As much as I admire Corbyn and share his socialist views, how can someone propelled into a leadership role on the back of promises about promoting a broader policy debate in the Labour Party then take the axe to Pat McFadden and Michael Dugher simply because they took him at his word and expressed differences with him? How can a leader supposedly committed to the promotion of open dialogue move Maria Eagle from her defence portfolio for being open and honest about her views on Trident – which are actually Labour Party policy at the moment. Even worse, how can a leader who allowed a free vote on bombing Syria now insist that Hilary Benn must keep his mouth shut and do as he is told in order to keep post. This is not new politics, it’s the same old bullying hypocrisy and deceit commonplace in UKIP, the LibDems and the Tories. To keep up the pretence that fundamental changes have been made to the way in which Labour conducts its business is to tell a lie designed to mislead and deceive Labour Party members and voters. What makes this particularly unpalatable to me is that someone, who I used to respect as a committed socialist, is behaving like a unprincipled hypocrite. I don’t care who you are or where you stand politically hypocrisy is hypocrisy and a lie is a lie. And as much as I hate saying it socialist hypocrites and liars are no more acceptable than Tory liars and hypocrites.
And here in Thanet Labour is no different from its Westminster bosses. Despite promises by Corbyn and his supporters that his leadership would oversee a much more open and transparent regime in local government, once again we are seeing totally the opposite. Take live animal exports as an example. When I uncovered the fact that almost £4million had secretly been paid out in damages to the cruel and barbaric people who organise this trade, 2 former Labour Leaders of Thanet Council, Iris Johnston and Clive Hart and former Deputy Leader Allan Poole rushed to the media to proclaim that the decision to break EU Law which led to the astronomic pay outs was not theirs but a senior councillor officer, Mark Seed, who had by then left the employment of TDC. This jaw-dropping exercise in deceit and arse covering would have passed by unchallenged had I not had a copy of the High Court judgement in the Live Exports damages case in which Mr Justice Birrs says although “it was Mr Seed who made the decision I infer that very considerable pressure was placed on him by the councillors at the meeting. Both councillors present (Cllr Hart and Cllr Poole) had made very clear their opposition to the trade”.
But it doesn’t end there! Thanet Labour’s desire to cover its backside and distance itself from its massive political incompetence whilst running TDC seem to know no limits. Just before Xmas at a meeting of the Council Labour Group Leader, Iris Johnston, tried to heap all the blame for the TransEuropa Ferries secret fee deferral deal which cost taxpayers £3.4million on the Tories! Johnston’s North Korean effort to re-write Thanet’s recent political history contradicts the truth. The fact is, as is well documented in Committee reports and a District Audit Investigation, Thanet Labour Party took over the running of the Council when TransEuropa’s debt stood at £1.7miilion. Members of the Labour Cabinet were briefed by TDCs then Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal, about the highly irregular, very risky and secret deal with the failing ferry operators. The Labour leadership had the opportunity at this point to end the deal. But no. Instead they allowed the secret fee deferral agreement to continue, racking up debts of £3.4 million which were eventually paid for by Council tax payers. So despite Corbyn’s claims that he will be ushering in a new politics of openness and transparency in local government, the most senior Labour officials in Thanet continue to this day to deceive and mislead the public about their serial incompetence in running Thanet Council which has cost £millions in wasted council tax. Sorry folks, but as much as I love him, Corbyn is turning out to be a sham; as is his talk about the new politics of inclusion, pluralism, openness and transparency. I’ll leave the last word to the Who.