leaving the indispensable Amy and Jason doing what they do).

      I became exhausted and irritated by the scatter-gun press releases being machine-gunned into the saveHOVE inbox. And only six subscribers wanted to have them…others complained angrily. So saveHOVE is coming off mailing lists for them. And even the six who wanted them have come back to me to say they were finding them unhelpful and “not about saving Hove”.

      Press releases are just so last century I’ve decided…

  60. Come on everybody let’s try and get to the magic 200 comments by the end of the weekend. we can do it.

    don’t let that Geoffrey Bowden put you off posting!

  61. On a different subject – can any of the Green Party Councillors reading this, or maybe Caroline herself, explain why the tag line on her web-site is, ‘Caroline Lucas – putting Brighton and Hove first’. I’m not an expert on constituency boundaries, but does she actually represent anyone in Hove?

    • Many think that she does!

      • Chris – I’m sure many people across the country feel that Caroline represents the closest alignment to their political views ( abt 1% according to the GE) but this appears to be much more about fighting the next election and personal ambition rather than being a voice for the City as a whole.

      • But there are the prospective border changes. And, as i said, in Brunswick and Adelaide, when canvassing there for Ollie and Phelim, I found many under the impression that Caroline is their MP – or wished she were.

        Residents’ views can be surprising. Somebody in Loder Road would not vote for Caroline because the Greens support the Pride parade, and she was flabbergasted when I said that all the parties do so. And there was the guy on Mackie Avenue who could not decide between Ukip and the Greens but chose the Greens “because you’ve turned up” – and proceeded to regale me with Patcham stories. Flann O’Brien can seem sombre realism beside all this.

    • “Brighton and Hove”….as in “city” per se?

      • Yes. And she does not represent the city – just Brighton Pavilion. She is merely one of three B&H MPs, despite her self aggrandisement.

      • Yes, it was good fortune that both Kirby and Weatherly had got their support for a Brighton ultra-fast broadband bid so quickly.

        By the time Greens and Argus had started painting it as a Caroline Lucas Bandwagon they were already signed up.

        Her (and the greens) self-seeking, self-promoting, selfishness would have made it very awkward for others to support a change to the bid requirements any later

        This would have been to the detriment of the city – but that clearly is not a concern to the Greens – the city isn’t just Pavilion…

      • Paul – indeed. And then some wonder why no-one wants to share their budget ideas with the Greens and are leaving them to flounder in their own incompetence.

  62. Here’s a link to the article re Green zero growth, if you can understand the gobbledygook content.

    The writer might be an Aussie Green, but I’m sure the Green political sentiment is still there.

    Also, why is The Argus now jumping on the bandwagon to help The Green administration with a, ‘Please help us set the budget because we’re not used to making decisions and don’t want to be blamed for taking your money’ Council Tax/budget survey?

  63. The subject of the finite nature of the earth’s resources deserves serious attention, not scoffing. I’m far from saying the Green party have all the economic answers, but the notion that untramelled growth is not the answer to all our problems has been around for a while, and has sympathisers in other parties too.

    We also have adherents of the party that loves to privatise everything (and create ‘arms length’ bodies to take unpopular decisions) accusing the Greens of abdicating responsibilites because they have sought to engage the public on the budget. Which is a bit rich.

    The idea that the Tories always come into office to ‘sort out the economic mess’ is a pernicious falsehood too. Some examples: Winston Churchill’s return to the gold standard in 1925 left a shafted economy for Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government to inherit in 1929. Edward Heath’s economic policies weren’t a success either. And now it turns out that the Thatcher’s first chancellor favoured ‘managed decline’ for certain key cities of Britian that had the nerve not to vote Conservative. What a shower!

    • Clive

      I know another blog has kicked off, whilst I was out for the day, but, if we are being serious for a brief moment, I would quite like to come back on your last blog.

      If we look at the post WW1 years, there were some catastrophic errors by all parties. I think we can agree on this? Fixed currencies and Gold Standards are not my favourite solutions to economic or financial chaos, and I am sure you can guess where I stand on the UK joining the Euro. However, the National Government of 1931 that ‘saved us’, was essentially a Conservative Government with RM (expelled from Labour, I believe?) sitting in the Big Chair, and one other Labour Member sitting around the Big Table with him.

      Atlee was a wee bit too much ‘taking control (and screwing up) the means of production’ for me, and he did leave a bit of a mess. The Conservatives administered the country during the very successful (you have never had it so good) 1950’s – although I agree they weren’t particularly radical.

      Home, Wilson, Heath, Wilson, Uncle Jim – all complete disasters. But, look what happened in the 1980’s, once dear Margaret assumed the role …….

      Therefore, my point is that whoever messed things up, it has always been The Conservative Party that has had to put things right – and take serious flak for doing so. And, on the subject of Mrs T, I believe, like her, that ‘More Government’ can’t ever be the answer to our problems. She simply got Government out of the way (whilst rightly leaving a massive safety net), and allowed the ‘British People’ to do what they always wanted to do – prosper.

      We can chat about the Major/Blair/Brown years if you like, but can we give it a few years until ‘DC’ and ‘Boy George’ have freed us from the dead-weight of excessive Government.

      • We’re covering a lot of ground here – maybe we should just stick to 1979, which I’m guessing is the transition you were really thinking of when you made your rather sweeping statement. (Speaking of sweeping, do you really think that the four PMs you list were complete and utter disasters? No redeeming features at all?!)

        Anyway, back to Thatch and 1979. Callaghan’s Labour govt are usually portrayed as hopeless for two main reasons: firstly the IMF, loan, in spite of the fact that this was about the sixth such loan this country had had since the war and secondly, the winter of discontent. That’s what really did the damage, and it wasn’t directly their fault – but if they’d gone to the polls in the autumn of 1978 all the evidence is that Labour would have won.

        On Thatcher, the fundamental problem with the vision of her as the modern day Boudicca is this: the prosperity she created was pretty specific to the south-east of England (and only certain social classes within that) and relied heavily on the financial sector. Here are the roots of many of our current problems, from the banking crisis to the shortage of housing and overcrowding in areas like this.

        So maybe she was just a part of the story of British decline as a world power, just like every other post-war prime minister. And what’s more she didn’t really shrink the state either – govt expenditure rose, party owing to all that unemployment benefit shelled out. Far better to have spent the money on paying people to electrify the railways – or whatever.

        Thatcher was lucky too – what with North Sea oil revenues coming on stream to prop up her economic experiment, a divided opposition and a handy war in the South Atlantic. Her ‘success’ – like that of any other politician – is very much in the eye of the beholder.

  64. To bring it one closer to the 200 comments somebody wanted… I have written a piece on my site about “The Mike Weatherley i Know”. Extraordinary story.

  65. Am I the only one puzzled by the Greens’ references to a “Star Chamber” on the budget, and how all political groups were welcomed to give their input etc.? Maybe Geoffrey et al should look at the history of the Court of Star Chamber. Referring to something as a “star chamber” nowadays is to equate it with a kangaroo court – in the Star Chamber there was no right of appeal, no witnesses and intense secrecy. It was used more and more over the years to punish political opponents of the King, until it was done away with in the 17th century. It was, put simply, a tool designed to give the *illusion* of democracy and a fair trial. And Geoffrey is the Green’s cabinet member for “culture” – say wot?!

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