Sunday, 15 March 2009

ROGER LATCHFORD'S INCONSISTENCIES

A reader writes to advise me that this is not the first time Cllrs. Ezekiel and Latchford have been in a similar situation. The question becomes how many times can they be in such questionable circumstances and survive. I was sent this link. Do have aread to understand this post please.

A number of Northwood constituents have asked me about this. They ask me whether Cllr. Latchford is a racist, some suggest he is, others want to know the facts. When I raised this personally with Cllr. Latchford on behalf of my constituents he refused to discuss the matter.
That is of course his prerogative. However, my view is that if, as he and Cllr. Ezekiel assert, he is not a racist then by publishing the email he would clear things up for everybody. By refusing to do so, he leaves genuine and legitimate concerns about his personal views. There are regular reports of Conservative councillors acting in a racist fashion, here are some:
Dover Wealden Leicester

It happens in all parties, but, apart from the BNP where it is a requirement, the Conservatives do have more regular problems with racist members than other parties, and there are Tory MPs like Ann Winterton who have been repeatedly warned.

As a constituent said to me when I told them that Cllr. Latchford had refused to publish the email, 'He may have been an officer, but he is not a gentleman.'

Reading the story now it is interesting to see what may have happened. The email was sent to Thanet councillors and officers. It seems fair to assume it was only sent to Conservative councillors. This would explain why somebody held on to it, before sending it to Cllr. Richard Nicholson in the run up to the 2007 election.
I would say the person to leak this would have been a calculating Conservative colleague who had eyes on Cllr. Latchford’s job. Let's remember several Conservative councillors thougt this email fine. They took no action to report it. Many of them will probably still be Councillors. When people ask why the Labour group find it difficult to work with the Conservatives, this is one of the reasons why, we are wary of working with people who are soft on racism.
An unpleasant email is circulated, that as I understand were it public would have lead to possible prosecution. Instead because it was deemed to be private under the, in my view incorrect "Ken Livingstone" precedent, no further action could be taken. Ken Livingstone made offensive comments, but argued that as he was talking to the journalist whilst walking away from City Hall, it was a "private" matter. Beware of any councillor offering to "see you outside!"
If we knew who Cllr. Latchford sent his email to it would give us a shortlist. I am sure Cllr. Latchford will have a very short list of suspects.

Of greater concern is that this offensive email went to Council officers and they did nothing. To his credit Cllr. Latchford said:

“Sending this email around is not the cleverest thing I have ever done.”

So why did no officer who received this email in early 2006 not raise the matter? Are these officers still with the authority? How close are they to Cllr. Latchford? These are questions I should not be speculating on. We should know.

Cllr. Latchford was passionately for China Gateway and Manston Airport Expansion. So much so he excluded himself from the China Gateway vote. Were officers working on this close to him? I doubt it, but his unwise decision to withhold this evidence tarnishes the Council’s reputation.

Are these officers involved in the current investigation? I understand that there is evidence submitted to the investigation that does not appear on file. Why is this? I will not cite this evidence prior to the hearing, but it has to be a concern. Bertie Biggles has raised questions about the conduct of officers. As I keep on refraining why is there not more openness?

Look further the original article says

“Cllr Latchford, who is deputy leader of the district council, announced to political colleagues on Tuesday that he is not to seek re-election at this May's district elections "for personal and family reasons."

He stressed the decision had been made a month ago and had been lodged then with his group leader. We are all entitled to change our minds, but Cllr. Latchford said the decision had been made previously.

Cllr. Latchford at present says:

“I have offered my resignation as I don’t like attacks on my integrity by the Labour Group.”

I think in view of his previous form that this offer should be taken with a large pinch of salt. His judgment at present is at variance with reality.
On page 3 of the Isle of Thanet Gazette this week he says

“The Leader (Cllr. Ezekiel) is a polite man.”

That is not the case. I know dozens of people Cllr. Ezekiel has been rude to. The first time he met me he was rude. One of the most objectionable things regarding the fracas at the Winter Gardens in 2007 containing the (admitted by Cllr. Ezekiel) foul and abusive language, was that it took place in the presence of a number of Councillors wives as well as other female guests and staff members.

In my view leaders of any sort never normally become 'tired and emotional' in public, and never resort to loutish, foul mouthed intimidating behaviour in the presence of ladies. Again that’s my opinion, I know others in Thanet Conservatives take a different view.

Loyalty is one thing, but I believe Cllr. Latchford has taken it too far. Read the current set of papers and to his credit he is the man who is trying to get his angry, rude friend Cllr. Ezekiel to leave the shop. The witness statement says:
"Councillor Latchford said four times, 'Sandy, let's go'."
Cllr. Latchford is having to pull his impolite friend away, and yet gives written evidence that he is a polite man? Surely this is a contradiction? Surely such inconsistency deserves greater examination?

However, if I was advising Cllr. Latchford and the possibility was available for ensuring that he did not have to attend a hearing after giving such questionable testimony, then of course I would advise non-attendance.

I think Cllrs Ezekiel and Latchford must have been brought up differently to me. I was brought up that as a man you would never hit a woman no matter what the provocation. As a man you held women in greater respect. You would not publicly shout down a woman in public. That’s my values, are they Thanet Conservative values?

There is yet another inconsistency from Cllr.Latchford’s 2007 words:

"My personal crusade is against anti-social behaviour and I have worked closely with the police for the last four years since I was elected to make Thanet a safer and happier place in which to work and live."

Yet Cllr. Ezekiel made a complaint to the police wasting their time. As far as I know Cllr. Latchford has done nothing about this. The police could have better spent their time pursuing anti-social behaviour.

Cllr. Ezekiel has engaged in anti-social behaviour, and has been independently judged to have done so. Again, as far as I know Cllr. Latchford has said and done nothing. This would appear to be hypocritical.

Cllr. Latchford will say I am attacking his integrity because I am Labour, it’s his and many local Conservatives unintellectual standard response to any criticism from the Labour Group. Look closely at my sources. They are mostly independent or Cllr. Latchford himself. I do quote my personal experience. Remove that. There are still here questions about Cllr. Latchford’s integrity.

1. Why does he not publish the offensive email to end speculation and distrust in Thanet Council?

2. Why does he not list the Councillors he sent the email to?

3. Why does he not list the Thanet Council officers he sent the email to?

4. Why did he not resign in 2007 as he promised?

5. Why has he not publicly condemned Cllr. Ezekiel’s anti-social behaviour on two occasions as part of his "crusade against anti-social behaviour"?

6. Why does he say Cllr. Ezekiel is polite, when you have seen him behave impolitely on a number of occasions?

Now I can hear Cllr. Latchford’s friends saying I am attacking his integrity. No, I am questioning his integrity. I believe all the above 6 questions are reasonable and legitimate. Constituents have raised them all with me. Please do not tell me they are private. It is inappropriate for councillors to have private relationships with officers.

The fact is Councillor Latchford has refused to answer these questions. That is his choice, but I think it is the wrong decision. If he was a private individual it would not matter. He is though the second most senior locally elected representative, and that requires that he is held to account for his actions. A choice all of us who choose to be in public life should understand.
I am not attacking Councillor Latchford’s integrity, but if he continues to refuse to answer reasonable questions of public interest then, yes, I do doubt his integrity.

This question is millennia old: 'Society rots from the head down' - Cicero 106-43 BC

8 comments:

  1. Mark, I believe this issue is not relevant to the present Standard's issue, although raised by Cllr Latchford himself in his written submission to The Standards Committee.

    I think few would consider Cllr Latchford a 'racist' for passing on derogatory and poor taste jokes by e-mail. He made a fulsome apology at the time, unlike his belated and conditional 'apology' to Clllr Johnston in the matter presently under consideration.

    I fear that 'raking through the ashes' tends to distract from the present issue and lends weight to the specious argument that The Edinburgh Woollen Mill incident was just another attempt to discredit Cllr Ezekiel and Cllr Latchford, when it most certainly was not!

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  2. mark, 2 year old stories do you no credit at all.

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  3. Several questioned Latchford's change of mind (over seeking re-election) at the time. The local Tories refused to comment. Latchford only said it was a personal decision. Again, the electorate were not trusted to know the truth about someone whom they pay to represent them.

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  4. Bertie, to be fair i think Mark is only examining the matters that the Conservatives themselves have been too timid to look into. These men should have gone ages ago - it isnt up to the opposition to do their dirty work for them - the leadership should have been ousted as soon as their integrity was questioned. (Latchford racist stuff,Ezekiel mayor's dinner) they need a clean sweep and to let some of the newer councillors take over.
    (before there is any swiping i am not a Labour member!)

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  5. Mark, You seen a diligent sort of chap and well done, but there are some questions about the Edinburgh wool shop matter which seem to have been overlooked.

    The report refers to the owner of the shop having been responsible for the petition, but there is no evidence that the reason for the petition was based on fact. Quite the contrary. Why did the lady go to all the trouble to get all those signatures if the matter petitioned against was a fiction? Who told her that the wardens were to be withdrawn and where did that information come from?

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  6. Whitewash no other word for it and brings Thanet council into the laughing stock of Kent - you can swear in public when pissed at a mayoral dinner, be abusive in a shop and then all the punishment is a "censure" what sort of state are we in - come on Tories you cant keep letting this happen - stage a coup and kick him out and get someone in who isnt a complete yob!

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  7. Your position is irrational or hypocritical. You choose. If the email is offensive then you must, surely, concur with a decision that it should not be more widely published ?

    What niggles me about the Standards obsession is that no one claims laws have been broken.

    In Thanet, at this time, there is High Court Pre Action Protocol being pursued in which the Claimant makes no bones that he accuses a tory councillor of unlawful conduct.

    A complainant standing up, making his case and not expecting to exert influence without consequence. A complainant prepared to test his cause against the Disciplines of Evidence.

    So let's all talk about a petition at a wool shop eh ? What a useful diversion.

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  8. Bertie/SMEG the point is it is consistent poor conduct with the same half-baked (I'll resign but of course I don't mean it) excuses trotted out. Many readers of this blog do not comment but are not as familiar as you are on history of events, for example recently appointed Council officers I know value this sort of information.
    Anon 16.39 an old refrain from me by now, put your name to what you suggest. I do not need to go looking for information at present, plenty of people email me, I'll be happy to treat your information in strictest confidence as I do with a number of Conservative sources.
    Anon 19.29 quite right, better electorally for Labour if they stay, but we all want them gone.
    Rocky a number of the people who have raised this concern are from ethnic minorities they would welcome publication to clear things up, it's far more offensive that it is still secret, and they feel smacks of a cover up.
    I think they have a point.

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