Saturday, May 09, 2009

Greenwich Conservative's Response

As I've commented upon Councillor Spencer Drury has become involved in what has now been a year long struggle to get the Council to keep my street clean.

Well it also appears that there's been a minor flurry of other local Conservative action, coincidence?

The first sign was a leaflet through my door from them. It all appears to be pretty generic and recent(ish), but undated, material. Most interestingly though they have said that there is a "Charlton action team". They are Richard Shackleton, James Garry and Louis McLean-Wait. Could this be a new dynamic trio to replace the current "couldn't give a monkey's" trio of Labour Councillors that we have?

Well if the street problems aren't sorted out maybe I'll give them a poke and see if they can get any kind of a resolution.

You can contact them at

I am somewhat suspicious of the local Conservatives and believe that too many of them view Greenwich as a stepping stone to a nice expense account in Westminster rather than as something that actually want to passionately serve. I said as much in a recent post.

Well one of the examples I used in that post, Councillor Nigel Fletcher, has recently published what appears to be somewhat of a retort. It's his only posting in May and given how many, if not most, of his postings don't have anything to do with the borough it does look a bit coincidental...

He says: "I have often been criticised on this blog for focusing too much on national politics, but I make no apology for doing so again. The truth is that what happens in Westminster has a real effect on people across the country, and the people I represent in Eltham North, and people across the Borough of Greenwich, can see this Government is failing them. We need change at the top, and a new Government is the only way we will get that."

It's a well written response but one that I just don't agree with. So to Nigel in particular and his ilk in general I say....

Yes what is happening in Westminster does have an enormous effect on the people of Greenwich, however questioning and working on those issues is the job of the opposition MPs and the national Conservative party.

Those national focussing Conservatives are therefore too busy dealing with those "bigger" issues to deal with the smaller ones that affect the day to day lives of people within Greenwich. They have delegated responsibility for that to you, if you drop that responsibility so as to chase after their scraps in Westminster then who is left to challenge the Council?

You acknowledge that there are problems with Greenwich's schools, social services, housing and responsible usage of our Council tax.

And then there's the plethora of other issues that pop up on a day to day basis that the Council seems to deal with badly. We've had our roads badly gritted, ground up glass used as grit, rubbish piling up in the streets, dodgy dealings over free air race tickets and the waste of money on a corporate box at the O2. Actually you'd best not tackle the box at the O2, until you were named and shamed your snout was rammed right into that trough right alongside Chris Roberts (read about that here, scroll down a bit, oh Greenwich Watch, you are missed...).

Those issues are what you should be dealing with and what I would expect to see a true local opposition writing and campaigning about.

Taking Greenwich away from the current group of disinterested and arrogant Labour Councillors will be tricky and it will take a lot of work. Devoting so much of your time to national issues is not only doing nothing to advance peoples confidence in you as a potential local Government but also damages that cause by giving the impression that you're not interested in what is really going on around here.

Proving that a Conservative Councillor is interested in the real low down and dirty problems of Greenwich when it's not just the few weeks before an election will do far more to set Greenwich right than talking about how "call me Dave" acknowledged your existence.

However not talking about your connections with the national party won't bring their attention upon you, which will slow down your climb out of Greenwich to a seat and an expense account at Westminster.

However what are you in this for?

I'll drop my cards right on the table, I have never once voted Conservative in any type of election.

However they can prove that they really are committed to making a difference to the borough and it is here that their passion and interest lies then I can see myself looking beyond the blue rosette and voting for the person behind it.

Right now though that just simply isn't the case.


Anonymous said...

There's a wonderful quote buried in the comments on the long-gone Greenwich Watch which sums up the Conservative Party in this borough. It's a challenge to anyone who wants to challenge the way the council's being run, of whatever stripe (the main challengers in Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich in 2006 were the Greens).

The only thing worse than Greenwich Nu Labour is Greenwich Olde Tories. Their ultimate political nightmare is not Premier Galloway and President Scargill, but waking up one morning and finding themselves responsible for running Greenwich. They have spent their lives turning up at the council AGM and complaining about not getting a turn at being Mayor and then doing nothing for the rest of the year.
The last people to actively oppose Labour machine politics in Greenwich were the Valley Party.
Labour get in every time not because of voter apathy but because no other party is remotely interested in running Greenwich.

Anonymous said...

"the main challengers in Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich in 2006 were the Greens"

You can't let such sweeping claims go unchecked - especially given 853 is the mouthpiece for the Greens - without putting into context somewhat.

For one, it is not true to make claims about "main challengers" when there is a sole candidate for a three seat ward. Purely because the split voting gives an artificial inflation in the single candidates position. In Greenwich West the sole Green candidate came 7th behind the Liberal Democrats, in Peninsula the sole Green candidate did come fourth and in Woolwich Riverside he sole Green candidate came fourth but there was no Liberal Democrat. In Woolwich Common the Greens did not put a candidate up at all.

The only seat where the Greens put up three candidates and therefore a comparison is more valid was Charlton where they came fourth sixth and eighth, intertwined with the Conservative candidates. So calling themselves "main challengers" is exaggerating at best.

As an aside I received some literature from the Greens this week - not one thing about Greenwich local issues mentioned at all.

Spencer Drury said...

For what it is worth, quite a lot of my ward work is shown at It isn't relevant to the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, but does show what I spend my time doing in my ward.

Anonymous said...

"Mouthpiece for the Greens"? Oh, come off it, I'm a member, but I'm no mouthpiece. You can't even fill in a name, "anonymous". Still, nice to know you've noticed the Greens.

Bearing in mind Labour always stand three candidates...

In Peninsula (east Greenwich and a bit of Charlton), the sole Green candidate came fourth, within 250 votes of beating Chris Roberts, the council leader. And beat the Tories and the Lib Dems.

In Charlton, the first of the three candidates came fourth. Yes, the others were intertwined with the Tories, but the leading Green candidate still beat the Tories. And the Lib Dems.

In Woolwich Riverside (Woolwich town centre and another bit of Charlton) again, a sole Green candidate came fourth. Beating the Tories. If the Lib Dems couldn't find someone to contest it, it doesn't suggest they're much of challengers for that ward.

Obviously, the Greens are pretty small and didn't stand much beyond the north of the borough (hence the no-show in Woolwich Common) but they've done damn well in most of the areas where they have stood.

I'd also argue they're the only party that understands many of the issues affecting the north of the borough - Blackheath aside, the Tories tend to struggle outside of their Eltham heartland.

That's not to make a "yah-boo" political point - it's a fact that weak opposition has helped Labour get its way for donkey's years. The challenge for the Tories is to be visible in places like Greenwich, Woolwich and Charlton. Which they haven't been.

Same goes for the Greens and anyone else who wants to have a go. And if the Tories are serious - good on them. We need a range of voices. Honest, open debate is good - one-party states aren't.

If you did get some Green literature this week, it'll probably have been European election material - I'm afraid local issues don't get much of a look-in at Brussels.

Alex Clark said...

Take a look around Greenwich today, do you see a place that is what it could be? I think not.
The Market is just a roundabout, the schools are amongst the worst in the UK, the streets have more litter in them than the local tips. These are all issues that a decent local council could and should help to heal. In my opinion it is time that there is some sort of change because as it is it is pathetic. The Labour politicians, even the councillors seem to be riding a gravy train which is fueled by uranium, very powerful, but it could go off in their face.... I think it's time for change, but at the same time, a "protest vote" for the Greens is as good as throwing a vote away. To get rid of the council there is a simple message, voting Conservative will get them out better than voting Green, and I say that as a long term supporter of Labour. But I just can't support them at the council level (or national level) anymore.