Monday, 4 July 2011

On Lib Dems vs. Independants.

I felt it fitting on the day that celebrates democratic freedom and fighting for a cause you believe in against a larger oppressive force to talk about the Independent party with in Medway and in particular the actions of Councillor Andy Stamp. (pictured)

Now before I start I want to make it clear that I am not a vengeful Lib Dem with a vested interest - I'm relatively new to the Medway "Active" list and so missed the events of last year and I barely know some of the people so my approach is one of a neutral. I also have never had the pleasure of meeting Councillor Stamp, i voted for him in the General Election and saw him at the Local election count in May. I was half a mind to say "Hello" but the obvious mutual loathing for each party put me off, especially as I was wearing a golden yellow tie and a "Lib Dem Candidate" badge!

So- It all began in the wake of the election defeat of 2010 and, according to some reports, were inflamed by Councellor Stamp's failed leadership bid for the Lib Dems in Medway.

It was reported in the KM on June 18th that he had resigned as deputy leader. Councillor Geoff Juby, the Lib Dem group leader said;

I don't think he was too happy with the Lib Dem and Conservative coalition at a national level and he also sited over issues which he did not discuss with me.

These issues were also echoed by Pat Cooper who left the Lib Dems over the U-turn on tuition fees and councillor Burt and Dan MacDonald also left and in May Gillingham North fell from our hands to a full independent team. There was also a move by the party to oust the Lib Dem team from Gillingham south, regular readers may have seen my review of their flyer here;

I have no problem with splitting on principles. In fact I support it. It is bad for the party, obviously and splits the vote- and I would urge disgruntled Liberals to argue and hash out issues at conference rather than just bailing out...

BUTRight, now we get on to the ugly part. Again I am NOT taking slides or saying anything that hasn't been said in the press and I will let the reader decide what to think.

In October 2009 Gillingham South councillor Cathy Sutton's relationship broke down and she had to move out of her ex partner's house very quickly, naturally distraught she turned to her Ward partner Councillor Maureen Ruparel for advice and together they went to see the head of Medway Housing department for advice and help. Councillor Stamp (the third ward partner) felt that this was preferential treatment. At some point after that Councillor Sutton's address was published and her teenage son, naturally angry, blamed Councillor Stamp and was going to pay him a visit, Councillor Ruparel parked outside his house hoping to intercept him before he got to Councillor Stamp.

Still with me?

Right. Councillor Stamp then accused Councillor Ruparel of Intimidation tactics against him. All these actions were not officially reported until September 2010 almost a year later and the results are only just being published.

Sceptics and angry Lib Dems have accused Councillor Stamp of playing a political game to gain points at the Local election in May in which Cathy lost her seat and Maureen declined to stand.
Councillor Stamp argued that he did report it to the Liberal Democrat party in December 2009 and they didn't begin investigating until July 2010 after he had left the party and their results are still not available. There is a very bitter argument on the KM website between Councillor Stamp and Alan Jefferies one of the leading lights in the local Lib Dem party which you can see here;

Another side to the issue is that as the Standards committee were looking into the case all parties had to maintain a media silence and not talk about the case yet Councillor Stamp often talked to the media whilst the accused remained silent.

Right the results of the inquest;

Councillor Sutton did not carry out any wrong doing or seek any preferential help.
Councillor Ruparel, at the age of 70 and who walks with a cane did not pose a threat to a young man in his mid 20's and his two friends.

Both were exonerated.

It was done purely for political gain as he waited nearly a year before putting the complaint in and then, when it looked as though the hearing would be before the local elections, he delayed the process so that it couldn't be heard until it was too late to publish a denial.- Cathy Sutton

Sheer humanity and common sense should have made him compassionate to Cathy's situation instead of causing so much grief to her and her family.  - Maureen Ruparel

Councillor Juby had also stated that Councillor Stamp has slowed down the investigation, wasted tax payers money on a nothing investigation, and taking advantage of the system to score political points.

In Conclusion;

It is a bit of a massive tangled web that has done no one any favours.
I know feelings run deep on both sides and points have been scored and conceeded and two good councillors lost their seats but now both groups need to move on and accept that we both exist and appeal to the same sections of the electorate.

Yes disagree on issues and publically debate policy but we need to get on with the Adult buisness of local government and representing the electorate and play the game like adults, not slinging mud like kids on a playground!

And I'm talking to both sides.

Lets draw a line under it all and move on.

Just to say Thanks to Councillor Tristan Osborne, I used his blog as a starting post for the research for this post. It can be found here ;

This post is also dedicated to the memory of our Hamster Squishy who passed away on 4th July 2011 at two years old.

And low... it continues;

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Chris. Hamster Squishy would be proud!

    I do think it is time to bury hatchet.