Last week, British tradition and ceremony received more than their usual level of coverage, indeed global recognition, in the run up to the Royal Wedding. I think we all wish the happy couple well, as we do with any two young people beginning their lives together.
At Crawley Borough Council, we had our own town traditions to follow, as we began the process of kicking off the new council year with our Annual Council Meeting. This meeting is essentially a ceremonial one: it recognises the result from the last set of local elections, re-appoints members to committees and, most notably, selects the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the coming year.
I’ve never been much for standing on ceremony. When I first got on the council I was even reprimanded by a Conservative councillor for pointing out that a Mayor’s ruling on a matter of process at a meeting was in breach of the Standing Orders. However, the position is a symbolic representation of the town and should be treated with a level of decorum.
That decorum was sadly lacking amongst Conservative members last week. To put up alternative candidates for the roles is their right, even if it is fairly pointless when you’re in opposition. However, to make personal attacks on candidates for a non-political role, whether they be in the Council Chamber or on social media is fairly low, such behaviour alongside shunning major events in the council’s civic calendar do the Conservatives no great favour.
Instead, we got the usual complaint that everything was unfair because they didn’t get the committee chairmanships they wanted, ignoring that no such arrangement was in place when they were in control and at the county council Labour are left entirely without positions. In the past, they even refused to join a panel investigating how we could make Crawley a fairer place on the grounds they viewed it as unfair they didn’t get the positions they wanted. I guess that’s the difference really: when we talk about fairness, we’re talking about fairness for everybody and not just us personally getting what we want.