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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cost Culture, Arrogant Tories and Anonymous Independents

Much has been made of Cornwall Council Cabinet's arrogant and anti-democratic decision to ignore the collective will of elected members and to pursue an ideolgically driven decision to sell our public services to the highest commercial bidder.

For me, this latest debacle merely affirms society's apparent obsession with reducing cost at any cost. As Rob Simmons has pointed out this obsession seldom produces any real long term saving and usually results in a long term debt to be repaid by our children and grand children or maybe even passed on to their progeny.

We are told that providing a library service costs money and this is bad. (In fact a privatised library service will cost just as much and must cost more because not only does a service need to be provided but it must make enough money to pay share dividends and send money upcountry to the head office of the company providing the 'service'.)

But why is is it bad for a service to cost money - isn't that the whole point of a public service? Time after time Westminster ideology tells us that to procure services for the public is not the function of governement, that we can't afford it and that these things should be left to the market. In short a return to Victorian values where the well-to-do can afford to buy the things that they want and be dammned to the rest. At the same time we are persuaded that, with a little hard work, we will all be one of  the well-to-do so there is nothing to worry about.

In my view there is nothing inherently wrong with paying taxes to provide a good quality public service accessible by one and all. We need to break free from the Tory ideology that demands that things are left to a market that, far from being free, is rigged and  structured in favour of the uber wealthy.

Certainly the key is to demand the best quality public service for our taxes - but this is the real function of government - not to abdicate responsibility by selling our assets to the highest bidder (or giving them away to our business friends in pursuit of an enhanced CV or seat in the House of Lords).

And what of the anonymous and absentee Independents in Cornwall. Well let's not forget that it is hard to see how this 'group' of Cornwall Councillors has any mandate from the people of Cornwall as, presumably, being 'independent' they all believe in different things. When a person votes for an Independent they vote for the person not the group. However, it is this 'group' that has sold its real independence to the Tories in return for the odd chaimanship of a committee or a seat at the cabinet table. We should not forget that, in Cornwall, the Independents are underpinning the great Tory sell off.

Isn't it about time that the Independent Group said 'enough is enough' and put an end to this destructive adminstration?


Cllr Andrew Wallis has stated in the comments below that the Leader of Cornwall Council 'is for the term of the whole council'.

Cllr Wallis (rather patronisingly) asked if I was aware of the strong leader model.

Perhaps Cllr wallis could state if he is aware of Council Procedure Rule 3.2 which sets out the procedure for the removal of the Leader within the term of the Council?

Once again I would ask  "Isn't it about time that the Independent Group said 'enough is enough' and put an end to this destructive adminstration?"


  1. I think you miss the point of the Indi Group and its membership. For example, 16 Indi's voted in favour of the motion. Two Indi's put their names to the motion. Me, as the proposer, and Graham Walker as another.

    You may not be aware, but the council has a strong leader model, the Leader picks the Cabinet, and the rest of the council has no say in this. The leaders office is for the term of the whole council. It is frustrating, but that is the consitution.

    I also have an democratic mandate, as I stood as an Indi on the promise of doing the best I can for my community. Not on party dogma, or ideolgical view.

    Don't tar all the Indi's the same. As least most are free-thinkers.

  2. 1. What is the point of an Indi Group? You didn't say.
    2. Who voted for the 'Strong Leader' Cabinet model?

  3. An Independent that stands as an independent and then remains independent without being in a group deserves the credit that Cllr Wallis claims. However, once an 'independent' joins a group s/he is no longer, de facto, an independent and loses that credit.

    Although, as an independent concillor, Cllr Wallis may have a mandate his 'group' does not.

    I am aware of the concept of the 'strong leader model' - does this mean that once selected a 'Leader' cannot face a vote of no confidence? In other words is there no way of removing the Leader if that is the democratic will of a mjority of the elected councillors.

    If it is the case that the leader and therefore cabinet can't be removed then Cllr Wallis saying that it is 'frustrating' is something of an understatement.

  4. Is this the same free-thinking Independent that voted for the east Truro extension and the St Erth park and ride, the one that we'e told will reduce congestion as far away as Redruth?


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