Like most people in Thanet I am appalled by the unacceptable actions of a cash grabbing group of selfish Labour and several Green councillors who voted to award themselves a 10% increase in their allowances, when tens of thousands of Thanet folk face the effects of the most serious cost of living crisis in over a 100 years.
Just to show how out of the touch these pathetic excuses for councillors really are I carried out a quick Google search which revealed that some Labour and Green Party politicians, unlike their greedy, morally corrupted, Thanet colleagues, do actually have a social conscience.
In Durham Labour councillors voted to oppose increasing their allowances because in the words of their Leader;-
“a pay rise would be inappropriate given the ongoing context of the cost-of-living crisis and spending cuts that County Durham is experiencing… We shouldn’t be having a pay rise. We think its unfair, unjust, it goes against the grain with the staff and the trouble that our communities are going to be facing.”
In Labour run Middlesborough councillors also rejected an allowances increase their Leader said:-
“Due to the current economic climate we’re facing locally and nationally, , I don’t think it’s right or reasonable for me or any other politician to accept pay increases at the moment.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has consistently refused to take her parliamentary pay rises. She told the media that:-
“At a time of economic crisis, with so many of our constituents struggling to make ends meet, the proposal (pay rise) is utterly wrong”.
Here in Kent former Chair of the county Green Party and Maidstone borough councillor, Stuart Jeffrey, rejected his allowance increase saying that the proposed 8% rise “was obscene in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
What a shameful, selfish, shower of shits we have in Thanet when compared to other more enlightened, sympathetic and socially aware Labour and Green councillors elsewhere in the country. But that’s not all.
The greedy pickers of the public pocket have the bare faced cheek to try to defend their indefensible actions with cock and bull stories about why it is right to fill their gobshite mouths with more taxpayers gold.
In what is a probably one of the most arrogant self-entitled performances ever to have taken place at a TDC meeting Labour councillors Rick Everitt, Helen Whitehead, and Will Scobie and Green Councillor Trisha Austin argued that paying councillors more money will result in them somehow becoming more diverse and representative of the communities they supposedly serve. What bollox.
Why councillors tend to be old, white and unreflective of the community they represent is nothing to do with allowances at all. Research shows that over the past 50 years membership of all the major political parties has steadily declined, with the notable exception of short lived Corbyn bounce.
The cause of this decline is the collapse in public trust of politicians from all parties. This trend continues unabated with many politicians locally and nationally bullying, harassing, sexually assaulting and mislead and lying their way through their political careers. There is no sign of such unethical behavior being rooted out and ended.
Goodness knows how many excellent, civically minded, people have been deterred from becoming politically involved when our political parties and institutions seems to attract and promote to influential positions a bunch of unprincipled scumbags.
To make matters worse our political system is now dominated by well-heeled university educated middle and upper classes who shudder at the thought of sharing their hobby with the unemployed, the working class, the unqualified. Not to mention the BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled communities too.
These are some of the reason why our politics are in the sorry state they are. To claim that increasing councillor allowances will resolve these problems, as councillors Everitt, Whitehead, Scobie and Austin do is to deceive, mislead, and insult the people of Thanet.
The cash grabbers also fail to take account of the rise of the internet and social media in creating the aged, white middle class councillor class they complain about. Like it or not a new generation of IT savvy people are now doing their politics on line via social media, and after years of betrayal by the traditional parties are now engaging in growing direct action movements such as Just Stop Oil, Black Lives Matters and a host of other groups which are shaping our democracy.
None of this will be changed by be giving greedy councillors such as Everitt, Whitehead, Scobie and Austin an extra cash boost.
To change politics and politicians for the better the answer includes, amongst many other things, compulsory political education at school, voting at 16, the introduction of a proportional representation voting system, using open public primaries to select election candidates at all levels, restricting terms of office to two consecutive periods, prohibiting the occupation of more than one elected office, the use of virtual on line meetings for all business, ending the party whip system and strengthening the standards regime for all politicians, - the list goes on
Yes there will be huge costs associated with such changes, and yes the allowances system will also need to be radically changed, but democracy isn’t free and these costs will not in most cases be payments made direct to councillors but investments in making a fairer more inclusive democracy in which more people become involved.
One last word –Councillor Bertie Braidwood said in the debate about allowances that many councillors are lazy and do nothing to earn their rewards.
Based on my own experience as a Thanet councillor I totally agree. I believe that at least half, if not more, of TDC’s 59 councillors, are good for nothing skivers who do no casework, do not engage with community groups in their ward, do not read the reports and papers they are supposed to do and quite frankly don’t have a clue what they are doing. Why on earth political parties choose these wasters to become public representatives is beyond me.
If Thanet councillors seriously believe that they need a 10% pay rise then surely it follows that the lazy majority who fail to properly serve the electorate should be forced to return their allowances and be named and shamed for sitting on their backsides doing nothing when society is falling apart around them.
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