Friday, January 13, 2006

Labour to the Rescue?

I was interested to read the report in last nights Herald Express of Nick Bye and Elizabeth Raikes' trip to the House of Commons to meet the local Government minister Phil Woolas last week concerning the budget grant made by his department.

Clearly 'anything is worth a try' when the budget deficit is £9,000,000 and we have a Government more interested in piling new costs and new responsibilities onto local authorities than putting in the cash to pay for them. There is little doubt that on top of this, the Government do have an agenda to redistribute grant monies away from areas like Torbay and in favour of areas that they belive are more needy -mostly in the North- which a cynic might suggest means more help to many marginal Labour constituencies.

During the Lib Dems disastrous budget crisis of 2003/4 I can remember a very great deal of public hand-wringing about the government grant situation from our Lib Dem MP and I know that he spent a great deal of time trying to dissuade the Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford from capping the tax rise.

Again in 2005 under a Lib Dem council he spent much time and effort blaming the Government for the woes of Torbay council and pleading for more cash. Sadly he failed to achieve anything on both occasions.

However I am hoping that the Government are more likely to take Mr Bye and Mrs Raikes pleas more seriously than they were prepared to listen to Mr Sanders; for one simple reason (and it's not because Labour ministers don't like the Liberal Democrats!).

Mr Sanders' colleagues were asking for more money having awarded themselves a 65% payrise and after having wasted hundreds of thousands on madcap schemes like the toilets fiasco.


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Barrie Wood said...

The real issue, as you must know Marcus, is that central governmemt is responsible for 85% of central government. This was as a result of Thatcher's hatred of local government, local autonomy and localised opposition to the Tories.

That Labour, under Blair, are centralising control freaks too means local government, of whatever stripe, is largely impotent.

Add to the fact that the Council tax is a regressive tax and hits the 'working poor' the hardest only further alienates people further from local councils of ALL political colours, up and down the country.

Labour and TORIES both want to

a) keep central gov't strangehold on local democracy

b) kept the regressive council tax.

Lib Dems (and the Greens) typically support in principle :

*progressive forms of local income taxation based on ability to pay
*local councils having greater powers and being more responsible for raising a greater amount of the income.

Lib Dems generally argue for decisions being made as close to the electorate as possible. New 'Labour' and the Tories are centralisers and mistrustful of local decision making.

At least the Lib Dem / Green way we really can hold local politicians to account as they would be really responsible for localalised decision making.

However, difficult as it is, the trailed 10% across the board cuts mooted by Nick Bye was irresponsible and now seems exaggerated.

I am not putting all the blame on Nick Bye however, the problems at the Town Hall are more down to a Labour government that has shafted us in Torbay (again). But we face this each year and we will continue to do so, to differing degrees, until there is a radical change in local gov't financing.

Anonymous said...

A little off the subject here, but your earlier blogs referred to Chat-show Charlie as a political lightweight. You arrogance astounds me! Charles Kennedy and Tony Blair have both participated in television chatshows because they connect with the public, unlike your leaders of late, who would have been a ratings disaster! Political snobbery will not win any elections Mr Wood. In this age you have to connect with the electorate in any way you can. As for considering Charles Kennedy a 'lightweight' might I remind you that he was the only political leader to have the courage of his convictions and oppose the war in Iraq. This I believe is not a decision that was taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

You didn't read his previous blog properly, mate.

It says "he [charles kennedy] is dismissed by many political activists as a bit of a lightweight"

I am a political activist and I think he is was and always will be a lot of a lightweight.

So that is a fair reflection of what I and many other activists within the Party believe.

It was a mistake ever to elect him and it's good riddance now he has gone.