Sunday, August 12, 2007

Was the Lila Cooper story a decade old political deception?

The Evening News ran an intersting story on Saturday regarding the so-called switch of the Conservative position on Unitary from being pro-home rule in 1993 to anti-unitary now. It included quotes from former Councillor Lila Cooper, then Tory group leader, advocating unitary. I liked the media coverage because, apart from producing another mug shot of myself in the press even when out of the country, it gave us another chance to state that:

"The Conservative County Council gives us a 4-star service, whilst the Labour-LibDem City Council is inadequate"

For those that know and care about this, that line has been the narrative at the heart of the Conservative response to Unitary. This story allowed us to put that point again, without the rebuttle of Morph, Cooke or Ramsay. Thank you, Evening News!

Trouble is, behind the headline, the story isn't quite true. I recieved a phone call this morning completely out-of-the-blue from a very long standing member who attended a Conservative Policy meeting in 1993 at which the Unuaty issue was discussed and voted upon. He claims to have evidence that, in fact, the position of the two-woman Conservative Group at the time was anti-Unitary - although the minutes do not state by what majority it was defeated. Cllr Cooper's group member was absolutely against Unitary and remains against it to this day. So on what authority did Cllr Cooper pen her words for "Citizen" magazine? Because it certainly didn't have the backing of the Norwich Conservatives.

So something is amiss here. I am not sure what the truth is, but it certainly isn't as cut and dried as first presented. We'll never know!


Anonymous said...

The late Lila Cooper was a long serving and well respected Conservative councillor. It appears that she was expressing an independent view - as a politics scholar yourself I am sure you would recognise a Burkean (traditional conservative) argument in favour of elected representatives expressing what they think rather than acting as party delegates?

There may be another explanation - was Lila about to become mayor when she made the comments - it may have been an "above politics" endorsement of council policy.

Either way - I wouldn't worry, how many cllr's are still there from 1993 (Ferris, Waters, Bradford.... now I am struggling).

Antony said...

I would agree with your first point - as long as she stated it was a personal view, like I have done on various environmental issues rather than passing them off as the group view, which is what she did (wittingly or unwittingly) here.

Your point abou the Mayoralty isn't correct - Lord Mayors never comment on policy either for or against the council. And that is a good thing!

I'm not worrying - I thoroughly enjoyed the publicity!