THE VIEW FROM HERE AN interesting development in the code of conduct governing our councillors sees some rule changes. Members have always had to comply with the requirements of the council’s register of interests but must now also declare any relevant interests which apply to their spouses or partners.
This has caused quite a bit of fluster in some quarters and various misgivings about the new arrangements were expressed at last week’s council meeting.
There was some attempt at reassurance, with members being told they only had to declare a spouse’s or partner’s interests of which they were aware.
I don’t know whether this makes things better or worse. I would imagine if you were the spouse or partner of one of our councillors, you would need quite a few interests other than the conversational titbits brought home by your beloved.
Recreational drugs spring most immediately to mind (particularly if your spouse or partner is keen on relaying the latest doings of the audit committee), though I am naturally not suggesting for one moment there are councillors’ wives rushing off to the boudoir for a quick spliff the moment their husbands depart for another thrilling session at County Hall.
Still, there may be other interests which keep these consorts from going round the bend, though not necessarily ones they wish to share with their co-habiting councillor.
If your own pet councillor sits, say, on the IW Pension Fund Committee, what better way to keep a smile on your face than to secretly transfer some funds from your joint account into an online gambling school?
And if you’re heartily fed up with hearing about what goes on with the scrutiny committee, who could blame you if you decided to do a bit of scrutinising yourself via the lonely hearts column?
If everybody remains sensibly discreet, there is no need for councillors to be aware of these interests and the code of conduct can thus be adhered to with the utmost integrity. But this latest mention of spouses and partners having "interests" may well cause councillors to hear the warning bells of dark suspicion.
I implore them to ignore these bells. If you happen to be a councillor and your spouse or partner is still at the breakfast table, handing you the toast, that is all you need to know. The fact that the moment you go off to County Hall, they’ll be out of the house and doing shady deals with Russian oligarchs or meeting Jimmy Carr over coffee, need not concern you.
But beware. It will only work if you don’t upset your spouse or partner. So next time you feel you’d like to tell them about paragraph 2 (footnote B, sub-section iv) of the council’s budgetary proposals, think on. It may be payback time, with your sweetheart getting out the register of interests form and telling you about the cannabis factory they’ve established in the greenhouse.
Your chance to wear a lovely shiny rosette
IF all these new rules and requirements don’t put you off and you fancy trying your hand at being a councillor, why not stand at the election next year? Don’t worry if you think you’re not up to the job. There aren’t many councillors among the present bunch who are.
And electioneering is tremendous fun. You can wear a lovely shiny rosette and disturb people by knocking on their doors just as they’re sitting down to their tea.
Then you can go to the count and stalk around while the votes are counted, arranging your features into an expression of modest confidence as the tension builds. If you’re victorious you get a nice allowance and if you lose you’ll never have to meet anybody from County Hall, so it’s a win-win situation really.
The count should be a cheerily magnanimous occasion, with winners and losers showing generosity towards their opponents. It is not supposed to be the unfortunate evening which followed the poll for a seat on Shanklin Town Council, when Lib Dem Bob Blezzard chose to have a pint and watch football rather than attend the count.
This was regarded as very poor form and he was also blamed for wasting money in calling for the election in the first place, particularly as he came last. Another unsuccessful candidate got upset about suggestions he was a BNP member and the winner had to apologise.
Let there be none of this beastliness at any election count next year. If you stand, it is your duty to be there. You can go to the pub afterwards.
Should you come last, like Mr Blezzard, you’ll certainly want to do so in order to toast your good fortune in not becoming an IW politician.