Owl thinks many Tories will see the writing on the wall and claim to be “Independent” to try to save their skins in May,
Cllr Mike Howe says he still gives his full backing to East Devon MP Simon Jupp.
Remember: A blue rose by any other name would smell as stinky! (Ben Ingham led a so called “Independent” EDDC administration when, in reality, he was just a puppet on a string to the Tories, hoodwinking a number of quite reasonable independent minded councillors along the way.)
Or maybe Mike Howe has just had his fill of turnip rations from Tory group leader Cllr Philip Skinner. – Owl
Rob Kershaw www.devonlive.com
An East Devon councillor has quit the Conservative group to sit as an independent after growing tired with the party’s stance on some issues. Cllr Mike Howe (Independent, Clyst Valley) said he has been considering the move for a while, but a full council meeting on Wednesday [22 February] was the final straw.has had his fil
Cllr Howe sat on the opposite side of the room to his now former Tory colleagues. He vocally disagreed with them on a number of points.
“I’ve just had enough. I’m just worn out and last night’s full council just pushed me over the edge,” he said. “I thought I need to be a bit more distant and a bit more independent and do what I can for my ward and the district as a whole. And I feel the best place to do that is not in the Conservative Party locally. I think the party was wrong from start to finish last night, and it just gets to the point where you can’t defend the indefensible.”
While no longer a Conservative on council level, Cllr Howe still gives his full backing to East Devon MP Simon Jupp. Conservative leader Cllr Philip Skinner (Tale Vale) said he respected Cllr Howe’s decision to part ways with the group.
“Councillors obviously have their views on certain issues,” he said. “And they’ve got to make the decisions they take on their own merit. It’s just one of those things I guess, where people are in their lives, the views they have on different issues.
“We’ve just got to respect other peoples’ viewpoints of people and decisions they make in life, and the consequences to the actions and the decisions that they make are their own.”
Cllr Howe’s decision comes less than three months before the next election in May.
His decision leaves the composition of the council with 21 Conservatives, 16 Independents, 12 from the East Devon Alliance, 7 Liberal Democrats, 2 Greens and 1 Labour councillor. There is also one seat vacant as former Labour councillor Paul Millar, who represented the Exmouth Halsdon ward, is no longer listed as being a member of the council.
What exactly are the issues that caused him to part company? Or is just jumping ship in the hope of re election?
1. INDEPENDENT IN NAME ONLY – If it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it IS a duck. Claiming to be “Independent” doesn’t automatically make you independent. Being independent means that you need to stop having ANY allegiance to a party and instead think for yourself, making opinions and voting based on an independent, self-researched and FACTUAL view of the issues rather than following blindly a party line. And in particular, it means taking a genuinely democratic perspective i.e. that you were elected to serve the interests of your ward (and the district in general) and NOT to serve the narrower interests of a particular political party.
As this article makes clear, Mike Howe still pays a lot of allegiance to the Conservative Party – he still supports a Conservative Party MP, he still agrees with many of the Conservative Policies (rather than taking an independent view) even if he disagrees with a few of them.
2. MORALITY/ETHICS – If Mike Howe had any genuine ethics / moral compass, he would have objected to these same Tory policies years (or even decades) ago. These nasty-party policies haven’t changed in their basic nature or ethics/morals in the last year or two – they have only become more extreme versions of the same. If they are wrong now, they were wrong before – being more wrong now doesn’t somehow make them right before.
If Mike Howe wants us to believe he has had an epiphany and is now rejecting his previous beliefs and converting to being a genuine Independent politician, he needs to public disclaim all he previous beliefs and state clearly that he is no longer following ANY party line, not taking ANY party whip, and will genuinely represent the needs of the ward and district electorate without any national or local political positions influencing his thinking.
3. TERMINOLOGY- IMO, until Mike Howe stands for election as an Independent and gets elected as an Independent he needs to stick to the mandate he was given by his ward to be a Conservative. In any genuine democracy you cannot get elected on one basis, and then have any mandate to act based on a different basis.
If Mike Howe had any understanding of genuine democracy, he would resign now and seek re-election as an independent in a by-election!
DISCLAIMER: The above points are my personal view of how a genuine democracy should work, what being a genuine Independent means and is based on several years in-depth active involvement in East Devon local politics.
In a former life I was a committed supporter of the East Devon Alliance and I can testify from years of personal experience with many of the senior Independent Councillors as to their genuinely independent mind-set and their strength of ethics/morality/character.
Equally I can testify from personal experience as to the nastiness, fake democracy and ethical/moral corruption/bankruptcy of the local Conservative Party (which is only a little different from the same moral bankruptcy at a national level) and from what I remember of Mike Howe he really no different to the rest of those bar-stewards.
It’s that time, in the political calendar, when 4th May 2023 Polling Day looms large in local politicians’ minds!
Regrettably, Cllr Howe’s decision to follow a good conscience by ‘jumping ship’ from the East Devon Tory Party and ‘flying the nest’ before the imminent local elections, seems to have come too late for those living in his own village?
So many other local communities have followed the arduous progress (highlighted frequently on EDW) of this village community’s attempts to bring attention to East Devon decision-makers of the inappropriateness of both green field development and monstrously towering, urban, four-storey flats proposed by developers in their community, with many of us following the real-time online planning meetings.
We watched as Cllr Howe sat at the decision-making planning table, seemingly mute, throughout discussions on a major planning application for 40 four-storey flats in HIS Ward, with his objection seemingly lacking any apparent personal deep conviction or belief?
He appeared cowed and intimidated by the East Devon Tory Leader, Philip Skinner, literally sitting ‘shoulder to shoulder’ beside him, with Cllr Skinner’s domineering stance promoting an incessant campaign to Build, Build, Build; Cllr Skinner attempted to browbeat fellow councillors into supporting his personal credo of economic benefits outweighing social and environmental pillars, by referencing his own much revered, long-standing planning councillor status (i.e. ‘I know best – follow me in supporting any eyesore or carbuncle even if national and local planning policy recommends an entirely different path – (but take great care not to support any controversial developments in your own back yards because that could give rise to you losing your own political seat)!
There is, no doubt, that large-scale, urban development in a rural district is subjective and emotive – but communities feel despondent by any lack of effort and commitment with only seemingly half-hearted representations on their behalf! The electorate do not expect ward councillors to ‘bow down and toe the Tory Party line’, allowing the East Devon Tory Leader to take control of the EDDC planning floor, resulting in their own Ward Member appearing to ‘play second fiddle’ to the Tory Leader’s opinions?
Yes . . . this is the same Cllr Skinner, who is synonymous with ‘feathering his own nest’ (when officers and councillors were given first dibs on the Knowle furniture surplus, before EDDC’s relocation to Blackdown House), where Cllr Skinner became embroiled in allegedly offering £50 to ‘give a good home to’ the infamous 22-feet extending mahogany board room table with apparently numerous chairs (similar tables on e-bay reached significantly higher prices)! The same Cllr Skinner whose BFs (best friends) openly include some of the wealthiest landowners in East Devon, who he personally appears to represent and favour on numerous planning matters, whilst declaring innumerable personal interests at innumerable planning meetings throughout innumerable years!
Perhaps Cllr Howe has now realised that political, bullying tactics have no place in local/national government or in any walk of life? However, the public are acutely aware that blue roses by any other name do, indeed, stink and are suffocating and the electorate are able to identify ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and are not easily hoodwinked!
Can an Independent Cllr Howe bring his significant experience to EDDC planning (having held the post of Development Management Chairman previously under a Tory banner for several years) to ensure the people of Clyst Valley are represented fairly in future (without having to look for signals and nods from any political party)? Sadly his wealth of experience didn’t translate into the desired decision that his own village community wished for and the close-fought planning decision on 40 four-storey flats was lost by 1 vote . . . . the crucial Liberal Democrat ‘deciding vote of reluctantly support’ sealing their fate!
Interestingly, several online watchers detected signals and dominant stares seemingly directing compliance from the Lib Dem Planning Chair and Vice Chair towards this pivotal Lib Dem voter – so perhaps to ‘toe the party line’ is the price that all party politicians must pay?
There is No Way that Cllr Howe will NOW be invited to partake in turnip soup or any other bean-feast around any Tory banqueting table (including the legendary 22-feet mahogany table!) in the near future!
Truly Independent politicians may be as rare as hen’s teeth – but they actually do exist at East Devon and within other nearby local authorities and, hopefully, after 4th May 2023, there will be significantly more?
What most of the electorate wish for going forward is that their elected representatives of whichever fraternity and creed will democratically listen to the people they are appointed to represent, whilst genuinely striving to achieve the best scenarios for everyone . . . and that, surely, doesn’t seem too difficult to grasp?