Sunday, 23 December 2012

Personal manifesto and local politics

As 2015 gets closer and the candidate selection process is looked at for the Medway Libdems I am forced to wonder if it is even worthwhile me standing at the next election.

Apart from personal issues such as work, money, family etc there is of course the big question of;

Will I get elected to my ward of choice?

The answer is; Probably Not.

The answer is very predictable because I am a Libdem.

A good chunk of the dislike that will be aimed at us in 2015 is somewhat earnt. Some of the things we have been associated with in the Coalition will damage us, even the bits that aren't our fault or were part of the negotiations between the two parties.

Then of course there is the Tuition fees thing. I admit, freely, the MPs who broke their pledge, and not all Libdem MPs did, should have stuck by what they said.

Medway Labour will no doubt be coming for us and am sure they will be happy to not hide the destinction between the Coalition and the hard work that Councillors Juby, Kearney and Smith have put in for their wards within Medway Council.

The Conservatives, likewise will also be keen to use Labour's deficit and blank paper against them with a quick Can you trust a Libdem?

There is a lot of things that need doing in the Medway towns. Gillingham North & South wards are made up of hard working yet poor people - some of the poorest in Medway. They don't care about a new Bus station, a bridge to nowhere, whether Councillor Chambers should have acted a year ago on Rochester airport, or the state of Chatham. They care about what is available to them, their neighbourhoods, their amenities and their lives.

The other parties often seem to busy bickering among themselves and grand standing over the big things that they forget the small things. ( The criticism that the Libdems spend their time squabbling with the Independent group is rubbish. In all of the exec meetings and sub meetings I attended in 2012 Andy Stamp only ate up thirty minutes - in the Force knows how many hours!)

Medway Council's Conservative administration also seem Chatham-centric with all their work aimed at beautifying Chatham town centre with it's new bus station, Gunwharf quay, work to preserve the high street and even wasting time worrying about the name "Rats bay". In the meantime what does Gillingham get?

Yes, there is the sport facility at Medway park, more Brompton than Gillingham but... There's also the new frontage to the Railway station - that's it.

The roads are still cracked and pot holed, the High street devoid of good shopping, play areas vandalised and still with broken glass over them, heck even the Love Medway app won't work out here having taken a month to clear away debris I reported on it. In the end I contacted a Councillor. These things are not things the ward Councillors can effect on their own but need to be addressed by the Council as a whole, and it is something as a resident I would fight for as a Councillor.

I may not have grown up here but my heart has always been in Gillingham. I go for walks around the ward, make notes and listen to issues. My daughter is at nursery here and by 2015 will be at school here, my wife works here, uses the public transport, shops here and we live here. Improving Gillingham and the Medway towns is at the heart of everything I do and plagues my waking hours. I would work so hard on case work, meetings and fight the resident's corner at every opportunity.

I am not about playing politics or oneupmanship- if I was I'd have taken the easy route and joined Labour or the Conservatives. Politics isn't about the struggle of red over blue and yes even gold, it is about the people, their wants and needs.

As I said at the beginning though, it makes no difference. I am a Libdem, my opponents will sling mud and call on people to judge me on the actions of others and not my own. I am not Nick Clegg, nor am I Danny Alexander or Vince Cable, I am no more culpable for their actions as they are for mine.

I will stand, I want to make the difference, I want to improve the towns and the lot of the residents but will that win votes?

I can but hope that personal politics outweighs the dated party personal politics


  1. I know personally, the reason I first became interested in local politics was because I see the role of a councillor as a position people can use to help and support local communities.

    I am seeking to stand in 2015, the reason being that I want to serve the area I have always called home.

    Yes I am a Labour man, very much so, but to me the colour of the tie worn by the man shouldnt matter in day-to-day casework for residents, regardless of party loyalties, I would like to imagine most councillors main motivation is to serve their constituents.

    One problem we have seen in Medway is councillors who become elected, and then disappear from public view. This was the case in Luton & Wayfield where our current councillors are weighed-down with masses of casework as prior to their electtion, the councillors were completely inept, yes they would attend meetings to fulfill the requirements laid-down in order for them to get paid, but when it came to representing residents and local campaigns for community improvments, they were nowhere to be seen.

    Another issue is that certain wards would vote their current councillors back-in even if they had a pagan orgy in the middle of the street, they are so incredibly partisan all they care about is voting for their party.

    Wigmore & Hempstead is such an example. The Chambers' live in Brompton yet represent Wigmore, Why? Because it is stone-wall safe, they dont have to campaign, they dont have to do any work in the ward, and can safely know that they will get re-elected without fail.

    This aside, if people from other parties are making a mess of things, we should point that out however, as party-politics does play a part when you see the sort of calamities going on presently where people completely unfit for purpose in their roles are protected by their mates & cronies in their party,

    1. I completely agree with you and it is something I personally abhor - you should vote for who will represent you best and not the party or colour of tie and if someone is making a royal error hash of things then in an ideal world they would/should go.

      I also agree with you about the Wicks thing. On the surface it does look like rank closing and cronism.

      I didn't mean the post to sound anti-labour at all, just that to be honest, the anti-coalition ticket will gain a lot of support at the next national election and indeed sink into the locals as it did in 2010. It is that that causes me irritation. After all I'm not Clegg but will be judged on his actions which is a big hinderence before I'm off the ground!

      Things need to change in Medway, rapidly. I personally don't see the current administration being able to do that.

    2. I didnt take the piece to be anti-labour, the anti-coalition ticket will certainly play a big part in the 2015 local elections, even more so as they are happening in a general election year.

      Personally I think the voters are going to hit the lib-dems particularly hard as the Tories have vast strength of numbers when it comes to real partisan voters whereas the liberals do not, you are correct in saying that you will be judged on Cleggs actions.

      I see where you are coming from with regard to the current administration being very Chatham-Centric, I know a lot of Gillingham residents who feel exactly the same way as you, yes there have been small pockets of investment but nothing on the scale of the money that has been thrown at Chatham, much of which I see is a vanity project for the senior members of the administration who are seeking to build a physical legacy rather than a track-record of efficient delivery of services.