Friday, 8 November 2013

Rotten Boroughs

A long time ago we had in the UK what were called 'rotten boroughs', which were parliamentary electoral seats that had a very small electorate, and could easily be bought by a prospective Member of Parliament in elections. These boroughs were eventually abolished and a reformed House of Parliament was elected, but we have developed in the 21st century a new version of these 'rotten boroughs', and that is the 'one party rule' borough councils.

These councils are a feature of the landscape in many areas of England, and also in Wales and Scotland (although in Scotland the rise of the SNP, has both lurched politics further to the left - if that's possible - and stirred up a brew that had long been becalmed for decades. And which the Scottish Labour Party totally misread when they adopted Scottish devolution as a vote winning policy). But where they particularly thrive is in the heady mix of a virtually one party dictatorships, combined with racial vote politics, that so many of the London councils now exhibit.

Welcome To Tower Hamlets

Take for example the London council of Tower Hamlets, something of a byword for political correctness driven incompetence, and now seemingly financial mismanagement. Recently they have been faced with having to make cutbacks of £100 million over the next three financial years, out of a £1.2 billion budget.

So what did they decide to do? Well one 'trick' was to consider axing the post of Chief Executive Officer, but in the meantime they needed someone to take the role of CEO on a temporary basis, while it was decided whether to phased it out .... but instead of taking someone from outside to cover the role for about 6 weeks, up steps one of their own, a man who was already on a reported salary of £119,000 pa in his role as 'corporate director for development and renewal' - what the hell that is in a council such as this, its hard to guess. It's in such a state that it even while it operates 'Foodbanks' for the poor, a councillor from another London council (Newham), has claimed that the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, is still "maintaining a personal limousine that collects his dry cleaning.” ... so much for cutbacks at the top.

Anyway, their (ex) corporate director for development and renewal, takes on the role for a total of 46 days, and is reported to have been paid £115,000, which in itself is obscene for a council making cuts, but then, when the decision was confirmed that the temporary role had ended, he threatened to sue for (racial?) discrimination because he hadn't been given the role on a full time basis - even though Labour councillors were amongst those who blocked his appointment. Rather than dismiss his claims, the council paid him another lump sum to drop the case, to take the total payout he received to a reported £256k for just 46 days work. Then to crown a miserable set of actions, they gave him back his pensionable role of 'corporate director for development and renewal'' .... nice work if you can get it.

In another council and another age, this sort of activity would likely have resulted in the council being suspended, maybe the police being called in, and probably the wipe out of the ruling party in new elections .... but this is 2013, London, and Tower Hamlets, where the normal rules of probity hardly apply ... so nothing has happened, and apart from a few raised eyebrows, this sort of dubious financial management is just accepted ..... By the way, this is not the first time the corporate director for development and renewal and Mayor have been in the news. In May 2012 their were allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets. In fact four separate news organisations – the newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, and the Evening Standard, and TV channels the BBC, and City AM – all reported to have uncovered evidence of postal vote harvesting, ghost voters, impersonation, or all of the above, in Tower Hamlets - both gentlemen featured in the reports.

What does this all lead too, apart from the obvious management issues and lack of accountability? Well Tower Hamlets is also becoming known for its production of 'Jihadists' such as "Talha," a Muslim from Tower Hamlets who was killed last November, while fighting for the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab .... before his death, he appeared in a recruitment video aimed at others in the borough. "All the Muslims in Britain, especially the people of Tower Hamlets, the citadel I was born in. I call upon you to come to jihad" was the video message .... no doubt others will go. Apparently one of the drivers for this, is the complete lack of development projects and jobs in Tower Hamlets, as one Muslim resident said "Growing up in Tower Hamlets, there wasn't much to do. No-one had any money. There were hardly any youth centres. Young men just hung around on the streets getting into mischief. It was like no-one cared about us." .... and the corporate director for development and renewal continues to get a handsome salary as 'corporate director for development and renewal'' ... hmm.

We need a root and branch reform of these new rotten boroughs, but while some political parties continue to derive some support from these areas, you'll see nothing happen soon ...... Welcome again to 'Broken Britain'.

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