Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Boris Island Referendum is a waste of time.

What's this Liberal Democrat opposed to democracy?!?! No wonder their a dead party! Siding with the Tories again? *pah* You've been sucked into the Tory Spin Machine! By siding with them you are condemning us to having the airport...

Right that's got that out the way and none of them are true by the way, I'm sure more criticisms from labour will come my way but I'm allowed to have my opinion and I agree with a lot of what Councillor Mike O’Brien  has said about Labour's proposed referendum.

In a recent Council Cabinet Labour proposed a motion for a local referendum to give local people a say on whether we want a new airport with in spitting distance of the Medway Towns. After a long and mixed discussion it was voted down by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents and since then an online campaign has continued blaming the Tories for blocking democracy and putting the whole "No" campaign in jeopardy.

One of the issues is the cost. Both sides seem to have pulled figures out of thin air when projecting the cost of the election but either way it is an extra burden that the already stretched Medway Tax payer can ill afford. Cllr Osborne is correct the Conservative Council has over spent on many different projects but at the same time we don't have the money now. The Council is looking at closing elderly care homes and cutting back other front line services now, as the Coalition are looking at cutting back subsidies for local authorities and a deficit in Council funds where is this money going to come from?

Coming from someone who supported AV and having looked at the fall out from the Electoral reform society studies I can also agree that running an election and referendum at the same time is a bad idea. The turn out of electorate for the Police Commissioner will be low - after all we didn't even get over 50% of the electorate turn out to vote in Medway's councillors I can't imagine many turning out for the Commissioners - something that only a few politicos really believe (or not) with. I'm not saying that a low turn out election is an invalid election- far from it, I truly believe in democracy and any result that sees those who take an interest in how their area/country is run should be respected but the view in London and in Boris towers might be that if only 30% of Medway bothered to vote yes or no then there is a general feeling of apathy and take that as a "green light."

If they don't care either way we might as well go for it.

You'd probably get a higher turnout if you held it as an apolitical referendum or even postal vote on its own without other party issues - which lets face it, put people of voting, they're sick of this sort of bickering. If it was pitched as on a local vs. National issue with something that directly affects them, you'd get a higher turnout.
The good thing about the referendum, which was not true of AV is that all of the local parties agree that there should be no Airport locally so there will be no voting against a party's stance on the Airport (i.e. people voting yes to the airport just because Nick Clegg and the Lib dems say No.) - we all know this happened at AV. 
The AV referendum also showed that a double count is possible - it takes a long time but it’s possible
The people of Medway have already made themselves clear on this issue so why ask again less than a year later? All four parties that constitute Medway council and also those the other parties like the Greens, UKIP etc. all stand firmly against the airport and have a history of fighting the Cliffe proposals. I'm confident that all of us ran with this stance in the local election and got support from the electorate on this. Further to that - and I can't talk for the other major parties but we have consulted our constituents and they don't want it. Every councillor has been elected from the people for the people to represent the people and so should have already spoken to their constituents and saying "No" because it’s what they know they want. So how can Labour justify spending money and time to find out what we already know?
It may give a stronger message to London that we as a community don't want it but the council already are representing the people's wishes and stance and national Government has to respect that.

In a similar vain whether or not Rodney Chambers is well known nationally or not - he is head of the local Tory party and thus head of the council, with an OBE and has to be acknowledged as that. Also if you are worried that it all sounds a little bit NIMBY and that a small leader of a disaffected council I'll up the anti with.... A deputy Prime Minister, yes that's right Nick Clegg is against it as is our entire parliamentary party, also I'll throw in the RSPB, Greenpeace, councils in Essex and areas in North Kent, Thames Shipping, Pilot unions... if anything we're part of a choir of voices of equal weight, if we stood alone then yes I'd say a referendum would help but now it seems like a wasted exercise.

Also I don't know how much of a real support a referendum has amongst the population of the Medway wielding pitch forks and burning brands and marching on Gun wharf as an oppressed mass.

I'd like to just reiterate that a consultation is not by definition a formality before this Boris' Bond villain lair is built in the estuary. Nor is it a sign that the Government is taking it seriously. If anything the consultation is about Britain's overall aviation policy. It has been acknowledged that Britain is dropping behind European competitors and it would be better for global trade and the economy if a new airport was constructed. Although it has also been pointed out, and I concur, a new airport will take around a decade to construct and expansion of existing facilities would be preferable as it could be done in a few years instead. The best way for Government to lay plans for the future is to hold a consultation on it and get a range of ideas before making a decision.

At the end of it all it doesn't matter what I, Cllr Osborne or Cllr O’Brien think - The council of elected members from across parties voted it down. Democracy has spoken and the suggestion is dead - let’s not use it as a party political stick with which to beat the Tories - Lets move on, drop it and unite for the benefit of the people we represent as ONE. Or face our petty squabbling being a possible undoing of the No campaign.

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