Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Lib-Dems bounced into power?

This evening's budget debate at Bristol City Council has upset the apple cart. The Lib-Dems have secured Conservative support for their budget amendments, defeating the budget of the minority Labour Cabinet. A particularly critical element of the Labour budget concerned the proposed incinerator favoured by Labour but fiercely opposed by the Lib-Dems. The successful Lib-Dem amendment said
No Incinerator: suspend any spending on phase 3 of waste procurement, with the aim of reaching consensus on phase 3 across all four authorities (£389,000)
The Labour Cabinet have decided that they cannot continue administering what has effectively become the Lib-Dem Budget and have resigned. the ball is now in the court of the Lib-Dems who, as the largest group, will be expected to form a new Cabinet. This follows a series of recent decisions by the Lib-Dems not to take control despite the withdrawal last year of Conservative support for the Labour Cabinet and even a motion of no-confidence in the Labour leader Helen Holland (below) tabled by the Tories earlier this month.

So it seems that the Lib-Dems may have been bounced into taking control of the council in the run-up to June's Council elections, something the Tories presumably wanted for political reasons (the Lib-Dems being their principal electoral rivals) and something the Lib-Dems didn't want, since the incumbent Party is bound to be associated with the many unpopular policies being pursued by the Council.

All is yet to be revealed, but did the Tories vote in support of the Lib-Dem amendments to achieve this outcome? Did the Lib-Dems know where it would lead? Were Labour in on it, indicating to the Tories that they would resign if the Lib-Dem amendment was successful? Will the Lib-Dems take control under their Leader Barbara Janke (below) or will they hold out for a coalition with another Party so as not to appear to be The incumbent Party in the run-up to June's elections? (see * below.)

Thanks to the diligence of James Barlow in following the web cast and breaking the news.

*The Bristol Blogger says that Barbara Janke's has been voted in as the new Leader. Later edit - this is confirmed by several sources. Post report here and BBC here.


Anonymous said...

Come on, Chris! Try and keep up! It was confirmed live by James Barlow and Jon Rogers on Twitter! (I see you are on there.)

Chris Hutt said...

But I only joined Twitter last night, after the event, having seen your comment on BB pointing out how the news had broken through James and Jon Twittering.

I've feeling my way with it. I notice some people (yes, you Paul Smith) give a running commentary on the most mundane aspects of their lives. Do they really think people want to know?

The main problem I have with Twitter is that I don't often do anything worth telling everyone about. Do you all want to know what I had for breakfast this morning (porridge, in case the answer is yes)?

Anonymous said...

Just a gentle josh, no malice intended :D

I think Twitter can be both useful and distracting; the hardest thing (initially) seems to be making it work for you in ways which repay your small investments of time and effort with greater quantities of information than you would otherwise have been able to mine.

Trawling (occasionally) through the following/followed by lists of those at first or second remove from you can prove interesting in uncovering seams of contacts.

Surfing through hashtags on subject matter, location, name etc often throws up useful leads.

I think it is an interesting tool to see used in the civic context, because it provides a semi-public discourse (direct messaging notwithstanding), which means that there is some degree of public record, and with a 140 character cap there is less room for dissembling (perhaps!).

TonyD said...

Dear Chris

Now the Bristol Evening Post have outed you as the Green Party spokesperson, can we please have your membership application and subscription fee please.


The Greens

Anonymous said...

So the party of two halves takes power. Will the left wing reasonable Lib-Dems rule, or will the far right Lib-Dem thugs take control?

Chris Hutt said...

Hi Tony, I did post a comment on the Evening Post article to correct that, as follows -

"Just to correct the footnote to the article, which links to this blog as "The Greens", this blog is NOT a Green Party blog but the independent, irresponsible and irascible views of an individual who is not even a Green Party member."

I also had a disclaimer to similar effect on the sidebar somewhere, although it seems to have disappeared (always losing things these days!).

Chris Hutt said...

Anon, your point is similar to one made by James Barlow who reminds us that the Lib-Dems were an amalgamation of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (gang of four, etc.), who come from very different traditions.

The liberals (formerly the Whigs) were once more associated with what might be called the right, arguing for free trade and the repeal of the Corn Laws, whereas the Social Democrats were spawn of the Labour Party.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris

As I am sure you realise, my post was not a dig at yourself. You quite clearly state that your views are your own and I have great respect for them (even if I don't always agree with your conclusions).

My comment was born more of exasperation that, once again, the local paper will be a major source of information for many potential voters in the forthcoming elections but it does not appear to have the necessary knowledge (nor shows any wish to acquire that knowledge) to provide accurate coverage of ALL the issues from ALL the parties involved. Even one that attracted nearly 15% of voters in the last major round of local elections.

We are stuck in a rut, in which the majority of the population are disinterested in voting because they see little point if the only options available are three shades of grey, none of which really represent their viewpoint.


Chris Hutt said...

Hi Tony, I did realise your comment was tongue-in-cheek.

I don't think you can blame the Evening Post entirely. It's up to your Party to put yourselves forward more assertively in the local media and elsewhere.

The media and the public won't come running to you just because you've got such wonderful ideas. You have to go out there and sell them.

Sorry to be blunt, but that's the real world of politics, which I suspect a lot of Green Party members aren't really comfortable with.

The fact that this blog has been mistaken for a Green Party blog by the Post shows that you can make an impact if you're willing to get your hands dirty, as it were.

Your man Pete Goodwin writes a very good blog which deserves wider coverage. Why not develop that into a Bristol wide blog?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

TBH, I am not quite so naive to think that the BEP would beat a path to our front door (even if we have now set up office next door to the Stag & Hounds and within 50 feet of their Temple Way building).

My point was that when looking for a Green point of view they immediately linked to a blog called "Green Bristol" without checking that it actually was a Green Party website. With all due respect, I think the name of your blog is the main reason why it was mistaken for a Green Party blog not its fame. If Charlie's blog had been called Green Bristol they would have linked to that. Sorry to be blunt but thats the real world of lazy journalism.

Being new to the Green Party I can't comment on whether previous members were uncomfortable with the nitty gritty of politics - I certainly don't get that impression from the individuals I am working with at the moment.

However, the main difference between the Green party and the grey parties is that we actually believe in the policies that we campaign for - I get the impression that some others will campaign for whatever policy will get them elected, thus the lack of interest in local elections or trust in politicians by the general public.

If by "getting your hands dirty" you mean throwing out certain policies on the basis that although honest they won't win votes - then yes we will keep our hands clean.

Whether we have learnt our lesson about getting publicity for our campaigns - the next 3 months will soon tell us that. Whether the general public will get unbiased access to all the information they need to make an informed voting decison........watch this space.


Chris Hutt said...

Agreed, the blog name does lead to some people making assumptions, but I don't accept that the Green concept is sole property of the Green Party.

In fact there is already another blog called Green Bristol Blog (www.greenbristol.blogspot.com) but I thought it was such a pathetic waste of space that I decided to nick the name. They've said nothing.

So, if you think the name is such an asset, you could nick it too! I could hardly complain since I nicked it in the first place.

TonyD said...

"I thought it was such a pathetic waste of space that I decided to nick the name"

Yes, but your blog is obviously not a pathetic waste of space.

The name is only relevant if the journalist is lazy. But, as you have rightly pointed out, it is up to us in the Green Party to do our job and make sure that lazy mistakes are not made.

It is, also, as you have also pointed out in a much earlier conversation, our right to moan and groan and generally be grumpy when we haven't done it.

It was my turn today to be the grumpy old man, you can have the grumpy stick back now :-)

Paul said...


I only have mundane things in my life

Chris Hutt said...

I take it back Paul. I'm since heard from Ian Dale on radio 4 today that Stephen Fry makes hundreds of posts a day on Twitter on every detail of his life.

Believe it or not he has more than a quarter of a million followers! Mind you Fry seems to be having quite a good time at the moment swanning around Baja California with my near neighbour Mark Cawardine.

Paul said...


you are too kind. What is your twitter address? I could become one of your followers.

I also have a work blog