Funny thing happened at Kent County Council today. Trudy Dean, Leader of the six strong Lib Dem group had demanded a time-limited debate. This allows thirty minutes for cross party debate on a specified topic.
She chose to accuse KCC of sharp practice by setting up our own commercial businesses. KCC runs buses, a temp agency, and a landscaping operation. It sells energy, furniture and stationery to countless other local authorities, bringing in millions of pounds a year to keep council tax down.
And so it was that the LibDems started their tirade against the Conservatives, fuelling their tiresome and ill-informed yellow leaflets and portraying the LibDems as ‘standing up for Kent businesses’.
But it didn’t quite happen like that. The LibDem accusations fell on deaf ears. Rather than cries of "hear hear", you could have heard a pin drop. Then Derek Smyth stood up for Labour, and backed up the Conservatives’ actions in a powerful speech about "the 21st century face of local government". Other LibDems tried to save face with equally confused and misinformed mumblings, but they just dug themselves in deeper.
Finally, Members were asked to vote on the Liberal Democrats’ motion against KCC. What happened? Massive support for KCC, from both sides of the chamber.
And the Liberal Democrats? Well, they all abstained…