Saturday 12 December 2009

Tory administration implodes

Highly significant bloke that Paul Lainchbury.

Paul who? (as his constituents used to say!) Well Tory Cllr Paul Lainchbury represented Goldsmid ward and for much of the time made a pretty poor job of it. All sorts of reasons have been put forward for this, many of them beyond his control. But whatever the reasons, it might have been sensible for the Tories to call time, get him to resign and run a by-election at a time of their choosing. But Paul had his uses - most notably the one thing he did manage to do was turn up to the odd council meeting and maintain the Tories' thin majority, which they used to elect their candidate for Mayor, take all nine Cabinet posts, and generally get their policies through. The Tories completely monopolised power, despite having barely half the council's seats.

Eventually, the departure of Lainchbury could no longer be put off and in the by-election the voters punished the Tories for their contemptuous treatment of them and gave the seat to the Greens. With that defeat went the Tories' overall majority, and what happened last Thursday was then only a matter of time.

So the opposition "coup" was good for democracy, but what happens next? As I understand it, the opposition parties cannot form an administration unless they become a single group in the Council - that means a coalition. Can three parties are going to be at each others' throats in May (or sooner) actually hold it together in the longer turn?

Or they could continue to leave the Tories nominally in power and come togther to vote down Tory policies or force changes - but after a while the danger is that they start to look like "spoilers" who want power but no responsibility, and that could boomerang in the Tories' favour come the next council elections in 2011.

Most importantly, what does it mean for those who use the Council's services and those who work for it? Perhaps it's time the "opposition" told us what they plan to do?

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