One of the major reasons why Anglesey County Council is dysfunctional is because our councillors lack both a shared vision for the Island and a policy roadmap of how to get there. This is in large part due to a significant number of Independents who are elected without issuing to voters in their wards either individual or group manifestos, i.e. a statement of where they stand on various issues and what they should like to do if elected. Such a situation is intolerable because:
- Voters are denied the opportunity to vote on a political vision and set of policies – instead they must try to make their decision based only on the personalities of the candidates. However when you consider that the current average councillor to elector ratio on Anglesey is 1:1,270 people, it is laughable to think that each of those 1,270 voters are able to make an informed decision on the personalities of each of the candidates. Furthermore this situation will worsen at the next council elections when, following Local Government Boundary Commissions changes, the number of councillors will be reduced from 40 to 36, and the councillor to elector ratio will increase to an average of 1:1,411 people.
- Independents, once elected, are effectively accountable to nobody but themselves and are certainly not constrained by any kind of group manifesto or ‘party discipline’. As a result they are free to behave pretty much as they please – leading to the myriad problems of ill discipline we are currently witnessing at the council.
- Independents do attach themselves to a number of opaque groupings (the Original Independents, the Menai Group, Anglesey Forward, and, recently, Llais i Fôn), however these groupings also fail to (i) produce or publicise their aims or policies; and (ii) often fail to impose any form of ‘party discipline’. As such they are better regarded as ‘factions’ not ‘parties’.
- As voters do not know in detail what they are voting for, it is impossible for them to then evaluate their councillor’s performance when the next council elections come around.
Following a similar analysis by the Anglesey Recovery Board, the WAG Minister for Local Government has required that all Anglesey non-party independent groupings produce a "statement of their aims and values" no later than May this year. However as of now only one group -- Clive McGregor's Llais i Fôn -- has unconditionally made their statement public following requests from this blog (for which they deserve great praise). I have emailed the Original Independents, Anglesey Forward and the Menai Group asking them to also send me their Statements but have been met with either silence, or a request for my name and postal address. As we are now four months past the deadline set by WAG all groups must surely have completed their Statements, yet for whatever reason do not wish to publicise them -- which surely defeats the object of producing them in the first place. How can Anglesey residents vote for you if they don't know what on earth you stand for?
Accordingly, for all those thinking of standing in Rhosneigr (and the groupings which may be backing them), I would like to re-iterate this section of the People's Manifesto which deals with local elections:
- All Parties and Political Groupings must publish an updated and Anglesey-specific manifesto of their aims and values at least two months prior to local elections. To save costs these can be hosted on the Anglesey County Council website.
- All Independent candidates standing to become County Councillors in Local Elections must either:
(a) state which Political Grouping they intend to join if elected; or
(b) publish a personal manifesto of their aims and values at least two months prior to local elections.
If we are ever to break with the problems which have bedevilled the council for too long then candidates to become county councillors have to start becoming more open and more transparent about their intentions should they be elected. Therefore I appeal to all Rhosneigr candidates to let us know either know which group they intend to join if elected, or to produce a manifesto of their aims and values which can be distributed among the 748 ward residents. Let's all make Rhosneigr the turning point.
You can download the full People's Manifesto for Ynys Môn here.
A SIDE-NOTE: I found out yesterday that this blog has been shortlisted amongst four others in the politics section of the inaugural Wales Blog Awards. The winner will apparently be announced at a ceremony in Cardiff on the 14th October. I know many of you come to read the comments rather than my