Christmas is a time for thinking about those less fortunate than yourself. For me that’s 2 blokes I met in Dorking last week and most of the Burton Albion Fan base on Boxing Day. But lets for a change think of those MORE fortunate – the Conservatives.
In Bridgwater we thought we’d got rid of them, but we haven’t. 14 Labour Town councillors and 1 Tory yet there they are, appearing from out of the blue, getting involved in our lives and making those little decisions on our behalf that always turn out so bad. Bridgwater may be a solid Labour town but every now and then it’s the Tories who run Sedgemoor, or the Tories who run Somerset, or the Tory we send to Westminster, that seem to always pop up with that all important final say.
Deck the Halls
Christmas is a time for giving. So… give me all your mince pies. That’s your Christmas shopping list sorted. But what about ‘Forgiving’? Should we forgive the Bridgwater Tories for they know not what they do?
Shall we forgive that Cllr David Hall? The Bridgwater Tory who represents us on Somerset County Council and who, as the County’s portfolio for Economic Development, had a crucial single vote at his disposal to stop the EDF HGVs clogging our roads and poisoning our streets with yet more exhaust fumes. Well, yes let’s charitably forgive him. He lives in Bawdrip and he doesn’t need to drive through Bridgwater to get to his Council meetings in Taunton anyway, so it won’t affect him. And anyway, at County it’s ‘One Tory One Vote’ so he was just following tradition.
Ding Dong Merrily in Highbridge
Shall we forgive Sedgemoor Tory Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty for bringing in a higher rise of car parking charges for Bridgwater Car Parks than for the rest of Sedgemoor? But his reasoning was so festive that you had to smile “Nobody likes car park increases but these are VERY well-liked car parks” so why not therefore cheerfully raise the prices in struggling Bridgwater while keeping them down in thriving Cheddar and Burnham. It’s the law of the Tory jungle -get me out of here!
Then of course this presented a major dilemma for the few other Bridgwater Tories who sit on Sedgemoor. Hallelujah and ding dong merrily on high for those that voted with the Labour group to try to stop the increases – All praise to Cllrs Lilley and Fraser to name but 2, out of, er well, 6. But it didn’t make any difference because other Tories simply closed ranks. Even popular Bridgwater Tory Lance Duddridge-a man so dedicated to the Conservative cause that he opened a vegetable shop, chose to back the car park rises… presumably to er… deter shoppers from coming into town and shopping in his shop….
But then there was cllr Ann Fraser who chose to do the right thing and voted against the clearly barmy and unfair price rise. Although I did get mildly confused when she rebuked me for taking a photo of someone throwing her recent election leaflet down a drain. “I don’t get involved in party politics!” she said. “But your leaflet said ‘conservative ‘on it” “But I represent the whole community!” “But maybe people wouldn’t have thrown the leaflet in the drain if hadn’t said conservative on it..” or maybe wouldn’t have voted for her. But that’s the problem, people DO vote Conservative and they never learn….however this can be cured…when you get to that polling booth ‘Just Say No’. You’ll benefit from it later.
Hark the Herald Tribune sings
But what of Conservative Royalty? We’re spoilt for choice. The self-proclaimed Duchess of Durleigh (named after a Mississippi river boat steamer accidentally ran aground off the coast of Steepholm during a fatally misjudged manoeuvre where the captain was too busy lecturing her crew to notice the rocks ahead) Cllr Gill Slocombe, who also incidentally voted for the car park rises, is never backward in coming forward. I recently made a suggestion that the town should make more of our carnival and extend activities over the weekend, “oh I’m surprised that Cllr Smedley didn’t know that we already do that!” she chipped in to the Mercury, purposefully missing the point while trying to score one. Well, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt though as it’s Christmas. She was probably just trying to be helpful and probably hadn’t realised that I wasn’t talking about extending Carnival itself but to take advantage of the 6 new hotels in the town by adding extra events – Shows, Gigs, a Sunday market maybe, to keep people in the town longer and to visit the shops and other things that we need to promote to make the town thrive.
I saw Three Ships – but then one sprang a leak
Then of course there’s the top local Tory himself. Our MP Ian Liddell-Grainger. Last week he was on our screens saying that if the proposed merger between Taunton Deane and West Somerset went ahead he would ‘make life difficult for the Government’ by voting against his own party. Fighting talk from a talking fighter! Come on Ian, stick it to them. Oh no, the first challenge, the Brexit vote , a chance to give democratically elected MPs a democratic say in what happens regarding Brexit, a vote that could and did seriously embarrass the Tory government and….our Ian sat back on his sword and simply backed them as usual. Not only had his rebellion lasted exactly 0 votes he even voted on the losing side.
But no surprise there. We can try as hard as we can to forgive ILG for his principled attempt to bring down his own Government…but…we probably shouldn’t really as his voting record is one of the most loyally Tory in the House….In fact ILG has ‘never’ rebelled against his party during the current parliament. But does he represent the views of his Bridgwater constituency? He voted 14 times against equal gay rights legislation, he voted 7 times against the hunting ban, he voted 3 times against same sex marriage, he voted for the Iraq war on 5 occasions, has voted 12 times against the right to remain for EU nationals already living in the UK, 13 times against UK membership of the EU, voted 13 times for the bedroom tax, voted twice against raising welfare benefits in line with prices, in fact voted 41 times for reducing spending on welfare benefits, voted 8 times against spending public money to guarantee jobs for the long term unemployed, voted 3 times against a mansion tax, voted 10 times for more restrictions on trades unions, voted for raising tuition fees to £9,000, voted 6 times to reduce central government funding to local government, voted 32 times against more powers for the Scottish Parliament, voted 24 times against more powers for local councils, voted 5 times against lowering the voting age, voted 13 times against measures to prevent climate change, voted twice for badger culling, voted twice against publicly owned railways, voted 5 times to privatise the Royal Mail, and to top it off voted 10 times to restrict the scope of legal aid (presumably so people couldn’t become clever enough to see through all this).
So, it’s not rocket science, if you vote Conservative you get Conservative and then …they get you. But it’s Christmas, there’s no need to be afraid…because Santa Corbyn is on his way….so maybe these mischievous Tory Elfs will vote better next time…so we can forgive…because that’s the charitable jolly seasonable thing to do…we can forgive…but we can’t forget. Won’t and shouldn’t.