It is little wonder that the Labour party have had second thoughts about broadcasting Council meetings live on the web as they promised in their manifesto. Far too many people would then potentially be able to see the frankly laughable incompetence not to mention arrogance of their members in the Chamber.
Take last night’s meeting, a classic example, this time the performance being given in front of around 50 members of the public – at least the main bulk of it. Not all of them could stomach the nonsense that went on for over three hours.
It began with questions from the public – six in all, the bulk of them to the Cabinet Member for Education who was clearly rattled at being the focus of so much attention. Her voice quavered - whether with nerves or anger it was difficult to tell – as she repeated the same weary lines, that the Council are doing all they can, it is all the fault of the dreadfully wicked people at Westminster etc., etc. If only there was a fairy godmother to hand. Instead there was only Baron Hardup in the form of Deputy Leader Paul Cannon to back her up.
The quaver became more audible as well thought out supplementary questions were put – these of course she had no advance warning of and so hadn’t been able to get an officer to write a response to. Angry parents demanding answers on proposed nursery education cuts were left furious at the constant response that "I’ll reply more fully in writing."
Cabinet Members get paid handsomely for their roles, surely the public have a right to be able to expect a fair degree of knowledge and direct political answers from their elected representatives? The public left thinking of Cllr Hanagan more as the wicked witch than the good fairy.
Moving on we came to a debate on saving money by reducing workers hours and encouraging voluntary early redundancy amongst other things.
Following a Plaid amendment being put Cllr Mike Powell asked to speak, and asked the Mayor, who was chairing the meeting, whether she wanted him at that point to just speak to the amendment or to the motion as a whole. He made it clear he wanted to c0mment on the whole motion. She told him to speak just to the amendment, which was voted down.
She then moved swiftly on to a vote on the motion, denying Cllr Powell the opportunity to speak to it, despite his protestations.
The Chamber reached almost traditional pantomime proportions as the public gallery and opposition benches erupted with calls for him to be allowed to speak. The Mayor, obviously as flustered as her Education colleague, muttered an apology. Maybe some training is called for.
My favourite bit, though, came after a vote on the Treasury Management Strategy. Cabinet Member Maureen Webber attracted the Mayor’s attention and stated that she had left the Chamber during the debate and so under the rules should not have voted. She put her hand in the air to vote ‘by mistake.’
This just about sums up the way in which the Labour party sheep behave. Half the time they are not even aware of what they are voting on, they just put their hands in the air when the leader does. It is a reflex action and shows a frightening lack of thought – oh yes it does…..