Comment & Opinion
Is the time ripe for a true Progressive Alliance to run Cornwall Council?
An obvious opportunity is opening up before Cornwall’s newly elected councillors – to keep the Tories out ALL the other parties gang up against them to form an administration.
by Gavin Barker
A progressive alliance for Cornwall Council?
The sudden turn of events that has lead to a rejection of Conservative party overtures to form a joint administration at Cornwall Council has opened the door for the Liberal Democrats to step in.
Naturally the Conservatives are fuming – they did after all win 35 percent of the votes and 46 of the 123 seats which made them the largest single grouping.
But the flip side is that the majority of voters – 65 percent – did not vote Conservative; they voted for other individuals and parties who offered a different vision and a different set of manifesto promises.
The visible chagrin and outrage expressed by some Conservatives that a majority of elected councillors might consider other options and possibilities for a joint administration shows just how little respect the Conservatives have for the democratic process.
An overweening arrogance and greed for power consumes them – both at the local and the national level.
What happens next could send a powerful signal to voters and centre-left parties in and outside Cornwall.
If the outcome is one based on a larger more inclusive vision that keeps in tact Liberal Democrat promises to safeguard social care, build 1000 council houses by 2020, reign in second home ownership and introduce a Living Wage for anyone delivering a contract for the council, all well and good. But if the process of bargaining with the Independent grouping results in a lean to the right that irreparably compromises these promises – for not all Independents can be labelled ‘progressive’ – we witness in microcosm what may happen after election day on June 8th.
It’s not easy, not least because the Liberal Democrats cannot afford to repeat the mistakes the Conservatives made – a ham fisted and bullying approach that lost them the negotiations.
The Liberal Democrats must know that the growth of the Independents is precisely because many voters want something different from top-down party politics that only answers to Westminster, not Cornwall.
They now have the opportunity to respond to that need while at the same time demonstrating a willingness and pragmatism to listen and accommodate smaller parties, MK in particular, in arriving at a new settlement.