At this Thursday’s Full Council rather than address the issues with the roads, missed bin collections, the shocking state of weeds in the city or the issues facing adult social care; York’s Liberal Democrat Group decided to posture with political rhetoric about the EU referendum result. Lib Dems want to hold another referendum (where they would only listen to the result if it goes their way), as they seek to tear up the votes of Leave supporters as well as Remain supporters, but most farcically it is something City of York Council has no jurisdiction over at all.
Below is the speech that Conservative councillor Martin Rowley delivered on the Lib Dem motion:
Thank you Lord Mayor
I am only at my second Full Council but the pattern of Lib Dem motions continues – a cynically divisive motion that is nothing to do with anything the council can influence and is instead about media headlines and electioneering.
I came into politics at the rather sedate age of 57 with 2 main aims in mind. Firstly, to represent the residents of Osbaldwick & Derwent, by being their voice in this chamber. Secondly and just as importantly for me, to bring some honour, mutual respect and dignity back into the role of an elected public servant. In my short time as a councillor I hope these qualities have been visible in the way I have conducted myself with both fellow councillor and the officers who so ably assist us is our duties.
I am saddened therefore by the tone, language, and inference of this motion. This is clearly divisive, talking relentlessly about the Conservative government this and that, when we are where we are after every UK wide party supported having a referendum, then voted to trigger Article 50 which included the
default position of ‘No Deal’. In 2016 the debate moved from the rights and wrongs of Brexit, to simply whether or not you believe in democracy. Can I remind the Liberal Democrats of the words of their late leader Lord Ashdown, who said “I will forgive no one who does not accept the sovereign voice of the British People once it has spoken whether it’s by 1 percent or 20.”
Instead Lord Mayor, the Liberal Democrats have sought both nationally and locally to sow division and disrupt the process. This has of course locally been with motions where I am informed by Cllr Doughty, Full Council has had numerous similarly absurd Brexit motions; consistent only by their lack of any outcomes.
45,983 York residents voted to ‘leave’ the European Union. This motion make much of standing up for the 58% of York residents who voted ‘remain’. I, my colleage Cllr Doughty, and the York Conservatives will be the voice of those 46,000 residents who voted leave, and those who voted remain, but now unlike the Liberal Democrats believe in democracy.
This motion has no meaningful actions at all. It talks about amounts of money, being liberally splashed around as usual. Full Council motions cannot of course make budget decisions
and this is sadly a political stunt. We also have the obligatory letter to write, this time calling for a second referendum; a referendum of course the Liberal Democrats have already said they will not accept the result of if it doesn’t go their way.
I will vote against the motion, but as at the last Full Council, my thought is a simple one – is it really too much to ask that the party with the most council seats in York actually concentrates on things it can influence?