Thursday, 28 May 2009

MPs expenses the forthcoming elections and protest voting

I find I am still looking at my postal ballot papers in a state of indecision, it is an awful admission but always in the past I have been a floating voter, voting either voting Labour or Conservative essentially trying to chose the lesser of two evils.

A long period of Labour government nationally and Conservative government at County and District level have left both my town and my country considerably more unpleasant places to live.

As far as European elections go it’s all a bit of a mystery to me, but looks like another great expenses and allowance jamboree, with MEPs doing very little to represent my interests which are essentially curbing the masses of daft legislation produced by the army of Brussels bureaucrats.

So the bottom line here is there any vote that would contribute to making anything better, at County level for instance would Labour do better, here in Ramsgate much of the infrastructure that KCC is responsible for is falling apart, roads, pavements and cliff façades in particular.

My two KCC councillors at the moment are both Labour, good conscientious people who respond to problems and try to resolve them, the main difficulty for me though is Labour at county level want to do away with grammar schools, and Ramsgate’s grammar schools are two of the very few publicly funded facilities that haven’t been closed.

The problem with voting for the main parties at the moment is that one feels that one is condoning what our MPs have done, for me most especially Gordon Brown refused his grace and favour flat when he was chancellor, and then did a house swap so he could claim large second home expenses on his house in Scotland.

If he had resigned as prime minister and been replaced with a prime minister that hadn’t abused the system I wouldn’t be so annoyed.

I believe talking to people I meet every day that much of the voting public is as stunned and confused as I am, we had a system of government that we called a democracy and everyone told that this was a good thing, but now it looks as though our system of government turns out to be a bad thing hiding behind a good name.

What is most abundantly clear is that the government should present options for reform and put these options to the people in a referendum.

9 comments:

  1. Michael I feel much the same but urge people to vote its the only way things can change.

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  2. I will definitely vote Don however it is a little hard to know which way, even the candidates seem disgusted with their parties MPs, I certainly know one Labour candidate that wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to explain himself and didn’t even get a reply.

    If the good candidates would disassociate from their disgraced parties I would have no problem.

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  3. I think the only democratic solution is for council members not to be elected but to be chosen at random from the voting list in a similar way to chosing 12 good men and women. They could then serve 2 or 3 years with prison as the alternative! Of course the leader would also be appointed by balot. Pick this to bits.

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  4. 18.20 very difficult to find a flaw.
    Just watched Nick Clegg;
    “As well as submitting regular claims for food, gardening, furniture and decorating at his constituency home in Sheffield Hallam, Mr Clegg put in his telephone costs, including several international calls to Colombia, Vietnam, and Spain.
    Records seen by The Daily Telegraph show that Mr Clegg regularly claimed at or just below the maximum possible under the additional costs allowance, which may be used by MPs to run a second home.
    Last year, he had his expenses docked after exceeding the £23,083 maximum by more than £100. His office manager wrote to the Commons fees office: “This month’s claim takes Nick over the allowance total (just).”
    Party political broadcast, clean up politics who does he think he is kidding?

    In the European elections my mind is made up.
    Conversation with the youth of today:
    Son: “ who have UKIP ripped off”?
    Dad:
    “The European parliament publicly and proud of it”
    Son:
    “Sounds good to me I’ll vote for them”

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  5. I will try again, Michael, as I notice so few candidates seem to want to comment on anything.

    You are right, many of us who are in the mainstream parties are utterly disgusted at the clear exploitation that has become part of the Westminster culture, I have carefully tried throughout this not to play politics, because there are clearly villains on all sides.

    Don is right. If you want to change things you have to vote. Indeed to change things effectively you must do more than protest vote, you must exert influence where you can to change attitudes and approaches.

    That is why I got involved in politics in the first place. That is why I am not the most popular member at county hall nor at TDC, amongst many of my colleagues and opponents. But it is also why many officers are wary of giving me the usual smooth, bland explanations that party machines so often accept; and why I am not universally popular with some parts of the officer corps.

    As an independent, my power to change things would be much reduced. That is where we are, with the layer of politicians above that standing for election next week have smeered us all with their lack of moral compass. None of the explanations heard from MP's standing down today was in any way credible - and listening to the chatter I suspect many still do not get the level of anger, nay fury, they have set in train.

    I can only tell you I try to be as straight with any who contacts me as I can; and do my best not to promise what I cannot deliver; nor to claim for what I have not used.

    Perhaps, for the first time in many years, the individual and the tone they set will be as important as the party label. That seems to me to be the best form of protest - to vote for the person you most perceive as being up to the job,rather than just a label.

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  6. Chris the only candidate to appear here with any election bumph so far is Gerry O’Donnell so I am a bit vague about what the individuals stand for, although I am aware of my exiting councillors views as they regularly communicate with me.

    With KCC I am only aware of their poor performance, as an example their highways department appear to have sanctioned the new Pleasurama access road built without the FRA strongly recommended by the EA, lose slabs on sand in a place known to experience wave overtopping, that could be the only escape for over 1,000 people in a tidal surge storm i.e. a sea full of rocks, presumably it is their intention to adopt this road and pick up the tab for sorting it out.

    What I would like to know is where the prospective candidates stand on the big local issues, Turner Contemporary, Dreamland, Pleasurama, the drinking water aquifer particularly with regard to the way KCC abused Water Resources Act 1991 draining roads into SPZs, China Gateway, airport expansion, the contraction of our town centres, Westwood Cross, museums, Thanet Gateway, KCCIT, Kent TV, Icelandic investment, policing, schools, tourism, antisocial behaviour, etc.

    I don’t expect to find a candidate that agrees with me on all issues but I would, if I vote for the individual rather than the party, like to find a modicum of consensus.

    The trouble is that we have seen a long period of Conservative control of KCC, for example here in Ramsgate, “vote for me to ensure you are at the end of the runway of an airport with inadequate environmental safeguards that is aiming for rapid expansion,” may not be the best election battle cry.

    The thing that worries me particularly in view of the recent expenses scandal, is how much are my prospective councillors in these elections to represent me and how much are they in them for personal gain.

    County councillors do quite well out of their positions, you yourself got £28,913.75 in the financial year 2008-9 in expenses and allowances, while I find this sort of figure quite acceptable for a council that is performing well, I am not so sure KCC is.

    I gather that you are a county councillor for Margate and Cliftonville I suggest you go for a walk round both places this evening and contemplate what it would be like for someone trying to live and trade in those two commercial centres, something I try to do in Ramsgate.

    One of my main reasons for considering a protest vote in this election is that frankly I don’t think any administration could do much worse for Thanet.

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  7. Like us Aussies, you Poms need a fixed term parliament, compulsory voting, and proportional representation. It works - the place feels much more inclusive and most things, like our health service, and local government, run like clockwork.

    Need an MRI scan mate? Would next week suit you?

    What? You found a cigarette butt on the pavement? Scandalous!

    Stop looking for scapegoats like the EU and put your own house in order!

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  8. Well now we know why so few councillors comment publicly - their information is used out of context and without any intention of explanation, simply to shore up the position of the blog site writer.

    Michael, if you know so much better than us all how to run things, then it is you who should stand for election, as an independent. Then you could claim allowances, and be the hero of the hour. All you have to do is get elected, run a campaign, survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and then have someone write on a blogsite that for all that hard work, you are a not doing the job.

    For the record - I was the first Thanet member to hold a cabinet portfolio, education attainment and childrens social services, which have their problems, but are certainly not failing, and provide some of the best life chances for our young people. That involved travelling all over the county, and the region, on visits and meetings.

    It is easy to state how things should be from the outside; it is easy to state how things should be from the inside. Real change is much harder to achieve, and a little insight might tell you who is pushing change, and who sit with it, and the effect that has on career prospects.

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  9. Chris I am trying to follow what you are saying here without as much success, as I can usually follow what you say, if you can explain what I have used out of context I will make the necessary corrections. The same goes for what I haven’t explained, there have certainly been enough blog posts about the things I would like to know prospective county councillors views on.

    You have to appreciate that it’s not so much your views, but the views of the councillors in my ward I would like to know, and obviously the voters in your ward will have different concerns over things like Turner Contemporary and the airport which effect Margate differently to Ramsgate.

    Now where I live in Ramsgate the ordinary infrastructure roads, pavements streetlights etc seem markedly worse than other parts of Kent I visit and I wonder why this could be.

    The council officers that I know who work for KCC are becoming more and more unhappy about the attitude, coming from above them within KCC, about the resources being channelled into the Turner Contemporary, particularly when they are being asked to economise.

    In my previous comment there was a typo exiting should have read existing.

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