26/05/2015 Leave a comment
On Thursday I had the honour of being elected Leader of Suffolk County Council and I know it will be a really challenging job as we seek to protect services, invest in the county’s infrastructure and work with partners to make sure that public services in Suffolk are the best they can possibly be, at the same time as having to find new ways of doing things to cope with the necessary re-balancing of the nation’s economy and us playing our part by having less money with which to do all the things we need and want to do, so no small task then for the Council, its staff and our Conservative group.
Over the past few days leading up to the Council AGM, from Journalists to opposition politicians all have been keen to try to get an insight into the internal workings of the Conservative Group, is it split?, who was in or out of the cabinet?, and would other would-be leaders supporters vote for or against. One journalist likened it to a soap opera, unfortunately or is that fortunately, probably depends on your point of view!, the reality is far less interesting, 37 Conservatives and 31 opposition Councillors at the Council meeting and the result was 37 for with 31 against.
The Conservative group on the County Council is a broad church of views on most subjects and one of the things I am doing is making sure we have the time and space as a group to debate the big issues before us. But there is one truly galvanizing force that drives us and the thing in which our sense of common purpose is palpable, we have to make sure Labour never re-take control of the County Council.
After the election result and my what is termed ‘Executive Statement’, the opposition group leaders get to make in essence rebuttal speeches. First up was the official Leader of the Opposition Councillor Sandy Martin , leader of the Labour group, in which he rattled off a list of what Labour would do if they were in charge and it would be same old Labour, always spending. The use of reserves was unrepentant, the propping up rather than reforming services was unrepentant, the ‘only the public sector’ can provide mantra was unrepentant, and the refusal to accept the need for the country, and thus us, to reduce its spending was unrepentant. Watching his group as he gave his speech, from their body language, I just began to wonder if some of them are all together comfortable with such an unreformed socialist at their head, particularly since nationally three weeks ago that position was effectively soundly rejected by the nation. The national Labour party is about to search its sole with the coming Leadership debate to address why its is so out of touch nationally, maybe some of them are thinking about doing the same locally?.