So after a premature press announcement, it is now official – we now have a coalition of Independents, Labour and Lib Dems in charge of the administration of Southend-on-Sea Borough council, albeit with a slender majority. No prizes for predicting this as it looked as this would be the likely outcome all along. While the newbies to power may claim they merely reflect the electorate’s will for change, the unsurprising absence of UKIP in the coalition, likely to cause embarrassment to certain members who still see them as something akin to modern fascists, puts a lie to such a notion.
Other ironies include Lib Dems doing badly in the elections yet being part of the power sharing and the Independents still claiming they are NOT a party. I will watch with interest how this all turns out, being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. I am hopeful that the new Cabinet, most of who I know and all I have followed to varying extents will be approachable and carry out their tasks competently, focusing on the needs of the people of Southend. In any case, I wish them all well, given how high the stakes are.
One of the interesting points to watch is how they will reverse some of the decisions made by the Conservatives, such as keeping open libraries (something I feel passionately about) and care homes (given the needs of an aging population) but all begging the question how to pay for this? It will be interesting to see what if anything will replace the plans for building a sea wall. I know people may not like the idea but if my friend the late Brian Efde is correct we dare not dismiss the need for suitable flood defenses. Besides obvious concerns over issues like homelessness, the big questions include what is their vision for the town, and how they would make it more prosperous and how to increase and manage the town’s finances?
Sadly, the soul searching at national level by the major political parties that one hoped would take place but didn’t really expect, following the recent election earthquake, has not and is unlikely to materialize. The Queens speech seemed to do little in terms of addressing the big issues and one of the proposals regarding a new parenting law giving more powers to social workers and the like to deal with parents who emotionally abuse their children is worrying. It is not that I condone emotional abuse, far from it, but I do doubt their ability to make such judgments, based on recent observations.
In a strange way, this is one reason I could be drawn to UKIP. While a possible recent rise in race hate incidents that could be attributed to people feeling embolden in this way due to the UKIP success is worrying, as is the rise in recent years of doctrinaire political correctness whereby people feel they cannot say what they believe or act according to their conscience. While UKIP have a lot still to prove, I trust them on this point more than I do the other political parties. But a year is a long time to wait for the next general election and a lot can and undoubtedly will happen in-between!
Strangely and unexpectedly, in recent times my youthful interest in politics has been re-ignited, although I am reluctant to throw my hat in the ring regarding supporting a particular party and even less so to stand for political office – this I feel is something for those a fair bit younger than me, with more energy. An important factor is the need for lots of time and effort to sort out individual resident issues, an important and often neglected aspect of a councilor’s work. But the matters raised in politics are important and in the few years I have left I intend to identify and seek ways to resolve these, as well as serve the poor (and my own family of course) and preach the gospel. I also intend to encourage a new generation to follow in the footsteps of another hero of mine – William Wilberforce.
Meanwhile, I will be guided by and follow the Bible exhortation “that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4.