Crossing the Party Line

crossing the line

We feel a clarification is in order following our unexpected mention at last week’s Council meeting where Cllr Mary Jordan said :

“Making jokes about the holocaust crosses that line, a line which even Wirral Leaks recognise…”

See webcast at 2:14:00 onwards.

Whilst we hope that Cllr Jordan wasn’t impugning our good/bad name with that comment we really need to make it clear that our Jo given the Bird in the Phoney War of Words  story to which she was referring was commenting on the fact we considered – and at the end of the day who are we to judge? – that comments made last year by Cllr Jo Bird  a woman of Jewish heritage referencing the holocaust were crass/insensitive/unfunny. And once again – who are we judge on that score? But were they really worthy of censure and suspension by the Labour Party ? Absolutely not and thankfully they have since been rescinded.

What Cllr Jordan fails to mention is the fact that our post called into question the repercussions that followed Cllr Bird’s comments and the collusion of her Jordan’s own local party with conduct far more worthy of moral and political outrage. But perhaps the subtleties of this website – and we do have some – are lost on those wanting to cite our wayward scripture for their own warped purpose.

But then political hypocrisy is not confined to the opposition benches at Wirral Council. Just prior to Cllr Jordan’s ‘faux outrage’ (© ex- Cllr Matthew Patrick)  Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin had been banging on about the newly arrived scourge of anti-semitism that didn’t seem to concern Labour councillors until very recently. Astonishingly she  mentioned the threat of involvement of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)  in investigating  anti-semitism within the Labour Party. Could this be the same EHRC that found that the Wirral Council had discriminated against disabled people under her oversight? The same people whose letter she had hushed up when former Conservative councillor Simon Mountney had handed out the EHRC verdict to councillors?

Nevertheless Cllr McLaughlin and her tag-a-long political follower Cllr Chris Meaden saw fit to walk out of the Wirral Council chamber , along with ‘outraged’ Conservative councillors , at the Council budget meeting held on March 4 at exactly the point when Cllr Bird was attempting to put her comments into context and talking about her Jewish heritage and her family’s persecution during the holocaust.

Under the circumstances the comments of Cllr Jordan, the actions of Cllr  McLaughlin  and Conservative councillors strike us as yet another example of the flagrant hypocrisies of our local political classes which currently makes them indivisible.

Floating In The Air

foulkesy-lrj-008

Thanks to all our readers and commentators who have been very patient about our court ruling on not publishing comments during the Employment Tribunal involving Wirral Council which has been held over the last couple of weeks.

Court Out

Fortunately we’ve had regular updates and contemporaneous notes on proceedings from interested attendees.

We were asked yesterday what our thoughts on the verdict would be and our response was:

Whatever the verdict there’s a story to be told here.
A very sad one – for all of us…..
So having found out that after a costly 10 day hearing Alison Mountney had failed to establish that she had suffered any detriment as a result of her whistleblowing we stick by that assessment. It comes to something when Wirral Council staff feel that the only way their concerns will be taken seriously if they take their complaints to an Employment Tribunal – even when it is unlikely to succeed.
Whatever the outcome it was very clear from the eyewitness accounts that we a still dealing with a toxic and dysfunctional organisation.
Management failings were described by Wirral Council’s solicitor Andrew Moore (Eversheds) as ‘learning points’ – a phrase that will most certainly  enter the Wirral Leaks lexicon of shame.
What Wirral resident and Tribunal chair Judge Robinson must have thought about how his Council Tax was being spent we can only imagine.  As he had no jurisdiction to rule on the whistleblowing allegations he apparently made reference in his summing up to them ‘floating in the air’. Yes, like a fart in a lift they stink to high heaven and there’s no escape from them.
This is a shame as no disrespect to respective parties but what interests us most are the  whistleblowing issues. It is very dispiriting to hear that the usual suspects –  senior management ,HR, Occupational Health , internal and external audit and Unison either don’t or won’t deal with the inconvenient ‘unpleasantness’ that comes with whistleblowing and they are left as Judge Robinson states – ‘floating in the air’.
Indeed we’d particularly like to advise Unison members to withdraw their membership and spend their subscription on alcohol, cake or whatever gets them through the working week as Unison will .

One interested spectator was Wirral Council whistleblower  Martin Morton who apparently made an inexplicable  blink-and you’ll-miss-it appearance on the witness stand . He has contacted us to say :

‘I’ve made some bad decisions in my life. Such as working for Wirral Council in the first place. However listening to the testimony at the Tribunal reassured me  that I made the right decision in not returning to that wretched organisation. The poisonous atmosphere of covert recordings, suspicion, long term sickness, mistrust, mutual disrespect and a culture of fear and loathing is not something I would want to endure again’

However , we at Leaky Towers think the final word (or should we say final submission) should go to Wirral Council’s solicitor – the aforementioned Andrew Moore who by all accounts was professional , respectful and measured. Clearly Wirral Council needed to buy these qualities in – and I’m sure someone, somewhere will be doing an FOI request to find out exactly how much it cost us.

Mr Moore is absolutely right in his Tweet above that (some) people are c’s and they can be horrible to each other. Luckily for him it keeps him in very well remunerated work!

Purdah Most Foul

Smile for the CAMRA (geddit?). The peerless,the fearless and the beerless (that's St.Frank obviously).

Smile for the CAMRA (geddit?). The peerless,the fearless and the beerless (that’s St.Frank obviously).

Wirral Council has just issued a “Statement of Persons Nominated” for the local elections to be held on 22nd May and therefore it was Verity’s task to wade through the nominations looking for any interesting developments.

Whilst there was wry amusement to be had that Rock Ferry Green Party candidate Karl Cumings was proposed by the appropriately named Ivy Woods a more interesting revelation was the absence of Cllr Simon Mountney’s nomination for the Saughall Massie ward.

Of course we all know Cllr.Mountney for being the Councillor who put his reputation on the line to valiantly support whistleblower Martin Morton (indeed we understand that he had to face some opposition within his own party for his stance let alone from the opposition benches.)

Now we don’t know Cllr.Mountney’s reason for withdrawing from the Town Hall cesspit but we’d like to wish him well in his future endeavours and if he’d like to give us the lowdown on what went on behind the scenes we can be contacted at wirralleaks@gmail.com

And so we now find ourselves in the middle of Purdah –  the pre-election period  between an announced election and the final election results. Purdah in local government ends at the annual meeting of the council in the new municipal year. For local elections, the activities of local authorities in the pre-election period are governed by the Code of recommended practice on local authority publicity, which is issued as part of the provisions of the Local Government Act 1986 which read :

Elections, referendums and petitions

41. The period between the notice of an election and the election itself should preclude proactive publicity in all its forms of candidates and other politicians involved directly in the election. Publicity should not deal with controversial issues or report views, proposals or recommendations in such a way that identifies them with individual members or groups of members. However, it is acceptable for the authority to respond in appropriate circumstances to events and legitimate service enquiries provided that their answers are factual and not party political. Members holding key political or civic positions should be able to comment in an emergency or where there is a genuine need for a member level response to an important event outside the authority’s control. Proactive events arranged in this period should not involve members likely to be standing for election

So all and all this is an interesting time on the local political scene as we note @frankfieldteam suddenly return to Twitter after a 10 month hiatus.In other words an eager to please intern gets to tweet on behalf of St.Frank during Purdah .

However we note the following tweet posted on April 3rd  by @frankfieldteam which rather gives the game away has since been deleted:

“Pleased to announce we are reopening our Twitter account. Much more to follow over the coming days and weeks…”

So over the “coming days and weeks” we can expect more opportunistic and cynical pics from a local MP who makes Esther McVague appear to be a rank amateur when it comes to “realpolitik”.

Of course those who follow local politics (and unfortunately for democracy there appears to be very few on Wirral ) something similar happened at the last local elections when St.Frank’s bezzy Cllr.Jean Stapleton was under threat in the local elections from Pat Cleary from the Green Party.

And so it would appear that this time that Brian Kenny will be the fortunate beneficiary of “The Frank Field Effect”.

Finally we’d like to draw your attention (geddit?) to the fact that Purdah  comes from the Persian word “pardeh” meaning “curtains”, referring to the status of women hidden from the world of men.

 

All we can say is that we wish it was “curtains” for some prominent local politicians who are not facing re-election this time round and not the likes of Councillor Mountney……..