As we approach the County Council elections this May we’ll undoubtedly once again see a great deal of comment about the state of the political system, quality and honesty of councillors in Northampton.
There may also be the suggestion that elected councillors should be dispensed with all together to save money.
It is always difficult to identify the motives of those making contributions to the debate; however I suspect that in most cases it is born out of a frustration and cynicism of the political system.
In reality, and I should say this is only my view and is not necessarily shared by colleagues, a healthy scepticism over the way some councillors perform and act is well justified.
You only have to look at what happens to candidates who having stood for what they say during an election is important to their communities and have led the criticised those they seek to replace, suddenly once elected take no notice and hope above all that no-one reminds them of why, what and how they got elected.
As for the political system, well of course it is easier to be in opposition. To start with you wake up every morning knowing that you have all of the answers, safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to deliver. What this of course means is that if you lack ideas of your own you have the freedom to criticise, complain, disparage and castigate the administration to everyone and on everything.
You post newsletters through letter boxes telling everyone you’ll do better than the incompetent oafs currently in charge and you can promise everything and anything to everyone even if you know it is undeliverable.
Or worse still if you have no intention of delivering on promises made during the election campaign.
It is a sad fact that the Northampton Conservatives act not as if they are responsible but as an opposition seeking to blame everyone else rather than be held accountable for the decisions they have made of which the recent headline in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, “INADEQUATE” is only a part of the story of their incompetence.
To cover their incompetence the Northampton Conservatives strategy appears to be that first off they’ll tell everyone who are prepared to listen and even those who aren’t that they inherited a dog’s dinner of a mess.
This allows them to take credit for decisions taken some 12-24 months before if they come good, and blame others if it has gone wrong.
What it really does of course is provide a great excuse for covering up the impact of the bad decisions they have taken. Combining this with the language of politics which doesn’t help.
Councillors suddenly change from being angry members of the public and in place of saying a ‘lie’ has been told say instead that it was ‘intentionally misleading’, instead of saying someone is a ‘snide mean spirited toe rag’ or worse ‘dishonest’ they suddenly become ‘disingenuous’.
It is a strategy which the Northampton Conservatives have mastered where they now believe that if you tell a story loud and often enough to enough it will take on a mythical truth all of its own.
What of course is required and what the people want is for political groups and councillors to do what they had promised during the election campaign.
Make decisions, provide leadership, get on with it and stop throwing tantrums and bleating.
Will it happen if the Northampton Conservatives are returned to power?
Not a hope if their past record of failing our vulnerable children, elderly, and neglect of our children’s education is anything to go by.
And that is without mentioning their decisions to switch off streetlights, cut funding for the police, mismanage the finances, failure to deliver on the environment, repair our roads and footpaths and look after the most vulnerable whilst at the same time giving themselves a 27% pay rise.
All of which they would now have the people of Northampton believe was the result of courageous decision-making.
The problem is that there are too many egos involved which when combined with a self-serving attitude and a lack of talent and experience restricts them to hoping that the art of non-decision making will come to their rescue.
Woe betide anyone who challenges their callous disregard for the people who matter on who they will release the political hounds to chase them down.
So would I recommend people to become councillors?
Without people who are committed to representing their communities there would be no accountability at all?
So for all of its imperfections and sometimes farcical behaviour, until some better method comes along we’re stuck with it.
It is why I am delighted at the quality, diversity and range of experience that the Northampton Labour Candidates have in abundance.
It is a group of candidates who unlike the Northampton Conservatives have and continue to Listen to Northampton and will take decisions and introduce policies that have been fully costed and which put people and communities before self-serving self-interest.