Richard Willis's Blog

First for local news and first for comment

Greens to Install A Labour Mayor and Administration in Reading

Today it has become clear that the Greens are set on allowing Labour to run Reading as a minority administration. Both Greens and Labour have released copies of letters between them. More of that later.

Labour have been saying on blogs and to anyone who would listen that they “have a mandate” to run Reading. However, they do not have a majority on the Council with 22 seats (24 are needed for a majority). The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition also has 22 seats. In the local elections Labour received 17,778 votes or 39.9% of the total votes cast; the two parties of the Coalition received 20,942 votes or 47% of the vote. The Greens received 4,999 votes which is 11.2% of the votes cast. So of the two alternatives, it is the Coalition that has “the mandate” if one exists. Only if the Greens entered formal coalition with Labour would they have a majority of votes cast in the elections and a majority in the Council chamber.

Last year when the Coalition had a majority of seats in the Council we honored the fact that Labour’s Cllr Gul Khan was the Deputy Mayor and supported his elevation to the Mayoralty. This year the Deputy Mayor is Conservative Cllr Jenny Rynn and she had every right to expect that the other parties would honour the standing convention that after a year of loyal service the Deputy Mayor succeeds the Mayor. Indeed the Greens promised to us and the Lib Dems that fairness dictated that they would support Jenny’s candidacy at the Annual Meeting of the Council on Wednesday. Some of us always suspected that the Greens would then be true to their left-wing credentials and install a Labour administration.

The public exchange of demands and letters is revealing. It suggests that the Greens have been suckered by Labour into allowing them to take office but without the restraint of a formal coalition agreement. Labour’s letter is a list of “promises to investigate” and “when resources allow”. The Greens seem unaware that Labour are offering nothing in return for the power they will gain. Indeed many of the Green “demands” are already in set hand by the Coalition.

At the request of former Cllr Wazir Hussain 20mph limits are planned for Park ward roads and residents’ parking areas were already planned to be extended where residents agreed; a new East Reading Study Group, to tackle the problems of Cemetery Junction and the surrounding area, was to be set up after the local elections; and Kennetmouth and the listed Horseshoe bridge were to be protected. Labour’s letter offers nothing that was not already in their plans e.g. they have long planned a public transport link across Kennetmouth from Thames Valley Park to Reading Station but they are being disingenuous on the Third Thames Bridge. They rule out a “motorway link” which is in no-ones thoughts or plans and to my knowledge never has been. The land needed to build the third bridge is in Wokingham and South Oxfordshire and neither authority would ever agree to a “motorway link”. Labour’s deviousness on this attempt to deceive the Greens is highlighted by their Transport spokesman’s regular calls to me in public forums not to let the Third Bridge slip down the list of priorities.

The Greens have willingly been taken for mugs by Labour and in so doing have allowed the worst tribalism of Reading Labour Party to manifest itself once again in not allowing Cllr Jenny Rynn to succeed to the Mayoralty this year. Traditionally the Mayor chairs Council meetings and sits above party politics. However, this year’s Labour Mayor will be a very “political Mayor” (as was blogged by Cllr Rachel Eden before she was instructed to take down her blog post). That this should happen is Labour’s doing, aided and abetted by the two Green Councillors. This deal between Labour and the Greens will harm the Greens and only benefit Labour. When the next local elections come we will remind the people of Reading how it came to pass.


May 23, 2011 - Posted by | Local


  1. You’re being a bit disingenuous about the Mayoralty. With no majority, the position becomes political by definition as it has a casting vote in the event of a tie. Most years it is a little bauble to reward people who are impressed by that sort of guff, or, in its best sense, an ambassador for the town and a good way of raising money for charity.
    Also, what is this “Coalition” (your capital letter)? There was a coalition last year, when between you and the “yellow bastards” (© ConservativeHome) a majority could be arranged, but that no longer applies. You even took a seat off them in Tilehurst.
    If, Allah forbid, I were a Green, I would think that this is good politics on their part.

    Comment by Jonny | May 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well said Richard..

    Rob White’s claim that the Green’s stand for fairness and integrity is laughable. I wonder if he will be able to look at Cllr Rynn on Wednesday and feel no shame.

    And Gul Khan certainly betrays the honour given him of being Reading’s first citizen if he does not vote for his deputy to succeed him.

    Comment by Anna | May 24, 2011 | Reply

  3. The “Watermelon Party”. Vote Green, get Red.

    Comment by steve foley | May 24, 2011 | Reply

  4. I am afraid Cllr White is even more naive than i thought he was.

    An amateur thrashed by seasoned professionals and he doesn’t even

    I hope he doesn’t play poker.

    Comment by DAVE WARREN | May 24, 2011 | Reply

  5. On the subject of how we have done for our residents in the negotiations you can speculate all you like, but it will be the local elections in 2012 when we will find out what people think.

    On the subject of the mayor you are talking rubbish Richard. I said to Councillor Cumpsty shortly after the elections that at the time we had no plans for anything other than a Conservative mayor, but that if we changed our minds we would let him know. We changed our mind and let him know, but he appears to have forgotten this.

    Telling blatant lies is one of the reasons that the Conservatives lost their councillor in Park Ward this year. Feel free to carry on lying, but it will do you no good.

    Comment by Rob White | May 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Ooooh Rob what an hysterical reaction!!! Welcome to the real world of politics and hard decisions.

      I know you don’t like people seeing through your “fairness and integrity” facade but we have seen through it and you will forever now be tarred as Labour’s patsies. When Labour fail to deliver on most of what you think they have promised you it will be interesting to see if you think that shafting an excellent Deputy Mayor was the right thing to do.

      Comment by Richard Willis | May 24, 2011 | Reply

  6. I won’t bother to correct all of this, but I just want to correct one incorrect statement. I wasn’t ‘instructed to take down my blog post’ in fact as you may remember blogger lost about 30 hours of posts at that time and I have been too busy to rewrite what I wrote at the time. I expect you can imagine why.

    If by any chance you have saved what I wrote I would be more than happy to republish it.

    Comment by Rachel Eden | May 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Rachel – I am happy to publish your comment and take your word for it. It was one of my Labour sources who told me that you were instructed to take it down!

      Comment by Richard Willis | May 27, 2011 | Reply

  7. On the subejct of “taking down blog posts”, so far on Chris Maskell’s blog, I have counted several posts which have disappeared in the last month. Why, surely Mr Maskell engages brains before mouth ( or in this case, keyboard). He is afer all an long standing Councillor and experienced activist ( that’s what his bio says!). One can only conclude then somebody did not like what was written and asked for it to be removed or corrected. Unless Mr Maskell comes up with very good reasons for the missing posts, I shan’t change mind that vetting takes place on the local Labour blogs. Probably the reason why some posting is not as frequent as on other blogs.

    Comment by Elaine | May 27, 2011 | Reply

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