Friday, February 24, 2012

Nicholson's Silk Monkey Moment

Thursday's full council meeting was one of the more good humored that I can recall over the last five years and reminded me of a long football game that was being settled by penalties, as both teams looked to score a winning goal against the other.

To share some of the highlights, Cllr Ian Driver, was undoubtedly the star player of the evening and the former left-winger and red team player caused the collapse of the Labour group defense on several occasions, voting with the Conservatives and leading to the defeat of Labour's manifesto pledge to reduce councillors' SRA allowances by twenty per cent. This was on the grounds that it would discriminate against minority groups, the disabled and women from becoming involved in local politics.

In fact, councillors allowances have been held by TDC for six years now, against the advice of the independent remuneration body that calculates them and Tory leader, Bob Bayford, described the Labour motion as 'Cynical gesture politics' that would release a relatively small amount of money which would achieve very little in real terms.

Cllr Mike Harrison, AKA, 'Comrade Lenin' has his own version of events, which deftly ignores the pivotal role of Ian Driver of undoing Labour's plans or indeed 'The Campaigner'  and once again retreats into the familiar socialist rhetoric of a 'relentless attack' on the working classes by the coalition Government.

'Comrade' Councillor Nicholson, couldn't resist the temptation to remind councillors that 'Toff Millionaire Cameron and his fag Clegg" along with their friends "The white silk monkeys," were untouched by the financial pain felt by the rest of us but what a 'white silk monkey' is or does in a political context, was a mystery that was never revealed and perhaps we will find out at the next council meeting.

Confusion still exists in Labour's ranks on the subject of taxation and Government cuts and they might have done well to listen to former Chancellor, Alasdair Darling being interviewed on Radio 4 this month, over the problems he faced in regard to the vexing question of a 50p tax rate. Just to remind ourselves, the top 1% of the country's earners contribute 30% of the total tax revenues. The highest earning half of the population is now contributing nine pounds out of every ten in income tax and the biggest problem, as described by Darling, lies with the so-called 'Squeezed-middle', those families who lie just on the wrong side of the working tax credit system but are not among the highest earners taking home above £40,000 a year. These pay the greater proportion of the taxes required to fund our welfare state and who feel the pain of the recession most.

The political high point of the evening, other than a robust exchange involving bottoms, male genitalia and beards between Cllr Wells and Cllr Driver followed-on from the appointment of John Worrow as the council's 'Diversity Champion'.

Cllr Michelle Fenner had avoided answering any direct questions over why John might be qualified for the role or indeed why we needed such a champion and Cllr Worrow had already primed the debate by asking if the new council telephone system took diversity issues into account. This question on diversity conscious telephony, caused a few puzzled looks, as some wondered if this was asking whether the caller's ethnicity, age, gender or disability might deserve separate questions and keypad responses on an automated system.

However, John Worrow, 'The Campaigner', was confirmed in his new role, as many councillors struggled to suppress grins and giggles, including those on the Labour front-bench and then a little later in the proceedings, it all went horribly wrong for them.

Back to the question of reducing councillors allowances and Ian Driver lucid and very passionate speech. '"Ask your new Diversity Champion what he thinks," said Conservative Jo Gideon and John Worrow, bless him, promptly shot the Labour motion down in flames and with it, one of their manifest commitments, leading to complete defeat when it went to the vote.

Worse still for Clive Hart, what should have been a simple rubber stamp exercise to appoint a Labour councillor to an outside body overseeing housing in Kent was unceremoniously kicked-out and his nemesis, Ian Driver was voted-in instead.

There's enough material to go on for hours but I will stop here, go and buy the local paper to see what they have made-up this week and perhaps return to edit and tidy a little later.


Anonymous said...

I am hoping Cllr Nicholson was using the word 'fag' in the traditional English public schoolboy sense and not the homophobic North American sense. I'm sure if he had Cllr Worrow would have burst a bloodvessel.

Anonymous said...

More insight that will re-affirm the belief of many that our council taxes are in the hands of a bunch of small-minded school children.

Tim Clark said...

I see over on Twitter and Facebook that Cllr Driver has his sights zooming in on Comrade Lenin. Looking at his "confessions" on his whispering campaign Facebook post it looks as if he means business and as a former member of Militant he knows a lot about replacing moderate (relatively!) Labour representatives with more extreme ones. Bet our Glorious Well-coiffed Leader wishes he'd stuck with Mark Nottingham.