Labour politicians just can’t get their heads around non-confrontational politics


By - Wednesday 21st March, 2018

The leader of Croydon Conservatives argues that like Monty Python’s Norwegian Blue parrot, democracy in our town is arguably not quite dead – but “it ain’t ‘arf sick, mate”


Photo public domain.

We were treated to another display from Croydon Labour politicians at the budget-setting council meeting recently, where they interrupted and heckled our speakers continuously and then went on to insist that one of the policies that they announced in their budget was not copied from the Croydon Conservatives’ manifesto, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that it actually was.

In some senses it doesn’t really matter who thought of it, if it is a good policy. But it is worth looking at, because of the insight into the mysterious world of spin and doublethink that one finds in Labour circles these days.

So what is this policy? The idea is to introduce a free bulky waste collection service for householders to try to combat the insidious spread of fly tipping. Much of the worst tipping is furniture or fridges, which a legal and free service could deal with for households to avoid them being tempted to fly tip.

The idea of a bulky waste service has gone down well with the public

When did we develop it? As part of our process of writing a full manifesto for the council elections this coming May. The idea was developed last year and launched at full council in January, and then at various public meetings since. It has gone down very well with the public.

Can we prove this? Yes. The minutes for the January council meeting show that Croham councillor Michael Neal asked whether Councillor Stuart Collins, Labour cabinet member for ‘clean and green’ would support the idea of introducing this service. His response, according to the minutes on page 16 (and confirmed by the webcast) was that “there may be opportunities to look into such a service, however the outcomes were mixed in boroughs that had already implemented a free collection service”.

That same night, Croydon Conservatives proposed a debate motion calling for greater proactivity from the council in finding and clearing fly tipping. We specifically called for the introduction of fly-tip-busting teams to seek out and mark fly tips for clearing, and the introduction of a free bulky waste removal service.

Labour voted against the introduction of the waste service

Labour speakers did not comment on that latter idea – but they went on to vote down the motion. This is confirmed on page 18/19 of the minutes, if you want to check. Yes, that’s right, they voted against the introduction of a free bulky waste collection service!

At the last cabinet meeting, Councillor Collins announced it as Labour policy – and then got irate, as did his colleagues, at suggestions that they had lifted this policy from the Conservatives. The evidence that they did is quite clear. But evidence doesn’t seem to count for much when the feral Labour pack is on the hunt.

Which is a great pity, really. In a properly working democracy, there is nothing wrong with respecting your opponents and adopting their ideas when they are good ones. It’s not a sign of weakness to credit your opponents with sometimes having some good ideas, it’s a sign of strength!

Members of the public are tired of the lines that they are fed by politicians

‘You’re okay, but we’re much better’ is much more acceptable to our fair-minded public that the usual ‘we’re fab, you’re rubbish’ line that they get fed far too often by politicians.

And it’s a sign of the sickness within Croydon politics that this sort of thing goes on unchallenged. I’ve spent the last four years in opposition in Croydon, during which time I have been routinely starved of information. Our ward councillors tend to find out about initiatives and changes in their wards when the council press release comes out, rather than because they were engaged in the process of developing it.

This is silly. Ward councillors are the experts in their area. They know the patch; they know the pitfalls. They want the best for their residents, whichever party they are from.

Many councillors feel that they are ignored

We have seventy councillors. Ten of them are in the cabinet and a couple more have responsibility as committee chairs, which gives them some influence. The other fifty-seven (or so) members, from both sides, are largely ignored. Frustration runs deep both in the opposition and on Labour’s back benches.

Which is why you will find a whole raft of proposals in our manifesto to try to restore some balance to our political system. That will include making an active effort to re-engage the opposition in how decisions are taken. We will offer them vice-chairmanship of key committees to give them access to information and to try to make the voting less tribal.

We’ll put them on key monitoring bodies from which we are currently excluded, such as the two safeguarding boards that monitor how well we care for children and vulnerable adults.

The Conservatives will make decisions in public, not behind closed doors

We’ll reintroduce some of the committees that Labour closed down, which monitored council contracts on a cross-party basis. We’ll make traffic management decisions collectively and in public, instead of by the cabinet member ‘behind closed doors’.

There will be a lot more detail in our manifesto, but the spirit of it is to try to de-politicise the areas of the council’s business – and there are many – where party politics really has no place.

And that will extend to giving credit to the opposition when it has a good idea!

Tim Pollard

Tim Pollard

Tim has lived in Sanderstead for twenty years and has been working hard for local residents since his first election as a Councillor there in 2002. Tim is the Leader of the Conservative Councillors on Croydon Council. The Croydon Conservative manifesto for the 2018 election can be found at http://croydonconservatives.com/manifesto/.

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  • Anne Giles

    Excellent article!!

  • David White

    I have read Cllr Pollard’s article just after reading his Party’s “In Touch” leaflet currently circulating in Fairfield Ward. The leaflet is almost entirely negative and far from “non-confrontational”!