With all the doom and gloom around, it was nice to see some good news this week – that one of our Tory councillors has been selected as a parliamentary candidate in Stoke-on-Trent. This really is one of those times when everybody wins.
Crawley Labour wins because it is most likely he will spend most of his time in Stoke during the months leading up to the elections. The Crawley Tories are getting quite thin on the ground, especially those still young and fit enough to go out knocking on doors. This could be ten to twenty per cent of their potential campaigning capacity going out of town during the campaign.
Oddly enough, the Crawley Tories win as well. I seem to remember this councillor wanted to challenge for the position of group leader and submitting his paperwork too late leading to a bit of dummy-spitting so it does reduce the potential for more embarrassing internal rows for a couple of months.
The biggest winners are probably the Stoke-on-Trent Labour party, especially if there are any food banks up there because this is without doubt our most famous councillor, having had his comments reported well beyond the town’s boundaries. I imagine the combination of track record and double-barelled name will go down a storm with any floating voters they have up there.
Incidentally, in his reply to that Huffington Post piece, Marshall-Ascough says how he lives in a shared rented house. That was written in April, but last week in the declarations of interest at the full council meeting in July he declared an interest as a private sector landlord in Crawley.
But that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about his claims that, in the unlikely event of being elected to Parliament to represent Stone-on-Trent, he would intend to continue as a Crawley councillor.
Personally I don’t think that anybody should be able to do that. Just like I don’t think anbody should be an MEP and and MP, or an MSP and an MP, or a county councillor and a district councillor. I know that some combinations are actually disallowed, but I think they all should be.
The last is probably the most contentious, since it happens a lot. Most county councillors in Crawley are also district councillors and I’m sure many do a good job, but should they be doing it? I know the practical reasons for it, and the usual justifications given for it, but is it really a good idea?
One effect of having councillors double up like that is to reduce the total number of people who are councillors in an area, i.e. reducing the number of people actively involved in decision-making when we should be trying to increase participation.