September 13 2012

 

Bloodless coup

A mole has provided me with some more information on the IPG's meeting held on 8 May 2012 less than a week after the local elections (Quick off the mark).

The following is an extract from the speech given to potential recruits by leader in waiting Cllr Jamie Adams. .

"A very warm welcome to this candidates Independent Group [1] meeting..
If I could take the time, I just want to reflect on the election we've just had and speak about the independent group, about which some of you will have heard and some of you will have positive and, indeed, negative thoughts.
The first thing I want to say is just a bit of a reflection on the recent election.
Being in the unusual position of not being challenged in my own ward [2], gave me the opportunity to reflect on the actual election and the key messages that come forward from that.
It is incumbent on us who are now elected to this council, and, indeed, any other, to ensure that we drive value for money out of the system to ensure that services are provided for those that need them throughout the county and ensure primarily that taxpayers' money is well used.
The result of the election, of course, as you will know is that there were 42 members of the council out of 60 returned as independents.
This is very similar to the previous council and, indeed, councils before that. And Pembrokeshire does have a history of returning a large proportion of its members as independents.
And there is a question with that because there is a clear wish that each voter has in the wards that they wish to have a person who is independent of political ties [3] to represent and undertake their views at county council level.
In order to do that, how are we to achieve it on a county basis because clearly the mandate they expect is that the county is run on an independent basis.
Now, it is very difficult and almost impossible to do that if we are not aligned [4] in any way.
And that is why previous councils have formed themselves into an independent group.
As you know, there are nine Labour members been returned, there are five Plaid and three conservatives and one Lib Dem and the question is would it be correct to allow a group that's politically aligned to undertake the responsibility of the administration of the authority when you consider the largest group with nine out of the sixty you do question whether they have a mandate to undertake that [5].
That is why it is my firm belief that we must align as a group to ensure that we will carry out basically the mandate [6] of the electorate in terms of allowing the authority to be run on an independent basis.
Now, that's not to say that there are not political views held in this room because I well know that probably the four main parties are represented in this room through individuals who are members of those parties.
And that's fine and that probably demonstrates more than anything to me that the commitment of you, as independent members, is such that you are prepared to leave party politics outside the council door and ensure that you drive value for the people of Pembrokeshire based on your own beliefs and the reflections you have and the interests you hold for your communities [7].
And I think that's really important.
One of the things that's very often said about the independent group is that you vote en bloc.
I will give you an assurance that on no occasion absolutely, and I've been a member for eight years, have I been told how to vote and certainly we have not voted as a block unless we have all categorically and individually agreed with something [8]."

As I said previously, there are striking similarities with the tactics employed by time-share salesmen.
I am sure that most readers will be able to see the numerous logical flaws in Cllr Adams' presentation, but, for the benefit of any members of the Independent Political Group who might have logged on, I will highlight some of the more egregious inconsistencies.
Clearly they went over their heads the first time around, otherwise they wouldn't have signed up.

[1] The correct name by statute is Independent Political Group.
[2] Hardly unusual - Cllr Adams was returned unopposed in 2008.
[3] See [1] above. It seems rather strange that Cllr Adams should be reminding members that their constituents want members without political ties during a meeting which he and his confederates have organised for the express purpose of trying to persuade them to join a political group. Then again, you wouldn't expect too much by way of logic from anyone who can't see that Independent Political Group is an oxymoron (no offence intended)
[4] Being aligned to a political group and independence are mutually exclusive.
[5] To form an administration Labour would first have to get its leader elected as leader of the council. How that might be achieved, with only nine of the sixty votes at its command, is not altogether clear, so either Cllr Adams has difficulty with conventional arithmetic, or he was trying to hoodwink the potential recruits.
[6] It is difficult to see how they can claim to have a mandate to form a political group when, as far as I know, there was no mention of its existence in any of their election materials. (Mandate: Support for a policy or course of action, regarded by a victorious party,candidate etc, as derived from the wishes of the people at an election). Short of some form of telepathy, you can't claim the support of people for something of which they have no knowledge. If IPG members are so sure that Pembrokeshire's voters want the council controlled by their political group, you might think they would seek to reap the electoral rewards by mentioning it in their election addresses.
Some weeks ago, I offered a bottle of Chilean Merlot to anyone who could produce an election leaflet containing the words "Independent Political Group" and so far there have been no takers.
[7] It's hard to know where to start with this paragraph. First we have a rainbow coalition who are prepared to "leave party politics at the door" and in the same sentence we have members prepared to "act on their beliefs".
Presumably that includes their political beliefs, which reduces the whole paragraph to a piece of nonsense on stilts.
{8] It is not easy to see the purpose in forming a political group if there is no intention to vote as a block. Indeed, a political group without a common purpose; which can only be promoted by voting as one, is logically incoherent. Would it be impolite to ask why the IPG has a private group get-together on the day before every council meeting if it is not to inform members of the party line? And, if they only vote as a block when they all "categorically and individually agree", there is no need for a political group in the first place.
As for the claim that they don't vote as a block I have updated Voting machines which details all the recorded votes taken over the past eight years, so you can see for yourself.
When the votes are taken by a show of hands, there is even greater unanimity.
As a former colleague at the Mercury put it: if there was an Olympic event for synchronised voting, the IPG would win it hands up.

The truth, alas, is that the IPG is a post-election coup d'etat without the need for guns or colonels, whose sole purpose is to ensure that certain members maintain their stranglehold on power and the Special Responsibility Allowances that go with it.
But what is really worrying is that the £300+ million of your money that the council spends each year is now controlled by the votes of the poor gullible souls who swallowed this specious claptrap.

New broom?

Old Grumpy notices that the county council now has a lay member as chairman of its recently constituted audit committee
He is a Mr John Evans MBE of Saundersfoot.
Being curious about Mr Evans' background, Grumpette went a Googling and came across a comment he had posted on the Tenby Observer's website in February last year regarding the 2.9% rise in council tax.
The comment is reproduced, in full, below.

"Before the full Council makes their decision on the 2.9% rise in Council Tax could they answer the following questions? 1 When will PCC rewrite the PCC constitution? The current constitution was written before WAG took responsibility for policy and strategy for Wales. PCC are now only required for the local deliver and execution of decisions made in Cardiff Bay. 2 When will PCC remove the post of Chief Executive? This post no longer influences policy or strategy and therefore a lesser post of Chief Operating Officer would suffice. Delivering huge wage bill savings as a COO could be recruited for around £70,000pa. 3 When will PCC reduce the number of staff earning more than £50,000 pa? In general 80% of an organisations wage bill is earned by only 20% of its staff. If PCC reduced the headcount of high earners by 20% (just like RCT) huge savings could be achieved without the lost of frontline service delivery personnel. 4 When will PCC freeze all County Councillor expenses to 2009 levels 5 When will PCC cut all salaries of those earning over £70,000pa by 10% 6 When will PCC publish the number of staff earning over £50,000pa? 7 When will PCC publish the list of County Councillor expenses for 2009/2010? 8 When will PCC opt out of payments to the Welsh Local Authority Association? 9 When will PCC merge all back office functions (HR, Payroll, procurement, Accounts payable and accounts receivable) with the three neighbouring County councils? 10 When PCC publish a structured cost reduction plan from each and every departmental head of the County Council? If the Leader of PCC would like any help or assistance in identifying and implementing a cost reduction program for PCC I will gladly make myself available at short notice to contribute in any way. John Evans MBE Former Managing Director of Grundig UK Saundersfoot"

Assuming there is only one John Evans MBE living in Saundersfoot, meetings of the audit committee should be fun.

Institutionally corrupt

The recent revelations about the cover-up following the Hillsborough disaster are shocking, but hardly surprising.
Coming hard on the heels of the Leveson inquiry, which has highlighted the unhealthy, not to say corrupt, relationship between the Murdoch press, police and politicians, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there is something very rotten at the heart of British public life.
The incompetence of the police and other emergency services at Hillsborough is reason enough for concern, but can be partly excused by the fact that we are all capable of making mistakes.
But the deliberate, systematic tampering with evidence to paint a totally false picture of what occurred is completely beyond the pale.
This is a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, pure and simple, and if those responsible escape prosecution, public confidence in the probity of our democratic institutions will rapidly evaporate.
As Professor Jack Ashton, Director of Public Health in my native Cumbria, put it on Radio 4's mid-day news: "There is a corruption of our public life where leaders fail to take responsibility for their actions" and that this led to "a corruption of democracy itself."
And on the Today Programme this morning, Lord Ken MacDonald former head of the DPP, spoke of corruption in the police force, not from taking backhanders but by deception.
Of course the question we should all be asking is, if something as high profile as Hillsborough can be hushed up for over 20 years, how many less serious matters are casually swept under the carpet.
My own dealings with these so-called democratic institutions persuade me that such behaviour is fairly routine.(Time Lord) (The untouchables). and many, many more.

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