Monday, 2 March 2015

Was the playwright Allan Bennett talking about the Ipswich Tories?

The playwright Alan Bennett has been asked to name what the English excel at and he's gone for ‘Hypocrisy’.

Did he decide that after witnessing the Ipswich Tories in action at the last Full Council meeting?

Last Wednesday we had the Full Council budget debate, from the start the Tory Group were on the defensive as their amendment was not an alternative to our medium term plan as other than a few specific proposals for this year there was nothing set in concrete for further budgets – so more (very) short term rather than medium term.

Labour have also attempted to include all councillors in planning the budget, with councillors able to suggest further spending plus possible cuts at working groups and at a final scrutiny meeting. But surprisingly none of the suggested savings in the Tory amendment had been mentioned before, in fact the opposite as at the budget scrutiny meeting, Tory Cllr George Debman was very vocal in his opinion that no money should be cut from the area committee budgets – surprise, surprise – cuts to area committee budgets were the mainstay of the Tory amendment!

But when it came to hypocrisy the Tories really came into their own when it came to their attitude to ‘name calling’ banter’ ‘insults’ .

Now I am not making excuses for some of the childish (at times) behaviour in the council chamber and I have been no saint myself but it can only be described a sheer hypocrisy when the Tory leader moans about a comment about her when only minutes earlier she had applauded a Tory councillor for calling me the ‘mouth of the north’.

A number of commentators have compared Full Council with the behaviour at PMQ’s – stating the standard of debate puts people off politics, but is that true? Do more people watch PMQ’s to see the passion shown by politicians? Mr Cameron did promise (another broken one) that he would stop the ‘punch and Judy’ style of PMQs but has done the opposite and has even allowed his whips to organise planned heckling of Ed Balls during the last few budget debates.

Cllr Cenci seems to have got very angry over some of the comments made last week but then describes the actions of Tory Cllr Stroet as just ‘banter’. Of course you often wonder if Cllr Cenci is actually angry or just ‘posturing’ – her own description of the way she has acted at certain meetings.

But let me tell Cllr Cenci and Cllr Stroet you can call me as many names as you like, one of your activists (and a candidate) has spent the last few years calling myself and fellow councillors names on his blog – all it proves is that you have lost the argument.

I have certainly been called far worse in the army – and often by close friends and colleagues but when former opponents in the army have spent most of their time either attempting to shoot me or blow myself and my fellow soldiers up, I am not going to get too upset when Cllr Stroet calls me the ‘mouth of the north’.

What I will not accept is when false accusations are made at Full Council and that is what also happened at Full Council and since then further inaccurate statements have been made by certain Ipswich Tories.

Cllr Stroet indicated that when a former Tory Cllr, Richard Pope was chair of the North East Area Committee he did not take his allowance but when I became chair, I rushed to get my allowance.
Now a simple fact check – Cllr Pope was never chair of the area committee and never entitled to or even offered an allowance.
Back in 2013, a Labour councillor was stuck on a train and the Tories decided to play silly games and not support my nomination to be chair, this left a stalemate and would have left an officer in the chair, and a public meeting would have ended without anything being discussed. Now I was disappointed that the Tories decided to try and score cheap points over the election of the Chair but I then decided to quickly second Cllr Pope rather than have another 4-4 vote and leave the meeting to be chaired by an Officer. The reason I did this was that I was sure the many residents who had turned up for the meeting were there to hear about matters concerning our local area rather than witness petty party squabbling and this seemed to easiest way to get the meeting to go ahead as planned.

So Cllr Pope was chair for that meeting – not the committee, we also agreed that myself and Cllr Pope would attend the agenda setting meeting with officers later in the month to make sure the work on our action plan for the North East continued.

So Cllr Pope did not refuse his allowance and was never chair. Now since then we have heard that he would have donated his allowance to charity- not I can’t remember ever hearing that claim before- and it is not as simple as it sounds as much of the allowance goes in tax- so would he had given the full allowance to charity or taken off the tax part first?
Then we have the point of me rushing to get an allowance- Almost correct, I did rush – but to stop my allowance after the Tories played their stupid games over the election of a chair. I asked officers on the night to ensure my allowance stopped and backed that up with an email in the morning. When I was elected chair 2 months later the officers informed that they would start my allowance again.

Now I have mentioned this to the Tory leader, who can’t remember hearing Cllr Stroet accuse me of rushing to claim my allowance but she did give me an apology for her own behaviour when she clapped (not that I asked for one) Cllr Stroet but as I have already indicated she can call me as many names as she likes or applaud when someone else does but I will complain if false statements are made at full council.

Now I would have thought the former Cllr Pope would not have been too happy that his name has been dragged into the argument but then again he may not want to say too much as it is believed he may be competing with another former Tory councillor (Mrs Terry) to replace Cllr Stroet in Bixley.

The final display of Tory hypocrisy has been by a Tory activist who claimed that full council “There was also a personal attack on former Tory councillor, Richard Pope.” – Now I know that this activist and Cllr Stroet may not see eye to eye but I have to point out to Mr Algar, the only person who mentioned Mr Pope at Full Council was Cllr Stroet! He did this of course when he painted us all a picture of Cllr Pope as a hard working councillor who gave away his allowances to charity, funny that as I believe Mr Pope claimed his full councilor allowance in his last 9 months as a councillor but in the same period only attended one meeting.

So Alan Bennett may be partially right as certain people in Britain do excel at hypocrisy!

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