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John's Jottings for January 2006

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.

Fun and Frolics in the Farmyard

I hate rudeness. Don't we all? Why then is there so much of it around, especially in the behaviour of so many elected members?

It seems amazing that once members get into the Council Chamber, they feel it is quite acceptable for them to behave not only rudely but often very nastily too. The amount of shouting across the Chamber—nearly always from the Lab/Lib side in our direction—nowadays makes the left side of the place sound like a farmyard. I cannot think of a more accurate description than that.

Standards in public life have always been variable, in elected members' public (and personal) lives, and I daresay that what we experience today in terms of behaviour at cross-party meetings is little or no worse than it has ever been. Does this excuse it, though?

I believe that it does not excuse any of it. I am not content with reasons other give for bad behaviour of any kind. I know we all fall prey to temptations of one sort or another from time to time, but overall we should surely be aiming to maintain our own standards of conduct at as high a level as we can, regardless of the temptation to do otherwise. Personally, I never call out at all, though I am sometimes surprised as just how restrained I am, despite all the garbage being spouted from the other side of the chamber...

This has always been my practice, and as I do try to lead by example, I always hope that this will rub off on others. Sadly it seems not to be the case. I can, however, defuse some of it to an extent, most effectively by turning it around when it involves me. To this end I have recently mixed in some lighter material with the more serious stuff that I deliver at council meetings, allowing myself to become a target for the opposition groups. This is a deliberate ploy on my part, and one they haven't a hope of working out. One thing they have never grasped is that everything I do is for a very good reason. They can perceive only the surface, not below it, and I can and do use that.

Thus I have been able to take much of the real nastiness out of at least some of the council's proceedings, and that has oiled the wheels of this elected local body's formal activities. I might not be able to stop the farmyard chatter, but I can (and do) deflect a fair amount of it, re-directing much of the worst of it into less harmful directions.

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Next time: Closing-Down Sale