My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Save Manston Fuels Thanets Political Revolution?

Yesterday evening I attended a public meeting in Ramsgate called by Grahame Birchall about shaking up the way Thanet Council operates. Although we have our differences, I have a lot of respect for Grahame especially his commitment, which I totally share, to having an honest and accountable local council in Thanet. Grahame and I had a public debate about this issue during the general election campaign when we were both Parliamentary Candidates for South Thanet. I remember that there was a small audience of about 15- 20 people at that meeting, but this time it was different, there were about 40 people there. So why the sudden growth of interest in such a boring, sleep-inducing subject?   

Well the answer was clear, many supporters of the Save Manston Airport campaign came  to the meeting, because they felt they had been deceived, let down and abused by Thanet’s  Labour, Conservative and  UKIP political administrations, who pimped themselves out for votes with promises about saving the airport, but when in power failed to  deliver. Now I’m well known for not supporting the airport CPO so it was rather odd being close up and personal with large group of people  who might normally have given me a hard time, but on this occasion it was amazing to discover that we were in full agreement. Because just like many  SMAers I also  believe Thanet Council and its political leadership, whether Labour, UKIP, or Conservative, routinely deceive the community about their  plans and policies, operate in secrecy like a North Korean style communist state, and are  totally unaccountable  to voters for their actions.

And it’s not just me and a group of SMAers holed up in hotel in Ramsgate on wet Tuesday night saying that the political leadership of Thanet Council has a long history of being a pile of dirty pants. In November 2013 members of Thanet Council’s own Independent Standards Board produced a report which accused the political leadership of being out of touch, secretive not trusted and the subject of jokes and ribald comments on public transport. How did the political leadership of the day respond to this damning report? Well Clive Hart (who’s he?) Iris Johnston, and Michelle Fenner (sadly and unbelievably both still serving councillors) launched an incredibly bullying and abusive verbal attack on the brave and honest members of the Standards Committee and voted their report down. The poor Standards Board members who were only trying to do their best for good governance in Thanet resigned en-mass and legged it out of the Cecil Square Bunker to avoid being summarily executed for disloyalty to the great council leader Kim-Il-Clive
Less than 4 months later, in March 2014,   the Council was visited by the town hall equivalent of OFSTED, the Local Government Association (LGA),  for an inspection, or in their fancy parlance an Independent  Peer Review. Despite their diplomatic language the LGA concluded that the political leadership of Thanet Council was utter bollox. So shocked were the LGA by what they discovered  that even these most sober of inspectors were forced to conclude that those responsible for leading the council were dysfunctional toxic tossers who in some instances were homophobic too! So shitty was Thanet Council judged to be that the LGA insisted on setting up an Improvement Board to sort out this fucked-up excuse for a democratic institution and those shameless wankers who purport to be elected political leaders. Obviously this is proving to be a bigger job than the LGA ever imagined because more than a year later the LGA’s Improvement Board is still hard at work meeting in  secret and not publishing its reports and minutes. Surely the tax payers and voters of Thanet have a right to know how this so-called Improvement Board is improving things?

So now you will probably appreciate  why Grahame Birchall, 40 odd SMAers and yours truly were in agreement that instead of LGA-style tinkering around the edges, Thanet Council needs some radical surgery to cut out the festering pustule which is the root cause of most of the incompetence, lies, deceit, bullying and secrecy which passes itself off as democracy in Thanet. And that festering pustule is the Cabinet system of running Thanet Council. I have written extensively about the Cabinet system before and here’s a link to one of my more restrained non-sweary articles about this evil system.

This totally undemocratic Cabinet system was forced on councils by the Labour Party in their Local Government Act 2000, which is utterly astonishing considering the hypocritical bullshit Labour spouts about transparency and accountability of local government. Their poor man’s version of a Soviet-style Politbureau places incredible financial and policy making power into the hands of a tiny cabal of 5 people at Thanet who are beholden to the patronage of a Party Leader who  appoints this cabinet cabal from councillors from within his/ her political party. Those appointees are bribed by the extra £8000 in allowance they get for being in the Cabinet. It’s hardly surprising that these people quickly become the Leader’s nodding donkeys and agree with everything he/she says in order to retain their lucrative positions.  Also the officers who serve the Cabinet of donkeys have to be careful what they say for fear of being driven out their jobs if they disagree with their political bosses.

With little disagreement and critical challenge, the donkeys and their leader then  proceed to make ill-informed, unbalanced and biased party political decisions about issues such as Manston Airport, Tans-Europa Ferries, Pleasurama  or Dreamland to name but a few. And if that wasn’t bad enough the Council’s scrutiny panel which is supposed to hold the Cabinet to account also operates  along party lines with members of the ruling party cow-towing to and supporting their Cabinet rather than independently challenging and questioning the wisdom of the decisions taken by their comrades. In short we have politically corrupt decision making process operating in Thanet and in hundreds of other councils across the country, thanks to the Labour Party who forced this anti-democratic system onto out town halls.

Thankfully the Coalition Government and my old Keighlian chum Sir Eric Pickles the former Secretary of State for Local Government changed the law to put the kybosh on Labour’s politically corrupt   system of running councils. It’s now possible for the people to force local referendums to get rid of rotten systems such the local authority cabinets. My previous post linked above explains how this can be done. Grahame is now proposing to launch campaign to organise a  referendum   to get rid of the Cabinet system in Thanet whilst I agree with him about the need to get rid of the Cabinet, I don’t agree with the system he is suggesting as a  replacement  – a directly elected all powerful mayor supported by an appointed  executive committee. In my book this is simply replacing one small power hungry and unaccountable power elite with another.  And this being the case then the deceit, lies, false promises and political corruption associated with the current system will most surely  continue over into the new.  

I will write more about the alternative, more democratic and accountable system  I prefer soon. In the meantime it appears to me that members of the  Save Manston Campaign are now beginning to wake up to the fact that its not enough to simply take politicians, including me,  at their word. There needs to been in place  a system of governance which forces these politicians to be  more accountable and truthful to the people and to actually deliver on their promises. I hope to be working with SMAers and many other people from across the broad spectrum of community politics  in Thanet to  bring this change about. Whatever your views might be on the airport, banning live animal exports from the port of Ramsgate or building houses, we desperately need more honest and accountable government here!


  1. Any system can only be as good as the people in it. Other councils make the cabinet or elected mayor systems etc work. With Bob and Iris and Wells and indeed SMA we're doomed.

  2. An SMA team has among many other facts, dug up the following :

    From 2006 guidance to local authorities:
    Chapter 4: The executive - Leader and cabinet
    4.62 It is for each local authority to set out in its executive arrangements how the arrangements for the appointment of the cabinet should work. Broadly there are two alternatives:
    a) where the cabinet is appointed by the executive leader and the executive leader determines the scheme of delegations; and
    b) where the cabinet is appointed by the full council and the council determines the scheme of delegations.

    So first the full Council would need to vote to change the constitution to enable the full council to appoint the cabinet. Then vote for point )b above.

    No problem.

  3. Is SMA just Beau now? There were only 30 protestors at TDC last week for the biggest Manston issue ever.

    1. Pikkapen (why?) on the various videos there were no more than 30 supporters. Certainly not 200 which would have stretched down the street. Perhaps 80 inside if you say so but even that looks fewer on the various videos. You're counting aside, when do you now see Manston reopened? 2016? 2017? And how many jobs initially 5? 10? 20?

      And how many of the former employees? 5? 10?

      With night flights?

  4. 40 people? That's nearly 2 per ward (assuming that everyone at the meeting was a Thanet voter...) - the Thanet political classes must be quaking in their boots.

  5. I think Anon 11.27 Manston did rather well to stay an airfield as long as it has. With the discussions about German re-unification 1989 (see above) and special forces exercises rehearsing plans, allegedly Deal Barracks temporary based Special Forces, to destroy it and destroy channel ports. The old threat scenario of Russian hordes invading Europe from the East gawn. New fear that of Russian special forces and/or commercial fronts making strategic land grabs in East Kent ready for an immediate bridgehead seizure by Russia to isolate UK and bridge a second front against Europe.

    After the North Thanet tory embarrassments (and there are many) over the Deal Barracks bombing 1989 I would have expected Roger Gale to have been at least wary of supporting hidden investor acquisition of Manston. But when questions are put to him he aint such a Jolly Roger

    A CPO was never going to happen IMO

    1. Eh Lyndon? Russians giving up the Ukraine to seize Manston? Are you sure?

      Surely the contamination police exercises this week at Ramsgate Port are more relevant?

  6. I have lived in Ramsgate all my life and a Pro Airport supporter. I would have gone to the meeting on Tuesday but when I heard who was going decided against it even though I wanted to listen to Grahame Birchall ideas.The reason I decided not to go was because of all the nasty, vitriol, name calling and bullying that is taking place on Facebook especially in MLH and SMA. One of the absuers is the Chairman of FORS. I think he is giving FORS a bad name. The SMA supporters have gone to far and their conduct last week was abysmal. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but without the nastiness.

  7. Should there be a vote of no confidence in Wells and Ukip if there main/only policy has failed so quickly after the election?