"A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position."
Personally, soon after starting blogging, I came to a view on Simon Moores which I expressed in comments in February 2009. Whenever Simon Moores starts to lose an argument on policy, he resorts to personal attacks. Simon Moores wants to examine my attendance record. Fine. It is important the electorate see what their representatives do. Let's have a look so we can see how casually and disingenuously Simon represents matters. He's doing that quite a bit these days.
For the period examined Simon argues I was on 4 Council bodies. He's wrong.
Airport Working Party
Remarkably, Simon Moores is correct I had a poor attendance at this committee. Only problem is my shocking attendance record has already been exposed........by me 4 months ago! Have a look at this post in February complaining about the way the Airport Working Party met at awkward times to prevent the involvement of members of the public and any councillor who had a job.
When Thanet Council continued to arrange meetings of the Airport Working Party at times I could not make, I did the honourable thing and resigned. I wrote a full post about this in April. So no news here, other than the failure of Thanet Council to engage in meaningful consultation with local people on Manston Airport. Simon Moores follows his normal practice of failing to link to these posts explaining my non-attendance. That's Simon for you, if the facts are inconvenient just ignore them.
General Purposes Committee
There's one meeting I could have attended. I arranged in footballing terms a "tactical substitution" where I was replaced by the then Labour Group Leader Cllr. Richard Nicholson. This was because the main item being discussed was the increase in senior officers pay at Thanet District Council. Quite rightly Richard was sceptical about the Conservative argument that in the current difficult economic circumstances; that large increases in pay were needed to ensure staff retention. The argument seems dubious as despite the Conservatives putting through these substantial increases, senior staff are still leaving. Simon Moores chaired this meeting and understood politically why it was appropriate Labour was represented by a more senior representative than me.
On 21st May if you look at the minutes I attended the whole of the first Council meeting. I then left for a personal commitment before the second meeting that evening. Perhaps I should do what anybody who watches the recordings of Council meetings can observe. Some Conservative councillors leave Council meetings shortly after signing in. The so called sign in, and sod off technique. This year I can recall Cllr. Simon Day leaving within 10 minutes of a meeting starting, and Cllr. Ewen Cameron leaving meetings not long after they have started. Should I have stayed an extra 5 minutes to register my attendance at the second meeting on that same evening, to make my attendance record look better? I don't think so, but Thanet Conservatives frequently do just that.
On 26th February I had conflicting engagements. Thanet District Council or the London Labour Party dinner. One of the reasons for my attendance at the dinner was that I met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Overview and Scrutiny Panel
On 10th March I missed this meeting because I worked at the European Parliament that day. It is part of my job. I am based in London, but I work 2-3 days a month in either Brussels or Strasbourg. On 28th July I interviewed candidates for a work vacancy in London in the evening. Several promising candidates indicated they would find difficulty getting time off work in the current economic circumstances to attend interviews. Simon is aware that my written submission to this meeting resulted in what my colleagues say was the most important discussion of the Panel that evening. He ignores that and smears. As in the case of ALL my absences, I arranged a substitute. Of course Simon Moores does not refer to when I have substituted at meetings for others, it would spoil his argument.
Recycling Working Party
It is good that Thanet Council is publishing attendance records. However, they are inaccurate. Apart from the Airport Working Party which is a sub-committee of Overview and Scrutiny Panel, I am on another Overview and Scrutiny Panel sub-committee the Recycling Working Party. During the period being looked at my attendance record is 100% having attended both scheduled meetings. As a cabinet member with responsibilities in this area Simon should pick up on this failing. It would have been easy to check this fact for him, but it's not Simon's style to worry about accuracy.
The effect of this would be to improve my attendance record, perhaps that is why Simon omitted it?
Now, if only when I wrote examining Conservative councillors records they responded with an open clear explanation like the above wouldn't it be better for local politics? Thousands of pounds could be saved and the Council would be more efficient, effective and accountable. My record is not the best because of my work commitments. I have argued before how unhealthy it is that Thanet Council does not do enough to ensure its representatives reflect the community. Remember the 5pm Council meeting to rush through Manston Airport expansion?
There are some points Simon Moores has raised that I have not responded to because I am still checking facts, I will address them. This though shows my attendance record, and I will always be happy to account for it.
Is Simon Moores prepared to be accountable for his record? My job often means I am in Whitehall, and I sometimes meet with civil servants, ministers and MPs. For the record I have worked in Number 10 Downing Street. Twice. Low level meetings that I think have no relevance to how I conduct myself as a Councillor in Thanet. I only mention this because Cllr. Simon Moores thinks it is important that Westgate constituents know that
"He was also a member of Tony Blair's Cabinet office unit that developed 'UK Online'."
I have asked several people I know in Westminster and none of them have ever heard of Simon Moores working for Tony Blair. As more and more diaries are published of the Blair years from key players, you can search in vain for any mention of Simon Moores working with Tony Blair or his key advisors. I know many local people want Simon to clarify this so perhaps he would kindly answer these 10 questions.
1.On what dates did he start and finish working for Tony Blair in the Cabinet Office?
2.Was he a Civil Servant or did he work for an outside contractor, if the latter please provide the name of the firm and the details of their contract.
3.If a Civil Servant what grade was Simon Moores and what were his prior and subsequent positions?
4.Where was the location of his work?
5.What was the exact name of the "Cabinet Office unit"?
6.What did his work involve?
7.Which of Tony Blair's staff did he work with and when? Please provide full details.
8.Who was the Cabinet Officer Minister at the time?
9.Why did Tony Blair take personal control of this matter rather than allowing the Cabinet Officer minister to have control as is normal practice?
10.Which Cabinet Committee was responsible for monitoring this work?
All my contacts express amazement at the idea that Tony Blair was spending time micro-managing this project with Simon Moores. He was renowned for his ability to delegate.
I have found whenever asked precise questions, Simon avoids them. I trust I will be proved wrong on this occasion. Is that a blustery wind I can hear in the direction of Westgate?
"Unlike you, at the level at which I work, I don't have "bosses"."
If he had worked in the Cabinet Office he would have been responsible to the Cabinet Officer minister ("his boss"). I am grateful to Simon for confirming in writing that he never worked in the Cabinet Office. I hope he will amend his inaccurate entry on Thanet District Council's website to reflect this.