Friday, March 09, 2007

Light the blue touchpaper...

I have composed a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about Morleygate. It will appear on Wednesday if the Editor chooses it for publication.

I have enhanced it slightly here by embedding Hypertext links. I believe it is self-explanatory...

Although I am a Town Councillor, I generally refrain from joining in with the tedious party-political tittle-tattle that graces your letters pages. However, on this occasion, I feel the need to speak out.

I regard myself as a libertarian, a value system based on freedom, liberty and property, the basis of the American Constitution. (This is also often known as Classical Liberal in the UK). A year or two back, I read a book called "The retreat of reason" which argued against what it described as "Political correctness and corruption of public debate in modern Britain". I am disappointed to have to report that Morley Town Council appears to have fallen victim to this insidious creeping doctrine that demonises non-believers and stifles freedom of expression.

Last Wednesday at full Council, I realised with a shock how PC we had become. During the meeting, two Councillors were challenged for their choice of innocuous phrases during discussions, where the challenger had chosen to take offence at perceived slights to others unspecified. This is classic PC- attack the heretics for what you think they are rather than what they say.

The climax of this virtuous PC vacuum was the debate on Colin Challen's "Morley Together" campaign, which I understand from your pages includes some sort of pledge. The Motion was submitted without any supporting paperwork saying what we were actually signing up to, proposed without even mentioning what Morley Together was about, debated for one minute eleven seconds and then curtailed by a move to the vote. (This is procedural motion intended for the purposes of speeding up turgid long-winded debates where the arguments are becoming circular. In layman's terms, a move to the vote means "We have heard enough, let us vote on it now rather than talk further.")

When this happened I was absolutely incredulous. I was just about to speak and made it clear that I still wished to do so. Council, however, preferred to move to the vote and the motion was quickly passed with a majority. I personally voted against- not because of the sentiments of Morley Together but because what I considered to be a seriously flawed and contradictory Motion was rushed through with inadequate debate by a herd mentality.

I am genuinely of the opinion that the Council has brought itself into disrepute. It didn't do anything wrong legally but has exposed itself as morally weak by this rather shabby behaviour. My colleagues who voted to curtail discussion should reflect on their actions which I regard as no less than shameful. I shudder to think what members of the public present that night thought of this new low in local democracy and suspect that some of them wouldn't trust some of us to sit on a toilet the right way round...
I decided a while back not to re-stand for Morley Town Council and was naturally disappointed to not have had the opportunity to make my Valedictory speech. However, I will put it on my online Blog in due course.

Finally, I'd like to thank the people of Morley who have contacted me on Council business over the last three years and hope that my small efforts to assist were helpful. It has been a pleasure to serve the Town and it is such a shame that it had to end this way.

Cllr. Ian Grey

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