|Suffolk County Council's Cabinet|
I guarantee you that your local parish council, village hall management committee, school governing body, cricket club you name it would be a much better place to look for democracy than Suffolk County Council's cabinet.
There evidently is some discussion in reality but it takes place safely behind the scenes and a comment made at the meeting by one of the Cabinet members that they had discussed something "upstairs" belies the truth that the Cabinet is a "showpiece" not where the actual decisions are made. Like the party conferences of modern times no real debate, discussion or scrutiny happens in public at least.
In the case of the Suffolk County Council Cabinet it isn't even a successful showpiece.
I could go on and personally I put much of the blame on Labour's move to "cabinet" governance for local government which I think is wholly inappropriate. The absence of any opposition stifles any debate and is fundamentally undemocratic. If the Cabinet is a rubber stamp the County Council itself is frankly a complete irrelevance. Indeed it is unusual that a decision, even one as important as this one on libraries actually goes to the Council itself to be decided and allow the handful of opposition members to bravely try and apply some accountability and pretence of democracy.
I seriously thank them but they really must wonder why they bother sometimes.
The last time I attended a full Council meeting I actually heard Conservative members asking each other "what is it we are voting for". They had no idea and would by and large have voted for anything they were told to. If they were turkeys probably they would vote for Christmas but sheep would be a much better analogy. I described the proceedings as a "democratic car crash" but I now wonder why I used the word democratic. There is nothing democratic at all about the proceedings.
We may just as well disband the County Council and save some money. It doesn't even have the power to make meaningful local decisions (even if it wanted to).
|Some real democracy in action outside Stradbroke Library|