Thursday 15 May 2008

Politicians and the Trade Descriptions Act

The large number of so-called 'Independent' councillors in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire make it difficult to read the local election results for clues about the parliamentary election. The headline figures are that Plaid now have 7 councillors in the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency. With the Tories on 1, Labour on 3, and the Lib Dems on 1, that gives us more than all the other parties put together. It's certainly a very good basis for moving forward, and one on which we will be building.

But the other 24 seats are, of course, held by the ‘Independents’. If there was ever a case for prosecuting politicians under the Trade Descriptions Act, some of these people are the obvious targets.

Some of them – but only a tiny minority – really are exactly what they say they are. Genuinely independent and free to do their best for the people that they represent. In practice however, by being outside the formal group of ‘Independents’, they have the least influence of all the councillors when it comes to decisions of the council.

Some of them, especially in the Pembrokeshire end of the constituency, are clearly Tories in disguise; the attempt by their party to persuade them to stand in their true colours was an abject failure. The reasons are mixed; some of them are actually afraid (not without justification) that they would lose if they stood under the colours of their party, whilst others prefer the certainty of political patronage (and extra Special Responsibility Allowances) which comes from their membership of the 'Independent Political Group' (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

Others genuinely hold no affiliation with any of the usual parties, but their claim that they are free not to follow a political party’s line rings hollow when they instead follow the line laid down by the group leader. What actually is the difference – they’re still not free to vote as they choose.

I know that we still haven’t convinced people in the area that most of the so-called ‘Independents’ are anything but. And I suspect that some people who thought that they were voting for the man or woman who will stand up for their community will have a rude awakening when they discover that they’ve actually given a vote of confidence to a political grouping which is intent on closing their village school, privatising care homes, and contracting out care services.

Showing people the truth is a campaign which will continue.


Plaid Whitegate said...

Llongyfarchiadau John! Here's Plaid's Wrecsam blog for its four new councillors. So far, so lively...

Anonymous said...

hi john good to see you back blogging.Plaid are lucky to have you

John Dixon said...


Thank you, you are too kind.

Dr Carwyn Tywyn said...

Blog difyr - daliwch ati!