Monday, 27 October 2008


In the first of a long series of blog articles, Longton North Labour Councillor Tom Reynolds, tells pitsnpots his feelings in the wake of last weeks referendum.

I would like to personally thank Tom for his blog, he is a hardworking young councillor and in my opinion we need more of his calibre in this city, no, not because he is Labour, but because he is driven and enthusiastic!

"First things first, I’d like to thank Tony and the team for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the blog. Despite the fact that some of the posts on here have given me and my close colleagues a rough ride, the aim of the site in raising interest in Stoke politics is invaluable. The 19% turnout in last week’s referendum was a dire demonstration of the indifference to politics as a whole in this city and any efforts to reverse this state of affairs is laudable.
I cannot proceed without mentioning the referendum outcome. I campaigned on the No Vote side of the argument as I believed in a model of governance where every citizen of the city was enfranchised to pick the person that leads the City Council. After six weeks of hard campaigning by both sides, the people of Stoke have spoken. I and the Labour colleagues that fought to keep the Mayoral model will of course respect the people’s decision to the utmost.
Paradoxically, as a group of councillors we are now much more powerful. We are now charged with the task of picking the new executive Leader of the Council, a leader who will have to face some enormous issues: education reorganisation, city wide regeneration and transforming the standard of services that the Council provides. So the big question is which direction?
There will be a lot of posturing from some individuals within the council that see themselves in with a chance of leading the authority in May 2009. Cllr Rigby, from the City Independents and Alby Walker from the BNP have both already thrown their hat in the ring. In my view, if either of these contenders succeeds the City is in trouble.
What do the Independents actually stand for? We know what they are against but do they actually have any ideas for moving the City forward - if they do I have not heard them. If Cllr Rigby does lead the council I cannot see what his platform would be. He has after all, admitted on Question Time that he supports BNP councillors and has campaigned for the Tories. What does he actually stand for?
Conversely we know exactly what Cllr Walker and his party stand for, and that is equally worrying. I am not going to enter into a tirade about their repugnant far right ideology or where it could lead. Instead there is a far simpler argument – the BNP is bad for business. If Cllr Walker ends up as the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council we can all kiss goodbye to any inward investment.
The only people who can lead this authority, make services better and improve the city are the Labour Party (but that’s what you would expect from me). That is not to ignore the shift against Labour across the City. We must recognise that there is a widespread dissatisfaction about how things have been done in the past. What is absolutely crucial is that as a group of councillors, we demonstrate that Labour is the Group with the vision to improve our city."


Alison said...

Tom, you are right in what you say. The Elected Mayor has, under Labour's banner, operated largely as a dictatorship in the city over the past few years, which I believe has led both to voters leaving Labour, and to some of them looking to the BNP as the only alternative, hence the rise of the BNP in the city. (I personally blame Mayor Meredith for this, as if his behaviour towards his electorate had been different and he had truly listened and worked with the people, things could have been so different.)

What I find interesting about your post is the rallying call to your Labour colleagues to unite and ensure you as a party are chosen to lead the council (whichever one of you is chosen as the actual Leader).

As I have stated on another post on this blog, what we need is some vision and energy that will deliver regeneration initiatives to the city, will provide future job prospects for the kids of this city, and provide those same kids with the best education possible (which might not necessarily be academies - have you seen the number of objections from the public on this one?)

I look forward to your future blogs on how Labour will move forward with this "uniting", and will be interested to see how the leadership battle within the Labour party unfolds.

warren said...

A good blog for Councillor Reynolds, thank you, lets hope more of this kind of councillor can be found. No matter what there political ideels are, if they can work as a team then its good for the city, and I include some BNP ideels in that, but only some.

Debbie said...


Let me quote your words

'In my view, if either of these contenders succeeds the City is in trouble'.

You mean like the trouble it has been in under Labour for most of my life and:

'What do the Independents actually stand for?'

I agree what do they stand for but then what does Labour stand for anymore.

Let us know.

Start by laying out Labours views on BSF and how we can move it forward.

A Very Public Sociologist said...

Alison, IMO you can't lay it all at Meredith's door - he is after all just one New Labour clone like any other. AND the rise of the BNP began before he assumed office - my take on the mayor referendum, the low turn out and the rise of the fash can be read here.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Tom is throwing his hat in the ring to become the Labour Group Leader and Leader of the council. People of the Potteries maybe hard working folk but we not fooled by your New Labour tactics of a soft back door media approach to making you appeal to the masses by your soft innocent smiling photo. You are in the pocket of the Regional Labour Party and like Meredith would continue with unpopular policy. The people of Stoke voted last week to get rid of you.

beware the eides of march said...

Tom Reynolds is an utter shithouse!
"We will of course, respect the voters wishes".
You have no other choice sunshine, WE have spoken.
Give an explanation why you and a few others in your camp vote all the way to shut schools and care homes when almost the entire membership of your party went berserk with such crap?
You support the coalition of Tories when it is recorded that 80% will not contemplate aligning with Roger Ibbs.

You are a shithouse who has answered nothing. You are on the run and you are covering your back.

Tony said...

I want to be very clear about one thing, this is not Tom using pitsnpots as a platform to launch any bid for party leadership. Tom agreed to blog two weeks ago, many councillors from all the parties have been approached and for the most part have agreed. Tom happens to be the first to respond and I say, good for him! Labour have to regroup and as I have said before the stand out candidates for leader, Mike Barnes, Mark Davis and Joy Garner need to bring the party together a present the party as a united group ready to beat the BNP and to lead our city through the hardship of this present financial crisis. I agree with Tom about investment in our city, if Stoke were led by this far right party I can see no big multi national company seriously contemplating setting up in our city. I say this as a person who runs a medium size company in our city and who deals with some blue chip companies and know their ethos. Tom also mentioned councillor Rigby, (deal or no deal as ilike to call him!) I now know that there is no such thing as an independent in politics, we have to be very wary of these imposters!

TAG Fan said...

A good start.

It's absolutely vital that over the next 18 months Labour position themselves as the party to beat the BNP. There is no point voting Independent as no one knows what they stand for, and in any case many Independent councillors are closet BNP anyway (Alan Rigby has come out of the closet, maybe others will follow soon).

nicky said...

I agree with you Debbie.

Tom, what does labour stand for?You haven't said. Do what Debbie says and start by laying out labour's views on BSF. Are you going to carry on screwing it up as Mark Meredith has been or start doing what communities want instead? Tony wrote a good blog on sorting out BSF recently, have a look at that.

You say you are going to address city wide regeneration and transforming the standard of services that the Council provides, but you have not told us how or given any details.

Mark Meredith admitted (on the politics show yesterday) that there were significant divisions within labour. So when are we going to see some sensible voices have the courage to speak out and start communicating properly with people? Do we have to wait until Meredith has gone? Why not start now? You have yet to say anything of substance but I am listening.

Anonymous said...

See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil that’s Mike Barnes, Mark Davis and Joy Garner battle cry for leadership. Tom Reynolds is a puppet of the Regional Party. What hope for the Labour Group if any of these become leader.

no such thing as society said...

Its quite depressing what the options are at the moment.

I'd be surprised if in the end the Independents put forward a serious candidate to be the leader of the council because they don't want to accept responsibility for the running of the city and it suits them much better to just criticise others.

And Kent Baguley is dictatorial, totalitarian and clearly a Stalinist, but fortunately for us his quest for world domination has yet to reach beyond the four corners of his phone box.

The hope has to be the main political parties getting their acts together.

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

As a former town hall insider with very close connections to the politicians and decision-makers (note the distinction), I first of all want my disgust at the comments of Beware the Ides of March noting by all (note the spelling of Ides, read Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, that most English and Midlander of writers).

Secondly, Tom Reynolds appears to be rather geunine in the comments he makes. The statement that he and the rest of them are bound by the result of the referendum is stating the obvious. They have no option, but remember that the people of the City have only voted to introduce a Leader and Cabinet system. None of the recommendations of the much heralded Governance Commission will require a public referendum. These are the real issues that need to be addressed, not the issue of executive governance. All the comments made on this site, let alone everything that appears on The Sentinel website, indicate that the people feel there is a greater need to hold decision-makers to account than who is actually taking decisions. This is of greater importance than anything else, exercising the right to challenge. Anyone who understands Overview and Scrutiny, the provisions of LGA2000, LGA 2007 and the current Government White Paper on Empowerment: Communities in Control, will recognise how vital this is to an effective local democracy. The people of the City need a forum or mechanism to communicate their priorities for the direction of the City, or their part of the city. The Executive arrangements of the Council will not have any impact on what people want. Engagement at the local level, advocated by the Governance Commission, is the key to unlocking a great many of the problems faced by Stoke.

This is a great site and I love the insight and enthusiasm for local politics exhibited by all contributors. Lets hope this enthusiasm can be shared amongst the entire population of the city.

nita said...

I would like to thank Tom for this article. Tom is a young enthusiastic Councillor, who will hopefully try and engage our younger voters, and make them more interested in politics, and make them aware that their vote counts.

As the poor turnout for the Referendum shows, the people of the city have totally lost interest. This is a concern, as this was an important choice, and it did matter.

The Labour Group as a whole, has been very split, and has not always come across as a united front, and they do now need to re-group, and get back the trust and support of the people. How they will do this, I do not know.

Many posters on here, will know, how many times I changed my mind on the way I voted. In the end, I decided I thought it would be better for the people to choose the person to run the city. The people of the city voted otherwise, so now, we have to wait and see, whom our Councillors decide is the best person, to take charge of our city. This will not be an easy job to take on. We still have the BSF to carry out. Mr Meredith made difficult and unpopular choices, and this is probably the main reason, the people voted YES. The closure of the care homes, was another unpolular decision, and the privitisation of elderly care. Well, I can comment on this, as I have an elderly grandparent, who has had his care put out to the private sector, and it is not a patch on what he received before.
The Leader will have to ensure that the regeneration project moved forward. There are many other issues this person will face, and have to deal with.

So, the Councillors now have to stop any in house fighting, and show a united front, and ensure that the people get a strong Leader, with good vision for the city.

Anonymous said...

If The Sentinel is accurate in its report that Brian Ward has thrown his hat into the ring for Leader, people should know that in his first election campaign in 2004, his leaflet was almost word-for-word identical to Steve Batkin's Longton North leaflet. This is also the man whose business brain is so great he told John Caudwell not to go into the mobile phone business as there was no money in it!

Anonymous said...

this is a critical time for the city and will shape the next decade, if not the next 25 yrs. it is too important for it to be wasted through small mindedness and petty political point scoring. Tom's view are right, every opportunity to make the city attractive has to be fear is that this will be frustrated by the negativity and outdated 1970's attitudes.

Tony said...

Former Town Clerk,
Thank you for your kind comments about our blog and also for your post. Your insight into the ways of local politics is invaluable, please take the time to share your thoughts with us on any subject.

Bob Bagley said...

Anonymous I think it would have been Brian Ward's 2003 leaflet as he was re-elected to the council last year, and I remember hearing much the same thing from anti-racist campaigners who were appalled by his literature.

In fact I understand that the advice being given by the City Independent Group Political Assistant (Mr. John Edwards) at one point was for their candidates to look at the BNP website, tone down the content slightly and then they would have something ready to use for their election leaflets which would go down well with the voting public!

Anyway thats another one outed. Very interesting that both 'Independent' candidates who have declared themselves as a leadership candidate appear to have links to the BNP in one way or another.

As Tony rightly says there is really no such thing as an Independent.

Anonymous said...

The Former Town Clerk has got it right about Tom Reynolds he just states the obvious and that’s the problem with him, he has got no forward thinking of his own. With regards regeneration this will not come to an end, if Adolf Walker comes to power but neither will it go anywhere with Tom, since neither of them have every contributed any policy relating to the transformation of the city. The problem is that we have Joy, Fibbs, Walker, Rigby, PKB, Ward, Barnes, Davies and Reynolds in the pack for leader and the process for the selection has not started, none of these are thinking about the City and the process of how the new executive arrangements will be kept to account. Pauline needs get back on that mike and ask do we now have real democracy other than a race to be Top Dog....taking the big pay.

beware the eides of march said...

Tom Reynolds is a 'mini me' od Rob Flello the chief architect of the YES (cos Gordon says so) group that have wrecked local politics.

This crew are the very same crew that stitched Mike Barnes up and tried to get him jailed.

It is they who have shut schools and care homes and they total 12.
It is they who jump in bed with Ibbs and Irving and together, they form a bedrock of ignorance.

Tom Reynolds got in on the back (literally) of Mark Davis's vote and his vote was secured by a full time official and former BIRMINGHAM worker (Ask Mark who this is?)

Shithouses, the lot of them.

They are entirely responsible for the rise of the BNP and 'very public sociologist' is wrong to point the finger at one and all.

Those that oppose these wasters are in the vast majority and were told of chaos every step of the way.

They did not listen, Meredith has gone and the schools still face closure.

Answer the question Tom Reynolds...Trentham will stay open and you will fight for it to do so, right?

brooneyes said...

It never fails to dumbfound me when snotnosed Labour upstarts tell us what is best for this city after spending the last 60 years systematically destroying it! The first thing Stoke-on-Trent needs is a break from the attention of these people, because lets face it, if you can't fix it in 60 years, you aren't going to fix it!

The one group that hasn't yet run the council is the BNP, yet those who have brought this city to its knees are now proclaiming to know what is best for us, that being, cutting the BNP out of the loop! Never once has our imput been asked for concerning education, the local economy, housing, local healthcare, transport and the environment, And yet these losers that have wrecked this city say we would be bad for business!!
The problem lies with the LibLabCon and its selfish and destructive attitude to the city and the people. Labour and their
allianced friends, have ripped the heart out of this city with an
absolute litany of bad choices and wrong directions, yet here they are again trying to tell us which way to go. Well, it's blatantly obvious they don't know the direction to a successful future, and it's high time that those who profess to having the best interests of this city at heart
started behaving as if that was the case, and stopped trying to cut the BNP out of their democratic say!
No-one has come up with the answers needed, yet here we stand with exciting and innovative ideas.
Sooner or later you will have to let us take control, because no other group or party has what it takes to turn this city round, and that is proved by a look through the political history of this city.

rat watcher said...

How come Tom Watson is suddenly mr. nice reasonable guy all of a sudden?

He votes against the wishes of everyone in Stoke, him being an outsider, and then suddenly he's all perfect. Huh?

Oh, I get it now. How silly of me!

He's a bereaved councillor once on the Mayor's 'payroll' and now his Master is dead and buried by US!

Bet he starts helping old ladies cross the road, petitions for a paint job and gets in the sentinel 'demanding' this that and the other.


Gary Elsby said...

I agree with quite a lot with Tom's view of some of the current names being dropped in for a leadership contest but I do question the notion of no inward investment if the BNP or any other lunatic takes control. I guess this may only be a personal view.
Saying that, I would not invest in a City that descended to such depths. History does show, however, that big business and big political names either financially supported or flirted with Nationalist ideas.
Simplicity of ideas is always the realm of the excitable Fascists and it is a duty of myself and others who subscribe to a more poular belief to deliver a reasonable and more sensible inclusive agenda.
This will kill off the Fascists.
The transitional board that will enter Stoke is my main concern at the moment, as I did not vote for it or want it and I know of no others who wanted it. I want what other have.

Ian Norris said...

Tom : "What do the Independents actually stand for?"

Do we actually Know what Labour Stand for The Local Labour Groups say 1 thing the Labour Cllrs vote the opposite.

Do we know what the Tories Stand for tory ideals or vote along with the Labour Alliance, or is it Labour Voting along with the Tory Alliance.

WE know one Thing BNP moved recommendation from Scrutiny committe for Trenthahm School to remain open (still to be debated by EMB and Full Council) and Independt moved Against SERCO and labour/Tory Cllrs voted to continue to support SERCO.

So Tom... What policy will Labour now support with Meredith out the Picture?

Ian Norris said...

Bob: LOL who are you informers they ripping you off badly

no such thing as society said...

Mr. Ian Norris if Labour councillors are taking their instructions from a regional office then your best mate Lee Wanger has obviously been taking his advice from Gary Glitter/Michael Jackson!

Ian Norris said...

no such thing as society: well done

Gary Elsby said...

Ian: I can tell you what Labour stands for locally, but first you have to remove yourself from the notio that the Labour Group and the Labour Party are almost two seperate bodies.
Most of the time, there will be harmony but at the present time, there is disunity.

The local Labour Party is against Academies and the closure of care homes (unless a new one is built first). This is policy.

The Labour Group are on a path of building Academies and closing care homes.

The Labour Group is therefore responsible for losing its entire senior team on the EMB and they have lost a Mayor.

The local Labour Party is vindicated and it goes without saying, we told you so!

The local Labour Party speaks for the people and don't let anyone fool you otherwise.

nicky said...

Gary that is very interesting but very confusing.

From labour policy on education you have
"We want every secondary school to be a Specialist school, a Trust school or an Academy, with a business or university partner for every one of them."

But you say:
"The local Labour Party is against Academies and the closure of care homes (unless a new one is built first). This is policy."

So this local labour policy contradicts national policy then?

And then all the labour councillors do everything they can to force academies on everyone. And Mark Meredith always says he is convinced they are the right way to go, although he never gives reasons.

Is it any wonder I'm a confused floating voter!

But what is most crucial is that those labour people who seem to have the power on the local council to do something are choosing to close the schools and care homes that people want and force academies on them. Not very socialist that. Ah but of course this is new labour - privatise everything as much as possible.

Ian Norris said...

I agree nicky, its very confusing they say you dont know what an independent stands for and independet will say one thing and VOTE that way, where as Labour will say one thing and Vote the OTHER way.

Why does the local labour party keep nominating poeple that vote against what the local residents and apparantly local labour group want?

Gary Elsby said...

Nicky/Ian.The local Labour Party is allowed a say in local policy, in conjunction with the Labour group of councillors.

The group are following national lines and the Labour party oppose this for Stoke. Joan Whalley and Mark Fisher tend to agree with us and not the councillors.

The BSF program is going ahead without our approval. They have done this by bringing on board all opposition into a coalition EMB.

The confusion is all yours.

We don't believe the threat of no new schools if you don't agree with National Government. Trentham/Berryhill and Mitchell would all be serviced correctly if the Local Labour Part had its way.

Unfortunately, you can't see the difference between them and us.

Me being an unpaid voluteer and them being on 'the payroll vote'.

And no, I have no idea what an independent stands for ('the people' doubt and nice with it.Yawn).

My views are mine, my local ward sometimes votes for me to represent them in the City. I fail to get elected because of asylum seekers in Devon(?) and because Labour shuts a Trentham school( I thought it was Roger?).

Gary votes NO to all, so now over to(other councillors) for their YES or NO.

By the way,my Government (Labour, my Labour) voted for 42 days detention without trial. My local Labour voted 100% against.
We were right, they were wrong. They now agree with us (forced).

Why do you suggest lunacy on my part or that of my fellow members.

This Government (and Labour NEC) knows Stoke-on-Trent very well, now, because we forced the issue. Who forced these issues? Labour.

Now find out who opposed us right here in this City!

nicky said...

Good for you Gary, I'm now beginning to see the enormous rift there is in labour. And in my view you are on the correct side of the argument (schools and 42 days) together with the MPs on schools while councillors and the central government are in the wrong. I would blame Meredith and the councillors mostly, because central government say they won't intervene in local issues (except of course they probably engineered to have councillors in place that agreed with them).

Ian Norris said...

Gary: I fully see your point but was does the Local Party keep nominatiing Cllrs that do not agree with the Local Party? That is were I'm confused with Labour.

Will all these rebels be refused nomination in future?

Gary again local at the proposals that Ind have made and Labour have voted against IE the SERCO vote. and supporting the removal of Trenatham from closure plan.

Gary Elsby said...


Labour operates 20 branches in Stoke (The Conservatives have one association).

The wards are split into Constituencies (CLP's) and there are three of them.
Stoke North(6)
Stoke Central (7)
Stoke South (7) 20 in total.

Each branch is autonomous to all other branches but is under the guidance of its CLP as the authority and it is the role of each branch to formulate a winning candidate for its ward.

Any Labour member can go onto the 'panel' with a view to be selected by (any) branch, regardless of whether you live there or not.
There could be 100 people seeking to go on the panel and those 100 will be initially interviewed for political credibility.

Branches can interview any number from the panel to find one good candidate.A secondary vetting procedure.

No one branch or CLP can tell another who, why or what to vote.
So if branch 'A' picks Mike Tappin, branch 'B' or 'Z' have no say at all.
Twenty candidates will be found to fight elections in May.

The Labour Party is a very broad church and there are right wingers and left wingers and all those in between.

And I say good luck to them all.

I am against 42 days detention without trial and I am against this BSF program for Stoke, where that puts me into the equation, I don't know but it does appear to put me in with a majority view.
Most of what I appear to be against is just unnecessary politics in my humble view and sometimes we get the chance to change things. The Government backed down because of Stoke over the 42 days issue (they'll deny it) but BSF goes on.

So in answer to your question, why do Labour still put forward candidates that appear to go against Labour locally, then the simple answer is that their branch agrees with that view. Otherwise, they will not get reselected to fight the seat.A de-selection (bloodbath), so loved by the Sentinel and sometimes loved throughout the party itself. Always nasty, but credit to that particular candidate for standing by their beliefs.

Ian Norris said...

Thanks for that Gary, thats quiet a big network (depending on size of each branch)

Sadly you'll still despise indepents for not knowing what they stand for, but I think you last comment sums Independents up "but credit to that particular candidate for standing by their beliefs." as you said Labour can be left wing or right kind same as independents I guess.