Castle County Councillor Belinda Brooks-Gordon Standing For Parliament in Haverhill


Monday, March 8th, 2010. 4:39am


Screenshot BelindaBG on Twitter

A few days ago I noticed that Belinda Brooks-Gordon, the Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Castle Ward in Cambridge, had blocked me from following her on Twitter. This piqued my interest so I made sure I monitored her public twitter feed carefully. On Friday she posted a tweet saying she was in Haverhill and I noticed her Twitter “Bio” had been updated to read: “Lib Dem PPC for West Suffolk”.

An article published on Monday the 1st of March in the East Anglian Daily Times confirms that Brooks-Gordon has been selected as the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for West Suffolk in the next general election; the constituency includes Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket.

Brooks-Gordon has launched a new website dedicated to her Parliamentary campaign. Interestingly that site as a whole, and particularly the biography where it would be expected, doesn’t at the time of writing mention the fact she is a county councillor for a ward in the city of Cambridge. On the flip side Brooks-Gordon’s distinctly separate website, aimed at her constituents in Cambridge doesn’t mention her parliamentary candidature at all. Those electors in Castle following their representative via the original website won’t see any evidence of a new-found interest in Chedburgh, Wickhambrook and Withersfield.

When I first saw I had been blocked from following Brooks-Gordon thought it was just me. (Though Brooks-Gordon has been supportive of some of my campaigns eg. opening up secretive City Council meetings and reforming the police authority). Now I’m wondering if all those based in Cambridge have been removed as a result of the new change in focus as part of attempts to keep it under wraps, or at least not draw too much attention to it within the city. The Lib Dems are well practised at this kind of thing; Julian Huppert managed to stand as a Parliamentary Candidate in Huntington without drawing too much attention to his activities there back in Cambridge.

Brooks Gordon Pothole

I think there is marked difference in openness and transparency between Brooks-Gordon’s activities and those of Tariq Sadiq who is both Labour’s county councillor for Coleridge and Labour’s PPC for South Cambridgeshire. Cllr Sadiq is very open about his dual role, with his website tagline of “for Coleridge and South Cambridgeshire”. I recall that during Cllr Sadiq’s election as a county councillor the fact he was to be the PPC for South Cambridgeshire was known and was part of the campaign; those who elected him in Coleridge did so in the full knowledge that he would have a major campaign outside the ward with potential to distract him from his duties there.

I get the impression that as yet many Castle residents are unaware of what their elected representative has been getting up to; I wonder what they’ll make of it.

20 comments/updates on “Castle County Councillor Belinda Brooks-Gordon Standing For Parliament in Haverhill

  1. Edward

    In fairness, Huppert’s site does briefly mention his candidacy in Huntingdon last time round – http://www.julianhuppert.org.uk/content/key-facts-about-julian – but it’s not something he wants to play up, as it rather contrasts with his message about having been in Cambridge almost all his life.

    I agree it’s something politicians in general ought to be more open about. There aren’t going to be many Lib Dems in West Suffolk, any more than there are huge amounts of Tories in central Glasgow or Labour supporters in north Sussex. Without a local organisation, it’s hard for would-be candidates to build the experience and confidence to consider standing for parliament.

    This means you’ll have more potential candidates from strong areas, and they can’t all stand in those same strong areas. Hence there will be a drift from centres to peripheries of support.

    But I don’t see this as a negative – these days very few people will live in one town their whole lives. What’s important is the willingness to make a commitment to the new area. I assume Brooks-Gordon isn’t moving to Newmarket, as it makes the train journey in to Birkbeck significantly more awkward.

    Personally I’d like to see it made a condition of candidacy that you’ve lived in the constituency for at least six months prior to the election. This wouldn’t stop ambitious non-local politicians entering parliament, but it would force them much more to commit to one particular area, which can only be a good thing in terms of constituent service.

  2. Phil Rodgers

    “Personally I’d like to see it made a condition of candidacy that you’ve lived in the constituency for at least six months prior to the election”. I can’t say I agree with this – it should be up to the electorate to decide what they think about the candidate’s localness. There are some (quite complicated) rules about local connections that apply to candidates for local council elections, however.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    Huppert is being very open now about his failed candidacy in Huntington, he mentioned it explicitly at a recent hustings too.

    What I wrote in the article refers the fact that when he stood there in 2005 while a County Councillor in Cambridge his candidacy didn’t appear to be well known in Cambridge.

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    She’s used to commuting.

    As part the “I’ve had it tough” tone of her campaign, which is apparently seeking a sympathy vote despite describing a relatively charmed life, Brooks-Gordon has said :

    for three years I worked in Leicester doing research on criminal justice and public safety while living in Cambridge (a 150 mile round-trip).”

    So much for the Lib Dem vision of Cambridge her Lib Dem colleagues such as Sian Reid have – where everyone walks and cycles to work.

  5. Doreen Plumb

    I do hope Belinda B-G moves to Haverhill! Picking up the comment about living in a constituency for at least six months prior to the election…

    You may recall the by-election one very cold December 2004? which saw David White elected as a County Councillor for Castle at great cost to the local taxpayer. This was neatly executed to facilitate Sal Brinton’s move to Watford to fight the seat. Something about Castle County Councillors having their sights on the village of Westminster? And they continue to draw substantial allowances supposedly to serve local residents.

  6. David Vincent

    It is inevitable – and traditional – that many of the most ambitious (and often most capable) prospective MPs will have to trot around the country in search of a constituency. And that many of them will fail a few times. Cambridge has only recently shown any partiality for local candidates. A degree from the (older) university has normally been thought enough. When the Conservatives held their short-listing I believe only one of the candidates had a local address. I assume Nick Hillman now has a six-month shorthold tenancy in Beche Road (although I doubt he will have been there quite six months by the time of the election). If he is not elected, it will be interesting to see if he maintains his residence here (and I assume that may largely depend on whether he thinks it will be worth fighting Cambridge again, or whether he will be off looking for somewhere “safer”).

    As Richard says, it is the apparent concealment that can raise some doubts. On the other hand, most candidates stand with little real expectation of winning, even if they are not purely “paper” candidates, so one wonders how much they let it interfere with their work at home. And perhaps the experience they gain is in itself of some worth to their existing constituents.

  7. Deeply Green

    I completely agree with Phil. I live in the Ward I represent and couldn’t contemplate otherwise.

    On a different note, am I finally going to see an article attacking a male?

    I don’t think I’ve seen evidence of stalking – I just finished posting on your secret meeting – but I think can work out why you were blocked on Twitter.

    1. Why would she help you?
    2. why would she want people to think you’re her follower? … and
    3. I’d block you because you annoy me.

    Eric

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    Eric,

    I write about people irrespective of their sex. I have recently been particularly critical of Cllr Cantrill (male) as he failed to act on a commitment to make Cambridge’s City Centre management organisation – Love Cambridge – operate to the same standards of openness and transparency as the council:

    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/love-cambridge-second-members-meeting.html

    As for Belinda Brooks-Gordon blocking me on Twitter I really don’t know the reasons so like you I can only speculate. As you’ve seen unlike you I don’t go for blocking out people who might annoy me I try to understand their point of view and respond.

  9. Doreen Plumb

    Eric

    Please do not play the gender card, nor the unpleasant comments about Richard Taylor site. At last some political discussion which doesn’t patronise us.

  10. Doreen Plumb

    Returning to Castle County Councillors seeking parliamentary seats…

    How many of us are privileged enough to be awarded a minimum allowance of £6K by the County to serve local residents? BBG may be a great campaigner (e.g. non-issues such as hypermarkets and road crossings for students). What about implementation and follow-through? No obvious local political involvement until spring 2009, elected June 2009 for the Lib Dems as Castle became a ‘target ward’. Six months later ‘ the great campaigner’ has her eyes on West Suffolk. I think there are many very able people in Cambridge who would make excellent MPs but they have more integrity and loyalty to the local residents who have given them their step on the political ladder.

  11. Andrew Bower

    Richard, I may have missed something but while he may be more open about it now I don’t recall Tariq making Coleridge residents aware of his South Cambridgeshire candidature prior to his election as county councillor. That is not to say that he went out of his way to hide it but it did seem to be a surprise to many residents.

  12. Andrew Bower

    I do not think that Cllr Brooks-Gordon’s ability to be a good campaigner for West Suffolk is significantly impaired by her living almost half an hour away from the constituency. It does, however, show up the cynical Liberal Democrat campaigning technique of kicking up an almighty fuss about “non-local” opposing candidates who live immediately outside the ward for local election campaigns.

  13. Richard Taylor Article author

    Mike Pitt, Cambridge City Councillor for King’s Hedges, is standing for Parliament in North East Bedfordshire:

    Like Brooks-Gordon Cllr Pitt has set up a completely separate web presence for his Parliamentary campaign and there are no links from his Cambridge focused site to the new North East Bedfordshire site which is at:
    http://www.mike4nebeds.org/

    Cllr Pitt also has a new Twitter feed:
    http://twitter.com/mike4nebeds

    While he is updating his new campaign twitter feed every few hours he has neglected his “CllrMikePitt twitter feed which at the time of writing hasn’t been updated for about three weeks.

    Cllr Pitt is Cambridge City Council’s executive councillor responsible for refuse collection. He receives £11,545 a year for his Cambridge City Council role.

  14. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cllr Pitt has now linked his Cambridge Twitter account to his NE Beds one. He’s also picked up on one of my tweets commenting on the fact all but one of the women’s toilets on Lammas Land was out of order over the weekend (and there was a big queue). I didn’t know the Exec. Cllr for “Environment and Waste” was responsible for public toilets but perhaps he is.

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