Firstly a quick thank you to my wife, people I spoke to, those who signed my nomination papers, those who voted including myself.
However, the questions now to ask are “What next?”. Well candidates and agents in this election will be busy this month will be busy filling out an election expenditure form.
Guidance is here and covering complex issues such as spending reductions in places with two elections for councillor on the same day (eg Greasby/Frankby/Irby) and other advice regarding election bureaucracy.
This form needs to be filled out, along with a declaration from the election agent and candidate.
Copies of these are then open to public inspection (and copies can be made), which show not just the spending but the source of the money. In the past I’ve had a look through other candidates and agents’ spending to see what they’ve done. Sometimes it’s more interesting to see what they’ve forgot to declare (or maybe deliberately forgot to declare) as political parties (well aware of this means to see what the others are up to) have been known to provide as little information as possible.
There are legal penalties for getting it wrong, but convictions are rare.
Following my question to Cllr Ian Lewis at the Council meeting of the 13th December 2010, I will quote what he said:-
“A person may also, of course, be offered gifts and hospitality, when seeking election, and we shall therefore publish the election expense return submitted by each elected member.”
His full answer can be read here.
I thank Cllr Lewis for his comprehensive answer and know from what is said to me by the people know that the public welcome a new era of openness and accountability at Wirral Council as opposed to the previous Labour-led administration’s desire to keep the public in the dark and stitch things up behind closed doors.
My wife Cllr. Brace holds slightly different views on things as she represents her community but we usually agree. Just like the Lib Dems and the Tories we sometimes disagree on how to go forward. Yet, we still stay together!
The one constant in politics is change. Political reform has to happen. Yet, Wirral Council also needs to live up to its legal responsibilities when it comes to democracy.
Labour will spend the next few years condemning the Liberal Democrats and Tories for doing what they’re elected to do. Yet Liberal Democrats believe in a plural form of politics, where we work together with other parties combining the best of both worlds.
The public trust in politicians over the MP expenses scandal is still lingering in the public’s mind. This scepticism and trust has done harm to democracy. Yet it was Labour MPs who were put in prison. It was a Labour MP Phil Woolas that was convicted of lying about the Lib Dem candidate and lost his seat.
I saw the hope with which the country greeted a Labour government in 1997. However if they ever wish to govern the country or Wirral Council again they will have to prove they have changed as a party.
Based on their literature I would say the first step they need to take is to tell the public the truth and stop treating their own residents with little or no respect.