According to statistics some 85-115 Parliamentary Constituencies are relatively safe seats and won’t change political hue in May unless the change of public mind is so immense that it overturns decades of previous track record in this regard. All indications are that this is not going to happen. Despite this the parties are going to spend Millions trying to woo voters across the nation in the forlorn hope that water will flow uphill. As I wrote on Sunday the Conservative Party will spend some £78M and we don’t yet know how much the Labour Party will throw against the same wall. However most of that money is from supporters rather than public money, although perhaps we should ask for our £7M back as they clearly have plenty of money for their foolish arms race. The majority of MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates already know the outcome of the election, even if the final result will be decided based on how the 100 or so constituencies respond to the election. Although the Political Parties cannot predict the outcome of the election, we have two contenders that will either win outright or more likely will return enough MPs to form a coalition. This means that most of the shadow Ministers know that there is a good chance they could be called to serve. They will be expected to throw themselves into the election, but they could do something even more useful.
According to this news report a number of local authorities are deemed to be at risk of not fully protecting their communities from planning problems, primarily because they have not adopted local plans. The current Planning Minister Brandon Lewis urged “slow-coach” authorities to adopt local plans as the “simple way… to send speculative developers packing”. I have been working for the last decade with several local authorities all grappling with the need to prepare and adopt local plans that conform with national planning guidance. Whilst these authorities have had plenty of choices to make including the level of resources to apply to this task, I have seen no evidence of authorities dilly dallying, yet significant examples of barriers that Central Government have put in the way of our locally accountable planning bodies in their desire to have the right planning structures in place. Only an imbecile would describe the local plan process (and its antecedents) of simplicity. I am certain that Brandon Lewis is as stupid as those comments betray, however even someome bereft of wisdom can learn and improve their understanding of matters which they have no experience of. Just as Brandon Lewis is speaking out of ignorance on local planning issues, so too his colleagues in other departments often speak in ignorance on their departmental areas of responsibility. There is however a few months when the current shadow Ministers could spend the time needed to better understand their briefs.
Whether our First World War Tommies were Lions led by Donkeys or not, there is no doubt that many of our local authority officers are being treated a political cannon fodder by Brandon Lewis, just as many of our Police Officers are being treated as cannon fodder by Teresa May and our Probation System has been destroyed by an ignorant and misguided Minister. I could go on. However now is the time for people who wish to lead the next Government to demonstrate that they can learn as well as make speeches and blame other people!