It’s been an interesting 7 days for local politics in Sutton. Democracy has been tested this week and it’s come up short. Whilst we have been allowed to protest and speak freely, those who have done so have not been fairly treated and have faced hostility.
The Battle of Rose Hill
It started with Nick Clegg’s Visit to St Helier’s Hospital on Monday the 13th of April. It was rehearsed and carefully stage managed, with Mr Clegg receiving adulation from a crowd that had been whipped in to a religious fervour by his PR guys.
This led to a very unpleasant atmosphere where the Lib Dem supporters were determined to form a physical ring of protection around their leader which inevitably resulted in pushing and shoving.
Anyone without a Lib Dem placard was unceremoniously herded to the back and if you were holding up a protest sign you were physically blocked and pushed by the ever more determined Cleggites.
I have taken part in a good number of protests with Stop the Incinerator over the years and I have never faced such vitriol and contempt for having dared to oppose their glorious party.
You can read more about the day and see how the media reported it here.
The truth is out there
According to the news Nick Clegg’s visit was overwhelmed by angry protestors and he left early.
According to local Lib Dem Councillor Mary Burstow (who voted in favour of the incinerator), it was a wonderful 20 minutes full of flag waving and cheering.
One of the protestors who was there, visually impaired Labour candidate Emily Brothers, asked for an apology after the harassment she received from the Lib Dems.
Instead of apologising they offered their regret that the incident had happened but they too had been subjected to pushing and shoving, with disabled Lib Dem Councillor Jean Crosby demanding an apology for being abused by protestors.
We found out this week what happens to a whistleblower, when Lib Dem Councillor Nick Mattey dared to challenge his council over the incinerator.
This is a classic piece of misdirection by The Lib Dems in an attempt at keep our attention away from the truth.
The truth is that Lib Dem Councillor Stephen Fenwick was ‘coerced’ in to changing his vote from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ on the incinerator. (1)
The truth is the Lib Dems are receiving financial incentives from Viridor.
The truth is the Lib Dems are using whatever tactics they can in order to force through a plan that no one, not even Viridor, are happy with.
(1) The following is taken from Stephen Fenwick’s comments added online in response the Sutton Guardian report on Cllr Nick Mattey’s suspension.
In 2013, when I was a Lib Dem Cllr, I voted AGAINST the incinerator as I was residing in Beddington North. I had no such action taken against me by any high ranking member of the party; Cllr Ruth Dombey didn’t bat any eyelid towards any suspension against me for at that decision. Although I voted for the incinerator at the 2nd Development Control Committee (I was coerced into doing so by certain members of the group no longer present), I still had some issues with the environmental impact the incinerator would cause, even though I was by that time living in North Cheam.
The problem that Cllr Dombey and her hierarchy have is that they cannot take criticism or effectively handle issues without burying their heads in the sand to protect the supremacy and power of the Lib Dem and the Borough’s two MPs. For example, in 2014, I was forced to plead guilty to an assault issue by the Chair of the local party and Cllr Dombey, despite the lacklustre evidence and that the Met Police made this a political issue when they learnt of my position as a Councillor. The decision taken to suspend me behind closed doors and supported by Paul Burstow was to protect the Lib Dem control in Sutton during local elections in 2014.
It seems apparent to me that Cllr Mattey’s suspension is the Sutton Lib Dems burying their heads in the sand like all turkeys do, but with the intention of keeping their tight grip on the power theyare slowly losing. This time it’s to keep Tom Brake in a seat that he has largely neglected since taking up the role of the puppet to the Leader of The House in the Coalition, unpopular to many Lib Dems in Beddington since 2010.
If Tom Brake is returned as MP, Cllr Mattey will be returned to the Lib Dem group (with NO investigation into his conduct!). If Tom Brake loses to the Tories, prepare for a Council by-election in Beddington after May.
How long will it be before Sutton is twinned with Pyongyang?