Friday, October 07, 2005

"Professionals or Amateur, who do you want in charge?"

As someone who has stood for election I have some advice to the candidates standing for Mayor.

Running for office is a balance between being attractive enough to win while not making impossible promises.

Reading through the manifestos delivered this week I was struck by the fact that most of the candidates seem blissfully unaware of this.

Half the candidates are promising to reduce car park charges, keep the streets clean and lower taxes, without specifying where they will find the money from. The manifestos are littered with promises of spending on business support, tourism, social housing and maritime events yet not one candidate is saying ‘oh, and by the way, your council tax will have to skyrocket to pay for it all…’

A third of the candidates are offering ‘zero tolerance’ policing - which is not even within the Mayors power.

Just one candidate (Conservative Nick Bye) has raised the education issue – which is easily the most important part of the new Mayors responsibilities accounting for over half the council’s budget.

The reason we are cynical about politicians is we think they promise anything to get elected and then let us down.

Let’s be honest - the Lib Dems aren’t intentionally running Torbay badly. Their problem is that they also made reckless promises in order to get elected (£100 off your council tax, remember?). How they made political hay when our administration was criticised by the Audit Commission, -too late- they found out for themselves that pleasing Mr Prescott’s office involved shutting toilets and closing schools to fund posts like an ‘ethnic diversity officer’.

To find solutions to the Bays problems means developing policies that can survive not just the Councillors, council officers, and the Trade Unions, but also Government auditors, Health and Safety, The EU Commission, John Prescott’s office and all the other New Labour ‘stakeholders’ that apparently have a right to interfere in our local affairs.

It’s going to take a very experienced political operator indeed to make the changes that they promise actually happen.

Most candidates seem to be saying ‘vote for me, I’m not a politician’ which is about as reassuring as discovering that the surgeon about to undertake your heart surgery is an unemployed gas meter man.

If I am flying on a plane, especially during a Typhoon, I want a qualified pilot in the cockpit, - don’t you?


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Anonymous said...

The only candidate that Torbay should elected is an INDEPENDANT one, over the last 16 years party politics have trashed Torbay.

As for Nick Bye - what a joke - hes in local office now - hello .... no I cant hear him hes that quiet. EXEPT when he wants to get elected.

Anonymous said...

You've hit the nail on the head Mr Wood. All these amateur candidates are just as bad as the official party ones. The blind leading the blind is all it will be if any of them get in.

Where where you? You've got a business background - why didn't you stand?

Anonymous said...

You lot realy have got NO IDEA AT ALL!! After 16 years of messing Torbay up.

The only thing you lot have experience of is getting it wrong

Marcus Wood said...

'You lot' - who would 'you lot' refer to? May I remind you, Mr or Mrs Anonymous, that it's the Lib Dems who have been in charge since 1990, and run this town for 13 out of the last 16 years.

It's just not fair, accurate or reasonable to make Conservatives or politicians in general somehow equally to blame for the mess Torbay is in and I reject your suggestion totally.

The fact is Torbay residents were conned by a very well managed Lib Dem slur campaign that started in 1988 and continues to this day to discredit the Tories locally and nationally. They persuaded Labour supporters and some disaffected Conservatives fed up with John Major into voting for them and they have been an utter disaster for the bay ever since.

And now their embarrassed supporters and past voters want to heap the blame on anyone but themselves.

When Torbay was run by Conservatives it was a successful and prosperous seaside resort, among the best in the West. The decay set in only after we lost control in 1990, as you in fact acknowledge in your post.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mr Wood but I was under the impression you only moved to the area when you thought you might get elected to be MP - you have no idea what it was like when the Tories were in charge! All you have to go on are the ramblings of your party members who drone on about the 'good old days' so totally unbiased of course!!!

Marcus Wood said...

Actually I knew the area long before I moved here, and I have spent much of the last few years re-reading our press library, and doing research with, among others, some ex-Lib dems who were active in the period.

I am not pretending that the 1980's and 1970's Tories were a brilliant council, I have said on many occasions that they made some big mistakes and were guilty of many of the charges levelled at them; and that the early Lib dems did very well to highlight those mistakes and use them to take over.

However, the idea put about by those Lib dems that a change for them would be a change for the better is clearly untrue, Torbay took a very big turn for the worse in 1990 and has gone downhill ever since on every meaningful measure available.

So no wonder people who backed that change have become disaffected.

Barrie Wood said...

It was at it's worst, as the Audit Commission will testify, under Eileen Salloway's 'leadership'. Poor was their description of the last Tory administration !

Oh what a surprise you overlooked that minor detail !