In which former Medway councillor Anne-Claire Howard tells us what leaving the European Union today means to her..
On the 31st of January, I won’t be “celebrating”. There will be no “freedom regained”, no “joy at overthrowing the shackles of Brussels”. Instead there will be sadness and mourning that something unique and promising has been lost. Not just to me (because it hasn’t entirely for me) but for the young generation, for those who didn’t want to leave, for those who will – in time – come to regret leaving.
Since the early morning of the 24th June 2016, I’ve been slowly working my way through the stages of grief. Well no, let’s be honest, I started with denial, then anger, then depression, and anger again. And I honestly think that I will never reach acceptance.
So what does “Brexit” mean for me? Where do I – a French woman who chose for love to live and work in the UK – go from here? How am I impacted? How is my family impacted by a decision in which we had no say since I was not allowed to vote (and neither were hundreds of thousands of Brits who live abroad)?
In which former Medway councillor Anne-Claire Howard ponders why female MPs are stepping down in this General Election..
The first question is, are many women MPs standing down? More than men? If that’s the case, are they long standing MPs? And what reasons are they invoking? And are they of all parties, ethnic origin, or ages? It’s a little easy to make all-encompassing statements like this, so I did a little research.
First of all, of the 58 politicians who are stepping down, 18 are women. “Well, that’s not so bad”, I hear you say. No, that’s not so bad. It’s basically the same proportion as there are female MPs in the house. This in itself is an issue, but not the topic of this piece. So proportionally as many women are standing down as men. But many of these women are relatively young and relatively recently elected compared to their male peers. That is more of a concern.
Is being a local councillor compatible with being a working mother? This is a question I get asked a lot along with “why on earth would you want to be a local councillor?” and “how could you be a Tory?”
And the truth is that it is extremely hard to be a working mum and a councillor. It’s hard because you have a full-time job on top of being a councillor and most people tend to forget that, and it’s hard because – let’s face it – misogyny is still prevalent. As for being a Tory, well suffice it to say that the current Conservative Party is most certainly no longer in line with my core beliefs and that’s without even mentioning the “B” word.
I decided to run for local election because I believed that my professional expertise could be put to good use. I wanted to give back to my community by using my skills. I wanted to help people improve their lives by providing a link to an authority they are often too distanced from, or don’t understand the dealings of. I naively believed that I would be taken seriously having spent over 15 years working for large multinational corporations, that my voice once elected would be equal to that of all the other elected councillors. But most naively of all, I believed that we would focus our time, effort and attention to local issues and would focus on what was best for Medway and Medway’s residents. Suffice it to be said that this was not the case.
So, farewell then to no less than 17 Medway councillors.
Between councillors losing their seats, retirements, and deselections, a little under a third of councillors who were in office last week ago no longer are. I thought it’d be nice to take a look at those who will no longer be gracing the council chamber. Consider this like the ‘in memoriam’ section at the Oscars, just without the glitz, glamour, and likeable personalities. Continue reading “So, farewell then.. 2019 edition”
Approaching the upcoming local elections, a number of sitting Medway councillors have decided to stand down and not seek re-election. As such, we contacted all of them to ask a few questions about their experiences as a councillor.
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.
For this week’s iFAQ, we decided to ask all councillors a question about the state of democracy in Medway. Given the predictability of the ebb and flow of council meetings, and how it’s usually fairly easy to guess the outcome to any given question, concerns have been raised about how democratic our local structures are. As such, all councillors received the following question:
If it’s possible to accurately predict the response to every question and motion at Medway Council meetings, what does this say about the state of democracy in Medway?
As usual, all councillors were told that their responses would be printed entirely unedited, with the results presented below in the order they were received:
We are interrupting our regular schedule for the rest of the week to bring you an examination of how each local political party appears to be preparing for the May 2019 elections. We begin today with the Medway Conservatives.
The Medway Conservatives have been in control of Medway Council for 16 years of the 21 years that it has existed. Since 2003, they have held an unbroken run of running the council. That level of success can very easily breed complacency, and complacency can breed incompetence. Could the party be heading for a reckoning in May?
From the signs coming from within the local party, that may well be the case.
One of our popular features on The Political Medway is inFrequently Answered Questions, where we’d send off questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply. This week, we kept things nice and simple by sending the following two questions to every Medway councillor:
Q1. What is your preferred option for Brexit? May’s deal, no deal, or no Brexit?
Q2. What do you think of Medway Council’s Cabinet decision not to prepare for Brexit?
We told every councillor that they had a week to respond, and that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.
One of our popular features on The Political Medway is inFrequently Answered Questions, where we send questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply.
It’s time to do our first (Keevil) / last (Jennings) survey!
Following developments last week with Cllr Pendergast leaving Medway UKIP, Cllr Howard leaving Medway Tories and further afield in Dover, Cllr Eddy, the former leader of the Labour Opposition leaving the Labour Group to join the Greens, we (just Keevil) decided to ask the other 53 councillors to select one statement that best represented them for #LocalElection2019: – I will be standing in the same ward with the same party. – I will be standing in the same ward with a different party. – I will be standing in a different ward with the same party. – I will be standing in a different ward with a different party. – I will be standing as an Independent. – I will be standing as a member of The ‘Medway’s Voice Party’. – I have decided to stand down. – I have been deselected. – I do not know if I will be standing or be deselected. – I did not know there was a Local Election in 2019.Continue reading “inFrequently Answered Surveys: I’m Still Standing”
In recent weeks, we’ve seen increasing questions raised about Councillor Rehman Chishti’s ability to juggle several jobs, and how much time he has left to be an active councillor for Rainham Central. As we pointed out previously, in recent years, he has turned up at less than half of full council meetings. Following this, we decided to analyse the attendance rates of all 55 Medway councillors.
First of all, some caveats to this data: We have used the attendance data made available from Medway Council, so if any councillor believes our data is wrong, we’d suggest they take it up with the council. Secondly, we are only analysing attendance of full council and not other committee meetings. While we may look at those in the future, full council is the only meeting where all councillors are expected to attend, so it creates a level playing field. Finally, we have used percentage attendance rather than number of meetings, so we can create a fair comparison between the 52 councillors that have served a full term so far, and the 3 elected in by-elections. Continue reading “Vote for me! I’ll attend full council 44% of the time”