Stupid Cupid

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the effects tiny acts of kindness can have in Medway and beyond..

It’s February, and that means grey skies full of wind and rain, an impatient wait for Spring and of course Valentine’s day.

As someone who has been in a relationship with the same person for the past 20 years I am perhaps jaded to the whole Valentine’s celebrations. Long ago we gave up trying to book a meal out, fed up of sitting squashed amongst other couples in busy restaurants. We are easily annoyed by the hike in prices of flowers, chocolates and bottles of fizz and thoroughly downtrodden by the quest for a not too cheesy, not too funny Valentine’s card.

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Letters from Westminster: What’s it like inside Westminster?

In which we ask Parliamentary Researcher Robbie Lammas to give us the view from Westminster.

The workings of Parliament can often be seen as a mystery; indeed, they remain so for many MPs and Researchers who work inside it. The recent events of late have seen rare historic conventions and procedures such as the Humble Address for a Return, a Censure Motion, a Vote of No Confidence, attempts to unpick Standing Orders & to override the Government’s prerogative over debate tabling, all return. Each has its own archaic formalities but make no mistake, each has extraordinary power to shape our nation.

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Cllr Franklin and the normalisation of far-right rhetoric

In which August Scholl takes a look at the normalisation of Islamophobic views in political discourse in light of Cllr Franklin’s actions.

For anyone accepting public office, their words and actions matter. Whether an MP or a local councillor, elected officials have a duty to represent and be accountable to their constituents. When Conservative councillor for Luton and Wayfield, Michael Franklin, began sharing and endorsing intensely Islamophobic content on his Twitter account in 2016, he acted in a way unfitting for a local politician, as well as being in direct contravention of the Conservative Party code of conduct (‘To support equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the absence of any and all inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.’).

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Political Figures: Ballot Roulette

Once a month we are going to hand over to our friends at Medway Elects, who are going to dig into the Medway data and, using wizardry, work out where are right now.

Voting is a complicated matter. You walk into the polling station, pick up your ballot paper (after providing absolutely zero evidence you are who you say you are), enter the polling booth, mark a cross next to the candidate or party you want to win, drop your ballot paper into the ballot box and then leave. Job done.

But sometimes, the instructions on a ballot paper can be too complicated to follow. The part where it says “vote for only one candidate” is generally assumed. But it’s not always there, and not everyone seems to notice.

With one exception (in Cuxton and Halling), voters in Medway this coming May will be voting for more than one councillor, so will have more than one vote. In the nine wards which elect two councillors, voters will be able to vote for two candidates, and in the twelve wards which elect three councillors, voters will be able to vote for three candidates.

As a veteran of three full council election counts, I can say with confidence that a significant proportion of voters either deliberately ignore this instruction, or simply do not read it, assuming they only have one vote. Others will vote for three candidates, but not necessarily all from the same party (sometimes parties will not field a full slate of candidates in a ward, or there may be independent candidates standing on their own). Voters are, of course, free to vote as they wish, but this can have a strange effect on the final result.

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Voice of the Opposition: February

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics.

Despite the excellent efforts of the Political Medway website and our own Medway Labour Facebook Live feeds, it is difficult for those who are interested to see everything that is going on at Medway Council. I want to highlight a few issues which Medway Labour councillors have been raising over the past few weeks:

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Labouring against costly concerts

In which Labour councillor for Rochester West Alex Paterson examines what might be going wrong with the Castle Concerts.

I’d like to think that I’m not a frustrated anything.

By that I mean that, unlike so many in the current Tory administration, I’m not a frustrated businessman looking for a bigger budget to play with. I’m not a frustrated teacher who thinks they can show local heads a thing or two about running a school. And I’m not a frustrated impresario trying to put on a show.

I’ve always been suspicious of those people. Which is, I think, always a good starting point.

Of course, life experience is a vital part of being a councillor, but only in so far as it informs the scrutiny you are able to put the officers (whose job it is to actually do these things) under. 

Whether it’s because of my background in newspapers or just a knack, one thing in life that I’ve found I’m particularly good at is asking questions. More importantly, I’ll listen to what I’m being told and, if it doesn’t address the question, I’ll ask another until I get an answer.

It sounds simple enough. But if it’s so simple, why do so few Tories on our Overview and Scrutiny committees ever do it?

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ARGH I HATE POLITICS

In which Jasneet Samrai shares the experience of being a young person involved in politics.

Being a young person in politics is hard. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. It’s also a rare occurrence.

Don’t get me wrong, being involved in politics is something that I really enjoy, yet as a young person it’s a system that is ultimately rigged against me. The crisis in both the lack of youth participation, and the culture within youth politics itself, is not due to a problem with my generation; instead due to a seismic failure within our own political system.

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Gillingham UKIP and the Tommy Robinson connection

In which August Scholl takes a look at the rise of the far right and how Gillingham and Rainham UKIP are embracing them.

Medway has lived with the intersection of the UK Independence Party, Brexit and the far right for a long time now. From as far back as Mark Reckless’ surprise Rochester by-election victory in 2014, UKIP has been in close proximity to deeply divisive issues and the extremist fringes who seek to exploit them.

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What lays beneath Medway History?

In which local historian Chris Sams digs into an overlooked tale of Medway history..

The Tory led council are very proud of our heritage and landmarks and well they should be. However you would not be considered foolish if, as a tourist you got off at Chatham station and only went to the Dockyard, Fort Amherst. or soaked in the carefully engineered aesthetic that is Rochester town centre.  

The other Medway towns also have a rich and forgotten history and landmarks that are being allowed to rot that could be used as tourist attractions.

So what else is there to see within the Medway towns?

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A C Word

In which Vicki Sigston looks at cervical health, and finds some troubling details about screening in Medway..

So, it’s 2019. A whole new year to grab by the horns and make some positive changes in this mad world that we find ourselves in.

I’d love to say that our local government and councillors have been doing just that but sadly anyone with even half a toenail in politics is still embroiled in the B word, and frankly I don’t have the energy to talk about that.

So instead, something that I hadn’t heard of until recently.. January is “Cervical Health Awareness Month”.

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