Friday, March 26, 2010

Clarke, Unitary & Democracy

The call for a referendum in today's Evening News is absolutely spot on – for a process designed to make Norwich more democratic, the Unitary process has been deceivingly undemocratic in its nature and has sought to exclude the views of local people whenever and whenever it could.

When the process first started, we were pleased to note the proposals would need grassroots support but disappointed when this was watered down to just “stakeholders” (i.e. not individual residents – just groups). This was then further diluted when it was went from requiring “support” to “a broad cross section of support” and then down to “a measure of support”.

Charles Clarke declares in the House of Commons that the democracy will come at the General Election and asserts that he believes more people will vote for pro-unitary candidates than anti-unitary candidates. I do not believe this to be an accurate measure of support. Our votes at a general election are decided by a number of issues - the NHS, defence and crime, for example – and not just unitary. I know Labour voters who are set against unitary who would be shocked that their votes were being used to justify this scheme.

There is, of course, only one fair way to record local support or opposition to unitary. Conservatives have always believed that the final judge on these plans ought not to be Councillors or even stakeholders, but the ratepayers who pay the taxes that keep our councils going. When the Conservatives on the City Council put forward plans for a referendum, Labour and their allies voted us down.

It seems that for some people, democracy is only a useful tool when they think they will win and for the rest of the time it is an inconvenience.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Antony.

I am a Labour voter through-and-through and will again vote for Mr Clarke on May 6th. However I am very opposed to unitary and even wrote to the government the first time it was sent to public consulation. I didn't bother after that because it was a sham.

If Mr Clarke thinks my vote for him is a vote for Unitary for the useless Steve Morphew and chums, he betetr think again.

Red Star said...

I was wondering how long before the Unitary topic comes up again as a subject on your blog Antony.
Well done for living up to my expectations and posting another blogpost on it.

Sadly as my original argument has been based on the fact that the unitary issue has become a party political affair and sadly party political point scoring has set the standard of debate. (even in the case of your blogpost). I do agree that Charles Clarke is providing too simplistic argument. Where I disagree is that I want to vote for a candidate who supports the idea of creating a local government structure which is going to be the most beneficial for the interests of Norwich. In this case the Unitary Norwich proves superior.

As I said before I want a Democratic Socialist Unitary Norwich council who is not out of touch with the needs of the local populace and perhaps get rid of some of the ridiculous proposals such as (1) turning street lights off which I predict will lead to an increase in crime. (2) create an integrated transport strategy. (3) end the Democratic Deficit. (4) stop the closure of Day Care Centres and put an end to privatization of council services which leads to greater cost to the taxpayer (to name but a few). I know that the Labour Party has still got a long way to go to get back on the course of Democratic Socialism.

I am angry that Daniel Cox is wasting too much tax payers money on a legal challenge which will probably go no where. He hasn't got a brilliant track record when it comes to the Unitary argument putting forward the ridiculous proposal of Unitary for the whole of Norfolk getting rid of the local district councils. I thought it was complete madness and very Non-conservative (as the Tories generally like the status quo). But I have not seen you mention it once on your blog Antony about the apparent contradiction between Daniel Cox's stance at the County Tories stance in terms of Unitary Norfolk.