by jackiebrodie on 19 April, 2017
Some of you may have read John Balment’s Column in the MDA recently where he reflected on why he wouldn’t want to stand to become a local Councillor. However, I feel compelled to respond to one of his statements about local Councillors where he says “ on important issues they (Councillors) come under the whip when it comes to the vote”. I can only speak on behalf of the Lib Dems having no experience of how other political parties operate , but I can honestly say that as a Lib Dem District Councillor, I have never been instructed how to vote, and can’t imagine how I would tolerate that. I’m pretty sure also that my other fellow independent minded Lib Dem Cllrs would not tolerate that. If John has seen us all raise our hands together on a vote that shouldn’t be too surprising in that we tend to hold similar views on many issues, so for example when we all raised our hands to vote against recent Council Tax Relief cuts to the poorest, it is because we all happened to think in unison that those cuts were unjustified and wrong. This happens across a range of issues, but that doesn’t have to mean we were instructed to vote that way. There are also many examples where we hold differing views on issues and vote differently from each other. Of course we do meet to discuss important issues, and bash around different views, which is entirely correct I would suggest, but come the crunch we can vote freely. The “whipping” myth is a line often thrown out in the campaigning material of Independents, but I can assure local people that their Lib Dem Councillor will be free to vote to serve their best interests.
Another oft thrown out line is that Councillors representing political parties must “do what they are told from their leaders in London”, again I can only speak for the Lib Dems, but this statement is just stuff and nonsense. As Lib Dem District Cllrs we have no instruction about how to vote in any matters from anyone or anywhere. Realistically how would it be possible for a national party to instruct every District and County Councillor across the country on every local issue? It would be logistically impossible. I repeat that you can rest assured that your Lib Dem Councillor is free to vote in the way they feel best for their communities. Please don’t believe the myths peddled by others seeking to gain your support with their lies.
Liberal Democrats – thinking, acting and voting independently
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