Thursday, 19 May 2011

John Carnall - Tory embarrassment

Last night I attended the Annual Council Meeting in Ipswich, the main purpose of the evening is to elect a new Mayor, and though most of the evening is about pageantry and tradition part of the occasion does involve politics as a new Leader and an executive are also elected..
Gavin McClure, a former Ipswich Tory Councillor attended the night as a guest and has a different take of the night to me. In his latest blog post, Gavin sings the praises of Tory Leader John Carnall.According to Gavin, "Cllr John Carnall started his tenure as Conservative leader in terrific form. When he challenged a constitutional point regarding the election of the Deputy Leader"

Now I thought Carnall was just trying to score cheap points and ended up making a fool of himself, after the meeting was over I found myself speaking to one of the invited guests. The guest informed me that hew saw himself as a Conservative supporter but that after the antics of John Carnall at the meeting, if he lived in Ipswich he would vote Labour!

He said it was obvious to most of the audience, that John Carnall had marked his copy of the agenda at item 5, and that he had prepared his comments and point of order but as the guest said, if he had noted that item 5 was not correct, why had he not informed the Chief Executive and the Council Officers earlier in the week? Cllr Carnall was correct, in that agenda item 5 was wrong but all he did by pointing it out at the meeting rather than before hand was embarrass the officers and at the same time attempt to embarrass the Borough of Ipswich.

From speaking to the guest, it was obvious all he had done was embarrass himself and make himself and his Tory group look like poor losers.

I can understand why he decided not to take his place on the executive - even if I do not agree with him but (as Gavin should understand) he was letting down the Ipswich electorate in not taking the Chair of Scrutiny, it is recommended 'best practice' for Scrutiny to be chaired by the opposition. Gavin actually improved the running of scrutiny during his tenure as chairman of that committee so I find it hard to understand why he supports Cllr Carnall on his refusal to take the Chair.

Where I do agree with Gavin, his on his opinion of the Lib Dems, on the first vote on item 6, they voted with Labour, when the Mayor had to put it to a vote the second time, they abstained ( I say thay abstained, Cllr Inga Lockington seemed to vote for, against and abstain - all at the same time!)As Gavin states, 'they look both ways again'.

The guest was certainly not impressed with John Carnall, wonder what he would have thought if he had known that he had also refused to allow David Goldsmith the former Deputy Mayor to carry on it that role? David had said he was happy to carry on (Jane Chambers, the outgoing Lib Dem Mayor should have become Deputy, but had lost her seat) but Carnall said the decision was up to the Tory Group not David and he/they had decided they were not even going to take up this ceremonial post let alone a seat on executive or Chair of Scrutiny.

Liz Harsant the outgoing Council Leader had some words of advice for the new Labour Leader of the Council, she would have been far better off trying to give her former deputy leader some advice on civic responsibility. John Carnall not only embarrassed himself, the Tory Group but also the Borough of Ipswich - his antics last night do not give me much hope that he will be the critical friend, that an effective opposition should be.

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