Friday, 15 November 2013

Ken Livingstone

It was interesting to see Ken Livingstone's recent comments to a campaigning group. He accused the Labour party of “cowardice” for building up billions in debts rather than taking difficult decisions on tax cuts and spending and accused Gordon Brown of borrowing too much in the boom years. Mr Livingstone said: “Gordon Brown was borrowing £20 billion a year at the height of the boom in the first decade of this century in order to avoid having to increase taxes, because he wanted to increase public spending.” Whilst non of this is exactly cutting edge it is surprising how many Labour councillors in Southend remain in denial of the financial incompetance of the last Labour government and it's hand in contributing to the financial challenge which the current government is facing.If you think you have eliminated the cycle of boom and bust is it surprising that in times of boom you do not take steps to prepare for the inevitable times of bust. Our Labour members refuse to accept my criticisms of their last government but perhaps they will listen to Red Ken!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Independent Thinking

Bearing in mind my well established political views some friends regularly express their surprise that my wife and I are daily readers of the Independent Newspaper and indeed have been regular purchasers since the original launch of the paper many years ago. Admittedly it has gone through some ups and downs so far as quality is concerned, and this week had the latest of it's regular make overs, but we have stuck to it and I like a paper that challenges some of my natural inclinations and gives reason for thought not only when reading but also subsequently. The nearest I got to cancelling our order was at the last general election when for the first time the editorial encouraged us to vote for a particular party. I would have thought that the editorial staff realised that by choosing their publication we had sufficient interest to evaluate the merits of the parties ourselves and that if we wanted such direction we would have bought the Mail or the Sun. However a couple of items this week demonstrate the papers ability to stimulate thought and debate. In one a renown correspondent was critical of the apparent expectation of the BBC and others for their staff to wear poppies. Infact the article went further than being critical of the policy but also argued against the whole principle of wearing a poppy. I have to say I would never expect or instruct a colleague to wear a poppy - it is a matter of personal choice - but I will continue to wear a poppy with pride in that not only does it represent an outward sign of support for all those who have risked or lost their lives for our common sake but also because I am sure that the money raised from poppy sales is important. In fact I have always thought that this is a good argument against the permanent and reusable poppy badges etc which have recently become popular and make sure that I buy a new poppy each year. In a very different article mention was made of a newly issued cd of glam rock greats which has erased Gary Glitter and his music from this otherwise complete record. The question is whether this is right or wrong and like me the author of the piece was in two minds. As a matter of historical accuracy this music was important to the development of the genre but does including it somehow excuse his subsequent behaviour. The decision not to show past editions of Top of the Pops hosted by Savile seems more obvious as it is almost like showing the scene of a crime. The article also posed the question of whether other artists and authors whose behaviour has been unacceptable should also be air brushed from the history of their art. By way of example the article by David Lister made reference to the serial rapist and novelist Arthur Koestler. On balance I think I favour including artistic work in these circumstances although not without significant doubts.

Remembrance Sunday

The weather conditions for the Town's Remembrance Service were just about perfect this morning. Whilst It was a little fresh it was sunny and dry with a beautiful blue sky. The turnout was fantastic with more on parade than I can recall for many years. As usual the service was supported by large members of the general public. Not only is it a thought provoking occasion which makes it a must do in the council diary, but I also believe that as local representatives it is important that we attend in large numbers to show our support. I am always surprised at the odd elected member who fails to ever attend and would hope that they would rethink for the future. In the meantime congratulations to all those involved in organising the day.

Friday, 8 November 2013

My imaginary friend.

Many years ago in my last year at Chalkwell Hall Junior School I had a pal who had an imaginary friend. It was quite funny at the time as he would regularly stand in the playground having a heated discussion with himself and acting for all the world as though there were two separate people. The advantage from his point of view was that he could always ensure that he had a friend and it also meant that he could ensure he won every argument. My mind went back to him following the performance of Independent Party Councillor Ron Woodley at a recent scrutiny meeting when with a straight face he stood up in his capacity of Cllr Ron Woodley to defend an alternative flood defence scheme submitted by Mr Ron Woodley the Chairman of local residents group BERA. I have previously blogged on this bizarre situation which in my view raises an interesting question as to whether Cllr Woodley could speak as a scrutinising councillor without raising a perception as to conflict. I thought that would be an end to it but I have now been referred to the BERA website and on the “Flood Defence” page there is a message to residents from Mr Woodley and a copy of a letter Mr Woodley has sent to the Council’s Chief Executive. If I had the IT skills of Cllrs Cox or Ware Lane I would provide a link but his letter includes the following gems: “Dear Mr Tinlin Following last weeks Place Scrutiny meeting I have to register my displeasure at the proceedings that took place. Apart from the fact that my elected representative on the committee was excluded from asking pertinent questions of all options on the sea defence proposals..... The following are just a few questions that I am asking as Chair of the Burges Estate Residents Association, which are very different from the questions that I know our elected member of the council was refused/not permitted to ask at the committee. Ron Woodley Chair Burges Estate Residents Association” This is greatly shortened but the full letter is available as indicated. The more perceptive amongst you will realise that Mr Ron Woodley’s reference to “my elected representative” is a reference to Cllr Ron Woodley and it is interesting that Mr Ron Woodley feels it appropriate to ask different questions from his councillor Cllr Ron Woodley. Perhaps the 2 of them should meet to discuss the issue – my old pal would be proud!