Is There a Real Choice For The Voters Of Earls Court?
“I believe that in the light of your extraordinary conduct in this important matter you failed to provide a fair and impartial consideration and administration of Mr Cameron’s complaint against Barry Phelps. In failing to exclude Jennifer Ware from the Standards hearing on Phelps you did not adhere to basic principles of natural justice and impartiality central to the conduct of an independent Chairperson, whose position must be above reproach or suspicion of bias. I believe that in the light of the evidence which has emerged , including your own statements on this issue, your position is compromised and untenable and you should resign.” Justin Downes, Open letter to Sophia Lambert, See blog entry below dated 5 August 2010
“Those who are entrusted with making the system work fairly need to be motivated by “goodwill” and not be engaged with “working the system” for corrupt purposes.”
Donald Cameron, Stitch Up At The K & C Standards Committee, See blog entry below dated 6 August 2010
Linda Wade is the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Earls Court by election. When this blog first heard that the Liberal Democrats were going to put up a real challenge to the Conservatives in the Earls Court Ward, and they were making such positive noises in the direction of change at the Town Hall and campaigning against Cockell’s expenses, and so on, all the indications were encouraging that at last there was a mainstream political party that had listened to the concerns of Justin Downes and was prepared to campaign seriously on these matters. That was until the Liberal Democrats announced that their candidate was to be yet again Linda Wade, an individual who has been trying to get elected as a Councillor for Earls Court and miserably failed on numerous occasions going back many years. That fact alone is enough to make the heart of any reformist sink. But then there are the disturbing facts that Linda Wade is a colleague of the Conservative candidate, Malcolm Spalding, on the Earls Court Society, and has a long standing friendship with Jennifer Ware, of the Standards Committee. This is the Jennifer Ware whose friendship with Barry Phelps was not publicly declared at the Standards Committee hearing concerning a complaint made by Donald Cameron against Phelps. The positions of Justin Downes and Donald Cameron on this issue are clearly stated in the introduction to this article, and this blog has campaigned on their behalf on this issue and in response to their supplying this blog with clear evidence in support of their view. Jennifer Ware is also a colleague of Linda Wade in the Liberal Democrats. These facts alone suggest that Linda Wade is not a fresh candidate who is free from being compromised by her friendships and other political or social relationships with many individuals who are the subject of complaints made by Justin Downes and Donald Cameron. This would make it very difficult for anybody who sympathises with Mr Downes and Mr Cameron’s position to support Linda Wade in this by election.
However, this blog as readers may recall, has written to all the known candidates in the Earls Court by election, and the two existing Conservative Councillors, Cllr Buxton and Cllr Read, with questions for them to respond to concerning issues of Phelps’ misconduct and the Cockell regime at the Town Hall. Unfortunately, to date, neither the Conservative candidate, Malcolm Spalding, nor his Conservative colleagues who are the two sitting Conservative councillors, have responded. It is to Linda Wade’s credit that she did at least take the time to respond to these questions, and the blog wishes to express its thanks to Linda Wade and will be posting her responses soon.
But the blog was shocked and disappointed by Linda Wade’s refusal to call for her friend Jennifer Ware’s resignation from the Standards Committee, along with Sophia Lambert, over their role in the “stitch up” at the Standards hearing concerning Donald Cameron’s complaint against the then Cllr Barry Phelps. The blog reproduces below part of the email that was sent to Linda Wade’s election agent, Mr Robin Melzer, which explains why the issue is so important and puts the question to Linda Wade concerning whether she will call for Ware and Lambert’s resignations. The blog stated to Robin Melzer the following:
“As you might know, the blog has launched a very vocal and sustained campaign, based on overwhelming evidence, concerning the conflict of interest of Jennifer Ware, and the scandal of Sophia Lambert permitting Ware to sit on the Standards Committee which adjudicated on Donald Cameron’s complaint against Barry Phelps earlier this year, despite Lambert knowing of Ware’s close friendship with Phelps. The blog has reproduced correspondence on this matter from many interested parties, including Sophia Lambert, Mr Donald Cameron, and Mr Justin Downes. The issues and facts presented are quite easy to grasp and are fully presented on the blog, including Sophia Lambert’s own admission that she knew of Ware’s friendship with Phelps. Having looked at the facts and the scandalous way Donald Cameron’s complaint was handled by the Standards Committee, a clear “stitch up” as he calls it, the blog has joined with Mr Downes in demanding the resignation of Jennifer Ware and Sophia Lambert for their misconduct and in bringing the Standards Committee into disrepute by failing to exclude somebody whose conflict of interest would render any decisions of that body discredited and unsafe.
This issue is therefore a very serious one for the blog, and one on which it intends to mount a sustained campaign to highlight to a wider audience the scandal of having such individuals continuing to serve on such a body which is charged with upholding standards of probity and conduct of our elected public servants on behalf of residents and voters in the borough.
In view of this, and in view of the obvious interest for our readers in a challenger to the Conservatives in Earls Court and how things would be different with a Lib Dem Councillor, I wish to put the question of calling for Ware and Lambert’s resignation again, inorder to clarify Linda Wade’s position. The question I wish to put on behalf of the blog is:
Is your friendship with Jennifer Ware the reason you are not concerned that she sat in judgment on Donald Cameron knowing that
she was a friend of Phelps? Do you think Ware should resign from a Committee charged with upholding Standards- or not, or can you see no moral issue about the situation?
I think a straightforward answer to this would go a long way in establishing Linda wade’s candidacy as a candidate of change and a real break with the old politics, the narrow social pool on which the political class of all parties is drawn, and how things are conducted in the Borough at the moment.”
The blog is unable to reproduce Linda Wade’s response but we can paraphrase that she completely fudged the issue of calling for Ware and Lambert’s resignation, by stating that on the advice of her agent she will not campaign against individuals who are not running in the election, and that if elected she will be addressing wider concerns of problems, transparency and representation in the borough. The blog posed a straightforward question to Linda Wade, on a matter on which most of the facts had become apparent in the public domain, not least through this website, and she has refused to give a straight answer, which can only fuel speculation that her friendship with Jennifer Ware has compromised her position on this important matter. The blog was not asking much of Linda Wade, it was not asking her to commit to something she could not deliver, it was only asking whether she would call for the resignations of Ware and Lambert from the Standards Committee. Linda Wade was also informed by the blog of the importance of this issue. In fact it can be seen as a litmus test of the commitment of a candidate to real change in how politics and administration is conducted in this Borough, as the Standards Committee is charged with upholding standards of conduct by our elected representatives and is one of the principal means, outside of local elections, by which voters and residents can hold the conduct of their elected representatives directly to account. A Standards Committee which is not impartial, or representative, or fair, but is instead made up of people who are compromised by their friendships with Councillors, is no longer a means of openness, accountability and transparency, but is instead rotten and undemocratic and renders unjust decisions and props up corrupt regimes. When confronted with the evidence and asked to call for the resignations of Ware and Lambert, Linda Wade refused and prevaricated. As a result of this, the voters of Earls Court can reasonably ask if this is because she has put her friendship with Ware above the interests of democracy and the interests of residents in Earls Court and the Borough.
For this reason, the blog cannot support Linda Wade, as once you cut through the rhetoric about change, a new politics, and tackling corruption at the Council, when you ask her concerning one specific means by which this can be done, she has evaded the issue. This leaves open the option for her of continuing with the existing regime, of business as usual, after the election. If she cannot even commit on such an issue of calling for the resignation of Ware and Lambert before being elected, this really does not bode well for her performance as a catalyst for change after her possible election, which the blog now suspects is as distant a prospect as it has been many times before.