Mr Perrin’s blog. “A Word in Your Ear”.
As Councillors, their guests and others gathered for the first meeting of the Full Council since the elections on 22nd May there was an air of great expectation which, in the event, turned into disappointment and at times utter boredom mainly due to the decision of the UKIP Councillors to abstain on virtually every item on the agenda thus prompting the Conservatives to call for a “requisition” vote on all matters required to be voted on. At the conclusion of the meeting I spoke with a member of UKIP who informed me the reasons for abstaining was they did not want to be seen to be “taking sides” and in any event they were not sufficiently briefed as to the capabilities of those being nominated for Chairs of Committees etc. to be able to make informed decisions.
That may well be the case but I believe the UKIP Councillors missed the opportunity to impress upon the Labour and Conservative groups that they were not just the beneficiaries of a protest vote but were elected because they were more in tune with the concerns and aspirations of a vast and growing number of indigenous citizens of the UK. One of their oft repeated pledges is “a vote for UKIP is a vote for change to the current political systems” both locally and nationally. Given the opportunity to demonstrate their influence in the Council Chamber by casting their votes they chose instead to allow Labour and Conservative Councillors to fight it out between them. By abstaining you surrender the power to influence and make an impression, the only impression made by “sitting on the fence” is the one made on your backside.
I also believe the UKIP Councillors missed an opportunity to go some way to silencing those who accuse them of being “racist”; I speak of the election of a Mayor. As a consequence of the defeat of their candidate, Wendy Curtis, in the local election, the Labour Party was forced to select a substitute candidate, namely Cllr Steve Liddiard, the Conservative candidate being Cllr Tunde Ojetola. For the benefit of those who do not know him Cllr Ojetola is of ethnic origin. If, instead of abstaining, the UKIP Councillors had been more astute and voted for Cllr Ojetola, Thurrock would now have a Mayor of ethnic origin, who has been a Councillor for the past ten years and whose record speaks for itself, which is not to say that Cllr Liddiard is in any way unworthy of the position. If UKIP Councillors felt disinclined to oppose Labour’s choice for Mayor then would it not have been wiser of them to support Cllr Ojetola for Deputy Mayor.
Beware, when “finger-pointing” and shouting racist, lest the” finger” points elsewhere and recalls that 3 years ago Cllr Kent sacrificed Yash Gupta, the Labour candidate for Mayor, when the then outgoing Mayor, Ms Cheale, made it known that she was not prepared to vote for Yash Gupta or Tunde Ojetola both of them of ethnic origin. Cllr Kent did not challenge her reasons instead, because he needed her support to continue in power, he acquiesced and replaced Yash Gupta with a candidate Ms Cheale found acceptable. I believe there was a stronger “whiff” of racism in the conduct of Ms Cheale than expressing concerns about uncontrolled immigration.
If the UKIP Councillors reasons for abstaining, i.e. they were not sufficiently briefed on the capabilities of other Councillors, is to be believed, I am intrigued as to why they made exceptions in the case of Cllrs Susan and Brian Little, especially in the case of Brian Little who was elected for the first time but, despite he had no previous record as a Councillor on which to be judged, UKIP supported his nomination as Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee. Do UKIP have a special affinity with Susan and Brian or is a “Little” cosy relationship developing the outcome yet to be made known?