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John's Jottings for March 2005

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.

Opposition

What is the purpose and value of opposition parties? Well, they are supposed to offer alternative viewpoints and to fill in the gaps by broadening the knowledge base. So, how about in Medway?

Er, no.

By and large, the opposition groups on our Council tend to have little if anything to offer, especially at times like the present budget-setting round. Although they will have no end of excuses for contributing little or nothing—and voting against the proposed budget as they do every year—they are not even making a perfunctory effort to serve the people of Medway.

Think about it: they are receiving Councillors' Allowances like the rest of us, and they were elected to represent the interests of Medway and its people, but when it comes down to it they make no useful contribution on even such vital matters as the overall budget and the level of Council Tax that is set.

Labour's Deputy Leader on Medway Council summed up his group's position absolutely clearly at a recent meeting of the full Council: "We're in opposition so it is our job to oppose whatever the administration proposes."

Well, that rather sums it up—an entirely negative and unhelpful attitude. Actually, if that's all they are going to do, they might as well be replaced by robots, who could perform exactly the same function but at no particular cost to Medway people and without all the verbal diaorrhea that emanates from a number of opposition members, most notably the aforementioned Labour Deputy Leader!

Rarely has the expression "waste of space" applied so well as in this context. It is a shame, as there is considerable merit in having all sides make real contributions to the budget-setting exercise. If they really are opposed to what is being put forward by the council's administration, they must have grounds for that stance and be able to offer their own alternative budget. Indeed this is a practice that was the norm not so many years ago; but now they make no effort to come up with what they would claim is a better budget.

There are only two possible reasons for this: either they just don't take their responsibilities seriously, or they are in reality incapable of making a better job of it than the Conservative administration, despite all the verbiage we get thrown at us in the Council Chamber. Either way, they are of no value to Medway or its people.

Perhaps that will change one day, when the opposition parties manage to get themselves some decent leadership...


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