Tag Archives: Independent

Local Election – don’t elect a Muppet.

We must make sure that we do not waste our vote in the forthcoming local election.

There was a time when party politics had nothing to do with local elections but sadly, that is no longer the case. Hopefully, one day local politics will return to choosing individuals who are best-suited to manage and control local issues and budgets.

Every party has individuals who are good at what they do. Their abilities have nothing to do with political allegiance. Within the present system – those are the people we should be voting for. The converse is also true.

At local level, we should not be voting for Liberals at because we have a good Liberal MP. We should not be ignoring any able Conservatives just because they do not appear to have the benefit of strong leadership at national level. The Labour handling of the banking crisis should not influence us if we have a Labour candidate who looks as if he or she has a contribution to make.

What should influence us is simple – which INDIVIDUAL do we believe can be entrusted with the responsibility of representing us most effectively on the Council. Blind partisan voting will only give us a random chance of voting-in the finest. At best we will elect a few good people – at worst, we will vote-in a single party, many of whom will just be “ballast”. Remember Blair’s Babes or the present crop of Cameron’s Cuties? They sit, nod or shake their heads like Muppets while those with proper views do the talking and decision-making.

There is too much political posturing at local level. Too much energy is given over to political in-fighting rather than concentrating on the needs of the rate-payers. Many of our local councillors appear to be playing at being in Westminster – consequently a local election result is now considered to be a vote either for or against the Government.

There is a rarely-printed saying in politics – “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

For those voters who do not quite understand local politics, it may well be worth describing that most council chambers, are organised along Westminster lines. There is a Council Leader (Prime Minister), a “cabinet”, disciplined Westminster-style voting (so that most councillors only have backbencher status) and various committees. Plus, the whole thing is supported by a permanent civil-service-like structured bureaucracy.

Since the gradual separation (at local level) of economic leadership from political leadership, the calibre of local councillors has doubtless fallen.

Nowadays, individuals who are economically important within a community do not necessarily have an interest in local government. Whereas years ago, a typical councillor may have been a land-owning or business-owning member of a well-established local family, nowadays, individuals who run substantial businesses are very rarely long-standing locals.

Corporate senior managers and directors are often imported from other parts of the country or even abroad and although they may have the skills to manage and govern, they do not have any particular interest in local goings-on,  because often they know that their job-tenure will be short-lived.  In addition, they know that it is central government policy and not local government which is crucial to their company’s profitability.

In 1967, the Maud Committee on Management in Local Government stated that many “councillors see council work as a supplement to their lives”. Some of the reasons which have been  given for becoming a councillor – prestige, recognition, seeking a better social life, vanity, stepping-stone to a career in Westminster, self-improvement.

Luckily, there are still people out there who are local, feel strongly about local issues, want to serve the local community and are not on a power-trip or an imaginary (in most cases!) practice-run for Westminster.

In local politics, the “management classes” have largely given way to the “talking professions” because the ability to debate has become a more precious skill than the ability to manage a budget. The old-fashioned free-thinker has given way to the party pack-animal who will normally vote as the party tells him – the ideology of the party has displaced the common-sense of the independent individual.

In spite of all this, we do need local government . The  usual voting turnout during a local election (below 40%) gives strength to the “centralist” argument  which is in favour of power being taken away from local councils. That is just one of the reasons why it is important to vote – if we do not vote, then we give the impression that we do not care about or want local government. For all its faults – “use it or lose it.”

Finally, remember that not all Liberal candidates are vegetarian lecturers and Guardian-reading white-collar public-sector workers. Not all Conservatives are barristers, middle-managers and skinheads and not all Labour candidates are teachers, media people and union members.

The time has come once again,  to vote for the individual and not the rosette.

Toynbee or not Toynbee?

The daily circulation of the Sun newspaper is just over 3 million, closely followed by the Daily Mail at 2.14 million with the once-great Daily Mirror at a struggling 1.2million.

At the other end of the scale ( below the Daily Star and the Daily Record) , the Guardian limps in at 275,000 and the Independent at 185,000.

The Times, Financial Times, Guardian and Independent , together with the Daily Record  represent the bottom 5.

So who is writing for whom? What differentiates the Guardian from say, the Sun? Which is the more influential?

The reader ship can be split into three main groups:

1. Those who believe everything they read

2. Those who no longer believe anything

3. Those who critically examine what they read and form their judgments accordingly.

The above groupings are important because the decision as to who , for instance governs the country,  is in the gift of the numerically strongest group –  the first one.

It is the Sun and Mail readers who call the shots.

The thick and the credulous have inherited the power to make or break governments.

Here in the United Kingdom, the whole ‘mix’ is further complicated by the once-trendy but now dead-hand of the Oxbridge Socialists. The ones who feed  the Guardian and Independent readers.

During Tony Blair’s tenure, these middle-class ‘Beau monde’ Socialists had their admirers. They were even briefly identified as ‘Champagne Socialists’. Teachers, middle managers, council white-collar workers and media people decided that the new Beau Monde Socialism was for them.  After all, Chief Druid Blair was from a middle-class public-school Tory background, so it had to be OK for the aspirational classes to think of themselves as ‘Socialist’. For a while, the bandwagon creaked.

Now that Blair has disappeared, the High Priests and  Priestesses of Beau Monde Socialism are beginning to struggle because it is now perfectly acceptable to be and think like a modern Conservative.

Now they are neither Socialist nor Conservative.  Nevertheless, they should be identified as a unique political species.

The collapse in the Guardian and Independent readership  has been largely driven by the very transparent insincerity of that particular flavour of Beau Monde Socialism whose roots developed  around   heavy  pine kitchen tables and  Notting Hill Agas.  This posh Socialism was nothing to do with the working classes.  It was (and still is) merely a rib ripped from the side of traditional Socialism.

In the 70s and 80s , Beau Monde Socialism developed in the intellectually-castrated Oxbridge canteens and cafes where second-hand ideas led to a third-rate pretend- ideology .

This Elito-Socialism, as for instance practised by Oxford dropout and occasional Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee already feels a bit anachronistic and is certainly out-of-touch with the far less polarised political thinking of today.

Last week, for instance, Ms Toynbee wrote a convoluted piece on ‘chavs’. Her primary purpose was to weave in a couple of book ‘plugs’ but the poor old dear nevertheless managed to show how completely out-of-touch  she is with modern word usage and the current social scene.  She wrote as if the word ‘chav’ was a class-insult aimed at the poor.

Fifteen years ago she may have been right but nowadays the word is used as a mild insult which merely flags-up a lack of style or possibly bad behaviour.

It would seem that Elito-Socialism froze solid in the mid-90s. Modern Elito-Socialists should sometimes look-up from their Ipads and Macbooks to listen and see rather than surmise and sermonise.

Theirs  is not the ‘dirty hands’ socialism of the Welsh miner. That seemed so uncomplicated just 50 years ago. This is a Socialism borne of Chardonnay-fuelled discussion and  the over-intellectualisation of borrowed (proper) socialist views which have somehow mutated into comfortable middle-class chatter – but always with a decent shot of Guardian-spawned pseudo-intellect and the odd hand-made metaphor.

Instead of a defence of Workers’ rights, you are far more likely to hear Chomsky, Engels or Howard Zinn slip into the conversation. The substance is in the discussion and the end-product is the misconstructed and often fallacious idea.

It was refreshing to have clear evidence of this dying and once never-noble political breed.

Meanwhile, the Sun reader grunts as he runs his finger along the words.  Polly who?

( I would have added that Middle-of-the-Road Liberal Conservatism is the new Black but Ms Toynbee may have accused me of racism.)