As I’ve commented before, further discussion of the Mayoral Ball incident isn’t necessary as the Standards Board had decided to take no further action. It implied that the parties concerned should sort it out between themselves, as grown ups do.
Both sides have had their fill over this incident, which I remind readers, occurred over a year ago, and I assumed that after the open letters from Cllrs Hart and Watkins which made serious separate unsubstantiated allegations about Cllr Ezekiel, that would be it and normality could be restored with Labour returning back to looking at the issues facing Thanet residents. Last nights Annual Council Meeting proved I was wrong.
Cllr David Green led a Labour challenge to Cllr Ezekiel’s re-election as Leader of the Council on the basis of his behaviour at the said incident. If the challenge was made on the basis of policy, of if Cllr Ezekiel's behaviour was sufficiently bad for the Standards Board to recommend action should be taken against him, I might be minded to agree with Cllr Green. Unfortunately this was not the case. He had to be interrupted at one point by the Chairman of the Council and reminded that the incident was a matter for the Standards Board who had come to a final decision.
If Cllr Clark for example feels so seriously about Cllr Ezekiel’s behaviour that he is unsatisfied by the decision by the Standards Board he should launch a lawsuit for defamation of character. Since this does not seem to be forthcoming, I hope Cllr Clark will speak to his colleagues and try to persuade them to back down their campaign. Cllr Green does not appear to have been involved in the incident at the time and when challenging Cllr Ezekiel’s re-election last night seemed rather reluctant about doing so, perhaps as if he didn’t really want to do it. I’ve not known Cllr Green to be reluctant before so such behaviour is highly unusual.
Some may consider my comments in the past on this issue an example of my Tory bias, a view I do not agree with. Cllr Ezekiel’s behaviour, if what the Standards Board has said is accurate, was unprofessional and shouldn’t have happened. I don’t consider it cause for the sack though. He had an election three weeks later and was re-elected. Does Cllr David Green disagree with the decision of the voters of Cliftonville East? A sincere apology is good enough for me. If there is a repeat of this, then further action could be justified.
There have been three attempts to revisit the incident since the Standards Board made their final decisions, three attempts too many. Labour, while making these moves, have ignored the issues mattering to Thanet residents, showing that their priorities are askew. I would like to see Labour explain what their alternative plans for regeneration and tourism in Margate are or how their financial proposals add up. They proposed a 2.1% council tax increase, obviously funded by cutting the staff budget by 10%, which indeed would raise more money than needed for the Council Tax cut itself, but since the £2.3m would not just suddenly appear out of thin air, Id like to know when the council tax shortage would be paid off and how the cutting of staff would be dealt with. How would housing policy be different under Labour?
Id like to see a positive local Labour, with ideas on how to improve Thanet, without any pretence to gaining political advantage, or being cynical about it and just criticising ad nauseum without a coherent strategy. I say this as serious advice to local Labour. Stick to the core issues, ignore peripheral ones, show the residents what Labour stands for and how it would improve Thanet. Move on from the distractions of some time ago and get back on track.