Our parliamentary correspondent Harry Hansard is having a bit of a thin time at Westminster at the moment, so he has pointed his acid-dripping pen at Wincanton, where a dramatic council meeting took place on Monday 24 August. Over to you, Harry
Reminiscent of a Wagnerian opera, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and “Snow White and you-know -who”, Armageddon made a brief visit to Wincanton on August 24th. Outside the wind crashed and the rain came down in stair rods. Inside, for the benefit of Zoomwatchers, a tragedy was played out.
The seven dwarves have it in for the Wicked Stepmother. She has been ingnoring some of them, harassing them by sending too many emails, bullying, fixing the minutes and other crimes. They have had enough. It was time to assassinate her. The knives were out. But in a supreme piece of procedural legerdemain, Standing Orders decreed that the assassins speak, not as elected councillors, but as ordinary residents, thereby neatly blunting their daggers. (Whaaat? -Ed)
First to plunge in the dagger was Councillor Dawn Old, who read the charge sheet “ For 18 months I have been bullied and harassed; you complain at every opportunity at my behaviour, yet no reflection is taken on your own behaviour. You have racked up over 100 formal complaints about you. I have seen you be the cause of 2 clerks going off sick, belittled my colleagues, picked people to co-opt and scripting what they say, fixing votes, minutes of meetings falsely changed. Spending money from reserves, conducting council business outside the full council, selling us out over car parking, and lone meeting with property developers” (foot soldiers of the devil incarnate? -Ed).
She brandished a petition with over 507 signatures (nearly 100 more than the votes received by the Wicked Stepmother) and demanded a vote of no confidence in the WS.
The WS was ready to cut her off at the pass. Step forward on cue, bag carrier Councillor Tudgay . Out of order, he ruled. (Follow this carefully) The councillor was speaking as a resident and not as a councillor and therefore could not initiate a vote of no confidence. That would have to wait for a slot on a probably very crowded agenda.
Councillor Eadington (speaking as a resident, but not as a councillor(!) said it was like being on the Titanic heading for the rocks skippered by the WS. She was off. Stab. So too was Councillor Sue Hinks, fed up with not being informed or involved in council business and excluded from the WS’s inner circle. Stab
Councillor Phil Rogers brandished his dagger. He was voted in to represent the town, he said. But he felt the council now merely represented itself. He would not put up with bullying. Stab
Councillor Old re-entered the fray, her dagger flashing. She thanked the resigners for their years of service and said there was not one remaining councillor she had respect for or could vote for. This was the most corrupt council Wincanton had ever had. She resigned. Stab. Comedic exit to strains of “The Muppet Show”, which drowned out formal proceedings for the next few minutes.
Councillor Hearne complained she no longer had a voice on the council. Her suggestions often never made it on to the agenda. Resign . Stab.
The WS remained unperturbed throughout these assassination attempts. Icily emotionless, she batted away each mortal blow like someone swatting an irritating fly. The brave assassins were reminded that all assassinations had to be in writing, dated, and delivered to the Town Hall.
So rather than witnessing the the bloody demise of the Wicked Stepmother, we ended with the disturbing spectacle of the seven dwarves, well 5 of them, falling on their swords.
The WS had vanquished her foes without lifting a finger. She now reigns supreme, unchallenged and mistress of procedural chicanery. Where is Snow White when you need her?
This is not over.
You can witness the meeting on YouTube-https://youtu.be/V3O9cSatiDU
(Skip the first 2 minutes)