I am very proud of being part of the Labour County Group, I think we are making some serious headway in achieving our manifesto commitments, albeit from third place. One of the fundamental reasons behind this is that we act as a team. On our group are some strong and diverse opinions, which lead to some really interesting discussion and debate about what we should be doing. But once we have developed a way forward, we stick to it and pull together as a team. A significant part of being able to do this is down to the leadership and mutual respect within the group. However, to read in the Citizen that the Leader of the Lib Dems throw his teddies out of the pram and suggest that Lesley Williams bullies her group and tells us how to vote is ridiculous.
Jeremys latest outburst is around the election of a new Planning committee chair. He wanted his Lib Dem candidate to be elected chair which could have been possible as it was a choice between the Tory or Liberal candidate. In the end, largely down to Jeremys behaviour, the Labour Group abstained from the vote. When asked to comment, Lesley said “His behaviour at planning committee was disgraceful. When he didn’t get his way he attacked the integrity of a much-respected and impartial council officer who could not defend herself and then he stormed out of the committee room before it had even started reviewing important planning applications. I am frankly appalled, but not surprised by Mr Hilton’s childish behaviour and grossly misleading comments. There was never any agreement between our parties. He wanted to do a grubby deal to ensure that his man chaired the committee. Mrs Williams said the reason Labour councillors abstained on the vote was because they were “so appalled by Mr Hilton’s behaviour.
There is some organisation and discipline in how we work. We, as do the other groups, operate a group whip system. That is to say once we democratically agreed a way forward, then the whole group votes the same way because it is a group consensus. There are exceptions to that, on a case by case basis , or if a free vote is enabled or where it is not allowed, such as (ironically enough) on Planning Committee. But the key bit is the discussion on formulating the group decision and no single councillor can impose their view on everyone else, it is a democratic consensus. The leader and spokespersons then represents those views going forward. We did also say right at the beginning in 2013 that we would not be forming any coalitions (though Jeremy wanted one) but would work with groups on a case by case basis, where it aligned with our group position. This is a policy we have stuck to and the Lib Dems have seen benefit out of it in some of the motions they have put forward, so to suggest “Every time we try to talk to them they double deal.” might come back to haunt him in the future when he needs our help.
The Lib Dems in this outburst to the press are showing once again just what motivates them. Instead of focusing on what is important, I.E. the protection of front line services and our residents, they are more involved in the number of committee chairs they have, which is hardly useful. Indeed Jeremy has serious form in just turning up to meetings to sign in and only staying for what he is bothered about, rather than the whole meeting. Seeing many of them disappear half way through full council after their own speaking parts are completed (Motions and Questions) is hardly respectful.
It seems to be common practice for them to accuse of deals and counter deals. Last full council was a prime example where Labour brought forward an amendment on the Liberal/Green motion around the incinerator which was immediately branded a wrecking motion and deplorable to be supported by the Tories only to find that some minutes later the Tories brought forward an amendment to a Labour motion which the Liberals propped up.
I’ve said this before, but I don’t agree with Tory principles or many of their actions, but at least you know what they stand for and can agree common ground, while fighting over the issues that matter. The Lib Dems, led by Jeremy, are interested in only one thing – Power, and where he cant get it, regardless of the consequences. You would have thought he would have learned from his Party leader, but he is very quick to denounce his party actions when it doesn’t suit him either.