Friday, June 20, 2014

Tomorrow not Yesterday

The economy is growing. There's no doubt about this and my own brief blogging absence of late is simply a consequence of the mounting pressure of work in both my aviation and technology interests.

The new economy, as I've written before, looks rather different from the one that existed before the great recession of 2008. I've been lecturing on its impact elsewhere but for many, too many people and politicians alike, the changes that are taking place has them waist-deep in the muddy waters of denial and most of them don't know it yet. Think of the disruptive introduction of the Spinning Jenny or the Luddite demonstrations of 1812 and you will also find people in positions of responsibility, wedded to the vision of the post-war welfare state and a firm belief that tomorrow's economy and its workforce, looks like yesterday's; which it clearly doesn't.

Locally, our own political administration is also trapped in the past; the extent of its vision reduced to re-writing the same old plans and ambitions for the Thanet economy, wrapped in a glossier cover. Unless we strike oil under Dreamland in the near future, then the next decade is going to be tough for seasonal economies, like Thanet, as they are forced to adjust to new demands on the workforce. As I have declared I have no plans to stand again next May, tomorrow's challenges will be very much for other people to solve.

As anticipated, if not predicted, I see that John Worrow, formerly, Grey Party, Conservative and TIG, has now joined Thanet's Labour group and my next prediction is that he will be lobbying hard for re-election in a safe socialist ward, well outside Birchington; quite possibly where residents will be suitably diverse for his tastes and not be referred to as 'Pig Monsters.'

To accept Cllr Worrow as a true 'comrade' Labour must really be in a desperate condition.  I do wonder  if he will lose his well remunerated role of Chair of Finance, now his vote as an independent, alongside that of the politically capricious, Cllr Jack Cohen, is no longer pivotal in keeping Labour in control of the Council. And what happens now to Cllr Cohen?  Does he keep that Chair of Planning or is he forming a tiny party on his own with Kim Gibson? It's all a mystery but begs the question why anyone would want to be involved in local politics given some of the characters who determine the direction of our island? And that's without any mention of Cllr Ian Driver, former 'Police Commissioner in Waiting' whose limitless ambition and personal bandwagon now continues to rumble towards Westminster; leaving a demoralised and discredited Council tossed around in his destructive wake.

And what future for Manston, you may ask? To be truthful, I don't know. I'm pleased a petition has triggered a Council debate and I'm delighted that our two Members of Parliament are still working hard behind the scenes to try and find a solution that will give us back our airport. But the canny Mrs Gloag is playing a long game and with every month that passes with the airport out of use, her hand becomes stronger.

A chink in her armour, may be TG Aviation's High Court injunction for the flying school's loss of access to the runway. It's a start and I'm encouraged by so many people who have a commitment not to give-up the struggle. I only wish we had a few more local political figures who were equally supportive rather than sitting on the fence.

Remaining with aviation, I've a football banner to fly tomorrow, sadly not in Brazil but closer to home, where I have to find an open-top bus celebrating a team's success. With luck it should not be too hard to spot.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

People Really Count

Red Arrows Fans
The weather we should have had over the Bank Holiday, arrived a week late and Thanet basked in the sunshine this weekend. I was particularly pleased to see the re-opening of the Ramsgate Tunnels and every credit to David Green, who was so firmly behind the project, back to the time when I was in Cabinet and he requested exploratory work down to test the feasibility of the project; well done indeed.

Friday's protest at Manston airport was particularly significant, not only for the number of people attending but for the media coverage too. I arrived from a flight over Kent Police at Maidstone, asking Ann Barnes to resign on the heels of the Channel 4 documentary. If you haven't yet seen it, I recommend 'Meet the Commissioner' for its entertainment value and quite unintended parallels, with the character, David Brent and the popular sitcom, 'The Office.'

I said a few words to the crowd at Manston, as did my Conservative colleague, Bob Bayford. What was noticeable was the absence of councillors from the Labour group lending even lukewarm support and no sign at all of South Thanet's Parliamentary candidate, Will Scobie. Ian Driver was as ever, larger than life and both audible and visible with a megaphone which you see I managed to borrow. He appears to have either changed his position on the airport, than that view reflected in the the council meeting in the earlier post below or he is simply opposed to housing and planes as well?

Simon Moores Addressing #SaveManston
I'm hoping that Channel 4 news will do a more in-depth analysis of what lies behind the Manston bid. It's not a subject easily explored without a small army of lawyers in support and even The Observer told me they were reluctant, post-Leveson, to dig any deeper into the very complex relationships between the different businesses, than they have already.

I understand, that Mrs Gloag has declared she will make no further decision on the airport's ultimate fate, for another two months. Meanwhile, the local council exists in a state of limbo. Personally, I would like to see the leader, Iris Johnston, call for an extraordinary general meeting of the Council to debate the matter and conceivably, a compulsory purchase as a potential solution, before matters reach a point of no return. Indecision and inaction will be viewed very poorly by many thousands of Thanet;s voters, who hold strong opinions on the future of Manston, one way or another and this is really the time to show decisive leadership and not business as usual from Cecil Square.

Finally, I see, from this morning's BBC Andrew Marr Show, that Nigel Farage is still hinting at being the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for South Thanet in twelve months time. Now that would really place a spotlight on our community and certainly one that I for one would not wish for at all, regardless of politics.