Friday, 2 August 2013

They Were All Yellow

Today the Liberal Democrats in Fenland have suffered a rather large blow because 2/3rds of them have now gone independent. Cllr Dave Patrick and Cllr Robert McLaren have decided to drop the yellow bird badge and to call themselves 'Fenland Independents'. There are a few things that is interesting to explore about their move and what we can have a good guess at what they are thinking.

 Rob and Dave.

Firstly, how can you have an independent party? If you are an independent councillor you have been elected on the basis that you are a lone wolf figure. An independent is someone who has different standpoints from other parties or has some sort of local issue that they want to address. All of these are legitimate reasons to call yourself an independent. Isn't it a bit disingenuous to put on the ballot you're an independent candidate and yet not stand for what people define as independence? When you become a group of independents you have formed a political party because not only are you not singular but there is a mix of views on issues. Unless Cllr Patrick and McLaren are clones I think they have some credibility problems with the electorate. You should tell the electorate exactly who you are politically in my opinion.* 

I also feel a bit sorry for Cllr Gavin Booth, another Lib Dem on Fenland District Council, as he is now the only Lib Dem on Fenland. Politically I don't actually mind because I don't agree with Lib Dem policy, but Gavin Booth is a nice chap from what I hear and have seen. I sat with him at a polling station for a few hours in the Wisbech St Mary by-election (see and we chatted for a good deal. But now Gavin is in a bit of a pickle because he has lost committee positions because the Lib Dems cease to be the second biggest party, which is a bit sad as he knows the local people. I will ask however for the people of Wisbech St Mary to vote Conservative in the 2015 District elections in what will be a fair fight.

 Gavin Booth spied outside a polling station during the Wisbech St Mary Byelection with excellent Tory Cllr Will Sutton.

I further ask of Dave Patrick and Robert McClaren, why have they done this? Both Cllr Patrick and McLaren seemed pretty happy in the Lib Dems since 2010 why would they move? Is it because the Lib Dems are electorally unpopular at the moment and they sense a slaughter in 2015 where they would lose their seats (the eagle eyed reader will have noticed that the local elections in Fenland are on the same day as the General)? Then why change to become independents because they only got 566 votes in 2010 across North East Cambs. Their personal following will raise that but by how far? I think it unlikely they can win in 2015 without the party base that independents, even in twos, don't have. 

  Independents in Lincolnshire all wear the same rosette but apparently are not a party.

But wait a second, maybe they do have an activist base that can be called upon. Next door to Kirkgate, Cllr Patrick and McLaren's ward, there is Waterlees where the Bucknors are Cllrs. Maybe like in Lincolnshire where there is an Independent Party (see above for my views on this). Are they going to help each other out? There is a very good chance this has happened before when you logically look at what happened in the County elections. Neither Cllr Patrick or McClaren stood for the County Council in Wisbech North that includes their ward, which is a bit odd. Virginia Bucknor however stood in Wisbech North to be councillor and it would have helped if she had less opposition. Indeed no Lib Dems stood in Wisbech North which is bizarre. There could be many reasons  for this, the most obvious are either the Lib Dems are short of candidates or there was a quasi alliance existing between Cllr Patrick and McClaren with the Bucknors. The possibility is there. 

 Virginia and Michael Bucknor possibly at a karaoke.

If it is so and the independents of Wisbech will now be working with each other in a political party independent group I would give a friendly warning to Cllrs Patrick and McClaren with their new found allies. Be very careful because from my own experience I have found the Bucknors to be bordering on bullying (see for my account of nastiness in the street). I have also heard rumours that Virginia is not being nice about me in front of other councillors which I find unpleasant, I hope they are not true. If you are reading this Virginia and Mike apologise so we can put aside the past and start being friendly like how Gavin Booth is. You could start by unblocking me on twitter (see sorry about the numerous links). The maxim of 'we can tell what you're like from your friends' can only stretch so far, but If I was David Patrick or Rob McClaren I'd stay away from the Bucknors unless they make amends. 

So there you are a very interesting minor political episode. One thing that is certain however is that they were all yellow and now they are not.

I bet Robert Smith is delighted.

* At least the name 'Fenland Independents' is better than Cllr Virginia and Michael Bucknor's 'Truly Independents' because the later makes much more of a mockery of the definition of Independent.

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