Sorry – I missed this first time round. The death knell for a political idea, to be described as ‘interesting’. Let’s hope I stick at interesting and don’t start making any ‘courageous’ posts! I shall, as ever, choose to take as a compliment anything which can be thus interpreted.
I should have continued my analogy to point out, as you in effect do, that every cricketer has to take their turn at fielding as a responsibility that comes as part of having the other two roles, and indeed while not all may bowl, any might be called on to bat for at least a little while. In my head it was all making sense until I started thinking about wicketkeepers (group whips who try to make sure the bowling doesn’t do more harm than good, maybe?).
There is a real problem in terms of casework – it would be a real success for government at all levels if casework about Council issues could mostly come to Councillors, at least at first – it could be dealt with more rapidly, give Councillors a wider insight into local problems, avoid misunderstandings, and take some administrative load off MPs.
The real problem is I think that too many people do recognise that while Councillors can “only” raise a case again, not influence the result, the terror felt by many Councils of their local MP means that the “no favours, slightly quicker” line is more likely to be crossed.
My most rewarding experience of helping a Councillor with their casework was around them supporting a couple of families through appeals to get their daughters into their good local school, rather than a less good one which was in any case an unsafe walk away. Good help, right outcome, but potentially quite close to the line if interpreted very strictly?
A further issue, but very important, is how many Councils are led by their Councillors (collectively) as against how many are driven by an individual strong leader or core Cabinet, with the support of a political Group of course, but with, for many, that group’s passive votes rather than active engagement across all the key issues. Or, heaven forbid, those largely driven by their Chief Executive and senior officer team. I have a notion this may be particularly prevalent where the Council’s “ambitions” are around performance in inspections, or specific plans for economic development.
Is the problem not so much that people don’t understand what Councillors are doing “in Council”, as that they often don’t need to, because the wiggle room is much smaller than it once was, and the likelihood of reversals against the majority position smaller, if not unheard of. That may not be wholly out of line with the Parliamentary analogy, to be honest!
Late night stream of consciousness there, I reserve the right to change my mind about everything tomorrow.