May 2013

Over the weekend I have read the various blogs in and around Ipswich seeking to analysis and effectively ‘wash up’ the local election results, with some speculating on the ‘Andrea Hill effect’. Now I accept that the Labour party in Ipswich made an issue of her employment and that the Evening Star has a strange fixation with her, but Suffolk as a county is slightly bigger than just Ipswich and across the county the picture was of Lib Dems getting a ‘political kicking’.

To me it often seems local politicians are reluctant to accept that people’s feelings towards the parties at Westminster is the major influence on voters, I hesitate to suggest as much as we are all passionate about our local politics but actually it is the national mood that has the predominant effect more than local issues, as much as we would want it to be a pure judgement on our respective opinions and policies.

Looking forward to May 2013 as I think most people interested in local politics here is Suffolk are starting to do; there are a number of big issues that will effect the election, firstly the national mood, just as voters are unhappy with the Lib Dem’s performance in Coalition and that has rather ‘done for them’, what will be the mood towards the Conservatives in two years time.

Then and only then to a lesser extent, it is the local factor of how how will people view the track record of the Conservative administration of the county Council over what will be a 10 year period, will people want to give us a local ‘political kicking’ over having to implement cuts to address the cut in government funding or will our track record on Council tax be more of an issue to the silent majority.

In my opinion we simply have to accept what will be will be with the national mood but we most definitely do control the latter.

I have heard it said by a Lib Dem Councillor that they are determined, that the Andrea Hill salary and employment will be an issue in two years time ‘just as you have hung 11.9% and 18.5% council tax rises around our necks [and Labour’s] ; we are going to hang Andrea Hill’s salary around yours’  – Good luck with that one!, she was offered the going rate, no more, no less.

Whilst I hate to teach anyone the political realities of life at the local level, traditionally what people actually cared about are two things, the quality of local services councils provide and the level of council tax.

Suffolk now provides some of the very best services and our track record on Council tax makes the previous administration’s record look decidedly feckless however in these financially straitened times people are rightly focused on a third aspect of where we are making cuts and to me the new political battleground is about the degree to which we are imposing them or taking people with us on this difficult journey. Having sorted out the organisational mess, having dealt with the culture that we can also just simply raise the council tax; getting this involvement right  is perhaps the biggest challenge we face.

But if over the next two years if we as a council simply ‘bob along’ with the majority of other councils and the voters want to vent their frustration with the government and decide to focus on us rather than the liberals, we will all be hit by a tidal wave of discontent and it will swap a number of conservative controlled administrations. What little I know about tidal waves (I’ve watched a Perfect Storm twice) is that your best bet is to turn into it, head straight at it and put the engines into full throttle, leadership not management is the key.

Having said that, beyond the national mood, I fundamentally think for the majority of residents, the key local issue has and always will be how much council tax they have to pay and is this regard the good people of Suffolk will long remember the appalling way the Lib Dem’s and Labour ran the Council, they cost you more, Conservatives cost you less!

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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