Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Leader’s Opening Stand Leaves Tories Stumped

Editorial Comment

IN THE council chamber, John Kent reminds this reporter of a confident opening batsmen. At his first full council meeting on wednesday, John stood confident and imperious, seeing each Tory ball as big as a beach ball as he swatted them away for a four. With Deputy Leader, Val Morris-Cook anchoring the other end, the Tories have their work cut out.

Of course, you are only as good as the opposition in front of them. The Tory leader, bowled too many wides and bouncers that never hit the spot.

Garry’s attempt to claim that the Labour group were responsible for the conduct of former Chair of Planning Stuart St-Clair-Haslam and former Tory leader Terry Hipsey was easily swatted away by cllr Kent who reminded Garry Hague that he was cllr Haslam’s Portolio Holder and cllr Hipsey’s Deputy Leader.

Kent had turned the spotlight back on the Hague’s leadership which when examined seems to have no ability for self-criticism and simply came across as a man upset more that he was out of pocket than out of power.

The only Tories that came out of the meeting with any credit were Sue MacPherson, Barry Johnson and especially,  Shadow Deputy Amanda Arnold, who all seemed to be intent with getting on with the matters in hand.

Of course, the Tories have an ace card. It is called Gerard Rice, who, at any stage is guaranteed to go off message. On wednesday as John Kent is imploring both parties to work together, Gerard gets up and starts berating “the previous Tory administration”.

In any game of cricket, you have to watch your own player who might just end up running out his own player!

Cllr Kent is working the “civic office room” well. Not only the officers but also each party and political splinter group.

This is the ultimate political rock and a hard place. The fall out from Brown’s government, the Tory austerity budget and the eyes of Thurrock on any perceived spending gaffe.

The advantage that John Kent has over previous leaders, is that unlike Hague and Hipsey, he will be full time. Yes, he will need every hour but that has to be to the advantage of the borough. That is why he is looking so well prepared and able to swat the Tories away.

The Tories look like they are looking for the first opportunity to call for a vote of no confidence. It will come. It is all a matter of when.Of course, they could just sit and wait for May 2011, when, with Cheale and St-Clair-Haslam gone, they may once again, regain victory at the ballot box.


  1. Announcements included in the Chancellor’s Budget statement on 22 June include:
    •child benefit will be frozen for the next three years
    •single parents will be required to look for work when their youngest child goes to school
    •housing benefit will be limited to a maximum of £280 per week for a one-bedroom property and £400 per week for a four-bedroom house
    •a package of cuts to housing benefit from April 2011
    •health in pregnancy grant will be abolished from April 2011
    •sure start maternity grant will be restricted to the first child only
    •from 2013, a medical assessment will be applied to new and existing disability living allowance claimants
    •the increase in state pension age to 66 will be accelerated
    •benefits and tax credits, except for state pension and pension credit, will rise in line with consumer prices rather than retail prices
    •from April 2011, basic state pension will rise in line with earnings, prices or a 2.5 per cent increase, whichever is the greater
    Tax credits
    •payments to families earning over £40,000 to be reduced next year
    •an increase in the taper rate at which awards are reduced
    •from April 2011, the baby element for new children will be removed
    •from April 2012, the one-off payment to new workers over 50 will be removed
    •a reduction in the income disregard from £25,000 to £10,000, and then £5,000
    •the introduction of an income disregard for income falls
    •backdating reduced from three months to one month
    National insurance
    •from April 2011, the threshold at which employers start to pay national insurance will rise by £21 per week above indexation
    •anyone who sets up a new business outside London, the south-east and east of England will be exempt from up to £5,000 of national insurance contributions for each of the first ten employees they hire
    Income tax
    •from April 2011, the tax free personal allowance will rise by £1,000 for people under 65
    •the higher rate income tax threshold will remain frozen to 2013/14
    •from 4 January 2011, VAT will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent
    Capital gains tax
    •from 23 June 2010, higher rate taxpayers will pay 28 per cent on their capital gains
    •there will be no new increases in duties on tobacco, alcohol and fuel
    •a two-year pay freeze for public sector workers, with the lowest paid (those earning less than £21,000) getting a flat £250 pay rise for both of those two years
    •from January 2011, a levy will be imposed on UK banks and the UK operations of foreign banks.


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