Saturday, 5 April 2008

Baglan Disenfranchised

Juliet Hopkins and Peter Richards, who were elected as Neath Port Talbot Ratepayers Association councillors, and served in that capacity for three years and eleven months, became persuaded barely an hour before nominations closed last Friday that they were really socialists.

One has to admire that master tactician, Labour leader Derek Vaughan, in securing the two Ratepayers' signatures. He clearly cannot raise any credible candidates from within Neath Port Talbot Labour, so to obtain two ready-made Labour councillors was a master-stroke.

But is he storing up trouble for himself? How committed are his two new recruits to the New Labour project? If Labour does not achieve a majority on May 1st, will they remain faithful? If they stay, will the traditional socialists in the party sit comfortably with them?

And what of the councillors' relations with their constituents? The sentiment in Baglan has been largely anti-Labour. As well as those non-party-political people who are concerned only for value-for-money from the local council, there are Liberal Democrat (Baglan was a stronghold of the old SDP) and Conservative voters there. These vote Ratepayer as a compromise, and would surely have provided candidates if they had known that otherwise they were going to get two Labour councillors by default.

They have effectively been disenfranchised.


Anonymous said...

Should this come as anything of a surprise to anyone?

I understand that the word on the street was that the two "jumpers" weren't too happy, in fact quite discusted with the choice of Councillor J.C. Tallamy during the 2006 by-election.

Since then there's been a change of leadership in the Ratepayers; I also understand that this has caused disharmony with the old guard of the party; lets fact it there's more splits than a Vegas divorce court!

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be missing the point that these councillors have at the very least acted without integrity but more likely is the fact that they have committed a criminal act of deception as per the Fraud Act 2006 where it is an offence to make or to even imply a false representation in order to gain a pecuniary advantage.

Why are the Ratepayers not making an official complaint to the Ombudsman or even the Police?

Annoyed resident

Frank H Little said...

Do the Fraud Acts apply to politics? Surely many politicians would find themselves in the dock if so.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that The Fraud Act applies to anyone who obtains a pecuniary advantage by being dishonest.

If we are to rid ourselves of the dishonesty within democracy and encourage people back to vote then we need to challenge this type of behaviour.For them to announce their switch to the Labour Party so late in the day can mean nothing but dishonesty on their part as they would have had to join the Labour Party beforehand.

Frank H Little said...

I certainly agree with that last paragraph. I am just as unhappy with last-minute recruits to the Liberal Democrat party. However, as far as I know, we have never caused sitting councillors to switch on the eve of an uncontested poll.

I am told that Labour Party rules require candidates to be members of the party for at least a month before being granted authorisation to use the party's name and insignia. Can anyone confirm?