One of my photos

Civil war in Crawley

February 25th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

I see that the local Tories are continuing to lay into each other in the local press. This time it is all about a spat between current Tory Duncan Crow and his erstwhile colleague Karl Williamson who defected to UKIP. It really is like watching a football game between Argentina and Germany (or between Spurs and Man Utd): you wish there was a way for them both to lose.

I know it is a bit of a minority opinion, but there is no way that anybody should be expected to resign because they have changed political parties, not under the present system anyway. Although we all know that most voters vote for a party and probably [*] couldn’t name their councillor, officially it is the person being voted for and not their party so there is no imperative (except perhaps for a moral one) to give up if they move to another party or even just become independent. In fact it is better if they stay because it winds everybody up and maybe makes it just a tiny bit more likely that one day we will come to our senses and move to a better voting system then first-past-the-post.

On the other hand, if a councillor really isn’t doing the job then they ought to chuck it in. Actually there is no way they can be made to as long as they reach a very low minimum attendance requirement so again it is only a moral imperative but a far greater one. Many councillors, and MPs, who defect continue to put in the hours and do their bit albeit with a different coloured hat on so can justify their continued presence on those grounds, but just putting in a rare token appearance no good under any circumstances.

I think if Duncan had stuck to the attendance and left out the snide comments about location and the red herring about changing parties he would have been on firmer ground. I can’t remember him or his coleagues demanding resignations on principle the last time anybody defected *to* the Tories.

What we appear to have is a clash between two concillors at the extremes of the effort spectrum: one who seems to put in hardly any time or effort to the job and one who puts in too much because they don’t have a day job. But I don’t want to get into that right now. Suffice to say that I have opinions on that.

So if one of the parties is now UKIP then why is it civil war? Apart from the purely personal opinion of many of us that UKIP are just Tories tired of pretending to be acceptable and that many Tories are UKIPpers at heart but know which side their bread is buttered of course? Well that comes later in the story when another Tory wades in to defend the UKIPper, saying:

What Duncan has done is an embarrassment to the Conservative Party. I totally disagree with this type of personal attack. He could fight and debate Ukip policies but this comes across as bullying. Politicians should never lower themselves to mudslinging. If you sink to this level you have already lost the argument.

That is probably more significant and newsworthy than the headline spat. You expect a bit of sniping between political rivals who, until quite recently, were colleagues. You don’t expect it between two people who were both trying to become the new leader of what remains of the Tory group last year. It is stronger words than I would expect to hear from anybody from Labour or the Lib Dems on the matter who was speaking on the record.
As a party, Labour are staying well out of this and trying to stick to the issues on the doorstep, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the spectator sport of it.
[*] An interesting thing this. Many councillors and ex-councillors believe that they are well-known and liked. I think this is what the cognitive scientists refer to as confirmation bias. As they walk around their patch, they notice the person who says hello and greets them by name. They don’t notice the 99 who just pass by. They actually believe that everyone knows them. Some are well-known of course, but not many. On the other hand, with turnouts struggling to get into double figures in some wards, even having a few dozen fans is enough to make the difference, so ironically even the deluded ones have some reason to remain confident when the confirmation bias strikes.

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