Tuesday 20 November 2012

Kev joins the Tea Party

A couple of weeks ago while nursing a dose of man-flu, Cneifiwr switched on the radio and caught that week's Any Questions?, a programme which is guaranteed to make anyone feel even worse, although not quite as bad as Any Bigots? which follows it.

Details of who was spouting from the platform that week now escape me, but there was a loony American Tea Party character and a female Labour MP who appeared to be a spokesperson for something or other.

One of the subjects raised was "The Living Wage". The Tea Party loon was against all forms of regulation, and gave the impression that the rot had set in with the Abolition of Slavery.

The Labour MP was passionately and articulately in favour of the concept, and she was very clear that this was very much Labour Party policy.

Of course it's easy to be passionate about these things when you're in opposition. The real test is whether you would carry out your promises when in power, and as it happens, Labour is in power with its closet Tory chums in Carmarthenshire.

At this month's meeting of the full council Labour leader Kevin Madge huffed and puffed even more than usual when the topic came up. He sympathised with the low-paid, he really did, he said as he peeled an onion. But it was all so very difficult, and paying more than the bare minimum would mean having to sack a hundred people.

Peter Hughes Griffiths, the Plaid leader, gave Kev time to reflect, and presented a motion calling for the introduction of a Living Wage at yesterday's meeting of the Executive Board. Since he is not a member of the board or a senior officer, the Plaid leader could only observe what happened.

Unfortunately, Kev had better things to do, and had gone for a spin in one of his limos. The job of pouring more cold water on the proposal was left to someone else, and it is patently obvious that whatever Ed Milliband and articulate Labour spokeswomen say, Kev is with the Tea Party on this one.

Perhaps Ed Milliband should come to Carmarthenshire to see what his comrades are up to.

Council staff on the minimum wage and struggling to keep their heads above water will find this particularly hard to swallow in view of the 10.7% increase in total renumeration to £209,498 awarded to the chief executive in 2011/12.

As Caebrwyn has reported, yesterday's meeting was a very sobering affair for anyone who naively thought that a council under the leadership of Kevin Madge would really bring about more open and transparent local government or increase social justice and equality.

With Cllr Pam Palmer in the chair, it was patently obvious that absolutely nothing was going to change, no matter what the electoral arithmetic.

So it was that proposals to begin a very modest pilot to film some council meetings were accepted after 18 months of deliberation, but a cross-party vote in favour of allowing the public to film or electronically record council meetings was rejected.

It has long been clear that Pam Palmer and other members of the ruling clique which has dominated this council for so long have absolutely no intention of letting the public see what goes on in County Hall.

The proposals which will now go forward allow only for a temporary pilot, and any footage will be edited (i.e. censored) before it is made available to the public. And as Pam made clear, "many issues" need to be resolved before even this damp squib of a pilot happens.

Unless our elected representatives put their collective feet down and insist that the council adheres to their recommendations, we can expect months if not a year plus of further foot dragging and delay.

Oh, and following this display of open and transparent local government, the council then threw out the public and press while it got down to looking at proposals for the Sainsbury's development in Cross Hands.


Anonymous said...

I've heard the Kevin Madge has gone on a cruise for two weeks because he's exhausted...maybe that's why he's wasn't there.....

Anonymous said...

To film for the public in County hall in Carmarthenshrie would be catastrophic,i hear many councillors are to busy doing day jobs to attend and only use it as a top up to there weekly wage.

Where staff on low wages would be sacked no questiosn asked with such bad records.

Anonymous said...

First of all the grammar in the last post is terrible!

Secondly, I think it's a good thing that some councillors have day jobs; the council has been run by retired gentlemen or career councillors for too long. If we want quality, and some are, we need to allow for diversity of employment.

I would propose a move to meetings in the evenings, so more working people could become councillors and the monopoly of the semi-retired is taken away. Critisism of working councillors is contradictory to the public distaste for career politicians.

I would also propose an unedited webcast of the council meetings, and there would then be no need for the public to film. I for one wouldn't trust some bloggers to use their film footage for the 'public good', and more for their own ends. If the Council went for an unbiased, unedited, live webcast, it would be open for all.

Martin Milan said...

If the council went for an unedited, live webcast that was also available for later viewing (so people who work can also watch) then I'd be happy - and I am a blogger.

But that's not what they want to do, and until it is, I won't be happy.

And if you think bloggers can't be trusted, then you really should take a look at CCC...

Anonymous said...

@ martin

we agree more than you think. I said 'some bloggers'. 'some bloggers' have motivations that are not apparent to the general public. Just because I don't trust all bloggers doesn't mean I trust CCC! I wouldn't put it past some people to edit their own version of the meeting, whether it's for party political reasons or becasue they have a history against certain officers... that would be just as bad as the edited version that the CCC pilot is going to be. That's why CCC should have an unedited live version that can be replayed on a podcast facility.

My point is that the same arguments against having an edited version from the council apply to allowing bloggers to film their own version. Nobody can be trusted completely by the public unless a live version is broadcast so it can be seen to be unedited.