The grapevine tells me that the four councillors who betrayed their neighbours the other night by voting to destroy the dogtrack are feeling 'traumatized'. Apparently it had never before occured to them that they would be held personally responsible by anyone for their actions, much less than that the whole borough and beyond would see through their behaviour for what it was.
Hat-tip to Misspellicula
This fashion for people asking us to feel sorry for them for the choices they have made is all part of the 'cult of the victim' which has been peddled by many in our public life for some years now. I don't buy into it and nor, I suspect, will any of the hundreds of disappointed local residents who witnessed last Tuesday night's shameful events. Not a single one of these councillors can claim they were not warned. Even if they are too stupid to have spoken to their colleagues, or read the signals online or in the local paper and had never bothered to talk to any of their constituents about it, speaker after speaker told them to their faces about the flaws in the Walthamstow dogtrack proposals being put forward by London and Quadrant prior to the recent vote of the planning committee.
The four councillors denied they were whipped into voting for this nonsense when asked by one of their colleagues on the committee. Their questioner, Councillor Siggers, seemed doubtful as to the honesty of that answer but let it pass. In any event, from where I was sitting, the four councillors, some stubbornly, some guiltily, abrogated their duty to properly reflect on the evidence and to respect the views of their electorates. They voted as a block for the scheme. Some, who think the councillors are not autonomous human beings but acting as mere unthinking cyphers in an evil political machine, say they were taking their lead from Councillor Marie Pye. Several sources say she was seen egging them on from in the audience. I do not know if that is entirely true or not. She has no hold over them, does she?
I should say I was not watching Marie Pye so have had to take this on trust from those who were. I was mainly watching the councillors and the strangely squirming junior council officers sitting nearby. These folk, whose faces gradually showed greater and greater strain as they took in the full enormity of how out of touch with the public they have become in their jobs, are under the leadership of Mr Scourfield. Stanley Lau, to whom he'd delegated the job of reading the tripe contained in the officer's report, also looked very uncomfortable at times. I expect he's quite an intelligent chap and knew it stank. His voice was saying the words but his body was cringing like he was being publically implicated in something he was really not very happy about at all. Which of course, he was. Mr Lau, the money isn't worth it. Get out of there while you can.
The other officers, in the main, were there for no apparent purpose. They did, though, provide a matching accessory to Mr Scourfield's cufflinks (how he does love those cufflinks) while he paraded his arrogance before the world. The well-fed and almost as sleakly dressed London and Quadrant 'mob' who faced the silent claque of bureaucrats across the assembly hall would have expected no less, I'm sure. The officers, or side-kicks, as I suppose they will in future now be known, must mainly know, deep in their hearts, that they have done a very bad thing indeed.
Did none of them have the bottle to stand up to a boss who was leading everyone over a cliff? The four councillors, who were there to stop this travesty happening, should certainly accept the political and personal responsibility for their failure to do so. They should resign. It will save them a lot of grief in the long run if they do.
Update 16 May 2012. See also: http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/wfnews/9708450.WALTHAM_FOREST__Man_cautioned_over_councillor_death_threats/