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How do the Tories know the future?

12:00 19 February 2013

Mark Bee

Mark Bee


IT’S difficult to know whether the Conservative group running Suffolk County Council have a direct line to Eric Pickles, have a superb crystal ball, or simply have a hide as thick as a rhino!

When I was first told that they were planning to make a pledge to freeze council tax for the next four years if they are re-elected in May, I thought it was a very bold promise.

Now I reckon they’re being very courageous – as in the Sir Humphrey Appleby meaning of the word!

How on earth does council leader Mark Bee and his cabinet know what the situation is going to be in four years’ time?

How do they know who will be Secretary of State for Local Government? What if there’s a new government after the next election with very different priorities for local government?

What if whoever is in power decides that national government grants to local councils should be abolished and authorities should raise more from council tax? I don’t think it’s likely but it could happen and it would leave the county council in a massive hole.

Mr Bee is one of the most impressive local politicians I’ve ever come across and he has very good political antennae.

Now these antennae have gone very wonky! The pledge looks like an election bribe – and it could well turn out to be an election promise that is impossible to fulfil.

Had he said: “We want to freeze count tax bills for the next four years,” that would have been fine.

Even better would have been to say: “Our first priority is to freeze council tax bills for the next four years.”

If the unexpected were to happen and his administration is unable to achieve what he wants then at least he’d have a get-out clause.

Now if things go belly-up, he will simply be left with egg on his face as another politician who’s made a rash promise he cannot keep.

And that could be bad news for services – there may be a temptation to cut them first if income falls in a desperate attempt to maintain the council tax pledge.

My bones still tell me that in Suffolk the Tories have enough support to hang on to power at Endeavour House and that Mr Bee will once again be top dog.

But the opposition – almost certainly led by Labour – will be watching this pledge like a hawk over the next four years.

They will seize on any sign that the Tories are struggling to fulfil their promise, and will be looking to exploit any difficulties they have.

And if the Tories do find that this extravagant promise lands them in trouble between now and 2017, then they really will have no one else to blame – no one forced them to make such a difficult pledge that they’ll struggle to live up to!


  • Agree with freedomf. Although if you form political ideals after reading local rags, you must be below average intelligence.

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    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • The answer is that they don not know ! This is the ConTories and LibCons using the media to try and brainwash the people of Britain ! We have all seen how they are 'in bed' with News International !, so trying to do the same with the Local Media is just an extension of using the tabloids ! I myself see so much bias even in the BBC reporting these days ! It is not just what is reported, it is the political 'slant' that is used !

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    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • This piece tells us nothing that we didn't already know. All the political parties will trot out empty promises to try and buy votes in the elections. The Tories are desperate for a good showing to give David Cameron enough excuse to claim they are the party of choice. They are happy to freeze council tax and cut services if it means they can hang on to power because that's all it means to them: 'power'. If the Tories on SCC cared about services they would be using their substantial reserves to try and protect those they were elected to serve. I suggest they bear that in mind for a change: they are not elected into power, they are elected to serve the public.

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    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • Please print my previous comment ? We all know that the EADT and STAR are Tory rags !

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    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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