It might seem an odd choice of website to promote, but I would urge anyone thinking of voting independent to visit Martin Terry’s blog. He seems to have a rather creepy case of ‘mentionitis’ about me (8 highlighted references to someones name in a single post does come across as slightly obsessive). It’s not how normal adults generally conduct themselves. He’s sort of a ‘real world’ internet troll.
Anyway his central theme that I am somehow controlling the local conservative party is (perhaps sadly from my point of view!) as entirely false as the rest of the innuendo on his blog. The post of chairman is mainly concerned with administrative and organisational issues. It can certainly be a busy job at times but it doesn’t involve setting or determining ‘policy’.
I genuinely find it quite sad that the residents of Westbourough have to be represented by someone like this. What do you think officers of the council make of his ranting and raving? I think his behaviour on council was embarrassingly poor at times. I have huge respect for the professionalism and independence of Council staff but someone as aggressive and unpleasant as Martin Terry is an almost totally ineffective advocate for his residents.
He talks on occasion about some sort of post-parties collaborative council, but at a very fundamental level the man is not capable of collaboration because he is so fixated with attacking anyone who disagrees with him – no matter how trivially obvious it is to everyone else that he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. I remember as a portfolio holder him shouting at me in full council because of some comment in a report and when I later read the report I realised he had completely misunderstood it, and I do mean completely.
I think that’s what bothers me about the independents. I was a councillor for a long while before the ‘independents’ started to win any seats and for that time disputes between local politicians were about policy and principles. However, a lot of what the independents say is – and I don’t know whether it’s dishonesty, or that they don’t understand, or don’t want to understand – so far removed from the reality of what is going on that discussion become impossible.
Instead they run very personal campaigns which seem to primarily work by making as many outrageous claims as possible and relying on enough people currently mistrusting politicians that some of it sticks. In national politics there is a competitive media and plenty of rescources to ensure that overtly cynical politics gets exposed. In the local arena we’re far more reliant on a deal of goodwill, honesty and integrity from candidates. Sadly if there were three words that don’t generally characterise independant campaigning they would be these.
How can anyone have a debate with someone who can’t go two minutes without spitting something about ‘Anna Waites Tory boys’ (sic). If a conservative candidate put up blogs like that about a labour or liberal democrat I would personally ask them to take it down and point out that politicians, as public servants, should conduct themselves with a greater degree of professionalism. I would expect the Labour and LibDem parties to take the same approach.
Anyway, I don’t generally complain about what people have to say about me – it’s not nice but if you’re in politics it comes with the territory - however, I feel this kind behaviour almost reinforces the idea that somehow places like Southend can’t do ‘grown up’ politics. If you were sat in Whitehall or Westminster reading a blog like that would you be persuaded of the benefits of localism and greater autonomy for local authorities? I wouldn’t.