Full Council and Lonely Conservatives - Blog 17

Joe Salmon, 11 November 2023, Tags:



I was hoping to share my meeting notes from the full council meeting to make up the majority of this week's blog, but to be honest I was so nervous about the motion I brought on Palestine, and then so relieved it passed I didn't contribute much.


I was very grateful to Lesley as chair for re-ordering the running order to get the motion done nice and early (as I’m sure those outside were as well), and also bringing Kate’s question forward so she could get home to relieve my dad who’d been called in at the last moment to babysit as our regularly babysitter cancelled at the last moment.


I was very frustrated by the attitude of the council (albeit one seemingly forced by the local Tories) to the demonstration outside. My neighbours had their car broken into last month and the police didn’t even attend, ditto a few years ago when my grandmother’s house was broken into, however Phil Broadhead says he and his mates are a bit worried that someone with a megaphone might say something rude to them and we’ve got police from all over the county (I spoke to an officer who would have been in Blandford policing normally at that moment) in attendance along with extra council security staff. Similarly I was also unsure that there was a need to confiscate water and search the bags of people in attendance.


I was disappointed some councillors apparently used the demonstration as an excuse not to attend, and at the time didn’t think these reasons were genuine. I did have an email from another councillor who was upset that I considered their reasons for staying away from the meeting spurious.


I think all of us will have dealt with a small child who has a problem with lying. Interestingly this is in some respects a positive stage for children (When Children Begin To Lie It Shows Positive Brain Development : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR), anyhow, eventually a child who lies constantly will find themselves being called out for a lie when they are telling the truth. When this happens the indignation they express at being accused of lying is always full of righteous and unexpected anger. The rage at the injustice of being accused of lying when actually telling the truth is what came across in the email I received from the councillor who was frustrated that I doubted how genuine her fear was. 


Most children will realise if they lie consistently they will gain a reputation for not being trustworthy and not be believed even when telling the truth, and change their behaviour accordingly. Sadly I do not believe most politicians have had the revelation that consistently lying leads to irreversible reputational damage with those around you, or simply ignore its lessons while acting as career politicians. MPs like Johnson and Blair have built their entire careers on convincing the electorate they are being truthful when telling obvious lies. Indeed telling lies that are frequently believed in the face of reality seems to be the only real skill most politicians have.


I find it hard to sympathise with any politicians who find themselves frustrated at being accused of lying when it’s something they do so frequently. I wouldn’t say this is a problem exclusive to the Tories, although I think this is a problem they have more than any other party. A quick look at their previous manifesto’s, and how disconnected from reality their policies are shows they clearly engage in politics in a cynical and selfish way. That said I have been impressed by some of the local Tories who seem knowledgeable and well intentioned. David d'Orton-Gibson for example seems to be well read, and also principled, notably not always voting with the rest of his party on things like the changes to O&S set-up.


However at its core the organisation of the Conservative Party itself does not engage in politics in good faith, looking to create issues when nothing exists or framing them incorrectly. Nationally this means pedalling ideas and policies that anyone with any real understanding on crime, economics or migration knows are false and ineffective. Locally this means adopting approaches which are doomed to failure overall and benefit only a few small select groups, which unsurprisingly seem to consist of people who are most likely to be supporters and financial backers of the party.


Even in opposition engagement is in bad faith. Blue Flags, the Air Festival and Christmas Lights all stand out to me as moments when rather than genuinely challenging the actions of the administration with some legitimate criticism instead they’ve looked to grandstand and play politics. I would argue all political parties outside of the Green’s and maybe other smaller independent parties suffer from this problem, however it is most pronounced within the Tories.


This got me thinking to how lonely it must be, and made me think of how like a psychic convention a meeting of Tories must be. When a group of psychics who make a living out of pretending to talk to the dead relatives of vulnerable grieving and gullible people meet up it must be a lonely affair. Even without any clients or marks around they’d still find it impossible to be honest with each other. How do they know that some of the others in the room aren’t actually true believers? How do you know that subsequently or even in that moment that they won’t be exposed as a fraud if they drop their mask of deceit even for a second when in the company of their equals and closest allies. Instead when one psychic, honestly or not, claims that they’ve been having tons of success using a new type of crystal, the others all have to nod along sagely in agreement. They cannot let the facade drop even in close company.


Similarly I wonder if Suella Braverman, Nigel Farage or Conor Burns ever get to sit down with friends and admit “Oh yeah no all that stuff about immigrants / economics / crime is nonsense”, or if they have to keep the twisted masks of hatred they wear to capture the votes of the ignorant across their faces at all times for fear of other true believers doubting their commitment and turning on them. We’ve all had a moment when we’re stuck with the pub bore giving chapter and verse on how this country could be sorted right out, and how all their problems are due to others, but at least we’re all able to tell that person to get lost and they’re wrong. Imagine how exhausting it must be to have to nod in agreement with such people, reflect their own ideas back to them as correct and indeed seek those kinds of people out and build a social network of friends out of such people.


I can only imagine it is a very lonely existence, and I’m glad I’m in this on my convictions and not as a career move, looking to progress cynically at the cost of my authenticity and conscience.


Most of the other business of the council this week was rather dry. I thought the two councillors who were being called out by the standards committee would have been given a chance to apologise at that stage, but this was glossed over rather quickly. I’ve been told a few times to be careful what I do or say otherwise I’ll be called up in front of the standards committee. Given this body seems utterly toothless I can’t figure out why it even exists or people bother to put complaints in.


Last week myself and the other Greens had a meeting with one of the officers involved with the local plan. The officer (like all the officers we’ve met so far) was helpful and engaged, but ultimately the meeting was very frustrating because of the restrictive and ineffective nature of council bureaucracy.


The local plan has a target of carbon neutrality by 2050 for the area. This is a plan for ecological suicide. There is no point in working towards such a useless target. We need to radically reduce our carbon output now if we are to stand any chance of avoiding collapse.


Frankly we’re probably past the point of no return anyhow and civilization is inevitably on it’s way to collapse


Why Worry About Collapse? | Do the Math (ucsd.edu)


Earth Will Lock in a Future of 1.5°C of Warming By 2029 | TIME


There are a lot of things in the local plan I do not like. Some of this is clearly because some of the councillors do not understand the urgency or immediacy of climate change. Anybody who advocates against modal shifts in transport (this war on motorists is as stupid as the ‘eat out to help out’ initiative Rishi came up with, and will be far more harmful), adopting a totally plant based diet, ending air travel etc is just living in lala land.


I’m not arguing that any of these changes will be great, or popular electorally, only that these are the changes that have to be made if we’re going to have human civilization on this planet in 100 years time. Politicians who duck making these choices because they’re worried it’ll make it hard for them and their colleagues come election time are fairly close to the root of the problem in my book.


Anyhow that’s about as much as I can get away with writing Saturday morning, Kate’s doing the litter pick and the kids are home with me as we’ve been out most evenings this week with one thing or another and I’ve promised them fun things this weekend. As ever any feedback on what I’m up to is welcome.

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