01:44PM, Monday 29 January 2018
There probably aren't many serving on today’s council who remember a previous Tory leadership several administrations ago.
Like the current incumbent, the then leader had a background in City finance and an autocratic style. He also didn’t like the Advertiser very much. I recall one outraged letter complaining about a report he was sailing his yacht in the Caribbean instead of being at the helm of the council during the budgeting process.
His administration had a reputation for not listening to the public and was behind a number of unpopular policies, chief among them the demolition of the town hall.
This outraged Maidonians at the time, one of the main arguments for its preservation being its starring role in a Carry On film – quite apt when you think about it.
The result, come the next local elections, was defeat at the polls. Of course, reinvigorated under new leader David Burbage, the Tories were back a few years later and have been in control ever since.
But there’s a saying that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
And the unpopularity of the current administration surely eclipses that of its predecessor, with parts of the once loyal Conservative heartland now driven to the verge of mutiny by the actions and attitude of the council.
At last Monday night’s vote of no confidence in the leader only seven councillors supported the motion – three of them so demoralised by the outcome they resigned the party whip to become independent Tories.
While loyalty to a leader is commendable, elected members have a bigger duty to the public they are elected to serve.
And many people will see the result as another example of weak councillors lacking the courage to stand up to a domineering leadership.
The group meeting was held in private. The next vote of no confidence will be in public at full council tonight (Monday).
For the public it will not be just about the leader’s conduct – but a measure of the qualities of each and every councillor.
And, with the local elections now just a year-and-a-half away, thoughts should be turning to history repeating itself.
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