A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The wisdom of the English Democrats

PETER DAVIES (English Democrat mayor of Doncaster)
BBC Radio Sheffield
Monday, 8 June 2009
Speakers: Toby Foster (BBC Radio Sheffield) Peter Davies
TF: Thanks very much for joining us. I said that we didn’t see it coming - did you see it coming? Did you expect to win?
PD: Well, well not really. A great friend of mine told me the night before I was going to get a great shock, and that I would win. I was thinking of saving the deposit at the time.
TF: I can imagine. What was it you think that made people vote for you?
PD: Well we were the only party who gave a distinctive agenda to the electorate. All the others talked waffle. I looked at all the leaflets, I couldn’t make anything of them all, they were all the same.
TF: You did give a distinctive agenda, you’re absolutely right, you made some real points on that. Let’s just have a look - let’s have a look at them shall we? The first one of course I think’s an easy one - you’re going to cut the mayor’s salary.
PD: That’s the first thing this morning
TF: Down to £30,000 a year. Now, some people could look at that Peter and say, well, you get more than that for running a supermarket these days. Surely a council deserves… a bit more respect?
PD: No, the council deserves somebody who’s going to run it properly, and it deserves somebody who’s prepared to give their services partly free, in a sense - at one time all local government councillors did all the free, er, it’s become a gravy train and I’m not prepared to be part of that.
TF: So what about the people who work for you? The deputy mayor, other people in the departments - are you cutting their wages as well?
PD: Er, well, I’ve discussed that with-, well not- not the people in the departments, I can’t- I’ve no control over what they’ve been given, but the deputy mayor and the rest of the cabinet will discuss that at, at the earliest opportunity.
TF: Well, you say you’ve no control over people in the departments, one of the big things on your campaign was that you’re going to cut ‘PC jobs’.
PD: Oh yeah, that’s a different thing altogether, er-
TF: Which jobs are those?
PD: Well, er, I’m going to look into that. Things like Diversity Officers, er, the things that are usually advertised in the Manchester-, well, it’s not the Manchester Guardian now - in the Guardian…
TF: Right, so have-, so, so hang on, so so there are politically…
PD: I mean, I can’t give you a full list at the moment, but I will…
TF: But that’s what you put on your manifesto - you must have had an idea on your manifesto what you were talking about?
PD: Yeah, yeah, all these people who are, sort of, controlling thought processes and this sort of thing, and er, erm… every department is riddled with this sort of nonsense these days.TF: So currently then, this morning, Doncaster Council is riddled with people who are, who are doing this kind of nonsense, ah… and they’re on notice, are they? People are going to lose their jobs?PD: Er, very likely.
TF: But we don’t know who they are, yeah? But certainly Diversity Officers…
PD: Obviously I… I’m… well, that sort of thing, yes.
TF: So, the Diversity Officer who’s getting ready for work this morning at Doncaster might as well not bother?
PD: Well, he’s… he’s in employment at the moment…
TF: But he won’t be for long?
PD: …I think, I think we ought to be talking about what we’re going to do sort of, er, now and, er, what I’ve discovered - that might be a more fruitful discussion.
TF: Well, I mean… these are the reasons people voted for you. Very bold points, as you said. Er, you’re going to cut translation services for non-English speakers - that’s a very bold point. It’s more than likely illegal, isn’t it?
PD: I dunno… again, I’ve got to find this out. It’s-
TF: Well it is - let me tell you it is, under the European Court of Human Rights it’s illegal.
PD: Well, well, well let… we’ll look into this - we’re getting counsel’s opinion on what I can do and what I can’t do, and that’s…
TF: No, no, you said in your manifesto you would definitely do it.
PD: Yeah, well, I… well, I, er, if, if somebody comes in the way and stops me doing these things, then that is an insult to democracy.
TF: So what was the point of your manifesto? You might as well have said you were going to fly to the moon if you’re just going to say now that you can’t do it.
PD: No, look… I’m going to do my best to do it. If I can’t, I shall tell the electorate why I’ve not been able to do it, and who’s stood in the way of it. The…
TF: Well, the law’s standing in the way of it.
PD: Just a minute, just a minute. The electorate clearly want me to do that. The law needs changing, then, doesn’t it?
TF: Well, you say the law needs changing-
PD: If we get a new government, then we might get rid of some of this ludicrous legislation, and be able to run our own country again.
TF: Okay, now you’re going to cut the number of councillors from 60 to 20.
PD: That is another difficulty, and the first-
TF: Can’t do it, can you?
PD: Er, well, we can appeal to their moral consciences-
TF: So you can’t do it, can you?
PD: Look, you keep telling me what I can’t do. I’ll find out what I can’t do, and if I can’t do…
TF: You are finding out now, I’m telling you, Peter, you can’t do it. You’d have thought you’d have thought of this before you started.
PD: This is quite a pointless discussion. Completely pointless.
TF: Why?
PD: Well - I’m sitting here telling you what I want to do, you’re telling me I can’t do it. I’ll find out - not from you, from other people - if I can do it or not.
TF: Why didn’t you look at to see-
PD: That’s where we go. And then we tell the electorate what’s going on.
TF: Why didn’t you look to see if you could do it before you asked people to vote on it?
PD: Because people want this to happen. And it’s time we-
TF: We all want free speech, Peter, but why didn’t you look into it to see if it could happen before you asked 14,000 people to vote on it? You know what’s going to happen - they got upset with the political processes in Doncaster before, they disliked Martin Winter. You’ve come along, you’ve waved this flag, knowing you can’t back any of it up and they’ve voted for you. How are they going to feel when they realise they’ve been hoodwinked?
PD: They’ve not been hoodwinked, I’m a man of my word, and I shall do everything that I can to put this into practice. And that is something that Doncaster’s not had before.
TF: You’re going to cut the Gay Pride funding.
PD: Yep.
TF: Erm, how much did Doncaster Council fund Gay Pride?
PD: Haven’t got a clue, I haven’t looked into… I haven’t got the details, I… I haven’t even started-
TF: About right, isn’t it? So how much did… how much was it worth to Doncaster?
PD: How…er, what?
TF: The Gay Pride march. 8,000 people in town for a day.
PD: I don’t know. They can still come. There’s nobody stopping them coming.
TF: So you don’t know what it costs, you don’t know what it earns, but you’re banning it?
PD: I’m saying that… hard-pressed taxpayers money should not be spent on promoting any type of sexuality whether it’s straight or gay.
TF: But for all you-, but for all you know it could be making a fortune for the town - you don’t know, you’ve not even looked at it.
PD: Well, it, er… it may, it may or it may not, I’m telling you what I’m not doing, and again it was on the manifesto, it was quite clear people appeared to like what I was saying.
TF: Yeah, but the stuff on the manifesto we’ve already realised - you can’t do anything about it.
PD: I think it’s time we finished this interview, it’s quite pointless. I’ve… I… It’s really wasted… I wanted to say a few things this morning that might have been-
TF: Tell me what you want to say.
PD: …that people might have wanted to listen to.
TF: Tell me what you want to say.
PD: Well, I wanted to point out that this morning I was going to, er, see that two social workers were returned to the childrens hospital, er, which were taken away some time ago for some unaccountable reason. I was going to say we’re getting rid of Doncaster News at the earliest opportunity, and I also wanted to point out that this very weekend I’ve discovered that Doncaster is twinned with nine separate towns, er, that the Mayor… the ex-Mayor had a car, for what reason I don’t know. It’s quite reasonable that the Civic Mayor has a car, but why the elected Mayor has one, God only knows, er, and it looks to me like a Daily Telegraph moment, where I shall be discovering things every day that, er, can be got rid of.
TF: Okay… none of that really means anything, does it? Let’s have a look at Doncaster News. You’re getting rid of Doncaster News, that’s a, er, flyer… er, paper that goes to every home in the borough isn’t it, to tell them what you’re doing?
PD: Well, it was to distort… er, what Mayor Winter was doing, yes.
TF: So now you’re stopping communication with the people of Doncaster?
PD: No - communication will be through the Doncaster Free Press, though Radio Sheffield if we can get some sensible interviews…
TF: Heh.
PD: …and, er, the free newspapers.
TF: So the people who work on Doncaster News, then, are they out of work as well?
PD: I don’t know, I don’t… I, I, don’t know what their full… I’ve… I… I’ve not even got… been in the office yet, I’ve… I’ve not even…
TF: This is the problem, isn’t it…
PD: …had the briefing from the Chief Executive-
TF: You actually don’t understand the laws, you don’t understand-
PD: Okay, I’m stopping this interview, it’s a complete waste of time, er, you’re not asking any sensible questions, and er, I really don’t want to continue.
TF: Peter, all I’m asking is how you’re going to deliver on your election manifesto?[Phone hangs up]TF: Well, I can assure you, that’s going to be one of the easiest he gets.


Anonymous John said...

Luke, I grew up in a town like that. I've listened to the interview. The man is clearly not the sharpest in the world, but the vast majority of swing voting and apoliticial locals will see him as trying to talk a bit of common into a bbc journalist who was being too clever for his own good.

10:10 pm, June 10, 2009

Blogger James Barlow said...

I'm not one to sing the praises of the English Democrats - their local man in Bristol at the last election opted to use the peculiar tactic of hijacking a Facebook group to get his message out - but this interview was a bit of an ambush.

New boy Peter Davies sounded like he was expecting a few harmless local-interest questions about "getting fitted for chains of office" and "settling in to the office", and he was certainly ill-prepared to discuss detailed policy points.(assuming, charitably, that he has some).

There is a good rationale for getting rid of "diversity" departments, but employment law, contracts of employment and public sector unions all mean that it is not just a case of pointing at people Alan-Sugar-style and yelling "You're fired".

And the interviewer's non-sequitur that cutting in-house translation services "is, under the European Court of Human Rights it’s illegal." is simply incorrect. There is no legal obligation from the ECHR or anywhere else to translate routine local authority publications and documents into non-native languages, although I think there is one relating to criminal charges. Regardless, such a service could be offered more efficiently - on-demand telephone translation or even google translator.

Point to note - there's no such thing as a friendly media interview if you're right of centre. Prepare for the worst.

11:27 pm, June 10, 2009

Anonymous Ben said...

Yes Mr Barlow. But Peter Davies isn't right of centre, is he? He's a really rather right wing populist fruitcake with no clue about how the important world of local services works. The very fact that you think he is "right of centre" brings into question you own judgment. But then, one would hardly expect otherwise of a member of the Tax Payers' Alliance.

Sorry to disabuse you of your cherished assumptions, but Peter Davies is not speaking truth to PC lefty power. He is merely your common or garden fuckwit.

12:51 am, June 11, 2009

Blogger Jonathan Walker said...

It saddens me to announce that I am now under the mayoral sovereignty of this man.

Doncaster politics is somewhat 'cursed' already, and this new guy hardly fills the Doncastrian public conscience with confidence.

If his first move is to cut half of the funding for Gay Pride, followed by reasserting his commitment to cutting translation services, he is sending a very clear message about his beliefs.

More than anything, this shows that opportunism is a successful tactic at the moment. His main selling point (though, given the turnout, he barely needed one) was that he halved his own salary and in the light of the expenses palava, this struck gold with the zeitgeist which has been stirred up by the popular red tops which provide the majority of the town with news.

I can definitely appreciate that the interview was unexpected and naturally it will take time to settle in but this guy seems wholly unprepared. He states himself he didn't expect it, but I think this is an understatement.

But still, the best thing to do as a citize of the town, even as a Labour supporter, is to give him a chance. Sadly, we are encumbered by him now and if people begin to turn their backs in distaste, he'll be even freer to fuck about unchallenged.

1:04 am, June 11, 2009

Anonymous ihaveafriendinjesus said...

I enjoyed reading this interview. And, I know it is not a popular thing to do but I'd like to praise the skills of Toby Foster from BBC Radio Sheffield. OK, so it might have seemed like shooting fish in a barrel at some points in the interview, but he performed his job well. Pompous politicians of any and all persuasions need to be kept in check and that, I believe, is one function of any (good) journalist.

4:53 am, June 11, 2009

Anonymous tim f said...

John, sorry but that's patronising bollocks. I grew up in a city very close to Doncaster, knew plenty of people from there and the vast majority of people will not be impressed by him judging by that interview.

Don't forget the local corruption scandal a few years ago in Doncaster which may have increased the general sense that major parties cannot be trusted, and go some way towards explaining this vote.

9:19 am, June 11, 2009

Anonymous Julian Ware-Lane said...

This is one of the reasons I do not like directly elected mayors. I could not see what was wrong with choosing the mayor from amongst the councillors - at least that way they would have some idea of what they were doing.

10:24 am, June 11, 2009

Anonymous Andy Smith said...

Hello - I'm the person who originally did the transcript of the interview, and I've covered a few more bits of Peter Davies' promises which might be of interest on my blog (http://andys.org.uk/)

12:03 pm, June 11, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done on trasposing this Luke - for those wanting to hear the original, it is about 1hr 57 min into the following clip: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p003994x

I was interested in some of the comments - to say that the guy was ambushed in this interview is ridiculous. He put himself up for election and as such needed to be prepared for the possibility he might win. This isn't the job which involves wearing a chain and kissing babies, it is the principal spokesperson for a large authority and significantly more executive authority than MPs. He had a short list of promises and it is reasonable to ask whether he knew something about them, even if he is ignorant of everything else. Doncaster doen't routinely translate documents into "non-native languages" - the only translations will be the sort which are covered by the Human Rights Act (by the way the nearest thing to a "native" language in this country is Welsh so be careful what you wish for).
There also aren't any "diversity officers". Doncaster News isn't "propaganda" it is factual, whereas the local paper (Doncaster FreePress) is blatantly biased propaganda. Having got himself elected by telling a series of lies, arguing that he didn't really know anything about anything and needed to wait until he had received a briefing from officers is a pretty pathetic defence and it was good to hear it so obviously exposed.

12:19 pm, June 11, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

This man is a moron. He is clearly not up to the job and has been elected on the back of a completely understandable public disgust with corruption.

To think that he didn;t actually find out what was legally possible first is pathetic - and doesn't he realise that if he sacks the staff who are tasked with ensuring diversity, someone else will have to ensure legal compliance. Despite the tabloid nonsense, most diversity officers to very practical work to ensure that services are delivered fairly and that employment practices do not discriminate - both of which are legal requirements.

Fuckwit is the word. And his son Philip is a very right-wing Tory MP. Davies just knew he wouldn't get elected as a Tory in Doncaster hence his adoption of this joke party

Well done BBC Sheffield. This sort of ignorance needs displaying publicly

12:56 pm, June 11, 2009

Anonymous T_i_B said...

And to think that Labour came behind that in Doncaster eh?

I'm well aware of what a bunch of wingnuts the English Democrats are, it just goes to show what a mess things are they they can beat the rest of 'em.

2:57 pm, June 11, 2009

Anonymous Dave said...

Now, which PM was mad as a hatter for elected mayors? Oh that's right - Tony Blair. Top one, Tone. Shall we add this one to faith schools?

2:27 pm, June 12, 2009

Blogger John Demetriou said...

Fact is, Davies is an arrogant third rate idiot and his manifesto is in need of a proper fisking.

Oh my! Whoops! I appear to have done so here:




10:10 am, June 13, 2009

Anonymous Knockedup Hackney said...

While we're on the subject of mayors, I understand that congratulations are due to Jessica and you-know-who.

10:15 am, June 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see "Toby" interview Cameron, the morning he sits at his desk, in such an aggressive way - I don't think so !

4:14 pm, June 15, 2009

Blogger pegboard said...

All rather absurd comments from disgruntled idiots. The interviewer was a left wing socialist. Of course he's going to disagree with popular support for removing the massive waste that translation services are, reducing gay pride money - why should a sexual choice be given public - my - money?

And as for councillors knowing what they're doing - please grow up. Local councils are fanatically inefficient, ineffective and blackholes for public money.

People elected a leader and through political machination he's been stuffed. Only moronic socialists could possible condemn public elections. I know you don't like them, but they're the only bulwark against your communist "take money from people who earn it and give it to those who can't be bothered to" state.

Under a sensible right thinking and leaning council Doncaster would be a much better place. Because of Labour councillor's fears of their own special gravy train disappearing into the distance prevented the necessary and needed changes being made to improve the town.

Labour ruin things. Socialists ruin things. The country is in a tip. Multi cultural nonsense is damaging the whole of society. It is only a shame, a crying, desperate shame that the councillors were not removed and a right wing much tougher, much better government installed to reverse the manure lefty lazy councillors spew out to feather their own nests with public money.

12:02 pm, April 23, 2010

Blogger Race Equality Secret Service said...

BNP (Black National Party)

The BNP (Black National Party) has been created to expedite the work of the Race Equality Secret Service (RESS).

The BNP (Black National Party) gets stronger as "STORMFRONT" gets weaker.


4:06 pm, June 04, 2010


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