‘The People Have Spoken – We Are Just Not Sure What They Said’

For the first time since the Second World War, Britain is to be governed by a coalition. On Tuesday, Gordon Brown decided to break the hiatus by tendering his resignation to the Queen whilst David Cameron and Nick Clegg were still in the midst of final negotiations.

As Cameron addressed the press in front of Number 10 Downing Street, it was still unclear as to whether the Lib-Con agreement would be finalised; but, on Wednesday morning, the markets were finally buoyed as Cameron and Clegg shook hands on the steps of the prime ministerial residence.

A new government had taken shape against the background of UK unemployment passing 2.5 million – the highest since 1994 – and a staggering financial crisis.

One of biggest tasks facing the new government lays in paying-down the country’s debt – and the Liberal Democrats have shifted their position by supporting 6 billion pounds of cuts to take place this year. The Conservatives have modified their aims too, to incorporate Lib Dem policy.

Cameron and Clegg outside no 10

From next April, the first stage in increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,000 per year will come into force – providing a welcome respite for the lower paid in times of economic frugality.

Constitutional and voting reform will take place under the eyes of the new Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and we can anticipate a referendum on the latter. In return, the Lib Dem pro European stance has been set aside for this, five-year, parliament.

The National Identity Card scheme will be scrapped; but the employee portion of Labour’s NHI increase will take place next year, countering some of the benefits of reduced taxation from the personal allowance rise.

Constitutionally, it is likely that the first Act of Parliament in the new session will be to ensure fixed term parliaments from 2015.

The next general election will take place on the first Thursday in May, 2015.

During Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that this was to be a full coalition government. Despite its limited seats, the Liberal Democrats were to be fully embedded within government departments and their subsequent roles were by no means minor. Vince Cable was given the post of Business Secretary; David Laws was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Chris Huhne as Energy and Climate Change Secretary; and Danny Alexander became the Secretary for Scotland.

The full list of cabinet posts is as follows:-

  • Prime minister: David Cameron, 43, Conservative
  • Deputy prime minister: Nick Clegg, 43, Liberal Democrat
  • Chancellor: George Osborne, 38, Conservative
  • Home secretary: Theresa May, 53, Conservative
  • Foreign secretary: William Hague, 49, Conservative
  • Defence secretary: Liam Fox, 48, Conservative
  • Justice secretary: Kenneth Clarke, 69, Conservative
  • Health secretary: Andrew Lansley, 53, Conservative
  • Education secretary: Michael Gove, 42, Conservative
  • Business secretary: Vincent Cable, 67, Liberal Democrat
  • Chief secretary to the Treasury: David Laws, 67, Liberal Democrat
  • Work and pensions secretary: Iain Duncan Smith, 56, Conservative
  • Energy and climate change secretary: Chris Huhne, 55, Liberal Democrat
  • Local government secretary: Eric Pickles, 58, Conservative
  • Transport secretary: Philip Hammond, 55, Conservative
  • Environment secretary: Caroline Spelman, 52, Conservative
  • International development secretary: Andrew Mitchell, 54, Conservative
  • Northern Ireland secretary: Owen Paterson, 53, Conservative
  • Scotland secretary: Danny Alexander, 37, Liberal Democrat
  • Welsh secretary: Cheryl Gillan, 58, Conservative
  • Culture, media and sport secretary: Jeremy Hunt, 43, Conservative
  • Leader of the Lords: Lord Strathclyde, 50, Conservative
  • Minister without portfolio: Lady Warsi, 39, Conservative

Also attending cabinet will be the Minster for the Cabinet Office: Francis Maude, paymaster general (Conservative); the Minister of state, Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin (Conservative); Minister of state (universities and science), David Willetts(Conservative); Leader of the Commons, Sir George Young (Conservative); and Parliamentary chief secretary to the Treasury and chief whip, Patrick McLoughlin (Conservative).

Attorney general, Dominic Grieve (Conservative) will be invited when required.

As soon as the posts had been formally declared, ministers were hurrying to their new offices, determined to get to work.

There was no such drama in Castle Point, where the Conservatives retained a comfortable majority in last Thursday’s local elections. But it did not take long for the Canvey Island Independence Party (CIIP), in the shape of Nick Harvey (leader of Canvey Island’s Town Council and Canvey Island North Ward Councillor) and Canvey Island South resident Colin Letchford to begin berating, what both see as, the lack of democracy in the borough.

Colin Letchford had apparently put pen to paper the day after this Blog published its Dave Blackwell: A Changed Man? piece. In a letter written to the Echo, and copied to this Blog, Letchford alleges that he was banned from the local elections count  – in which he had been asked to act as a teller by Harvey. He further alleges that the reason given was that he had had the gall to begin a petition for an elected mayor – and that the Swann sisters had been similarly banned for beginning the ‘Save Our Pool’ petition.

Like Liz Swann and her remarks regarding ‘it was actually told to Lea Swann by a Conservative Cabinet Councillor in front of one of Conservatives own who is above reproach,’ in the readers’ forum on this blog, Letchford provides no evidence for his allegations.

His letter is a confused patchwork of unfounded statistics and innuendo aimed at manufacturing a case for the CIIP to be represented in the borough’s cabinet. Along with CIIP members, he seems incapable of realising that the Conservatives hold a comfortable 33% majority and that they are therefore entitled to none. He argues that 94% of islanders are unrepresented in cabinet; but that figure is totally discredited. The fact is that 48.6% of island residents, whom took part in the last local election, are not represented by their newly elected councillors – and that the CIIP has no firm mandate because, on a proportional basis, they only have the slimmest of majorities (just 469 votes across the whole of the island – representing only 2.7%).

Letchford is keen to take the opportunity for promoting his petition for an elected mayor; but it transpired in our discussion that the true purpose behind it is not to provide residents with the opportunity of electing a charismatic council leader. Letchford states that the purpose behind his petition to have an elected mayor is because: ‘The mayor chooses the cabinet members.’

As already pointed-out on this Blog, Letchford’s petition is simply another means by which the CIIP hopes to infiltrate the policy making body of Castle Point Borough Council – and provide a lucrative post for its main sponsor.

And Letchford, it seems, is also unable to understand that, even if Spink were elected as mayor, and he were to fill the eight cabinet positions with CIIP colleagues, that there would still be no change in the balance of power. If mainlanders voted in the same way as now, they would still retain their majority. Consequently they would hold a majority on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as they do now, and be in a position to call-in every cabinet decision and refer it to full council – where it could be easily defeated.

Spink: "I've been here before. Maybe I'll be here again..."

But Spink is not that disorganised. He knows that, with his media savvy and increased profile, a position as elected mayor would provide him with a platform that could be used to his advantage. And again it is the far-left protest strategy that will be employed. Despite it being the majority whom would defeat his ambitions in the chamber, Spink would continue to call ‘foul’ and point to the Conservatives as continually blocking him.

Same old, same old. And the borough and this island would continue to stagnate while Spink and his colleagues played their political games (while lining their pockets with taxpayer funds and enjoying civil benefits).

Is this all about island independence from Castle Point? Well, if it is, Blackwell and his colleagues are not saying anything. Just as they have never made clear their position on any other matter. If it is, then residents have a right to know just how much separation will cost them. A rough estimate, at the present time, is that islanders’ Council Tax would soar three-fold.

But if it were about island independence, why do the CIIP not stand on the mainland and provide all residents with the opportunity of voting for separation? That way they could democratically achieve a majority with which to pass such a resolution.

The answer is that it would not create a power-base for Spink’s own Independent Save Our Green Belt Party – and his and Blackwell’s ambitions to be Lords of their purposely divided manors would not be fulfilled…

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The Canvey Beat Launches Online Petition

IN A RECENT STRAW-POLL, conducted on this blog, 96% of readers believed that residents should have the power to sack their elected councillors.

Today, the Canvey Beat has launched an online petition, calling upon Castle Point Borough Council to amend their constitution and provide residents with that ability.

Please sign it.

In a constituency that elects its councillors by thirds, and denies voters the ability to replace its elected officials every four years, this matter is of fundamental importance to the effective operation of Democracy in this borough.

During the local election, no party voiced support for the proposal, despite feelings amongst residents running high.

Now is the time to make your voice heard – or forever remain silent.

It is your borough.

Make sure that your councillors represent your views – and that you have the power to recall them when they do not fulfil their obligations.

Take control now by signing our petition…

Divided Britain – Divided Borough

State of the parties

AS THE STOCK EXCHANGE FALTERS and the pound falls in the wake of a hung parliament, the electorate is coming to terms with a future that is bleak.

Thursday’s elections saw no outright winner; no clear leader to steer us out of our financial crisis; and no clear plan to unite the nation in its time of need.

Brown hid the nation’s books from the opposition; Cameron adopted a mantle of economic prudence; and Clegg cursed both his opponents’ houses. The electorate grudgingly gave Cameron a preference vote; but withheld their full support.

As predicted in this blog, the 2010 election result was not based upon party or financial policy. The public were less concerned with economics (for which no party had firm plans) and more about the state of British politics. The majority were not about to cast a vote of confidence for any politician. Their only aim was to vote against the hypocrites and fraudsters that the Telegraph had exposed within its pages.

As the results were made known, parliamentary fraudsters fell like nine-pins as constituents voted to oust them – and a whole new political landscape was formed, which pollsters had been accurately predicting: a hung parliament.

Thursday night and Friday morning were one helluva night for Democracy, with UKIP and the BNP being comprehensively rejected.

In Castle Point, Bob Spink felt the weight of public outrage and anger. Thirty percent of voters decided to stay at home; but sufficient numbers decided that enough was enough and dispensed a resounding beating.

Locally, the Independent Save Our Green Belt party could not muster the protest vote against the main parties, which they had wished for. Their association with Spink had been their undoing; but, on the Island, matters were different. Knowing full well that the Canvey Island Independence Party could never form a majority, islanders decided to bloody both main parties’ nose and happily vote CIIP.

Do not for one moment think that islanders have given you a firm mandate, Dave. Your party is being used to send a message.

The only way you will retain the Town Council, and your borough seat, is to show how you can work with the Tories to manage the financial crisis.

Protests will no longer cut it…

Canvey Island Votes For Independence

THIS MORNING, Canvey residents awoke to find that Dave Blackwell’s Canvey Island Independence Party had comprehensively pushed the Conservatives into second place on the island to take all council seats in the local elections.

On the mainland, the Conservatives romped home, taking all seats and denying Spink’s Independent Save Our Green Belt Party a foot hold.

Labour Councillor, Brian Wilson, lost his seat to the Conservatives in St Mary’s Ward, and the CIIP wrenched Canvey West from the Tories. Overall there was no change in the council’s Conservative majority.

The result sets the scene for more implacable opposition to any majority decisions in the borough – and a Summer of fuelled protest against any necessary cuts introduced by a coalition government.

The island’s results were as follows:-

Canvey Island Central Ward

  • Peter James May (Canvey Island Independent): 1,579
  • Stewart Topley (Conservatives): 913
  • Daniel Curtis (Labour): 421

Canvey Island East Ward

  • John Albert Payne (Canvey Island Independent): 1,572
  • James Lee Parkin (Conservatives); 1,041
  • Alan Curtis (Labour): 402

Canvey Island North Ward

  • Nick Harvey (Canvey Island Independent): 1,675
  • Pat Haunts (Conservatives): 1,046
  • John Payne (Labour): 561

Canvey Island South Ward

  • Joan Margaret Elizabeth Liddard (Canvey Island Independent): 1,565
  • Mark John Howard (Conservatives): 1,146
  • Katie Curtis (Labour): 406

Canvey Island West Ward

  • Jane Elizabeth King (Canvey Island Independent): 1,000
  • Colin Alan MacLean (Conservatives): 926
  • Bill Deal (Labour): 285

Canvey Island Winter Gardens Ward

  • Peter Greig (Canvey Island Independent): 1,549
  • Richard Bender (Conservatives): 951
  • Maggie McArthur-Curtis (Labour): 373

… (07/05/2010) – Bye, Bye, Bob – Hello, Rebecca

… (09/05/2010) – Dave Blackwell: A Changed Man?

… (Ted Pugh, 25/05/2010) – A New Political Era For The Country – But The Same Old, Same Old For Canvey

Time To Regain Democracy

BACK IN JULY, last year, you asked me to provide coverage of our MP and local politics, and I fulfilled that request.

Now is your chance to use that information, which I uncovered, to restore Democracy to this island and its borough by rejecting Bob Spink and his two ‘independent’ parties at tomorrow’s polls.

Few residents, it seems, were surprised to find that their parliamentary MP, Bob Spink, was actively engaged with the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) in a concerted bid to destroy Democracy in the borough; but their suspicions lacked positive proof.

Similarly, they were concerned that their MP was lining his own pockets with taxpayers’ money; but lacked the proof that this was the case.

All that proof is now documented throughout this blog as a matter of public record.

Bob Spink is both dishonest and a serial liar. Moreover, the former quality is shared by members of the CIIP.

Residents have been seriously misrepresented and manipulated by Spink and his close associates to create an artificial air of incompetence and corruption surrounding the borough’s Conservative majority – in order to have themselves installed in lucrative civil posts by fuelling public protests.

The political strategy is not new. It is the same as adopted by the far-right in Spain in 1936, and in the successful rise to power of Hitler four years earlier. But the new dimension added by Spink and Blackwell, drawn from the success of Labour’s militant tendency to infiltrate that party, is to conduct a clandestine campaign in which their objectives are not publicly declared. Moreover, both individuals have taken to adopting online aliases in public forums to mislead the public over their individual support.

Their dishonesty knows no bounds.

Such people and political organisations are unworthy of your support and represent a direct threat to Democracy; both on the island and in its borough. And there are those otherwise honest individuals, like Colin Letchford, Tom Jea, and Liz Swann, who are unable to face up to the fact that they are being personally manipulated for political ends.

It is time to face the facts: there is serious corruption in Castle Point and island politics – but it does not lie in the Conservative majority or that party.

If there is any justice, Castle Point residents will reject Spink in the polls tomorrow, along with his two local parties; but the point to consider, in the local elections, is whether an apologist or sympathy vote for the harassed Conservative party is a suitable reason upon which to base your selection.

During the past year, the Canvey Beat has been pursuing the Spink story; his relationship with the local press; and allegations against the ruling Tory group. It has left no time to cover the local Labour party, which has hardly featured in its articles at all.

Residents would be forgiven for thinking that the only two parties fighting local elections on this island are the Conservatives and the CIIP.

At the Castle Point level, of course, only one Labour councillor holds a seat – and that has put Brian Wilson (of St Mary’s Ward) in an unenviable situation. The presence of the CIIP and its argumentative, blocking tactics, have prevented the calm, inquiring voice of democratic socialism to be heard in the chamber.

For Democracy to work, it is important that all views be appropriately represented. And, in the circumstances now facing this country, and this borough, residents need to ensure that they do not overlook the opportunity of electing the best minds that the borough offers to guide them through the desperate times ahead.

In these local elections, please reject Spink and his parties; but, before you vote, take a close look at your local Labour candidate.

A 25% cut is planned (by all parties) to local council budgets after the general election – and that will mean very hard decisions being taken by council. We are not talking tidal pools here – or corruptly managed local transport ‘charities.’ We are talking severe cuts to residential housing budgets; youth facilities; school transport; meals on wheels – the vast gamut of local services that we have all become used to and upon which many rely.

This is not about more protests – although that is the route down which Spink and his cohorts will take you. This is about bringing the best minds to bear upon an impossible situation that we will all have to endure.

The Conservatives have proved that theirs is a safe hand on the tiller; that they are prepared to suffer criticism when unpalatable decisions must be taken; but what council lacks is a moderating voice that is able to point-out alternatives, whilst accepting the majority’s decision.

Neither the CIIP, nor the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party, can offer voters an intelligent opposition that is prepared to work with others to ensure suitable compromises can be made. But Labour are fielding some excellent candidates in this local election whom would.

So before you place a cross against the local Conservative candidate, this year, take a close look at your Labour candidate and ask yourself: who is the most experienced? And who would represent my family’s interests best in the wake of extensive cuts?

Please use your votes wisely this year…

… (07/05/2010) – Bye, Bye, Bob – Hello, Rebecca

… (07/05/2010) – Canvey Island Votes For Independence

Two Different Campaigns

Candidates sharing a Web platform with Spink

I USED TO THINK that elections were all about selecting a candidate whose views most closely matched one’s own. Bob Spink, I am sure, would be one of the first to agree with me; because, throughout his political career he has done everything he can to represent himself as supporting whatever public position has made headlines in the press. But Bob is a media whore: he is not a conviction politician. His only objective in life is to create a safe parliamentary seat for himself from where he can indulge his egotistical fantasies and enjoy a taxpayer funded lifestyle. This was never more evident than in his latest statement (broadcast by Southend Radio) that a hung parliament would give him even more power, if elected, to put a stop to immigration; withdraw from the European Union; and deal with MPs’ expenses. Poor Bob remains oblivious to the fact that he has no influence in parliament; would not be called upon by any party to present his opinions – and would continue to be a subject of ridicule by his fellow MPs.

As the inset list of present members shows, even the Election Book domain failed to recruit any serious parliamentary candidates once Bob Spink had signed-up to use their facilities.

But, while ‘Spink-the-Spiv’ does his best to convince residents that he represents their views, neither his Canvey Island Independence Party  or Independent Save Our Green Belt party makes any such claims. Residents are given no idea of where either party stands on local or national issues. It seems that the CIIP is content to rely on a simple position statement: that they are against anything proposed by a borough majority; they are against anything that a Conservative or Labour majority might propose; and are totally against the mainland. They paint the Conservatives as liars; Labour as ‘only coming out at election time;’ and continue to focus on Canvey Island’s tidal pool without once mentioning what they intend to do about it (despite being in talks to take-over its management).

During its last session, Castle Point Borough Council had been preparing itself for up to a ten percent reduction in the funds supplied to it by government. But, the fact is, the state of the country’s finances is so dire that, whomever is elected, will see that cut rise to some twenty-five percent.

While the Conservative-led Borough Council has been managing its finances responsibly, preparing for bad times ahead, the CIIP majority on the Town Council will be spending twice its annual precept this year. On what we have yet to discover. All we can be certain of, at this time, is that: this is an election year.

Such is the competence of the CIIP that they would direct precious resources, at this time, to planting shrubs; planting trees; erecting lamp-posts to hold hanging baskets; acquiring high-street planters and displaying plaques promoting the Town Council. Residents’ money has been spent on cosmetics – and not one penny towards ensuring the safety of Canvey’s tidal pool; improving island playground facilities or centres for the island’s youth. Furthermore, when local charities or organisations apply for a grant addressing such matters: they are dismissed with a paltry cheque for £100.

‘THEY [the majority] MAKE PROMISES, WRITE WISH LISTS, BUT ULTIMATELY THEY GIVE US NOTHING’ proclaims the CIIP’s election leaflets. No mention is made of the new Adizone in Kismet Park; the Bumble Bee statue; the opening of Canvey’s West Marshes to the public; improvements to Waterside Leisure Centre or the Paddocks’ improvements and new Health Centre. And no mention of the complete makeover planned for Canvey Town Centre, which the CIIP accuse the council of leaving ‘to die.’

Unlike Spink, the CIIP does not actually lie in its election leaflets: it just omits telling the truth…

Local Issues Facing The Borough And This Island

THE TACTICS BEING EMPLOYED by Spink and his two independent parties in this election are going to make it difficult for residents to hear the voice of other parties. Spink and his cohorts are committed to obtaining the community’s protest vote against the Conservative led Borough Council – accusing them of not listening to residents; of corruption in their administration; and putting the needs of their ‘developer friends’ above the needs of residents who wish to ensure that no new houses are built on Canvey. In particular, Spink’s campaign will seek to obtain votes from everyone who is opposed to the local Concord pool’s closure.

These gutter tactics are designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: to prevent the discussion of local issues, and their solutions, which the other main parties wish to address.

  • Local residents will wish to ask this year’s candidates: how do you propose that we solve this borough’s desperate need for new housing? The Spinks will reply: ‘Vote for us to ensure the integrity of the Green Belt.’
  • Local residents will ask: how do you propose to solve the additional traffic congestion that is likely from a vastly improved Canvey town centre? And the Spinks will reply: ‘We will ensure there is no new building on this island until Canvey gets its third road.’
  • Residents will ask: are you in favour of the Kent/Canvey tunnel option that a straw poll on the Canvey Beat suggests would relieve rush hour congestion on Canvey Way by up to a third? And the Spinks will reply: ‘We favour a new road connected to the already congested A13 – but the Tories are continually blocking it.’
  • Locals will ask: how do you intend to solve anti-social behaviour and eradicate the drug/alcohol problem amongst a minority of youths? The Spinks will reply: ‘We would shut-down the Continuum School and fence off those areas where youths gather.’
  • Candidates will be asked: how will you ensure that options regarding local issues are fully debated and explored in the Council chamber? And the Spinks will reply: ‘By ensuring strong opposition.’

And residents may wish to ask, of all their local candidates, one other question relating to the state of national politics – and in particular the position on this island.

  • All main parties have declared their intention to allow voters the power to sack their MP. Should you gain a seat at the local elections: is it your main aim to amend the Borough’s constitution and provide constituency wards the same powers to sack their elected councillors?

In a constituency that elects its councillors by thirds, the latter question is arguably the most important of this campaign.

Do not permit party representatives to only ask your intentions when they knock on your door. Take the opportunity of making sure they answer those questions which you feel are most important to you.

They are not your superiors. They are asking your permission to act on your behalf, as your representative, and requesting your precious vote.

You will be employing them.

Please use both your crosses wisely this year – and make sure you vote on May 6th…