Monday, 3 July 2017
READ THIS TO KNOW WHAT WENT WRONG....
A local pundit writes....
Every now and again we have the opportunity to exercise power.
We can do this out of altruism or for personal gain.
Or a combination of the two.
How we behave depends very much on the system that we participate in.
At this time, the Conservative Councillors of Kensington and Chelsea are preparing to exercise power to choose a new Leader.
Thirty-six councillors will choose one of their number to be the new Leader.
The Borough operates a Cabinet system of Government with ten Cabinet Members, chosen by the Leader.
The Conservatives have been in power for more than 60 years.
They typically get 70% of the vote in local elections on a 30% turnout.
In other words, a monopoly has been operating.
Leaders are rarely changed and the vote is focussed on internal power dynamics and not on the external threat of losing power to a competing party like Labour.
A practice of pure patronage has been operated by the last two Leaders (Cllr Cockell and Cllr Paget-Brown) for nearly the last 20 years.
Councillors receive an allowance of £13,000 per year. They can quadruple this to £40k and more if elected to a Cabinet position.
Plus the many perks and status that goes with a Cabinet position.
In analytical terms, Conservative Councillors in the past have voted on the basis of “What is in it for me?”
Thirty six voters for a Leader who will give away nine Cabinet positions is an important choice.
There is a one in four chance of quadrupling income and obtaining high status by making the self-interested choice. This practice was carried to extreme levels at the last election for the Leader when one of the Candidates (Cllr Feilding-Mellen) traded his votes to another Candidate (Cllr Paget-Brown) and secured the Deputy Leader's position in the Cabinet for a whopping £65k after Cllr Paget-Brown was elected.
The loser was the third Candidate (Cllr Moylan).
This time the election dynamics are different.
The tragedy of Grenfell Tower has forced a Leadership Election.
The level of resident anger is extreme and has already produced a riot at the Town Hall.
If the new Leader is unable to reach out to North Kensington residents and calm their anger, then he or she should fear for their personal safety and the safety of their families.
The disgraced Deputy Leader has already had to flee his home in North Kensington because he fears for his personal safety.
There is also a new level of general anger and dissatisfaction with the Conservative administration in Kensington.
To the surprise of the establishment, the Conservative MP was voted out of office at the recent General Election, losing a large majority of 7000 votes.
Such a thing has previously been unimaginable in Kensington.
This time around, the election of Leader, for the first time, is about the person who is best able to hold on to power at the Local Council Elections in just under one year.
On top of all of this, social media has entered the political mix.
Web sites like the Hornet are watching and commenting.
Three years ago, the Hornet campaigned and obtained the removal of the then Leader (Cllr Cockell) whose running of the Royal Borough as a personal fiefdom had become excessive and unacceptable.
Out of touch councillors should, if they don't, read the Hornet.