I’m sorry this is likely to become a bit of a rant.
I had hoped that we might see the County Council continuing at least in the spirit of consensus which has been evident over the last 3 years.
I had hoped specifically that we would still see some apportionment of committee chair and vice chair positions to the different groups. After all the precedent was set a little over 3 years ago which gave Labour, UKIP and the Lib Dems one chair each. This time round with the Tories having basically taken back the UKIP seats I naively expected that to be the pattern at least for the first year of the new council.
But no. The Tories have decided that they command more than 50% of the votes in the council so they are going to have all the chair and vice-chair positions. In addition of course they will have the majority on each committee and, because the Tory whip is ultra-efficient, will win every vote. So much for building a broad political consensus.
I’m angry because this is bully boy Toryism. It’s saying that we will simply drive through all of our policies without attempting to find common ground. I’m worried that it’ll mean more cuts in services and no attempt to invest in improving what the Council does for the residents of the Cambridgeshire.
It’s personal for me of course. I chaired the Health Committee and I did so in a non-partisan way. It was a good committee, it worked incredibly hard and we worked together. We were developing quite an agenda about how public health could be a positive driver not just of health but of the broad economy. I would be surprised if this were to continue.
During the election campaign some people said they didn’t like local politics to be political and would prefer to vote for ‘independent’ candidates. I don’t agree with that because local politics is like any other. It’s about influencing policies so it’s got to be political and I’d prefer my candidates to be open about what their political views are. But I understand what they perhaps mean. They’d prefer local politicians to work together and not to simply be driven by big party ideologies. It’s very much the Lib Dem way of course and that’s what I practiced at the Health Com.
But that’s not what we’re going to get from the Tories. And I’m desperately worried that nationally the same will happen. A Tory majority and words like ‘we have our mandate we’ll do it’ irrespective of the number of people who did not vote for them. I am fearful for my country but that’s another story.