Nine days to go, and tons to get through, hence why this will drop into your inbox at 9am, and why I’m presently blinking through over-dry contact lenses at 1am in the morning while I type the latest Broxtowe shenanigans. There will be another portion served up later today, so stay tuned. The last couple of weeks has seen the stats for this blog jump hugely; it’s nice to end my writing on politics with people actually reading the bloody stuff.
So, what’s been happening?
Broxtowe’s Green PPC has revealed in an interview that he has AIDS. David Kirwan gave a brave and thoughtful interview to Buzzfeed about how it has affected him: it’s well worth a read and you can do so here.
Beeston Today website have sent a reply to a query I made regarding the increasingly politicised content of their website, and the link between them and the Lib Dems through discretionary funding. While their reply shod some light on matters, it failed to clear up a couple of key areas. I’ve read far too many things on Divisional Funding, and sent to many detailed questions to People Who Know About This Stuff, and will be sending a couple of questions over to the people running the site. This is in no way an attack on Bramcote Today, a site I’ve long admired for it’s community-focused work, and how it’s become a great asset to Bramcote, so hopefully we can mop up these issues.
Buy the Nottingham Post today: not only has it got a pull out on the I Love Beeston Awards I helped to judge, but I should also have a column in there about the election, which also dwells on a particularly toe -curling, hair-curling, episode of my life. I’ll stick a link up later. It’s 1.26 am, and I can’t be arsed.
SOUBZ AND THE GREEN BELT MYTH
Elections, eh? Truth goes out the window, and we enter a fantasyland of the Tories suddenly finding £8 billion behind their Chesterfield sofa to spend on the NHS; The Telegraph runs a piece of ‘news’ on small business owners that comes diret from CCHQ and is instantly seen as a huge pile of horse-crap in this excellent bit of journalism; and Theresa May claiming that Scotland voting in a democratic way for a fully legitimate party would lead to Britain catching fire, being over-ran by giant marauding ants and haggis force-fed down your throat, untill your stomachs swell like bagpipes that Alex Salmond can tootle on.
Larger lies, that have been told so much they move up a division into false narratives are trotted out again. Chief among these is that Labour profligacy caused the 2008 GLOBAL financial crisis. Spending money on SureStart, social care and the NHS was to blame, rather than, y’know, those casino bankers who still remain unpunished and happily splashing with cash.
One of these false narratives is being ceaselessly pedaled by that politician who is extremely economical with the actulie is our own Anna Soubry, and her concern for the Greenbelt.
The narrative runs thus. The Lib Dem / Labour ran Broxtowe Borough Council decided, out of the blue, to concrete over a couple of sites in Broxtowe and stick houses atop for, well, just a laugh. Because they could. Because they are shitty haters of all things green and probably strangle wrens for kicks.
FEAR NOT! SOUBZ IS HERE! Yes, she swooped down to save the Greenbelt from the evil councillors. A mighty battle was fought, where she threw herself under bulldozers, shielded helpless voles from baseball bat wielding Labour types and tied herself to a tree that a rabid Lib Dem was attempting to fell so he could stomp on a nest of dainty speckled powder blue eggs.
Alas, she failed. She tried, spending hours camping outside the offices of the relevant ministers, she really did. But she won’t go quietly: she’ll use her last dying breath exposing the callous haters of all things verdant for the bastards they are. Like Boudicca, she fought, she lost, but she has the glory.
Well. That didn’t happen . Anna wants you to believe that, and she’s trotted out the lie so many times it starts to become fact. I’ve had people comment to me ‘Well, don’t like Soubry, but she protects the greenbelt, so she can’t be all bad’.
Let’s take apart this narrative, forensically.
**MYTH ONE: BROXTOWE BOROUGH COUNCIL MALICIOUSLY CHOSE THE SITES TO BUILD FOR NO REASON**
Without bogging you down with too much detail, the central government, y’know, that one Anna was part of, demands that all councils set out a coherent and workable plan to build houses, and try and alleviate the chronic lack of affordable homes on the market. They send this plan off to an independent adjudicator, who rules if it is sound. In drawing up the plan, sites have to be found, and in doing so marginal land has to be considered. Field Farm was one of these. It was found to be the least destructive of any other marginal site (I’m not a fan, btw. I grew up, and still reguarly walk there. Though I understand why it was chosen).
***MYTH TWO: SOUBRY EXERCISED ALL HER POWERS TO STOP FIELD FARM BEING EARMARKED FOR DEVELOPMENT***
The real work to challenge the decision was done by STRAG, the protect group formed to protect Field Farm. Anna saw this was an emotive issue to define herself by, so jumped on the bandwagon.
She made representations to Eric Pickles, the Minister responsible for overseeing development / local government issues. She went away empty handed. Why?
Soubry had a fair bit of clout within the government. A favourite of Cameron, she rose through the ministerial ranks smoothly. She also had a strong media profile. She could have used both these to strongly challenge the decision by Pickles to press on with development. She could have threatened to resign.
Instead, she came away with nothing.
Now either she is highly ineffective as a negotiator, and thus. ‘Broxtowe’s Voice in Westminster’. This is severe, damaging incompetence.
Or she got something else. Perhaps a bit of money for the local area via the local government settlement? Errr, no. We actually got the WORST settlement in the whole of the UK.
So what? As I have revealed here before, it seems Soubry is being lined up for a cosy little appointment in the Lords, donning the ermine for the rest of her career as a thank you for voting with the government consistently, and not kicking up a fuss about that whole ‘Field Farm’ thing. If so, this really nails home her true reason for being in politics: self-advancement over representation.
*** MYTH THREE: FIELD FARM DEVELOPMENT COULD BE JUST SCRAPPED AND THAT WOULD BE THAT ***
Christ, no. If the plans to develop were to be called in, and Broxtowe’s strategy rejected, then it would be open-season on our Green Belt. Developers could bypass local planning altogether, and build when and where they fancied.
This has happened before. A few years back, Canvey island went through this, and vampire squid shonky builders Persimmon marched quickly in. Persimmon and Beestonia have history: a former director of the firm is a Mr Neil Davidson: Soubry’s partner and former Campaign Manager.
When I have previously flagged up this link, the Soubry- Davidsons have been FURIOUS. As reported last year, Davidson’s solicitors sent me a hugely intimidating legal letter demanding I withdraw the blog, make a full apology, pay an unspecified amount to a charity of his choosing; and a payment of at least £1,500+VAT.
I refused to back down: I did what journalists should do and stood my ground. No further action ensued: though I did refer the threat to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority as a egregious threat.
Is it the case that Soubry actually wants this chaos to happen? To allow planning decisions be taken out of hands of local councils, and let any shonky building firm come roll the bulldozers in?
**** MYTH FOUR: ANNA FOUGHT TO KEEP TOTON’S GREENBELT****
This is possibly the most shocking sleight of hand Soubry is trying to pull on the voters. She has been shouting about this a lot this week: ONLY I CAN KEEP TOTON GREEN!
It’s an utter lie, and she should be ashamed of herself for trying to deceive the public. How so?
I received the following email from a resident of Cleve Avenue, Toton at the weekend:
We have a dispute in Toton over the proposed development on the green field site opposite the new tram terminus. Broxtowe Council shamelessly are going against the wishes of locals and are proposing a development of at least 550 homes. However, at least they are honest about what they are proposing. Anna Soubry allowed the various groups fighting this to think that she was on their side. I was at the council meeting last year when she attended and spoke for the first time that indeed she was against the green belt land being used for housing because she felt it would undermine the decision to bring HS2 here because she was advocating that the land should be used for the development of an industrial estate! When the penny dropped that the residents had NO ONE on their side the feeling of being let down and betrayed was tangible
In summary: she doesn’t want to protect Toton fields. She wants the land to be developed, but for a sprawling industrial estate for when / if HS2 (which she unequivocally supports ). One wonders who the builders of this industrial estate will be…
Her huffing and faux-anger are there to disguise the sad truth: Soubry doesn’t like the Green Belt. She doesn’t like Broxtowe. She probably doesn’t like you. She likes her job, her lavish MP expenses, and the ease with which her lies are so easily lapped up.
Challenge this. Explain to people the true situation. While truth is getting it’s boots on, Soubry’s BS is already pushed through every letterbox and dropped into every inbox over Broxtowe.
I’ll be writing more about the Tories hate for nature (Soubry supports badger culling, voted against bee-killing pesticides etc, but right now it’s nearly three in the morning…
But one last thing: huge thanks to Robert Howard, the man behind the excellent Beeston Week blog, for the gift of a bucket full of tadpoles last week (and cheers to the many offers of the pre-frogs I received: amphibian based socialism in action, there. In these hectic election days, building a pond has been the only thing keeping me sane. Thanks, pond.