Although I am not a member of his party, as a lifelong socialist, I support Jeremy Corbyn. I was delighted by his resounding re-lection as Labour leader this week and am beginning to warm to many of his ideas and policies which, I must admit, make a lot of sense to me. As someone with a great interest in environmental matters I was particularly impressed by Corbyn’s Environment and Energy Plan which was published a couple of weeks ago and which focuses on developing renewable non-polluting energy sources and protecting our environment from over development and exploitation. But regretfully it looks as though the Thanet Labour Party, especially its elected councillors, don’t give a fuck about the environment in their own neck of woods.
Last week I published an article on this site about UKIPs proposals to include 86 acres of council owned farmland in its asset disposal programme. I pointed out that the land, if its sale is approved, would almost certainly be destined for development as housing. I pointed out that its sale would be contrary to the council’s longstanding policy on protecting Thanet’s agricultural land and preserving the historic green wedges which are made up of farmland and which physically separate the Thanet towns and prevent the district from becoming a “large amorphous metropolitan spurge”. I also criticised the Conservative and Labour opposition at Thanet Council for not saying a word against what I described as “UKIP’s environmental vandalism”.Thankfully my article had an impact. Well at least as far as the Thanet Conservatives are concerned. Craig MacKinlay MP posted an article on his website about the issue http://www.craigmackinlay.com/news/ and Thanet Council Conservative leader Cllr Bob Bayford made some very sensible comments, with which I fully agree, about the plans to sell the land at an emergency Cabinet meeting on 27 October. But what about Labour?
Well not a single word did they say at the emergency Cabinet meeting which had been specially called to discuss the land sale issue. In fact people who were at the meeting have told me that none of Thanet Labour’s 5 elected councillors turned up to object to the farmland sell off plans. Nor, in their absence, did any Labour councillor submit written objections to the plans to Cabinet Chair Cllr Chris Wells. These plans were published on the council’s website 8 days before the emergency Cabinet meeting took place. All councillors, including Labour councillors, had copies of the plans hand delivered to their homes by special courier service a week before the meeting took place. Presuming that they actually read the documents, about which I have my doubts, they should have said or done something to make their objections to the sale of 86 acres of council owned farmland known. Even if they were attending Labour Party conference, which I understand one councillor was, a quick e-mail to Chris Wells would have been sufficient. But they didn’t. They did fuck all.
Doing nothing is worrying, not just because Jeremey Corbyn and the Labour Party nationally have robust environmental policies which their councillor colleagues in Thanet are duty bound to promote, but also because the Thanet Labour Party also has its own very tough environmental protection policies. In 2011 Thanet Labour’s council election manifesto said they would oppose “encroachment into Thanet’s green spaces”; that “building on green field sites will be resisted wherever possible” and that they would oppose “every move to sell off open spaces for housing”. In fact so strongly did Thanet councillors feel about saving green spaces from development that they staged a protest/ photo opportunity in opposition to developing farmland at New Haine Road Ramsgate (see picture above). A development which is now well underway. More recently during the 2015 Thanet council elections, Labour published a manifesto which continued to promote its strong environmental commitment saying “We will maintain strict environmental controls on developments across all areas of Thanet, protecting the green wedges”.
Yet when the first major test of their environmental credentials came up what happens? No effort was made to mobilise the hundreds of new Thanet Labour members who, inspired by Jeremy Corbyn, had flocked to join the party. Surely they would have been delighted to become involved in a campaign to help to save the threatened farmland. But no. No mass e-mail campaign was organised; no photo opportunities arranged; no lobby of the Cabinet meeting set up; no press releases issued. Worst of all even the leader of the Thanet Labour group, Cllr Jenny Matterface, couldn’t be bothered to get up of her arse to go to the meeting to oppose the proposed sell off, or to arrange for someone else to attend in her place. This disgraceful dereliction of civic duty left the field open to the Tories to lead the opposition to UKIPs farmland sell off proposals, which considering their appalling track record on environmental issues is very ironic.
But this is not the first time Thanet Labour has demonstrated its sickeningly hypocritical attitude towards environmental issues. Its support of Manston airport, even when the Ramsgate branch of the Labour Party had called for an environmentally sensitive mixed use on the site, is a case in point. As is Thanet Labour’s unprincipled flip flop from opposing to supporting the massively environmental damaging Ramsgate Parkway station. I publish below links to my previous articles about Thanet Labour’s two-faced dodgy dealings on protecting our environment. I have also published a link to a video of the Cabinet meeting which discussed the farmland disposal which was filmed by Margate campaigner Louise Oldfield.
I started this article by saying that I am a great admirer of Jeremy Corbyn and that I support his plans and policies. I very much hope that he has the support necessary to drive though these plans and polices and to transform the Labour Party into a powerful force for social change. In so doing I hope that those lazy, good for nothing fools who have the cheek to call themselves councillors, yet sit on their arses instead of fighting to protect Thanet’s environment, are deselected from being councillors or expelled for being the useless bastards they are. Getting and replaced by people who genuinely care about Thanet. Getting rid of them might even tempt me to re-join the Labour Party – but there again it might not.
Video of Cabinet meeting to discuss land sales. Where's Labour Leader? Where's Labour's councillors? Why no written submission? Why no lobby? Do they care about Thanet's environment?
My previous posts of Thanet Labour and Thanet's environment