Friday, 13 January 2012


Councillor Ian Driver is no longer a passenger in the Thanet Labour Group after handing in his resignation note last night and leaping out of a moving vehicle like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (sort of). This could be just as momentous as John Worrow's resignation, as little more than a month after assuming power we now have an odd situation where the Labour leadership have less councillors than the Conservatives but are instead kept in power thanks to the support from the Independent candidates.

This essentially means that the balance of power at TDC is now very delicate and every decision has a risk of being made as if treading on egg shells. I do hope we can avoid a situation where power keeps yoyo-ing back and forth between the major parties every few weeks because I worry this will end up making our council look like a laughing stock. I suppose it is now down to Clive Hart and his cabinet to show that they continue to have a mandate to govern – it might not come in the form of possessing a working majority (which even the Tories can't lay claim to), but it could very well come in the form of winning the political argument through sound reasoning.

Hopefully, councillors of all political stripes will do the right thing and pull together for the good of Thanet and form a consensus on the issues that matter most, rather than squabbling and bickering in a tug of war which will only make our local council's approach to governance positively schizophrenic. One thing's for sure – once again, this means that the Independents are the kingmakers and that ultimately it is they who will need to be wooed on a regular basis in order for a successful leadership to function. It's not a perfect state of affairs, but I'm afraid we're stuck with it.

Leadership challenge or not, we will still be lumbered with a hung council. If people want to moan about that, then perhaps more people should've turned out to vote. My own view is that Labour will remain in control of TDC as long as the Independents continue to vouch for them, but this probably won't stop the Conservative Group from trying to convince the local population that since they now have one more councillor than Labour they have more of a mandate to rule. Ironically, if the Conservatives did this, they'd effectively be advocating proportional representation – something which they were more than happy to criticize when voting No to AV, but hey ho, horses for courses eh?

I can't see things swinging back in the Tories favour just yet. The Independents won't want to be seen as flip-flopping. Besides, if push came to shove, I doubt the newcomer to the Independent bench Ian Driver will side with the Tories in a vote of confidence, knowing that Driver's prior support for Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party indicates how far to the left he leans. Having met him in person at the Citizen's Advice Bureau, I can safely say that Ian is a man who is rather strong on principles, but whether this is to his own benefit or to that of his former party is anyone's guess. Obviously if Ian didn't feel at home in the local Labour party then I sincerely hope his decision to quit settles his conscience somewhat. I wish him well.

But I wish we could avoid these political rifts which end up making TDC council chamber look like it's descending into some sort of Machiavellian psychodrama. I mean, this is Thanet District Council, for goodness sake. It's not the House of Borgia.


  1. Good points about forming a consensus on the issues that matter most etc, as working for the good of Thanet residents should be the most important thing.

    However it may be too late to worry that this will end up making our council look like a laughing stock, as I'm sure that a good proportion of residents already hold that view.

  2. Thanet District Council a "laughing stock" with their record of "sound reasoning", never?

    Sarcasm is definitely the lowest form of wit.

  3. I agree, Anon. And you'll have to forgive me for being idealistic, Ken, but one can only live in hope.

  4. I'm sure Hope must be a better place to live than Thanet, perhaps we should all move there.

  5. You have to admire people who have the integrity to stand up for what they believe in even if it means resigning! Better than councillors who have swapped party in order to get a cabinet position, or served in a town council in order to further their own interests.... Not in Thanet of course....