Barlow's Beef: England expects everyone to do their duty


Due to foreign travel my election news came to me via satellite TV these past two weeks.

With the benefit of distance one gets an entirely different perspective of the absurdities of UK politics. The glib statements of politicians, with no first-hand experience of the world we inhabit, become increasingly farcical.

Advice on the economy from opponents who have never suffered the uncertainties of the self-employed or the deprivation of long-term unemployment are as ludicrous as flying lessons from a submariner.

Polite requests by foreign tourists to explain some preposterous statement made by a Westminster party hack are as impossible to justify as the perennial Santa question posed by a sceptical child.

What becomes abundantly clear from the perspective of foreign shores is that venturing outside the Westminster bubble presents a huge risk for the political elite serving only to expose the cosseted ignorance of those within.

So what's to be done? How can we, the public, who finance, those purporting to serve change the status quo? It is not as difficult as it appears.

First and foremost we can demonstrate that our blind support is no forgone conclusion.

We must eradicate once and for all the notion that we will follow like sheep regardless of the incompetence of the shepherd. It's this certainty that encourages politicians to treat us with such contempt. A healthy dose of insecurity would work wonders.

If you are unhappy with your representation make a change. If you find builders invading the greenbelt against the wishes of your community elect a new representative. It's failure to do so that feeds political arrogance.

We cannot complain about our politicians if we are afraid to change the way we vote. If you are happy with what's happening in your town/country stick with the representation you have if not make a change.

At some stage you will be asked to explain to your grandchildren what you did to create the community and country they inhabit.

Telling them you complained incessantly but did nothing won't win their admiration.

Imagine for a moment how political decisions would change if no seat was 'safe.' Do you really think any government or council would destroy the greenbelt while leaving ugly brownfield sites undeveloped if they weren't certain of our vote?

If you want your government and local council to be more sensitive to your opinion pull the rug and vote for change.

It's time for YOU to do YOUR duty.

(If you've spent the last few years admiring the achievements of your political representatives you may be excused.)

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Tuesday 14th April 2015 at 12:55 pm
Spot on once again! We are badly governed and administered at all levels despite the proliferation of quasi - governmental organisations professing to represent and hold to account. My own view is that we have reverted to the "rottenness" of the eighteenth century where the values and interests of some take precendence over everything else, but, unlike then, we have the power to make change through the ballot box.
John Clegg
Tuesday 14th April 2015 at 1:53 pm
Things I have noticed in the election countdown period:
* Canvassing leaders - especially Cameron and Millibean - don't seem to want to engage with the public directly. It's all hard-hat photo opportunities, in staged, factory-worker-bothering set-ups.
* Even more so, we, the electorate, are disengaged and to a great degree disinterested in what they say. Whether its' the Tories lying "no top down re-organiozation of the NHS" or Labour's whining "One Nation" call to arms, it really makes no difference.
HS2 is really only a "thing" in the minds of a few of the elite. What difference what it really make?
* The election will be decided by a few thousand, possibly hundreds, of votes in a few key marginals.
* Any colour party going on about how they empathize with those really struggling on low incomes and dead-end jobs is lost on nearly all of us. Yes, there maybe a few thousand scroungers out there, but why penalize everyone who is struggling? We don't want to be paying people for doing absolutely nothing. But we don't want to remove the last few pounds from those who are up against it, so that they can't afford even a couple of drinks or other treats each week, do we?
John Clegg
Tuesday 14th April 2015 at 3:08 pm
Yes, all right, I know - I've borrowed some of these observations from elsewhere in the media. Bears repeating though, eh?
Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 14th April 2015 at 5:09 pm
As Marx said (Grouch that is, not Karl) "I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member"

I think the same applies to most politicians - anyone wanting to stand for election is very unlikely to be worth voting for.
David Jefferay
Tuesday 14th April 2015 at 10:45 pm
I intend to be an exception to that rule, Mark. I think I am worth voting for!
Dave Cash
Wednesday 15th April 2015 at 2:43 am
Don't be a Groucho, Mark, have you never bought a previously untried glass/bottle of wine/single malt whisky or cup of coffee and preferred it to your previous brand?
Marriage is regarded as an Institution, yet many inmates join each year for a life sentence.
Take a risk, vote Independent (other Parties are avail). If we don't do what we promise, change your mind next time.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 15th April 2015 at 11:45 am
You guys are good.
Some great observations there:
"I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member"
Most clubs won't have me as a member.
Love the HS2 comment.
Are we really going to dig up acres of greenbelt and spend Billions to cut 20 minutes off the journey time of a train that doesn't stop anywhere?
You have given me food for thought.
Thank you so much.
Martin Lewis
Thursday 16th April 2015 at 5:59 am
Thank you Vic for those ‘bang on the button’ words pf wisdom. I always look forward to everything Vic Barlow writes as he has the wonderful knack of saying what most people are thinking.
The words that rang so true to me were “If you are unhappy with your representation make a change. If you find builders invading the greenbelt against the wishes of your community elect a new representative. It is failure to do so that feeds political arrogance.”
I remember towards the end of last year sitting in Macclesfield Town Hall at a Cheshire East Strategic Planning Board meeting that was to decide the fate of Dean Row’s ‘safeguarded’ green fields on Adlington Road here in Wilmslow.
For two years prior to this meeting local residents had fought against these fields being developed. The Cheshire East Local Plan had determined that Wilmslow should provide 400 new homes between now and 2030. Local residents spent nearly two years researching the new housing planning applications, brownfield sites and likely ‘windfall’ opportunities. They discovered that Wilmslow has over 130,000 square feet of empty office space which could be converted into new homes (and there are Government plans and approvals available to allow this to happen).
The research showed that, discounting the office space available, Wilmslow was still on course to deliver 820 new homes – more than twice the agreed target! Our Councillors were constantly fed the facts at every County level.
What did the East Cheshire Strategic Planning Committee decide? Well several representatives of one of the major political parties ‘sat on their hands’ during the whole hearing asking no questions. When it came to the vote their hands went straight up voting as one following a party line. The Chairman representing the same party and a Ward far from Wilmslow gave the motion his casting vote and 208 houses are now starting to violate Adlington Road’s green fields.
It is hard to believe that before this appalling decision was made some of our Independent Councillors, at an earlier County planning meeting, had tabled an amendment to the Local Plan to take Wilmslow’s green belt sites and the Adlington Road site out from the Local Plan.
On a named vote Councillors representing Wilmslow had the opportunity to vote for the amendment but chose to vote along the party line and against saving Adlington Road!
We were told by our Government and Local Government leaders that the KEY element of the Local Plan was that constituents would be listened to! The residents of Wilmslow proved that double the homes required would be available. Our Councillors were told this over and over again! Did they listen? Would that be a ‘no’ then!
The wise Vic Barlow says “If you want your government and local council to be more sensitive to your opinion pull the rug and vote for change. It's time for YOU to do YOUR duty”.
How true! Local Politics are for people not parties! There is a chance for change here in Wilmslow and it is time for Wilmslow residents to ‘do their duty’!
It just so happens that there are candidates up for election in Wilmslow on 7th May who do not represent major parties but who do represent Wilmslow and only Wilmslow!
Just like Vic Barlow said. ‘It’s time to do your duty’!
I know what I’m going to do!
Do you?
Manuel Golding
Thursday 16th April 2015 at 11:17 am
Yet another, and once again, right on the button visionary article by you Vic. Obviously your respondents are of the same mind. If only our politicians, both at national and local levels, had the same sense of public duty. If only!!
Unfortunately, those days of party hacks, sorry politicians, having a sense of public duty and honour have long gone. Today, it is all about "the Party", not their voters.
This is best illustrated at local level, at the Wilmslow, Handforth, Macclesfield and wider Cheshire East level. We have prime, stand out illustrations of borough councillors saying one thing to their aggrieved electorate, "showing concern" to their disquiet, and then when push (from their party whip) comes to vote, they show their contempt for their electorate by voting with their party.
Martin Lewis clearly outlines the Conservative Party's councillors total disdain for their electorate's wishes and concerns over the whole Green Belt and the Adlington Road issues.
As you probably are aware, at the CEC council meeting, 27/2/13, an amendment to take out
of the Local Plan the borough's contentious Green Belt and Safeguarded sites (not just in Wilmslow/Handforth) was tabled by the Independent group. On a named vote, the Conservatives fought tooth and nail against being called individually to cast their votes, each councillor present was asked if they supported the amendment or not.
This is not a surprise question, yes, you've guessed the result.
Wilmslow's Conservative councillors present, all when called, were seen and heard to say they were VOTING AGAINST the amendment - i.e they voted not to save these sites.
This was and is the Conservative Party's policy and the town's representatives, Councillors Menlove, Whiteley and Barton, voted for their party, not their public who put them into council. They are nothing less than "voting fodder". This "party solidarity" was displayed again at the Strategic Planning Board, as referred to by Martin Lewis, when the SPB's Conservative members once again showed they will always vote with their party's dictate. The public voice is not a consideration - until their re-election. Now they become friends to us all!

As you so rightly say Vic, "We must eradicate once and for all the notion that we will follow like sheep regardless of the incompetence of the shepherd. It's this certainty that encourages politicians to treat us with such contempt. A healthy dose of insecurity would work wonders."

And this why Residents of Wilmslow has two truly, wonderful potential councillors up for election to CEC. Both David JEFFERAY (East) and Toni FOX (Dean Row) will always put their PUBLIC BEFORE PARTY. They are truly independent, RoW has no party whip, our councillors WILL act for their voters.
They will not "follow like sheep", we leave the "incompetence of the shepherd" to remain with the flawed and deaf Cheshire East Conservative hierarchy.
You've seen what the Conservatives have done, now is the time to see the very real and tangible difference with RoWs candidates.
Give David and Toni that opportunity to show that difference - it will work wonders!
Vic Barlow
Thursday 16th April 2015 at 10:19 pm
So…we must all ask these question: Why do councillors make sympathetic noises then ignore the public they purport to represent?

Why would CEC promote green belt development if evidence has been submitted that targets can be met without doing so?

What is their motive?
Manuel Golding
Friday 17th April 2015 at 10:57 am
What is their motive, you ask Vic? What indeed.
They are so obviously political cowards - they desire to remain within the pack as this is, they believe or are told, the way forward within the party, So called jobs are available as directors of the council's various "companies" but only for those who are good boys and girls. If they defy the whip it is curtains for them.
It is so patently obvious that their desires to be in the pack, to jump when the party says "jump" (height doesn't come into it, just ability to jump to the whip), that they will act against the concerns and wishes of their electorate. And then have the gall to tell voters at election time, as we are seeing now, that they always act in the best interest of their electorate!
Hopefully, the electors of East and Dean Row wards (also in West ward too) will see just how poorly they have been served by the party apparatchicks who have previously been only too happy to serve the Conservative Party's best interests.
It is time for a change, Vic, of Wilmslow's Cheshire East Council's representatives. I urge the electors of these wards to vote for Residents of Wilmslow's two independent candidates, David JEFFERAY (East) and Toni FOX (Dean Row) and also for the independent in West ward, Dave Cash.
Saturday 18th April 2015 at 10:34 am
Manuel, - I am more cynical than you. Cheshire East's motives have always been the same - to make as much money as they can so that they don't have to get to grips with the real problem that plagues them - namely, too many managers and too little efficiency. Where is the most money to be made? - by allowing developers to have what they want on greenfield sites and to reap the rewards in terms of S106 payments and continuing growth in revenue from council tax. Even better for them is to sell off the land they own (chunks of Handforth) so that the money goes straight into their coffers. It seems bizarre that our elected representatives appear to view it as their function to cannibalise the areas they represent.
Manuel Golding
Saturday 18th April 2015 at 12:49 pm
Jackie, I bow to your greater cynicism.
I have to accept your observations and yes, you are dead right.
And who do we, the voters, have to thank?
Answer - our weak, timid, politically ambitious crop of current Conservative councillors. Each one looking and hoping to be on the "jobs for the boys" list, therefore good behaviour, or doing the Conservative Party's bidding being paramount.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 6:11 am
Well said Vic. We seem to currently have politicians at all levels who will say anything at all just to get re-elected; it's not just our Bullingdon-Boy representative and his friends; all the other parties seems as bad.
I find it shameful that there is a food bank in this town which, don't forget, is represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer- how can that be right.
I read the other day that the five wealthiest families in this country have more money than the poorest twelve million- yet the self-servatives seem to be running the whole country just for the benefit of the few hedge-fund mangers and bankers.
We're all in it together... yeah, OK!