Improving political discourse for 2020

In which Anna McGovern, the Chair of Medway Youth Council, takes a look at the current state of our political conversations, and how things can be improved..

The political discourse in our society is fractured – and arguably, beyond repair. One could argue that our online discourse, in itself, is a broken mechanism, aside from the political sphere. When Caroline Flack tragically died, our collective response was to circulate the hashtag #BeKind across social media; a seemingly powerful message with the well-intended commission to implore a more “considerate” nature towards one another. That lasted mere days. Well-intended hashtags cannot shape the toxicity of our rampant society.  

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Political Figures: What next for Rochester and Strood?

In which Alan Collins from Medway Elects casts his eye over Rochester and Strood, and ponders what lies ahead for the constituency..

Ah, 2015, the year the World Health Organisation declared that rubella had been eradicated from the Americas, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born, and, awkwardly, I’ve run out of positive events to highlight (I really should have thought this intro through before writing the first article).

It was also the last time any of Medway’s parliamentary constituencies changed hands.

In recognition of this unbroken run of Conservative representation in parliament, Messrs Jennings and Keevil have asked me to look at what has changed between the three most recent general elections. So, for my latest three-part mini-series I’ll be looking at the results for each of Medway’s three constituencies in turn.

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Voice of the Opposition: March

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. Today we hear from Vince Maple, leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition on Medway Council.


I write this Saturday evening after one of the most challenging weeks in modern history. 

Our community of Medway, our country and our planet are dealing with a pandemic which is having huge and lasting impacts.

Yesterday, Friday 19th March, saw the tragic announcement of the first death in Medway related to Coronavirus or CoVid19 – my thoughts are with his friends and family at this most difficult time for them.

The regrettable reality is that it is unlikely to be the only loss we see here in Medway and every single individual lost to this virus will be felt by the whole community – the community which has shown such tremendous examples of compassion for others in these early stages of this public health challenge.

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iFAQ: Councillor allowances

So it’s a bit of a weird time, but we’re all sitting at home, so what better time to start publishing some local politics articles again? They won’t be about the current situation, as most were already in the can before this kicked off. That being said, if anyone fancies writing something with a local angle on the current situation, hit us up.

Before we all locked ourselves away from the outside world, Medway had been facing some debate about the appropriate level of allowance for councillors. While most council staff received a 1% pay increase, councillor allowances increased by 14%. How much councillors receive is a complicated question, so we decided to ask every Medway councillor the following:

Do you feel the current allowance of £10,421 for councillors represents fair remuneration for the time spent carrying out your duties?

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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Political Figures: What next for Gillingham and Rainham?

In which Alan Collins from Medway Elects looks at Gillingham and Rainham, and ponders how easily the Conservative hold on the constituency could be broken..

Ah, 2015, the year Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger sold for $179.3m, a new species of early human called Homo naledi was discovered and Lithuania became the nineteenth member of the Eurozone.

It was also the last time any of Medway’s parliamentary constituencies changed hands.

In recognition of this unbroken run of Conservative representation in parliament, Messrs Jennings and Keevil have asked me to look at what has changed between the three most recent general elections. So, for my latest three-part mini-series I’ll be looking at the results for each of Medway’s three constituencies in turn.

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Are petitions fit for purpose?

In which Stuart Bourne ponders just how effective petitions can be as a means of campaigning..

Whether someone annoying you in the street with a clipboard in hand, or the image of a cart of signatures being wheeled to the doors of Downing Street, petitions can mean a lot to different people. They have always formed a link between public opinion and the government since medieval times. The greatest of these was the People’s Charter, the petition from the 19th Century Chartists movement that led us towards universal suffrage and modern democracy. The digital age has now revolutionised the petition, but has this led to more effective democracy or a simple distraction from real power.

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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. Today we hear from Vince Maple, leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition on Medway Council.


As is often said a week is a long time in politics and since the last column there has been a lot going on in Medway politics.

It’s worth recognising that there continues to be a vacancy for the Medway Local Democracy Reporter so the job of holding all politicians to account done by Ed and Steve is more important than ever.

Of course, one political event since my last column was the general election. I want to thank every single person who voted Labour across the three Medway constituencies. I was proud to stand alongside Teresa and Andy as Labour’s parliamentary team in Medway. As I said at the count political parties in the UK are fundamentally volunteer organisations so the fact that so many people gave their time in the run up to Christmas to play their part in the election campaign shows real dedication.

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Looking for the sunny uplands

In which Steve Dyke ponders how seriously Medway Council and the government are taking climate issues that effect us all..

I hate to admit it, but we are likely to be governed nationally and locally by Conservative politicians for the foreseeable future.  These are some thoughts on what this may mean for Medway’s natural environment.

The outlook will be shaped both by actions taken (or not taken) to respond to the climate and ecological crises we face, and by the attitude of those in power.  Two documents published this year will have an important influence: the Government’s Environment Bill (“the Bill”), reintroduced into Parliament earlier this month, and the long-awaited release of Medway Council’s draft Local Plan.

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