Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

The Socialist Republic of Ipswich


After spending four years in Local Government as a Conservative Councillor – when there was a Conservative-Liberal Democrats Coalition (formed in 2004) – the one thing which made life very frustrating at the Council was the obstructive nature of council officers who wanted to keep the status quo and protect vested interests. It has become crystal clear why: they were too used to 25 years of reactive Socialism where Labour councillors ran the Council by consensus.

This was proven recently after Labour took back control of the Borough, after seven years, when they easily slipped back into their old ways.  Firstly, we had the new Council Leader, Cllr Ellesmere, at the first Full Council meeting after the election trying to get Opposition members to become Chairmen of Committees and attempting to place an Opposition councillor on the Executive.  Of course, the Conservative Group were not going to play that game.  Needless to say, the Liberal Democrats couldn’t move faster enough to snap up a Special Responsibility Allowance.

Then we had Cllr John Mowles, the new portfolio holder for Housing, taking the first opportunity to shirk responsibility, saying in the latest edition of the Council’s Tenant Times: “I know while I am the lead councillor on housing issues it is not down to me alone to make all the decisions and decide policy. That is something best done through team work and I want to ensure that tenants, housing staff and Councillors are involved in such matters wherever practicable“.
To even think this, never mind sit down and formulate it into words, shows a complete lack of understanding of what leadership is all about.  People don’t want to be burdened by every action taken at the council, that’s why they elect councillors to make decisions on their behalf.  It’s called democracy, Labour.

Word reaches me that Transport fairs no better.  I hear the transport portfolio holder, Cllr Phil Smart, has spent the last few months not presenting his vision for the town’s roads and public transport links to officers but instead just following officers’ instructions and trying to pass the buck to the Tory Opposition through working groups when decisions to choose officer A option or officer B option need to be made.  Could someone please tell Cllr Smart he is now in charge!

This might be a cynical ploy to confuse the public on who is running the Council but I suspect it is because Labour really do not believe or understand they are elected to make decisions and lead.  Instead they feel more comfortable palming off responsibility to officers and the Opposition.

It’s as if Ipswich has become a Socialist Republic of the former USSR with the Politburo sitting happily in Grafton House with no leader, just a General Secretary bleating “no responsibility, no accountability please”.
The people of Ipswich elected a Labour Administration in May with a thumping majority.  And what do Labour do with their new-found power – they try and dilute it by inclusiveness, consensus politics.  There’s another word for that style of politics: Socialism.  And time and time again through the annals of history, it is a system which has failed and continues to fail miserably.  


Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

2 thoughts on “The Socialist Republic of Ipswich

  1. Gavin – an interesting post! Leadership, agree we should lead but as you know from scrutiny, Cllr Atkins failed to do that when a portfolio holder in your administration.Again as an ex Chair of Scrutiny, you know that 'Best practice' is the chair of Scrutiny is from the Opposition.Executive – if we had been able to ask questions at Executive as a member it would have led to less 'Call in's' to the Scrutiny committee

  2. I agree Atkins showed no leadership which was of immense frustration considering how important Economic Development is – but what do you expect from a Lib Dem! Members of your Group, including Cllr Ellesmere and Cllr Martin, were able to ask questions to Executive during the last Administration.

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