One often hears the old fallacy that “all politicians are the same”. This is simply not the case and the colourful characters at South Kesteven Council prove the point. Furthermore, some people also have the mistaken impression that an Independent Councillor is isolated and works alone. The groups at SKDC outlined below illustrate how Independents are perfectly capable of organising themselves and working together for the common good as much, if not more than, the old-fashioned Political Parties.
The following list of party groups is intended as an overview of the current political structure of South Kesteven District Council (as of 20th March 2018).
Independent Group – 6 Members
Seven people were elected as Independent in 2015, including one who stood as a Lincolnshire Independent. Six of us joined forces to form the Independent Group while the seventh chose to remain unaligned (Independent of the Independents)
The Group includes a very diverse range of backgrounds and opinions. Some members of the group have a regular pre-meeting before full Council to discuss the agenda but it there is no whip or block vote and members of the group often take different sides in a debate. The main glue holding the group together is the fact that by declaring ourselves a political group we become the second largest group on the council and therefore ‘the opposition’. Places on committees are allocated in accordance with the size of the various groups in order to acheived a ‘political balance’ and as second largest group we earn at least one seat on every committee. We all agree that having access to committees is far better than working in isolation with limited influence on decision-making.
- Paul Wood – Group Leader
- Ashley Baxter
- Bob Broughton
- Helen Powell
- Bob Sampson
- Judy Stevens
South Kesteven Independents – 4 Members
At the time of the Tory coup, three sitting Conservatives were so outraged and disappointed that they resigned the whip and established their own group. They didn’t want to be part of the existing group of Independents possibly because having a separate group would give them more control over who should sit on committees. Having said that, they do work closely with the other independents, often comparing notes and sharing information,
Sadly, it is suspected that given the age and long-service of each of the ‘SKindies’ it is unlikely that they will all stand again, let alone retain their seats, at next year’s elections.
- Nick Craft – Group Leader
- Mike Cook
- Frank Turner
- Felicity Cunningham
Independent (Unaligned) – 1 Member
Cllr Ian Selby has been a Councillor for an uninterrupted 20 years which makes him ‘Father of the Council’. Originally a Labour Councillor, he left after a fall-out within the group, won back his seat, but hasn’t yet succombed to the overtures of any of the other independent group making him the SKDC equivalent of the ‘Judean Peoples Front’.
Last year I nominated Cllr Selby as Leader of the Council in order that Cllr Matthew Lee would have to face an election to the post rather than enjoy a ‘coronation’. The vote was split 31-13 (I think) with several Tories abstaining revealing the ongoing civil war within their group.
Labour – 3 Members
In 2015 Labour had their worst SKDC election result for many years with only three Councillors successfully elected. Nevertheless, they have a Leader and a Deputy to maintain order among the rank and file (or Tracey as she is better known)!
Hopefully, next year some of the 200,000 recent converts to the Labour party might choose to mix things up a bit and fight for winnable seats in Grantham, Stamford and Bourne.
- ‘Fair Deal’ Phil Dilks – Group Leader
- Tracey Forman
- Charmaine Morgan
Conservatives- 42 Members
There are loads of them. They are factions and pressure groups within the Grantham and Stamford Tory Party but mostly they present a united front even though one can often hear mutters of dissension in the Members’ tea room.
Lib-Dems – 0 Councillors.
There used to be some at SKDC but Nick Clegg did for them when he sold our nation’s students down the river.
Stamford Group of Independents – 0 Councillors.
Stamford has a strong independent group on its Town Council, some of whom were incumbent District Councillors until 2015. At the 2015 elections the group put up a full slate of 8 candidates across the 4 Stamford wards. Unfortunately, all of them were beaten by the Conservatives. Hopefully, next year, they will be more organised.
United Kingdom Independence Party – 0 Councillors.
In 2015, Felicity Cunningham was the only UKIP candidate elected to SKDC. Her party membership lapsed in Spring 2017 when she decided to join the newly formed SK Independents Group. Despite jumping ship, I suspect she will be the last SKDC UKIP Councillor in history.
If you would like to know more about the personalities, Parties, procedures and politics at SKDC I would be happy to hear from you. If you would like to join in yourself, even better!
Very interesting Ashley, and thank you for sharing.
I am always a bit wary of so called Independents,as they all have political affiliations when it comes to the General Election.
Doesn’t everyone have a brief political affiliation when it comes to the General Election?… It is honourable to be an ‘independent-minded Tory’, or a ‘left-leaning Independent’. etc. What matters is whether one is competent and committed to representing residents and ready to participate actively and to vote thoughtfully and fearlessly… Oh, and to turn up! (Some Councillors appear to think that attending meetings is optional)