When we saw this post on the Conservatives – Thurrock & Basildon Facebook page, our jaws pretty much hit the ground at the level of bullshit and hubris on display. Do these puffed up, self important politicos ever take notice of what really happens? Or in the case of the turnout in the local elections on 6 May, what didn’t happen…
What didn’t happen was hordes of voters going to the polls to cast their votes. The turnout in Thurrock was under 30%. 53% of a turnout of under 30% isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement is it? Yet the Tory masters of spin are trying to make out it is FFS!
Look, if the tables had by some fluke been reversed and Labour had gained power with the above turnout and share of the vote, we’d be making exactly the same point – namely that they have no meaningful legitimacy.
This isn’t about party political point scoring. It’s about the elephant in the room which is the crisis of local democracy. With turnouts around the 30% mark, it has no legitimacy. What gets us is the deafening silence from pretty much all councillors, ruling group and opposition alike about this. They can’t bring themselves to face the harsh truth that the majority of voters have little or no faith in their ability to deliver meaningful change.
As we’ve mentioned more times than we care to remember, in Thurrock (and probably many other local authorities), it’s the senior officers who seem to have the clout. It’s certainly been the case in Thurrock that the senior officers have been implicated in a stream of bad decisions, mismanaged projects and cock ups. These range from a dubious investment strategy involving sinking money borrowed from other local authorities into high risk projects through to the botched ‘re-building of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope.
None of the officers involved in these screw ups has ever really been held to account by the ruling group councillors. A key role of these councillors should be close supervision and oversight of how the senior officers conduct their business. In Thurrock, that has not happened in any meaningful way. When voters see this, can you really blame them for concluding it’s not worth the effort of going to vote because nothing will ever really change.
The people of Thurrock are not mugs – we can see what’s going on with the council. The majority of us have no faith in them. So when the Tories come out with bullshit posts like the one above, it’s an insult to our intelligence. One that we’re not inclined to forgive or forget…be warned!