There may be weeping and wailing at Tory central office this morning, some of those close to Mr Cameron may even rent their garments. Why? At the Council meeting last night the Tories managed to score a hat-trick of own goals. Each goal further undermining any claim that the party had changed.
We are used to the ‘unmodernised’ Cllr Byrom waxing lyrical about Thatcher’s 18 glorious years, by itself that would have been unremarkable but last night they went into melt down voting against a straight forward ‘green’ motion deserting the territory Cameron is so keen to claim as his own and finally we had that other unbridled Thatcherite, Cllr Sir Ron Watson, essentially arguing we should consider scrapping our employees' pension rights.
First the 'Green ' motion which can be found in full here-when Sefton get around to putting it on their website. It is pretty basic and modelled on a computer magazine's 'green charter'. It encourages folk to turn off their computers at night and other sensible ideas. First the Tories abstained. Then the Mayor, fearing they had not known what we were voting on, explained , then then voted against!
Next we came Sir Ron's outburst. This occurred during the debate on the Major Services Review (see yesterday's posting). Through out all our discussions with potential partners none had suggested that they wished to break with the existing pension scheme for any of our staff who transferred to them. All the projections of improved service and reduced costs were based on that proposition. Now Sir Ron weighs in seeking to undermine that approach. To the credit of the Tory leadership they had not proposed scrapping the pension scheme. Sir Ron, always keen to present himself as a world weary man with great experience who has little to learn from any one, didn't bother to turn up to the detailed briefing where he could have explored the issue.
Clearly if Sefton had gone ahead and unilaterally withdrawn support from the pension scheme none of our employees would have backed any of the options in the Major Service review. There is indeed a real issue to be faced concerning funding local government pensions, but it deserves a bit more thought than an off the cuff jibe at public sector workers.