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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Where Martin Francis Went Wrong

As the local elections approach, I thought it would be good to examine the record of some of the other parties.  As he writes a frequently updated blog, the easiest to examine is Martin Francis and the Green Party.  Indeed, for many purposes Martin appears to be the entire Brent Green Party.

Martin refers to himself as a "pain in the arse" and seems to regard this as a good thing. I think that, while no doubt well intentioned, the effect of much of his campaigning is to spread cynicism, denigrate lots of the good work being done in Brent despite the Tory cuts and sometimes get things so fundamentally wrong as to undermine the very objectives he claims to support.  Let's look at some of the issues he has campaigned on.

1) Martin strongly opposed the Brent Civic Centre despite its financial, regeneration, organisational and environmental benefits.  This is stunningly perverse in anyone, but to ignore a project which cuts the Council's carbon emissions by about 20% is spectacularly strange for anyone who calls himself an environmentalist.

2) Martin tried to derail the award of the Public Realm Contract in order to damage Veolia.  I have explained that the effect of his campaign would actually have been to give Veolia lots of money.  Odder to my mind is that the anti-Veolia campaign ignored everything the contract was about, waste and street cleaning, which are the most frequently raised subjects on the doorstep in my experience.

3) Martin was also hostile to the adoption of the West London Waste Plan.  As was explained at the time, the purpose of such a plan is that identifying a reasonable number of sites in industrial areas makes it easier to resist unwelcome developments close to housing, such as the Harlesden Incinerator.

4) For our recycling roll out, we can turn to the Brent Green Party website.  While it doesn't explicitly oppose the alternate weekly collections that have been crucial to our increasing the recycling rate, you can detect the foot dragging tone.
5) On allotments, I have posted before that the Greens opposed our allotments strategy when it was being developed and then praised the results once the debate was over.

6). On Libraries, the Greens have opposed the strategy all the way through.  They have failed to provide any alternative vision for libraries, and I suspect will become more silent now that it is clear that Brent libraries have bucked national trends.  I have often got the impression that they actively want Brent libraries to do badly, which is why they fail to recognise so many positive aspects of Brent's libraries strategy.

7) Martin gave his first announcement on Fairtrade as far as I know quite recently.  Characteristically, it was negative, complaining about Brent not showing enough commitment to Fairtrade despite Brent Labour achieving Fairtrade status after the Lib Dems failed.  As far as I know, Martin has never been interested in Fairtrade, which is a shame as it is a left wing cause that is unequivocally positive. Indeed one Fairtrade supporter told me that was precisely why she enjoyed campaigning for it.

8) Martin had a similarly naysaying attitude on carbon emissions, where he recently attacked the Council.  Opposing the Civic Centre more or less puts you dead against Brent Council reducing its carbon emissions.  Arguably, a more important way in which the Council can reduce carbon emissions is through its role as a regulator (in planning particularly) and as a service provider (where our increased recycling and through the new Public Realm Contract).

9) Martin also objected to some minor changes we made to littering regulations in 2012.  This were effectively amendments to regulations originally put in place in 1994.  I suggested at the time that the objections were simply an attempt to whip up controversy ahead of election day.

10) Quite recently, I argued that the Green attacks on the Council's effort to boost the local economy were deeply misleading and counterproductive.  

Altogether, Martin and Brent Green Party can be seen to have been on the wrong side of the argument in various causes.  Often they appear to argue for measures that would have the opposite effect to what they claim to want.  Certainly, I have argued before that his whole strategy is just wrong.  Of course, it is also possible to have a rather more Schumpeterian analysis of their motives. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You seem a bit obsessed with a Martin Francis

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