Probably if you were going to compare yourself to King Alfred the Great liberating Somerset from the Viking Hordes, the Liberal Democrats wouldn’t come automatically to mind. However, this was the image that newly elected County Council Leader Bill Revans opted for with his opening statement at the first meeting of the new Somerset County Council. “Sumorsǣte ealle!” -all the people of Somerset, gathered together under one mighty wyvern banner, working together, united and mighty, marching onwards, upwards, backwards, sideways and around the uncompleted (or in fact started) Williton ring road straight off a cliff somewhere near Kilve.
Well, lets face it, if Alfred the Great had 61 Lib Dem councillors behind him he’d have swept the pagan hordes from off the Polden Hills and straight into the stagnant pools around Shapwick returning with the head of ‘Foddergill the Self Righteous’ on a plate . But ….in this case…Good King Billy chose not to. Instead he opted to follow the Alfurian legend to the letter…being the History teacher that he is…and ..’made friends’ with his vanquished enemy. Just as Alfred, after his victory at Edington, invited Guthrum the Viking chief to be his bestie and baptised him at Aller, Cllr Revans, with his ‘Great Horde’ (of 61 Lib Dems) invited Tory leader David Fothergill to join him with the rallying cry of ‘Get Unitary Done’.!!
And so the tone was set for this latest page turn in the chapter of Somerset. Fothergill and his Tories who had tried to rip up Somerset and start it again with one solid empire, against the wishes of the people of Somerset (who they didn’t ask) had been solidly thrashed at the polls. The Lib Dems had been swept to power on a wave of ‘anyone but the Tories’ and now had the chance to do something about it.
And the road they’ve chosen is one of ‘business as usual’. Carry on as normal and ‘Get Unitary Done’. In fact bring on board the architects of the ‘One Somerset One Tory One Nil’ plan the voters had rejected and all work together for the common good.
The Lovely Lib Dems Try to be Lovelier
So that’s the plan. And it all sounded lovely. The Lib Dems didn’t want to scare anyone that they might do something radical.
Because they won’t.
With repeated reminders about how much we all love the Queen and how we’re all here for the same reason…(well, the Greens weren’t sure about that one. ‘Have you got a whip? We haven’t’ said one ‘Have we?’ Probably from Frome. Like the rest of them. Apart from the one who isn’t).
And then it all suddenly went wrong.
Bill had made a very gentle power grab for the Tory heartlands of Exmoor by putting a couple of Lib Dem appointments on the Exmoor National Park Committee. Well, of course a Lib Dem power grab is a bit like putting a couple of kittens in the Rottweilers kennel….oh no! That’s not working out..get them out quick!! No sooner had the gentle piece of Lib Dem power politics been hinted at but Fothergill and the massed ranks of Tory affronted frontline warriors screamed ‘No! We’re not having this! We’re not accepting this extremely mild and barely revolutionary example of flexing the Lib Dem wrist muscles’. And so…Backfoot Bill contemplated his dilemma. And gave in. ‘Ok the Tories can have them then.’
Points of Order…
This first meeting could have been over in an hour. It was just a matter of electing a chair, electing a Leader and electing the committee places. Which, with a 61-49 majority, the Lib Dems could have just voted through. but oh no, this is consensus all inclusive politics….which….he grits his teeth…‘is a good thing’…..’give it a go then’….And then of course there’s now 110 councillors all with their ‘points of order’ and their ‘declarations of interest’ and their ‘views on pretty much everything (and sometimes even the subject at hand)’.
This next 5 year plan could well be a long one and the kulaks might consider themselves lucky to have missed out on it.
We are doing watching, and listening and learning and ‘trying to get on with each other’. Have the Lib Dems thought this through?? My guess is not. And with such a small Lib Dem majority it would only take 13 fluffy kittens to preoccupy the new councillors for the evil Tories to suddenly rise up and drive a nasty big unitary stake through the gap in their lines. Now Lib Dems…..’HAVE you thought this through??’.
Gallery of some of the more exciting moment of the First 110 Strong Somerset County Meeting