Radicalised French Radicals

Last year I demonstrated how little I knew about the Labour Party when I wrote the article ‘The French Radicals’. I said that “Jeremy Corbyn will win the first round of the Labour leadership but I don’t expect him to win the leadership.” Which much like our predictions for the general and local elections in 2015, showed how bad we are at this. This time I expect Corbyn to win the leadership election by a considerable margin, I expect the PLP to react even less graciously then they did last time, and I expect positioning for Labour Leadership elections in 2017. Go #DavidMilli2020.

Last year’s piece postulated, via a clip from The West Wing that members of the Labour movement only stood against not winning. The current Leadership contest is a magnification of this, with those opposed to Corbyn’s leadership terrorising that Corbyn will cause Labour to be in opposition for a generation and that anybody speaks out against Owen Smith either wants May as PM, and or should enjoy the May premiership. Very little is given in the way to explain how Owen Smith will win a General Election, except Corbyn definitely won’t.

To be clear, neither Jennings or Keevil are endorsing either Labour candidates, readers will be happy/sad/apathetic to hear.

Having been wrong about Labour last year, I wanted to double down and be wrong again this year when discussing an ongoing situation within Medway, specifically Gillingham and Rainham CLP. When it came time for different CLPs to hold leadership nomination contests; Chatham and Aylesford CLP agreed not to nominate, Rochester and Strood nominated Corbyn, and Gillingham and Rainham decided – well, the exec committee decided – not to hold any nomination discussion at all.

I was informed I was wrong to question this, as they have never nominated a leadership contender. A tradition that goes way back to the origins of the Gillingham and Rainham CLP in 2010. Somebody else who vocally questioned the executive committee’s decision was Labour and Medway Momentum member Alan Higgins. Meanwhile, former MP and technically current Labour PPC for Gillingham and Rainham Paul Clark, didn’t join the Labour PPCs for Chatham & Aylesford and Rochester and Strood in signing a letter.

But he did host a pro-Owen Smith event organised by Labour’s Chatham and Aylesford PPC and former PCC candidate Tristan Osbourne. This raises a distinction that I clearly am unable to understand, something along the lines of; individuals have the right to support whomever they please, PPCs must represent the constituents who didn’t vote them in as MPs and/or PPCs don’t have to represent the CLP that elected them as candidates in pre-Corbyn era.

Meanwhile during #LabourLeadership2016 a series of events called #LabourPurge2 has occurred. In brief, members who are felt not to upheld the aims and values of the Labour Party have been informed they will not be allowed to vote for the leader. We at The Political Medway are concerned for members of Gillingham and Rainham CLP:
Firstly, former MP and current PPC Paul Clark, representing a candidate when his CLP exec does not, has had a complaint made against him to the Regional Director of the Party by member Alan Higgins, for behaviour during CLP meetings. No action has been taken on this complaint at this time.
Also Presumably, current Gillingham North councillor and former Liberal Democrat PPC for Gillingham and Rainham Andy Stamp will be allowed a vote, despite his previous allegiance.
We have been reassured however that 2015 Green Party PPC for Gillingham and Rainham, Neil Williams, seen here with Medway Labour group Leader Vince Maple joining Medway Labour, has been allowed to vote in the contest.

Meanwhile, Alan Higgins, a member of the Labour Party for 45 years, and a Labour candidate for Princes Park in 2015, previously mentioned as the member who criticised Gillingham and Rainham executive committees failure to hold an all members meeting to nominate a leadership candidate, contacted Vince Maple regarding his lack of election ballot.

Alan

Since then, Alan – who put his name forward to be the Labour candidate in the forthcoming Strood South by-election, a move The Political Medway believes was supported by Medway Momentum – has been suspended from the Labour Party for comments he made on a Medway Momentum Facebook group. Those comments were supposedly criticising the Gillingham and Rainham executive committee over their decision not to hold a vote on endorsing leadership candidates, but we have been unable to see the exact comments ourselves. Unsurprisingly, Medway Momentum have not taken this news well.

Of the party members mentioned, with all of their various allegiances, only one has had action against them, which to this uninformed observer seems questionable at least.

 

The Subliminal Adverts of Fergus Wilson

Fergus Wilson is running for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. He is legally not allowed to stand, but Fergus isn’t going to let something like the law stand in the way of him becoming Police and Crime Commissioner.

Mr Wilson, to his friends, has been campaigning weekly in the Medway Messenger, and if you read not even between, but actually the red lines in his more recent ads, you get a picture that is at times insightful, contradictory, poetic and sinister:

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January 22

FORTRESS KENT
To build a lorry park at Stanford for 3,600 lorries is to create a terrorist target. The Dartford Crossing is a Terrorist Target. Proactive not Reactive. Suspected Suicide Bombers will be dealt with in the most severe fashion. Innocent people will die! Vote for Fergus Wilson 

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 13.54.54February 5

KENT FIRST
BLACK ECONOMY OF KENT
SECURITY NEEDS TO BE BEEFED UP
REWARD
£1,000
£10,000
£20,000
There are two ways of dealing with Operation Stack. Fergus Wilson’s way and the wrong way!

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February 12

COMMON SENSE
What I intend to do is return illegal immigrants to France within 24 hours. Sexually assaulted and raped. The answer is blame the German Government. The German Government can take those aimed at Kent. It is certain the Exit Britain campaign will succeed in 2017.
I want your help to track down and return illegal immigrants to France within 24 hours in chains if need be. We are at war with illegal immigrants in Kent. If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!
If any man beats up a woman there will be no hiding place for him in Kent. There will be an audit trail published so you can see what my salary is spent on! VOTE TACTICALLY

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February 19

JOHNNY FOREIGNER
So what is it you want Mr & Mrs Voter? Do you want me to keep them out? Or do you wish to welcome them with open arms? The choice is YOURS!
You will definetly get people trying to report illegals for the reward. Either you want illegal immigration in Kent stopped or you do not! Which is it? YOUR CHOICE!
What do we do with operation stack in the meantime? I believe I am the only man who can deliver these common sense answers. I ask you to vote for me on 5
th May 2016. This gives me four years to sort out Kent Police! VOTE TACTICALLY

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February 26

CLOSE THE DOOR
You cannot give him jam tarts when he wants cream doughnuts. If you any resident of Kent wats an open door policy he is in the extreme minority as I judge the fashion at this time.
The function of the police is to enforce the law not make the law.
If I am elected there will be two types of police officer in Kent. Those that agree with me and ex police officers. Kent is too top heavy with senior officers from inspector upwards. We need more troops on the ground!
British manufacturers? VOTE TACTICALLY

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March 4

THAT PUNCH
That must have been some punch as very few professional boxers earn that sort of money at a boxing bout. I wish they would do so. Indeed Jeremy Clarkson was neither charged nor cautioned for the £100,000 Punch! That did not prevent him from becoming an MP.
Civil war has broken out within the Conservative party. I suggest to the electorate that it is time for tactical thinking and tactical voting. Voting for one of the minority parties your vote will be wasted. Apply some brain power and vote tactically.
The Kent policing budget is £300 million and insufficient. Track record of handling money! VOTE TACTICALLY

Are you now, or have you ever been…

keep-calm-im-blocked-1

We met in a side room of small terraced house in Chatham. I’m shown into the room and quickly given a cup of tea and a biscuit. There are four people already in the room, all from different backgrounds and all with one main thing in common. We have all been blocked by Tris Osbo.

A woman, 27, sips from her tea, and smiles shyly. “I can’t even say why I’m bothered, I just, I just find it upsetting, I should be grateful, to be free, but it’s the not knowing why.”

“Agreed,” says the host, “nobody is saying he isn’t allowed to block. I suppose it’s the surprise of being blocked as much as anything.”

“I know why,” says the 45 year old member of the Socialist Workers Party. “Its because I didn’t properly apologise for not supporting his campaign.”

“Which one?” I ask.

“The general election. TUSC had put up a candidate, and well, the politics are different, aren’t they? Seemed an obvious choice, I just didn’t realise it would come to this.”

There was a legend, that during the late hours of the result; when it was obvious that Tris was going to lose the general election campaign and a rumour that he might even lose his council seat, that he had been changed by the experience. Some say that he softened, regained his sense of humour and even opened up. It’s laughable to think people actually believe that.

A gruff northern voice speaks up, “What you need to know about Osbo is that he is a cu..”

“Stop, easy now”, our host shouts in.

“What?” He continues, “I thought this was Chatham House rules!”

“No,” says the host, “this is a house in chatham, we can still be polite.”

“He’s brilliant really” says the woman, “His election strategy, I mean.”

“What for a guy that lost overwhelmingly, you mean?” says the gruff voice.

“Yeah, with the PCC elections coming up. He doesn’t explain or give any reason to vote for him. He either ignores you or demands to know why you aren’t supporting him. It’s brilliant.”

“Agreed,” says the SWP member, “Thanks to him, I’m very aware that it’s my fault the Tories won. I just wish I could message him and let him know.”

There is a gentle laughter, even from the gruff voiced man, and they start sharing stories, stories of life on the outside, stories of being blocked by Tris.

I sit and sip tea and listen, and think, it’s not so bad, I could get used to this, being here, being blocked by Tris, and not seeing the dazzling political intellect at work.

But..

The not knowing eats away at me, not knowing what I did that put me with these lost souls. I haven’t really slept, I’ve just picked at food.

Oh who am I kidding. Why? WHY ME?

My mobile phone goes.

There is a slew of messages, and I see that yes, yes! I am no longer blocked by Tris.

See ya later suckers, I hold my tongue from saying out loud. Stay polite, I might be returning one day, and these aren’t bad people, even if they have been blocked.

I sneak out the back door, not making eye contact, just catching up online. The insights. The humour. The end.

What if Medway Council had Proportional Representation?

The following piece makes the assumption that voting intention for Medway’s local elections in 2015 would have been the same under PR as FPTP. Whilst I’m open to the idea that this wouldn’t be the case (it almost certainly wouldn’t be -Jennings), this is the data I have to work with.

The essential principle is:
1 seat ward – Nearest to 100% wins a seat
2 seat ward – Nearest to 50% wins a seat
3 seat ward – Nearest to 33% wins a seat

Later, we will also look at a list system based on average votes across medway

Disclaimer:
If you are unable to make the leap this requires, stop reading, as you are unlikely to engage with the result. If however, you read on, then I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Results data taken from www.medwayelects.co.uk, with thanks to Alan Collins.

Current Council : Conservatives 36, Labour 15, UKIP 3, Independent 1

For a possible, unlikely, interpretation of a PR Result, read on…

Chatham Central
Labour 34.9% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 1Labour 1UKIP 1

Cuxton and Halling
Conservatives 53.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 2Labour 1UKIP 1

Gillingham North
Labour 33% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.2% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 3Labour 2UKIP 2

Gillingham South
Labour 29.6% = 1 Seat
UKIP 23.9% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 21.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 4Labour 3UKIP 3

Hempstead and Wigmore
Conservatives 77.7% = 1 Seats
(Con 27.7% Remainder) = 1 Seat
Labour 17% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 6Labour 3UKIP 3

Lordswood and Capstone
Conservative 66.3% = 1 Seat
(Con 16.3% Remainder) = 0 Seats
Labour 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 7Labour 4UKIP 3

Luton and Wayfield
Labour 36% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 32.2% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 8Labour 5UKIP 4

Peninsula
UKIP 36.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 36.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 15.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 9Labour 6UKIP 5

Princes Park
Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 10Labour 6UKIP 6

Rainham Central
Conservatives 48.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.5% = 1 Seat
(Conservative Remainder 15.4%) = 1 Seat
Labour 14.9% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 12Labour 6UKIP 7

Rainham North
Conservatives 47.7% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 13Labour 6UKIP 8

Rainham South
Conservatives 46.5% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 14Labour 7UKIP 9

River
Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 27.4% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 15Labour 8UKIP 9

Rochester East
Labour 37.1% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 25.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 16Labour 9UKIP 9

Rochester South and Horsted
Conservatives 38.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.7% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 17Labour 10UKIP 10

Rochester West
Conservatives 42.3% = 1 Seat
Labour 21.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 18Labour 11UKIP 10

Strood North
Conservatives 36.4% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat
UKIP 25% 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 19Labour 12UKIP 11

Strood Rural
Conservatives 41% = 1 Seat
UKIP 35.1% = 1 Seat
(Conservative remainder 8%) = 0 Seat
Labour 16% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 20Labour 13UKIP 12

Strood South
UKIP 37.4% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 34.5% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 21Labour 14UKIP 13

Twydall
Labour 40.8% = 1 Seat
(Labour Remainder 7.8%) = 0 Seat
Conservatives 36.8% = 1 Seat
Greens 11% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 22Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 13  

Walderslade
Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.6% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 23, Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 14

Watling
Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Liberal Democrats 22.9% = 1 Seat

Total: Conservatives 24, Greens 1Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 1UKIP 14

Whilst this dramatically reduces the Conservative majority, in favour of UKIP, they would have a councillor in every ward. The majority of wards would have a mixed party of councillors representing them. The council would also benefit from having Green and Liberal Democrat voices represented.

I don’t want to cast aspersions with regard to the benefits of certain individuals who would not currently be councillors. I would like to say there was some potentially good individuals who are not currently councillors, who in this mix, would have been.

PART TWO: The List

Based on available data of voter averages from May 2015
Conservatives 32.8%
UKIP 24.2%
Labour 21.3%
Greens 8.1%
Liberal Democrats 7.1%
Independents 4.2%
TUSC 2.3%

Total Seats: Conservatives 18, Greens 5Labour 12, Liberal Democrats 4, TUSC 1UKIP 13, Independent 2

With a result that would reduce the main parties this much and increase the UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Greens result, you can understand why there is such an establishment reaction against PR.

But we can say it’s because of the maths.

Also any result that could lead to TUSC winning a seat, despite having a Zero Vote Ward in Rainham North, is clearly flawed and the system should stay the representative FPTP..

PUCK
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

The French Radicals

I have started writing this piece several times, and played it over in my head several times. It’s about how I feel about the Labour party. My feelings have been confuzzled of late, not helped by the election result and the resulting leadership election.

It is about feelings of disappointment.

I don’t expect Medway Labour to care that I feel disappointment, or even if you care, but it’s how I feel, and I wanted to write it down before the result tomorrow, and my disappointment grows.

Disappointment = Expectation/Reality
Jeremy Corbyn will win the first round of the Labour leadership but I don’t expect him to win the leadership.

As we discussed with the Political Compass, the conversation has moved so far right, that post New Labour the argument is over a relatively small piece of political real estate. Corbyn, who is largely left of centre, is seen as extreme left, purely because how far right the conversation has gone.

There have been a ridiculous number of hours spent analysisng why Labour lost the election. It would seem to be without question that it was the #EdStone. It wasn’t allowing Conservatives to control the economic narrative, which made a global economic crisis there fault; it wasn’t allowing UKIP to take socialist agenda with regards the NHS, ground they had abandoned; it wasn’t losing Scotland (presumably because Ed was too left); it wasn’t failing to stop the narrative being about letting SNP run England if Ed was PM.

It feels now that there are elements that are angry that anyone gives a negative view of Labour – or anything remotely ‘left’ – but instead that we should just being grateful that Labour are there for us. And we shouldn’t question that.

Standing for winning and against the others winning.

There are, or seem to be, elements with Medway Labour that seem obsessed with public opinion when actually what they mean is media opinion.

“It’s worth remembering that in the press, public opinion is often used interchangeably with media opinion, as if the public was somehow much the same as a group of radically rightwing billionaire sociopaths.” – Frankie Boyle

There is an obsession with polling numbers, despite the last general election showing that the polls were very, very wrong.

As this West wing clip shows, numbers lie, and some members of Medway Labour are like the French radicals:

The Opposite of Power

Disclaimer: As a naive lefty who is clearly wrong about most things, Keevil has accepted a political life on the outside. Where it is easy to be dismissed, especially by those who are dismissive. Being in opposition to the administration isn’t about being anti-Tory or being contrary, it is about the need for a strong opposition in a strong democracy.

Rather than just accept that an election was won by a small percentage, or not by the majority of voters (the FPTP losers equivalent to the current government/administrations’s ‘Austerity is needed because of the last Labour government’ mantra), we need to ask;

What does it mean to be in opposition?
Is there any real power in opposition?

According to the freedictionary.com
A person or group of people opposing, criticising or protesting something, someone or another group.

Residents expect elected councillors to contribute to the development of policies and strategies, and for the councils policy’s to be signed off by full council, on which everybody sits. They expect concerns to be investigated and decisions to be communicated. They expect to be represented.
They expect those in opposition to question and hold those in power to account.

I’m going to try (I’ll fail) and sound non-partisan, when I say there are issues regarding the role of opposition in the Medway Towns.

Following the 2015 local election result, there was a new status quo, which heavily affected opposition and oppositional power in the Medway Unitary Authority.
Firstly; whilst I don’t think Medway Labour were expecting to lead the council, there was an expectation of increased group side, maybe even no overall control, a view held by this site at least. What resulted was in fact a strengthened and emboldened Conservative administration.
Secondly; whilst nobody expected the Medway Liberal Democrats to do well, their complete removal from council resulting in the loss of a Liberal/ liberal voice, should not be considered a good thing.
Thirdly; Chris Irvine’s foolishly noble decision to stand for election within the ward he lives. This meant the councillor for Penisula Ward and leader of UKIP Rochester/Medway UKIP group (delete as appropriate) left the council and the group lost it’s leader. UKIP have appeared rudderless in full council so far. They have already lost one member who become an independent and have made no meaningful contribution.
It’s the belief of this writer at least that Irvine’s absence is a bigger loss to ofpposition within council then that of Geoff Juby.
Fourthly; The Medway Green Party’s inabilty to build on its by-election profile and mount a credible challenge for a ward seat. Whilst they achieved a larger vote then Medway TUSC, TUSC have – angered by the Rainham North result – been more vocal in their opposition, at full council meetings at least.

The current administration seems angered by the audacity of an member of the council or the public who dares to question them and hold them accountable, going so far as to seek to change the process.

Forgetting that members of council not part of the administration were also elected to do exactly that, and that the administration works for the public, and should answer to them. Frankly more then six times a year at full council and once every four years at the ballot box.

The administration should respect the role of opposition. Whomever holds it. They should not seek to diminish it. Or undermine the politial process, through an ineffective oversight and scrutiny committee, chairing all other committees, and placing all decision making power within a ten person cabinet that meets for ten minutes.

Critical feedback is not a negative experience and any opposition should have an opportunity to contribute to the creation of policy and legislation.
They should oppose proposals they legitimately disagree with, be given an opportunity to voice that disagreement and not have that voice dismissed as sour grapes.

Democracy thrives when there is a peaceful rivalry and a balance between a majority, winner of the election, who is in a position to govern, but not monopolising all the power.

Whilst we can be relieved that there is no likelihood of the police being called to remove minority parties from council (though we should wait for the results of Cllr Mackness’ constitutional review, to be fully sure), there is a concern held by this site about the monopolisation of power with cabinet and the charing of committees.

The oppositions role is to oppose and to do that they must be able to participate in the political process. They then must do this effectively and responsibly. It is this area looking forward that needs to be monitored over the course of the administration. 

If there is to be any true power in opposition the Medway electorate and elected needs to accept that:
1) Medway Unitary Authority is not a two party system.
2) They should not be dismissive of any smaller group seaking to gain a ward seat at the table.
3) A Liberal/liberal voice is needed.
4) As is a Green one.
Saying that, the two party system providing 3 & 4 only works if they actually do.

As the largest group in opposition, Medway Labour needs to also be held accountable for the positions they take on issues. Not opposing for opposing sake and ensuring they offer credible alternatives.

UKIP Rochester/Medway UKIP (delete as appropriate) has a spokesperson woman and they need to find their voice with council and represent the people that voted for them and continue to oppose anti-xenophobia.

Mark Joy’s first council meeting, as a councillor and an Independent councillor, gave an interesting dynamic as he opposed one Labour motion and supported another. Ignoring for this piece the purpose of either motion, this is a positive of opposition, voting on a case by case basis, with or against the opposition. Not along party lines. This is easer when you dont have a party line to follow, obviously.

I understand there is a position of group whip to stop people voting against the party line, but until member and public opposition amounts to more, then any opposition is purely for the record – decisions will continue to be made behind closed doors and outside of democracy.

quote-love-is-the-opposite-of-power-that-s-why-we-fear-it-so-much-gregory-david-roberts-46-62-43

 

Democracy and Rainham North

A much needed review of the local election result in Rainham North.

As reported by the local newspaper:

Medway TUSC had valid concerns about the result:

And as our own Ed Jennings said, this wasn’t about a result for Medway TUSC:

Dave Nellist is national Chair of TUSC:

The Medway TUSC group took legal advice and discussed the situation with the National Agent Clive Heenskirk, who researched electoral law and advised that the legal position was a matter of private law and not going to change the result, even if it raises concerns about the whole count.

Paul and four other residents were all willing to sign a legal affidavit and this would have to go through the High Court, which would require the hiring of a QC, which would have significant costs.

Medway TUSC insist that they did question the result on the night, but no recount was called. Medway Labour’s Vince Maple recognises that this is an issue caused by a long count and Rainham North being the 21st of 22 results, and that electoral law does little to support if nothing is done on the night.

ITV Covered the story here.

Whilst the Medway Greens Gillingham Candidate told us;

“As a newcomer to politics and the election process, the 7th May 2015 was an eye-opener for me. Especially the archaic vote-counting process at Medway Park. I expected a long night but to be there until 8.30 the next morning was a bit of a shock.
Therefore it is no real surprise to me to learn that something could go wrong in the process. However, for the unfortunate TUSC local election candidate for Rainham North, Paul Dennis, not to register a single vote did seem unfathomable to me. Had he forgotten to vote for himself or spoilt his ballot paper? What about his friends, family, supporters….?
It is very important to investigate every issue that is raised to keep that image whiter than white and for Medway Council to be fully supportive and transparent when questions are raised.”
Neil Williams Medway Green Party

Medway TUSC started a campaign on the issue:

IMG_2008

We covered the protest creating the following short video

38 Degrees provided support with a petition that has now attracted over 750 signatures:

Ultimately though, things aren’t looking good:

However, questions do still remain:

Medway Council’s response has not changed:

 “I can confirm that having double-checked our records, the paperwork confirms a zero return for TUSC in Rainham North. Whilst I accept this is unusual, now that the result has been declared, I am afraid there is nothing else we can do to investigate the matter further as we are bound by the rules of election law.”
Neil Davies, Acting Returning Officer

Medway TUSC are now relying on a public support, to lead to a public enquiry rather than a recount.

“The legitimacy of the result has been called into question, the system is a shambles, there were people under enormous pressure with small resources.”
Chas Berry,  Medway TUSC

And then things became more complex in Rainham North:

IMG_2070 (1)

Medway TUSC made this revelation at the Council AGM, approaching ourselves and Medway Labour Group leader Vince Maple.

Medway TUSC Gillingham Candidate had this to say:

“Regarding the nominations process in Rainham North, there was no agent query and questions to be asked. I have spoken with senior officers and am awaiting a response.”
Vince Maple, Leader Medway Labour

Medway Council have made the following statement, as if the previous concern’s regarding the Rainham North vote hadn’t occured.

“Rainham North is a two-member ward which was contested in our elections on 7 May 2015.
“It has been brought to our attention by TUSC that one particular individual has signed more than the maximum number of nomination papers for the ward.
“Having looked into this, the individual concerned has signed nomination papers for three candidates in the election, which should have meant the last nomination paper submitted would have been invalid.
“If it had been invalidated, there was time for the affected candidate to have completed and submitted a new nomination paper. The affected candidate was not either of the two successful candidates in the election for the ward.
“Whilst this is clearly a matter of concern, the outcome of the election in the ward is not in doubt.
“We are conducting an in-depth review of our systems and procedures to ensure that this will not occur again.
“This clearly should not have happened, and we are very sorry it did. We have advised the Electoral Commission of the situation.”
Neil Davies. Returning Officer

Keevil

Dude Where’s My Democracy

Democracy pt 2

As we discussed as part of #iFAQS the Medway Towns and the Hoo Penisula are now a Unitary Authority and not part of Kent County Council. The Council is made up of 22 Wards creating 55 seats. At the time of writing the council is made up of 4 parties, and will likely still be 4 parties after the election, and these 4 parties have an equal say..
I mean unequal say in the running of the Medway Towns.

There are also parish councils but nobody knows what goes on there.

The Council is currently under Conservative Control and has been since 2003, though Keevil and Jennings are both predicting No Overall Control in the 2015 Local Elections.
The council elected Leader of the Council is Cllr Rodney Chambers OBE
The (publically unelected) Mayor is Cllr Barry Kemp
The Leader then appointed a Deputy leader and then upto 9 further members to make up the cabinet.
The Cabinet is responsible for implementing the council’s budget and policies as well as forming partnerships with other key organisations.

The Leader and Cabinet are held to account by Overview and Scrutiny Committees which are made up of Councillors from all the political groups represented on the council.

STATS ALERT

Current Council Councillors

Conservatives 31 = 56%
Labour 17 = 31%
UKIP 4 = 7%
Liberal Democrats 3 = 6%

So the will of the Medway electorate, and the will of the councillors defecting, means that the Conservatives have over 50% of the council, which mean they, with their party whip, can be confident of winning a vote.

Current Council Cabinet

Conservatives 10 = 100%
Labour 0 = 0%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

The cabinet, where significant decisions are made, mirrors this council make up with..
oh wait, no it doesn’t.
The Council is overviewed by 5 scrutiny committees and these largely follow along Council lines.

Business Support Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 8 = 62%
Labour 4 = 31%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 8 = 47%
Labour 4 = 24%
UKIP 1 = 6%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 6%
Non-elected, voting 3 = 18%
Non-elected, non-voting 9 = 0% of vote
Vacancy 2 = 0% of vote

Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 7 = 54%
Labour 4  = 31%
UKIP 1 = 8%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%
Non-elected, non-voting 3 = 0% of the vote

Regeneration, Community and Culture Committee

Conservatives 6 = 55%
Labour 4=33%
UKIP 1 = 8%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%

Joint NHS Scrutiny Committee with Kent County Council

Conservatives 3 = 75%
Labour 1 = 25%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

Each committee has a chair and a vice chair. Which also don’t follow along council lines.

Charing and vice chairing of Scrutiny Committees

Conservative 8 = 100%
Labour 0 = 0%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

This isn’t about being anti-Conservative. This is about being anti-democratic.

This is about a one-party having the ability to dictate policy via a cabinet they fully control, where all oversight is carried out by committees they chair.

Maybe No Overall Control won’t be a bad thing for a while.

Keevil

Once Upon a Time in a Medway Constituency

Democracy pt 1

As part of the Vote for Policies test, Jennings held to type the Liberal Democrat, whilst Keevil showed support for Labour’s policies on democracy.

So what Democracy do the residents of the Medway Towns have?

 

Parliamentary Constituencies

As you should be aware, there are 3 Members of Parliament representing Chatham & Aylesford, Gillingham & Rainham, and Rochester & Strood. But it wasn’t always this way!
We have mostly stuck with 1997 as the line in the sand date for this blog, but not anymore..

Chatham & Aylesford
An electorate in 2010 of over 68,000. Half of the constituency is based in Medway and the other half in Kent.
Stay with me..
The Chatham & Aylesford constituency was created in 1997 from parts of the Mid-Kent and Tonbridge & Malling seats. The first incumbent of the newly formed seat was Labour’s Jonathan Shaw who was returned to the seat in the subsequent 2001 and 2005 elections, before the aforementioned boundary changes and Conservative’s Tracey Crouch win in 2010.
Tonbridge & Malling, like Aylesford, is outside of Medway, and therefore outside of our understanding.
The Mid-Kent seat was created in 1983 from parts of the Rochester & Chatham and Maidstone seats. The only winner of the seat was the Conservative’s Andrew Rowe from 1983 to 1992. Rowe won the newly formed Mid-Kent and Faversham seat in 1997, showing that Conservative’s could win seats in 1997. However the seat doesn’t represent Medway, and so like Maidstone, we don’t care. Rochester & Chatham was a parliamentary seat created in the 1950’s from the Chatham Constituency.
The 1950’s and 60’s saw several elections, except for 1959, return the Labour candidate, before 1970 when the constituency was won for the Conservatives by Peggy Fenner, the first polititian, outside of the Prime Minister, that Keevil remembers, which is impressive considering he wasn’t born until 1979. Anyways..
Fenner held the seat, with the exception of the snap election in Oct 84, winning it back in 1979, until the seat was abolished in 1983. Fenner won the newly formed Medway seat in 1983, and we’ll come back to that. Because as the name suggests, it represented Medway.
The Chatham Constituency was created in for the 1832 general election. I think we’ve gone back far enough there! But a clear record of Chatham going back and forth between Labour and the Conservatives doesn’t look like changing, though there’s a good chance that the constituency will.

Tangent Alert

The Government’s plans for boundary review in 2013, which would have reduced the number of seats failed to pass through Parliament. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act would have cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600, but was opposed as gerrymandering, which we will come back to at a later date.


Rehman Chishti voted very strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
Tracey Crouch voted very strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
Mark Reckless voted strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
So should boundary changes come back up, theres a good chance, should they get re-elected, they would be in favour.

Where were we?

Gillingham & Rainham
Formed in 2010 with an electorate of over 71,000.
The Gillingham & Rainham constituency was formed in 2010 from the Gillingham constituency.
As far as I can tell there were little actual boundary changes. It’s just nice that Rainham got added to the title. It has only had one MP, the Labour Conservative councillor Rehman Chishti, who beat the Labour incumbent Paul Clark.
The Gillingham constituency goes back to the turn of the 20th century. It was mainly Conservative held until, with the exception of the 1945 election, Paul Clark won and held the seat in 1997. Well, that was simple.

Dagenham & Rainham is a constituency that is somewhere else and so shouldn’t be confused.

Rochester & Strood
Created in 2010, with an electorate of over 75,000.
The Rochester & Strood constituency was created from the Medway Constituency in 2010. The seat has been won by Mark Reckless twice, first for the Conservatives in 2010 and again for UKIP in 2014. As if you didn’t know that..
As Naushabah Khan rightly said on the Sunday Politics South East, there have been boundary changes from when Labour held the Medway seat, with Bob Marshall Andrews since 1997. Andrews won the seat from incumbent and previously mentioned, but now Dame, Peggy Fenner, see how this all comes full circle! Here at least there was at least a reason for the name change as it was found to be confusing with the recently formed Medway Unitary Authority, when the constituency covered only part of the authority.
For History bores, the Medway seat previously existed 1885-1918 when it was held by the Conservatives and Rochester has been sending a member to parliament since the 14th Century and the Medway Lib Dems should take heart they held the seat in 1910 so they are due a comeback.

Which seems a slightly mean joke to finish on, but there you go.

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