MP begs for elections

We reported earlier this week that there is still no decision on whether Somerset will have an election this May. Between the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government there is no decision. One senior district councillor told The Leveller that “every time we ask a decision is …next week. It has been next week for months”

Somerset County Council, along with two others due to change to a unitary council, have asked for elections to be postponed.

The reason is SCC’s determination to become a new unitary authority. The council has submitted a bid to the Secretary of State. The District councils have also drawn up very much better proposals – they would much rather have held fire until the pandemic was over, but SCC pressed on with their plans  and forced them to follow .

Yesterday in the House of Commons Ian Liddell Grainger had his say. It was his usual colourful stuff.

Here’s some of what he had to say “Somerset County Council has a terrible reputation for financial management.
They’ve applied to the Secretary of State to become a new unitary authority. Their plans are fiercely opposed by all four District councils, and a large majority of elected councillors throughout the whole area.
At question time today I told the Prime Minister that the people of Somerset deserved a proper referendum. I got the clear impression he is sympathetic.

So, I am horrified to learn that the Ministry intends to use an online survey instead.
I’ve had a good look at “Citizen Space” as it is called. Anyone anywhere can fill in a Citizens Space survey. There’s no verification You could log in from Beijing or Moscow. Its wide open to hackers.
And, frankly, It isn’t good enough. Somerset is not going to put up with it. The people want a referendum. The Districts want a referendum. Please don’t force us to do it ourselves.
Local elections in England are now set for May 6th. To postpone them in Somerset would look absurd – the Cabinet Office has already included Somerset on the election list.
Surely the Local Government Ministry is not going to put a spanner in the works?
I sincerely hope not. The people of Somerset will not take it lying down. Neither will I.”

The MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset has recently discovered that you cannot libel an organisation, only a person. So instead of attacking individuals, he sticks to organisations. Much safer. One might easily get the impression that this has been the modus operandi for years. Today we are told a little pompously, the following. “Incidentally I did not and do not require the protection of “Parliamentary Privilege” , because nobody can be taken to court for criticising an organisation such as Somerset County Council.

So worth reminding readers that this is in fact something of a Damascene Conversion. As recently as December 2nd the MP was happily dragging named individuals through the mud. It was part of his routine. The MP delighted in naming and shaming under the protection of Parliamentary Privilege. Yet now it has stopped.

We can only wonder why? Perhaps we should be told (Pace PE).

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