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Chamber POTY – Councillor Rob Pocock

Chamber POTY – Councillor Rob Pocock

🕔20.Dec 2012

I’m rather worried about Paul – as the eponymous Mary might have put it in Mrs Dale’s Diary, the long-running radio serial drama (never ‘soap opera’) that posthumously lent its title to our Chamberlain Files’ diarist’s daily offerings.

First, he nominates a place (Sutton Coldfield) for the Chamber PERSON of the Year award – apparently on the grounds that its persistent pretentiousness and general behaviour are so aggravating that the award’s rules should be extended to encompass an ‘Irritant of the Year’ –

Then, following the news of police-fabricated evidence in the ‘plebgate’ case, he seeks to rehabilitate Sutton Coldfield MP and disgraced former Conservative Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, by nominating him as well – for being “a first class International Development Secretary” – .

Sorry, Paul, but my guess is that, whatever the path of Mitchell’s future political career, his record in his two Cabinet posts to date will both be remembered by non-politicos more for the manner of his departure than for the distinction of his performance. He, and we, will always have ‘Plebgate’, whether or not we ever learn the precise foul and offensive words he actually used.

Similarly, whatever the exact balance of evidence available to him, Mitchell’s generally commendable record as ID Secretary will surely be overshadowed for many by his controversial personal decision on his final day in office to pay £16 million of previously suspended aid to Rwanda, notwithstanding the country’s support of rebel militias in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo: an action the Commons ID Select Committee recently pronounced not only questionable, but incomprehensible –

So, no: the erstwhile Minister would not be my choice even for the Sutton Coldfield POTY. Rather, my nominee for that honour, who I’d suggest, ultimate localist though he is, would more than qualify also as West Midlands POTY, is the town’s Labour Councillor – yes, Labour Councillor – Rob Pocock, the first non-Conservative member to represent any Sutton Coldfield ward on the City Council since the merger with Birmingham in 1974.

I endeavoured to convey the measure of and credit due to this historic electoral achievement in my post-elections blog back in May – – and will certainly not attempt a rehash here. I merely add a couple of concluding thoughts – partly for Paul Dale’s benefit.

First, Councillor Pocock’s nomination obviously enables consideration of the virtues and otherwise of Sutton Coldfield, but legitimately as a Person, rather than a Place. Second, if it’s an irritant you’re after, I doubt if the town’s new member would have any objection at all to being so described. Indeed, within weeks of his election, he was irritating away in the Council House – at his own party leadership for paying attention to areas of deprivation at the cost of ‘Labour’s leafy suburbs’, continuing his campaign for the re-establishment of a Sutton Town Council, and plenty more besides. Many more of his sort, and there’d be a serious risk of councillors becoming the esteemed local figures that their predecessors once were.

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