Today, the Leicester Mercury reported on the nature of double-standards in Leicester’s predominantly “New Labour” Council. The headline of the Mercury article in question announced: “Lib Dem city councillor faces sanctions after ‘male appendage’ jibe at Labour rival” (October 8).
The chair of the Council meeting, Lord Mayor Steven Corrall, immediately demanded that Coun Nigel Porter retract his jibe at Labour councillor John Thomas, but he refused. Coun Porter instead insisted that his own juvenile insult was a fair response to Coun Thomas’ ongoing heckling. As the Mercury article added:
“After the meeting Coun Thomas said he would report the Lib Dem politician to council barrister and monitoring officer Kamal Adatia because he felt the comment amounted to a breach of the councillors’ code of conduct requiring them to be respectful to each other.”
The double-standard was noted in the last few lines of the Mercury report with regard to the unbecoming actions of Labour assistant mayor Andy Connelly…
“…who, while defending the mayor, suggested Coun Porter seek psychological assistance. That comment drew shocked responses from some of his Labour colleagues of ‘Totally unacceptable’.”
In his comment, Coun Connelly explained how the City Mayor…
“…had certainly achieved more in a month than Coun Porter has ever achieved in all his political life. Perhaps it’s time that he sought the advice and assistance of a psychiatrist because he is clearly, clearly, suffering from an obsessive behaviour.”
Sitting next to Coun Connelly was Coun Sarah Russell who attempted to stop her husband mid-statement by frantically stated “no, no, no,” but unfortunately even she was unable to stop his unacceptable outburst. But strangely, the chair of the meeting then continued as if nothing untoward had happened, which undoubtedly should be judged more harshly than the insult itself.
Coun Connelly later apologised for his comment, noting that “I wasn’t making light of mental health issues.” Apparently he was frustrated by Coun Porter’s “line of questioning” of his boss Sir Peter Soulsby, which included unanswered accusations that Soulsby had invested £70,000 in a city business that was alleged to be utilising zero-hour-contracts.
But the real question that remains unanswered is why did Labour Lord Mayor Stephen Corrall not reprimand Coun Connelly during the council meeting? After all, given the Lord Mayor’s recent retirement from his day job at Glenfield Hospital, he must have been outraged at Coun Connelly’s highly inappropriate comment – all the more so in the light of the important and high-profile campaigning work that Labour is currently promoting in Leicester with regard to better understanding the serious nature of mental health problems.