Sunday, September 08, 2013

Why are the Labour party afraid to debate

Why are the Labour party in RCT so reluctant to engage with the public?  Having promised in their manifesto that they would broadcast council meetings on the web they have now back tracked on that, as indeed  on so many of their pre-election promises.

Presumably they do not want the general public to see the disgraceful way in which they behave; from that point of view they are quite happy to have the main HQ in Clydach Vale.  Now don’t get me wrong, Clydach is my home, I think it is wonderful, but the industrial estate which houses the Council Chamber is not on a bus route and hardly the most accessible of places.

In a world which is increasingly reliant on social media as a means of communication the Labour party don’t seem to engage with that either.  There is a County Council website of course, which is all too often overly party political, but that is run by one of the myriad of public relations staff.  There is a Council Twitter feed which kindly kept us all up to date with the Wimbledon news through much of June.

There is a RCT Labour website – the last update was in March, one of four entries this year.  There is a Pontypridd Labour constituency blog – the last entry is September 2012.

There is no sign of the local party on Twitter or Facebook – a few individual councillors have accounts, but they do not use them to engage with the general public.  They don’t enter into discussion in any groups or in any local forums. 

Of course it is not just online this attitude prevails.  They shy away from debate in person too.  Oh there is their ‘open government’ initiative where people can send in questions to be asked at full Council meetings. The questions need to be sent in a week in advance, and a response will then be written by a member of staff for the relevant Cabinet Member to read out.  Any supplementary questions almost invariably get met with the words “I’ll respond in writing.”

At the referendum meeting last year whilst Welsh Lib Dem Cllr Mike Powell joined the panel and took questions from the floor not one of the 60 Labour Councillors could do the same and instead sent an Officer.

What is it they are afraid of? 


Friday, September 06, 2013

Keeping Labour local? Anyone told the AM?

I attended a PACT (Partnerships & Communities Together) meeting in Treforest earlier this week as part of a plan to find out a little more about what is going on in wards across the area. According to the South wales Police website these meetings “are intended to give you an opportunity to highlight the community issues that are having an impact on your quality of life and to assist in deciding which issues are dealt with as priorities.”

They are usually attended by community Police officers or Community Support officers and the local ward Councillor(s). It was by and large unexciting, full of the usual complaints about youth annoyance / rubbish collections / grass or tree cutting.

The ward Councillor, a Labour representative was obviously a little taken aback to see me there, along with a local Welsh Lib Dem colleague. Aware that there is a town council election coming up in that ward soon couldn’t resist the temptation, from the Chair, to have a couple of cheap political digs.

He referred on several occasions to the fact that he lives in the ward - oddly enough he didn’t mention that he has recently obtained planning permission to build a house in Ynysybwl.

There was a veiled reference to the fact that the previous incumbent – a Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor – didn’t.  Then came the classic line that ‘we’ need representatives to live in the area they represent.

What made this quite so hypocritical?   Well sat next to Cllr Powderhill, and looking a little like a rabbit caught in the headlights was one of the Treforest Town Councillors - Lewis Fackrell.

He was co-opted by the Labour members of Pontypridd Town Council when insufficient candidates came forward in May 2012.  He lives, and stood for election, in Trallwn.  Oops!
So is Cllr Powderhill saying that was wrong – why then did he back him?  Another example of the sickening Labour hypocrisy in RCT.

He may also want to have a word with the Assembly Member for Pontypridd.  Mick Antoniw lives in Newport, having rented a house for a couple of months just to have a Pontypridd constituency address to put on his ballot paper.

I trust Cllr Powderhill will bear this in mind in future.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Labour candidates on lookout for alternative funding

So the GMB union is to cut its funding to the Labour party, bizarrely it appears because they disagree with giving their members a right to choose whether or not they actually want to join the Labour party rather than being affiliated automatically. 

Credit should go to Ed Miliband for this rare demonstration of common sense and fairness. Presumably the GMB are afraid that a substantial number will chose not to join and this will impact on their ability to dictate which Labour candidates should be selected and hence diminish their influence.
The move if carried through will be costly for the party as a whole, and will also mean individual elected Labour members will have to look elsewhere for funding – heaven forbid they may even have to fund their own campaigns!

Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw for example could find himself at a few more fundraisers.  His record of interest at the Assembly states that he received £5000 from the GB for election expenses.  It also states he has received a little over £15000 in gifts and hospitality form the GMB and Unite unions.

I have in the past ranted on numerous occasions about the incestuous relationship between the Labour party and the unions.  It is undemocratic.  Unions should be there to represent the interests of their workforce and not to play politics and interfere in the democratic process.