Posts Tagged ‘Stoke-on-Trent City Council’

The Stoke-on-Trent Central By Election

24/02/2017

I’ve long had a rather furtive desire to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party. Probably a frivolous idea and a wasted vote, but there you are. As they only seemed to stand in by elections, and there was never one where I lived, I never got the chance.

Until now. My MP, Tristram Hunt, having been re-elected in 2015, recently fucked off to a new job at the V&A. At last, here was my chance… but no. Stoke-on-Trent has the dubious name as the capital of Brexit, with the strongest leave vote in the country. It’s not the first time Stoke has had dubious political distinction: a few years ago, the city elected 9 BNP councillors. In the 2015 election, UKIP came second to Labour, and they clearly fancied their chances in the by election.

I loathe UKIP. For all their pose as the new party of the working class, they’re made up of, in former PM Cameron’s words, fruitcakes and loonies. They’re more right wing than the Tories. I’ve never understood working people who vote Conservative, and working people voting for UKIP are turkeys voting for Christmas. And their candidate in Stoke Central, the new leader Paul Nuttall, was especially contemptible.

First, there were allegations that the address he gave on his nomination was false: it was an allegedly empty property in Stoke (https://www.channel4.com/news/did-ukip-leader-paul-nuttall-break-election-law) ; then there was his claim that he lost friends in the Hillsborough disaster, later revealed to be untrue; he couldn’t name a single one of the six towns when asked; and his election slogan to be defending the NHS was undermined by earlier statements that he thought the NHS unfit for purpose and that should be privatised (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/paul-nuttall-want-privatise-nhs-9676639). All in all, a wholly unsuitable prospective MP.

The pundits were predicting a close contest in Stoke. I certainly didn’t want a UKIP MP, especially someone like Nuttall, so I could not in all conscience vote for the Monsters. The most likely to defeat UKIP was Labour, and this time at least, in contrast to Hunt, their man was local. So he got my vote. Not out of any conviction, it was purely tactical. If the polls had suggested an easy Labour hold, my vote would have gone elsewhere.

As someone who identifies as left-wing, and who is, according to the Political Compass Test, a left libertarian, Labour should probably be my natural choice. My problem is with their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. When he first stood for the leadership, I paid my three quid and voted for him. He seemed to be something hopeful, something different and left wing, a break from the near Toryism of the Blair years.

By the time of the second leadership election, my enthusiasm had markedly cooled. Partly his poor performance and incompetence, but I was alarmed when I came across footage of him describing his “friends in Hamas and Hezbollah”. Friends in terrorist organisations? Really? However much he might sympathise with the plight of the Palestinians, the founding charter of Hamas calls for the obliteration of Israel, and is virulently anti-Semitic. (more details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Covenant). Some of the stuff Hamas et al come out with could have been written by Hitler. And Corbyn calls himself an anti-fascist. Admittedly, he has since expressed some regret at this, but it strikes me as half-hearted (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/jeremy-corbyn-grilled-by-mps-on-labours-anti-semitism-problem/)

Even though Labour lost the other by election in Copeland, I’m sure Comrade Corbyn will stay as leader. As long as this incompetent fool remains, I won’t vote for Labour. I did so this time tactically to keep UKIP out.

So Long, It Hasn’t Been Good To Know You

09/12/2015

The recent news of the departure Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s controversial chief executive John Van de Laarschot was very welcome and long overdue. It wasn’t a surprise: the council changed hands after the May 2015 elections and new leader Dave Conway was a frequent critic of Van de Laarschot while in opposition.

The departure was a costly one. After several weeks on fully paid gardening leave, he was given a Golden Fuck Off of almost a quarter of a million pounds. And this after a five year tenure that wreaked havoc on the council, ruining successful services and causing staff to leave in unprecedented numbers. This obscenely overpaid and arrogant little man should have been sent packing years ago – there were opportunities, but former leader Mohammed Pervez lacked the balls. Better late than never, I suppose, and good riddance to extremely bad rubbish. A pity it took so long and cost us so much.

Why Stoke City Council is Wrong About HS2

19/09/2014

Stoke-on-Trent City Council wants the city to have a station on HS2. It is spending several million pounds of our money trying to persuade the government to re-route the line so it serves the city rather then Crewe. However persuasive the economic arguments may be, they miss one blindingly obvious fact a glance at a railway map will reveal. The reasons for routing the line through Crewe have nothing to do with the size of the town. Crewe is a major railway junction, Stoke is not. That is fact and can’t be avoided, regardless of how much wishful thinking the council employs. It would be better occupied lobbying to get better services from Stoke to connect with the line (start with redoubling the single track route between Alsager and Crewe) and for Stoke to retain a good fast service to London.

Tory austerity has wreaked a terrible toll on an already deprived city. Wasting money on idiotic schemes like this helps no one, especially its hard pressed residents. It’s high time the Council woke up and faced facts.

Stoke Council Concerned Over Inexperienced Benefit Staff

27/03/2014

I understand that the leadership of Stoke-on-Trent City Council (by which I mean the elected ones, not Vanguard’s Representative On Earth) are concerned that the benefits department has so many inexperienced staff. Well, my heart bleeds, I don’t think. This is an entirely self-inflicted wound. People like me who left last year did not do so lightly. Why would so many choose (nay, queue up) to leave what was a good public sector employer during a recession? (It may not officially be a recession any more, but up here it still feels like one). Half the assessment staff (yes half) left because they felt they had no other choice, had been forced into it by a bullying and uncaring management.

The reasons I left were bound up with all this. As a result of the changes to the job – making it largely face-to-face – people like me who preferred to work in the back office were left with a stark choice by management: adapt or fuck off. So a lot of us fucked off, fed up with being badly treated. I didn’t want to leave the council, but the stresses of the changes caused my depression to return and to require a steadily increasing dose of medication to combat it. I made three visits to Occupational Health in my last two years there, and their recommendations were always ignored by management. Adapt or fuck off. Every day, I would wake up and dread going in. I hated it. If I hadn’t left, I would have remained ill and the illness would almost certainly have got worse. Even though the job I went to turned out to be shit, I still managed to kick the medication. This would have been impossible if I had remained at Stoke.

So I would say this to the leaders. While I admit that I don’t envy your having to make savage cuts (who would want to go into public service to do that?) the loss of so many experienced benefit assessors happened on your watch. If you had taken a closer interest in the welfare of your staff and not allowed a bullying management culture to take root, this would probably not have happened.


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