I was expecting (and, I believe, even predicted) that we would have to endure some mad post-election nonsense from Wokingham Conservatives. But I’d expected the announcement of a policy that had gone utterly unmentioned throughout the campaign, and on Monday.
I suppose that’s still a possibility, but I hadn’t expected council leader David Lee to immediately start talking utter rubbish to the press. That probably shows that I should reassess my standards. Anyway, as soon as the results were in, the Tory group leader was saying this to the Wokingham Times:
“I’m a bit down because I think it would be difficult to do any more than we have done. We have definitely suffered a but from the whole waste thing. In all honesty, I think it’s rather unfair. We could’ve just done nothing, which is what a lot of people seem to think, and hike up the council tax.“
It’s unfair, he says. I don’t know about you, but I read that in the voice of Kevin the Teenager (from Harry Enfield’s Kevin and Perry sketches).
All through the local election campaign, I was saying that the Conservatives were out of touch with ordinary people. I was saying that they didn’t understand, and worse didn’t care, about what the council was doing wrong. The Conservatives continually maintained that I was wrong, but I hadn’t expected their boss to go and out prove my point so spectacularly comprehensively immediately after the election was done.
Let’s just recap. The Conservatives lost two seats in Wokingham in the elections, one in Charvil and one in Winnersh. They still have a majority of 16 on the council. It was not the mass rejection of Tory councillors I had been hoping for, but I reckon Cllr Lee knows his party was largely saved by an abysmal turnout.
But the arrogance of refusing to admit that the council did, or could have done, anything wrong was something I hadn’t anticipated at all. Call me naive, perhaps.
Just for contrast, at the adjudication of questionable ballots for Remenham Wargrave and Ruscombe yesterday, one voter had placed a tick in the box for sitting Tory councillor John Halsall, along with the comment “Could do better“. John’s response was to nod sagely, and admit “That’s true.”
David Lee thinks that there was nothing else he and his colleagues could have done. He quotes the council tax freeze, but still won’t admit the stealth taxes that many residents quickly rumbled him on. He seems to think that the new scheme is entirely fit for purpose, and presumably that the execution could have been better.
But he misses the main problem with the waste scheme: he didn’t ask anyone in Wokingham what they thought before he launched it. People don’t like being taken for idiots, and that’s exactly what David Lee has been doing. That is why he lost two seats, and that is why he was lucky not to lose more.
David thinks it’s unfair. Well, I agree. I agree: it’s incredibly unfair that Wokingham doesn’t have someone more humble, someone willing to listen and improve, and in short someone more worthy to lead it than him.