Sunday, July 13, 2008

Influence

the Central Lobby at Westminster Friends of the Earth ask “Who Influences Government?” There are around 14,000 public affairs lobbyists influencing the decisions made in Government, the majority of which come from commercial interests.

They are asking for more transparency in this process, which seems fair enough. There is an EDM [Early Day Motion] in parliament, number 1637 created on 22nd May 2008. What is surprising is that given David Cameron’s call for transparency in MPs expenses there are only 5 Conservative Party signatures to that EDM. So, how about it, Lee? Would you sign? And can you remind Green Dave that transparency should apply to all areas of government and to spread the word amongst his troops.

Of course what B21 is doing here, is lobbying our MP. Do we have any effect? And who influences Local Government and specifically our Council?

So, a timely reminder that the deadline for the Big Conversation is “mid July”: they are not more specific than that. So if you haven’t already taken the You Choose challenge, better get it in quick.

And while we are on the subject there is the Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan: to identify how to improve public rights of way for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and people with mobility problems. Click for the consultation questionnaire.

Also there is another “lobby” taking place this Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a strike by one of the public sector unions. Since most council services are now contracted out, will anyone notice? But better get your library books renewed early.

22 comments:

  1. My comments about 'influence' are related to the recent Cranbrook by-election. Having lived in Cranbrook ward, I continue to follow it. Although I moved out a few years ago to Hainault.

    Below is my opinion only and is not intended to influence or slander anyone. Nor is it party political. I am more interested in the integrity of our democratic system.

    My assessment of last evening's by-election in Cranbrook was of a shambles. Background: the Conservative candidate was Muslim [of course, nothing wrong with this, it's a good thing. We need more Cllrs to represent our rich diversity]. What struck me was that Muslim voters seemed to be ferried in from the Belgrade Mosque. After casting there vote at the ballot box, many did not leave the area. Most of the men (men seemed to dominate) congregated in groups [I drove round the site a couple of times]. Lots of them hovered around on adjacent street corners being served Asian cuisine and drink [who by? I can think only by the candidates team, although this can't be verified]. The candidate's supporters lobbied voters as they walked in [I have never seen the tactics employed before]. There were plenty of shaking hands, hugging and a general over-friendliness.

    This whole example reminded me of Northern Ireland. People in the muslim community seemed to be voting on secretarian lines. In essence their candidate won by a landslide seemingly because of this.

    I very much fear that the future of Redbridge politics will be driven by internal Asian groupings and become sectarian. In my opinion it is this potential chaos that is a far bigger threat to local democracy than the BNP. A good example is Tower Hamlets and Newham were there are numerous allegations of these types of things. I fear that Council and Electoral officials turn a blind eye to it as they are scared of being labelled an "islamaphobe".

    I don't care who people vote for, but surely we should vote because of the issues or the candidate. I can't imagine English or Irish people voting en masse because of a persons religion or ethnicity.

    The above is not a negative on the Conservatives, this could just have easily happened if the candidate was running under a Labour or Lib Dem ticket.

    George Nethby, Elmbridge Road, Hainault.

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  2. The question is, George, how do you know they were voting Conservative, and even if they were, so what?

    The voting pattern in Cranbrook Ward shows the Conservative vote fairly constant since 1994 but with a slight dip in 1998 and 2002.

    Mr Chaudhary polled exactly the same number of votes as did the late Mr Elliman in 2006.

    However, the turnout has fallen steadily from 55.8% to 30.5% the result being that the Labour and LibDem votes have fallen dramatically moving the Ward from a close Con/Lab contest in 1994 to a safe Con Ward now.

    If the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties cannot get their vote out, that’s their problem.

    Looking at the candidate names from 1994–2006 it would appear that there have been Asian sounding names standing for all 3 parties, but whether or not they are Muslim, I wouldn’t know.

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  3. Can I assure George that it is very common for Asian candidates of all Parties to welcome voters at the Polling Stations - I am aware of certain instances in a neighbouring consistuency where would-be councillors actually escorted voters into the hall, and the Presiding Officer took no action.

    The Conservative candidate in Cranbrook has lived in the ward for many years, and has many family and friends in the area; you will see much the same behaviour in elections in areas such as Stamford Hill, where the majority of the electorate are Orthodox Jews.

    No, this is not the way elections were conducted 40 yrs ago, but since the multi-cultural society has been nurtured and fostered over the past three decades, you have to expect changes.

    However, let us not forget that tribalism exists within British culture and society: I worked in the motor industry for some years in the 60's. If you lived in Dagenham, for instance, even if you weren't directly employed on the line at Fords, it was made quite clear to you by union hard men that you had to strike or expect the consequences. Or look at football team loyalties.

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  4. Yes, but do we really want a system where people vote according to there religion? Look what happened in Northern Ireland.

    For example, a Muslim candidate relying on the Muslim vote (who are told at the Mosque to vote for them), or a Sikh candidate relying on Sikh votes from Gudawaras? It strikes me that our system will only get polarised. This may sound ignorant (and I apologise if it does, it is probably due to my age) but I can't imagine a White English candidate doing this. They would canvass and represent every race or religion. I think tribal politics is not good for democracy or community cohesion.

    When it comes to planning applications for large places of worships (mosques, temples etc) how can we be sure that Cllrs will act impartially if there bloc vote is of a particular religion.

    I do not mean to offend, these are my personal views only. I think sometimes, council officials are overly lenient because of political correctness.

    George

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  5. Well, George.
    As far as planning applications are concerned there are strict legal rules that have to be observed. Cllrs are not in a position to approve or reject applications merely on a whim. There is also the appeal procedure with the Planning Inspectorate.

    Also there are certain White English candidates who do not appear to represent every race or religion.

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  6. Sorry to be so blatant but, Barkingside 21 and Judith, you are too British and fair play.
    Because I am foreign, in many case my presence is not considered of any importance, and I hear things which are not publishable.
    Closing your eyes, shutting your ears, is not an option.
    annesevant

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  7. George, you are not offending me, and I am not defending current practice, just explaining some of it.

    In fact, like you, I very much dislike playing to race or religion in politics.

    Going back to the original posting about influence on Government, I'm sure I read somewhere that FoE gets a grant from the State, and for goodness sake, they lobby like hell themselves!

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  8. Way to go!

    FoE - About Us - Funding

    "Over 90% of our income comes from individuals - people like you. The rest comes from events, grants and trading."

    I take that when they say "people like you" that they are not referring to you, Judith?

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  9. I'm very wary nowadays about who I give to, B21 - so many 'charities' actually get massive amounts from the State, so since I'm already forcibly giving to them, I don't see why I should add more.

    I still think that it is cheeky for a group that exists to lobby is moaning about others who do the same thing.

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  10. I see from "Redbridge-i" that the closing date for the 'conversation' of "mid July" has now been set as 31 July. If that is "mid July" then just how long a month in Redbridge IS July?

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  11. How long is the month of July, asks Morris in a light-hearted comment. I asked if the 31st July was the new mid-July, but this was not considered fit for public consumption! However, I was not castigated.
    annesevant

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  12. We had our cat castigated when he was about 6 months old.........

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  13. Flipping heck, Morris, you gave me a hot flush. I thought I had offended your beautiful language!
    This on the top of discovering that the redimanager changed her mind (a woman's privilege) and published my friendly comment!
    annesevant

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  14. Well ive tried to change her mind for a year and failed, well done Anne

    Perhaps the results will be in by the new Christmas Day, or are they already in?

    dopeyf

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  15. Dear Dopeyf,
    I have no idea why the redimanager changed her mind because I did not even reply to the rejection, this because I am sure quite a lot of people would have been thinking on the same lines anyway.
    Something which is bothering me however is that my 'relevant'queries to the Council seem to vanish into thin air. Of course, there is a ten-day rule and that takes some watching.
    Do you know if it is ten days or ten working days before you are at liberty to follow up without 'pestering'?
    annesevant

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  16. The ten working days is a bit like "mid-July" it stretches depending on the circumstances,if they have failed to reply in ten days they will find an excuse, such as "holidays"
    "strikes" "public Holidays"
    "Misunderstood the Question" "Collecting information" or quite often just ignoring the whole thing - our resident expert might have a few words to say about this.

    dopeyf

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  17. Resident expert? Well, I'll respond before the expert does.

    Never accept the b*** s*** response. If they fail, give them a second chance, specifying your own (reasonable) deadline, and make it clear you will go to the formal complaint procedure, as well as notifying local papers, if they fail again. Make sure that the final warning is copied to the Audit Commission (email address available by contacting me direct).

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  18. Merci beaucoup Monsieur l'expert.
    I don't need much encouragement and I am going to be added to a hate list, pretty soon, although, if I flatter myself, I might be on the list already!
    What do they say about the truth?
    Il n'y a que la verity qui blesse.
    annesevant

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  19. Sorry, Mr Expert,
    I did try to find out on the redbridgei website but did not succeed. What are the rules regarding public participation at Full Council meeting?
    I thought you had to submit your question(s) 48 hours before the meeting but I have just been told it is 48 hours before noon on the day of the meeting.
    How do the ordinary fold find out, please?
    And, whom should one ask if the clerk is not mentioned on the agenda?
    annesevant

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  20. By 12 noon on the Monday prior to the meeting (probably Friday if Monday is a bank holiday).

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  21. Thank you Morris.
    annesevant

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