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.