Saturday, 26 September 2015

Conservatives - A New Home For Former Labour and LibDem Voters

This week in my Crawley Observer column, I have written about the political spectrum and how, especially in Crawley, it is the Conservatives who are increasingly the logical choice for people who regard themselves as centre-ground or swing voters. We are the only credible alternative to Jeremy Corbyn's loony-left and bitterly divided Labour Party.   
Labour are not a credible party for centre-ground voters
"Most people could be forgiven for not noticing that the Liberal Democrat party conference took place this week. That is perhaps a good indication of their irrelevance since the Coalition Government ended in May. Left with only 8 MPs in the whole country, it could be fairly argued they were somewhat unfairly punished at the ballot box for doing the right thing in 2010, by ensuring the UK had a stable government for five years. 
In Crawley, with UKIP and the Greens also in decline, we are increasingly a town of two-party politics and I cannot envisage this changing anytime soon. Meanwhile, Labour’s lurch to the far-left has given up any claim they may have had to the political centre ground while at the same time, the traditional party of the centre ground, the Liberal Democrats, have left the stage.   
My view is that Conservatives like me should reach out to Liberal Democrat and centrist Labour voters. We are a genuine broad church of people from all walks of life who want the very best for our town, and we should represent the centre as well as the centre-right. Labour’s shift to the far-left is a place where swing voters and centre-ground voters now feel very uncomfortable. These residents deserve an alternative of a party who is prepared to listen to them, and not to approach everything from an extreme politically-charged point of view.

With the Conservatives being the only realistic alternative to Labour in Crawley, I believe that being a broad church and being able to fairly represent everyone is vital. A future Conservative Administration at Crawley Borough Council led by me will be inclusive and will be driven by the needs and aspirations of the town and its people - not driven by divisive political ideology.

Therefore, I am very keen to hear from anyone who cares about our great town about what you’d like to see our Council do for Crawley. What does the Council do well and what could we improve? What should be our priorities for Crawley? Please do drop me a line at Duncan.crow@crawley.gov.uk"

Friday, 18 September 2015

Crawley Labour Not Financially Credible

This week in my Crawley Observer column, in the same week that Labour appointed the extreme left-wing John Mcdonnell as Shadow Chancellor, I wrote about economic competence at the Council and the ideological refusal of the controlling Labour group to live within the Council's means, by not working towards a balanced Council budget for next year. 
Labour's Shadow Chancellor - John Mcdonnell MP 
"Last week at Crawley Borough Council, Labour passed their budget strategy for 2016 onwards. This sets out the financial plan for the Council and is a key indication of the ruling Administration’s priorities. Incredibly, the Council’s ruling Labour cabinet refused yet again to have a budget strategy that committed to trying to balance the Council’s books each financial year.
Their strategy hopes to try and balance the books over a three-year period but there are several things wrong with this. Firstly, the Council’s budget gap is not (currently) very large so there is no reason other than an ideological political reason, not to address this now. Secondly, a failure to address the budget gap stores up future problems, making the job harder in future years. Thirdly, the goalposts get moved so that we are forever starting in ‘year one’ rather than progressing through each of the three years. This is exactly what happened last year when we were told that 2015 was the first year of three for balancing the Council budget. Now we’re told 2016.

Due to the good fortune of better than predicted business rates the Council eventually managed to balance the books by accident this year, rather than by design. Sooner or later, the budget gap will become huge as such good luck will run out. This will mean stark choices in future years of either slashing services, large increases in Council Tax, or a combination of both.

This problem will have resulted from using left-wing political ideology to determine key decisions at the Council. For me, pragmatism is much more important than political ideology and you cannot get any more pragmatic than living within your means and by being responsible. Sadly, Labour’s lurch to the left following Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory, means that left-wing political ideology is likely to be determining more decisions at the Council, to the detriment of what is best for Crawley.

We Conservatives offer an alternative of working to balance the Council’s books every year, ensuring the long-term protection of vital services and reducing the risk of future high Council Tax rises."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Labour On The Brink Of Civil War

My Crawley Observer column this week is generating quite a stir. I can't say too much but it is a fact that it would only take one Labour Councillor in Crawley to defect to change the political control of Crawley Borough Council from Labour to Conservative. We are now less than 60 hours to the announcement of the next leader of the Labour party. Once Corbyn's likely win is confirmed, we enter uncharted territory. It won't be pretty.      
Jeremy Corbyn is set to become Labour leader  
"Unless all the predictions are wrong, this coming Saturday will see the Labour party elect left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. Stuck in a 1970s timewarp, don’t be under any illusion that he won’t be the most politically extreme MP to lead any major political party in modern British history.
It has been well documented that the Labour leadership election has been a complete shambles, including problems such as blatant entryism. It has certainly been apparent that voters made the right choice in May by electing a Conservative government, as Labour have proved themselves unable to competently run a leadership election, yet alone the Country.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will have a majority of its MPs hostile to him as leader while over half of the party membership will support him. Stuck in the middle will be Labour Councillors - worried that they may have individually aligned to the ‘wrong’ faction.

A period of vicious Labour in-fighting looks likely as the far-left Corbynites seek to purge the Blairites, while the Blairites will fight to reclaim the party for themselves by trying to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Locally in Crawley, I can see how the on-going battle for the control of the Labour party is going to be all-consuming. This is concerning as Labour are nominally in political control of Crawley Borough Council with 19 Councillors to the Conservatives 18. I struggle to see how they can effectively run the Council while a civil war rages within Labour that could last for many years. They are set to be in office but not in control.

Amid the Labour turmoil, the focus of my Conservative colleagues and I continues to be the town we love and working for our local Council to be run for the people of Crawley in the best way possible. To the more moderate Crawley Labour Councillors - my door will be open if you wish to escape the bitter in-fighting. You can talk to me in the strictest confidence about potentially joining the Conservatives - helping to ensure our great town of Crawley remains top priority."