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2015: A year of political revolution on both a local and national scale

PUBLISHED: 09:24 29 December 2015 | UPDATED: 09:38 29 December 2015

Prime Minister David Cameron helps with a reading lesson. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron helps with a reading lesson. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

At the end of a dramatic year for politics, Annabelle Dickson looks back at the eventful and often unexpected political news of 2015.

David Cameron started 2015 unsure if he would still be prime minister by the end.

Jeremy Corbyn certainly would not have predicted that he would lead Her Majesty’s opposition by the year’s conclusion.

The long-awaited general election certainly saw a shake-up in Westminster.

While Mr Cameron’s place in the history books is secure, along with the Scottish National Party which enjoyed a Scottish landslide, for UKIP, Labour, the Green Party and Liberal Democrats, 2015 is likely to be a year they would rather forget.

While national politics was rarely out of the headlines, at a local level a 
continued path of austerity dominated proceedings, as the question of how to run our public services and where power should lie was on the agenda.

Events in 2015 proved the old cliché that a day is a long time in politics is as apt now as it has always been.

It has been a year where a huge amount has happened.

A SURPRISE CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY IN A GENERAL ELECTION

David Cameron walked back into Number 10 after a general election result which the pollsters failed to predict.

Norfolk, Suffolk and the Fens remained largely blue, with just one seat changing hands in Norwich South, where Labour’s Clive Lewis defeated Liberal Democrat Simon Wright.

Norman Lamb clung on in North Norfolk to ensure there was still a yellow presence in the East of England, despite a poor showing for the party nationally.

Bury St Edmunds remained Conservative, but with new MP Jo Churchill replacing David Ruffley.

Nationally, the Conservatives won 330 seats and 36.9pc of the vote – resulting in a working majority of 12.

NEW LEADERS FOR THE DEFEATED PARTIES

Annihilation at the polls for Labour and the Liberal Democrats prompted two high-profile leadership campaigns.

Corbyn-mania came to Norwich in the summer when more than 1,000 people turned up to the city’s Open venue for the veteran left-winger’s rally.

Mr Corbyn was declared the winner of the contest at a special conference in September, where he clinched a stunning first-round victory that dwarfed even the mandate for long-serving Labour leader Tony Blair in 1994.

He won with nearly 59.5pc of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who scooped 19pc of the voting papers, and Yvette Cooper who received 17pc. Liz Kendall came last on 4.5pc.

Mr Corbyn quickly appointed a shadow cabinet, giving old friend and political ally John McDonnell, who grew up in Great Yarmouth, the job of shadow chancellor.

An old school friend from Norfolk confirmed to the EDP that he did have an ability with numbers, recounting how he had whispered the answers to her to save her from having her knuckles rapped.

The Liberal Democrats had already chosen their leader by the time the Labour campaign had really got going.

Norfolk MP Norman Lamb threw his hat into the ring and put up a good fight against the favourite, and ultimate, victor – former party president Tim Farron. Mr Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, won 56.5pc to Mr Lamb’s 43.5pc of the votes in the early summer poll.

NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS TOO

It was not just at national level that leadership battles took place.

At City Hall in Norwich, Alan Waters – a councillor for more than 20 years – took the helm.

At County Hall, the Conservative group appointed its third leader in just 10 months, following a leadership challenge. Cliff Jordan, who had a seven year stint as leader of Breckland Council, replaced Tom FitzPatrick as leader of the 39-strong opposition Conservative group.

At Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Conservative Graham Plant won back control from Labour’s Trevor Wainwright, after his party won two seats at the local council elections in May. In Suffolk, Colin Noble was voted in to lead the Conservatives, replacing council leader Mark Bee, who announced he was quitting in May.

ANOTHER TOUGH YEAR FOR CHILDREN’S SERVICES

The Department for Education drafted in a new commissioner at the end of a mixed year for Norfolk County Council’s children’s services.

Dave Hill, who is currently responsible for children’s services at Essex County Council, has been tasked with assessing if alternative arrangements are needed to look after some of the most vulnerable children in the county.

In October the authority was branded “inadequate” for the way it looks after children for the second time in three years.

Two of three areas within child protection and services for children in care in Norfolk were rated as “requires improvement”, but another – support for looked after children and care leavers – was deemed inadequate. That led to an overall ‘inadequate’ rating, although inspectors had been content with improvement to support for schools.

The county council maintains there has been improvement over the past couple of years.

DEVOLUTION

Norfolk and Suffolk started negotiations with the government for a so-called “devolution deal”.

After announcing a blueprint for Greater Manchester as part of the chancellor’s vision for a “northern powerhouse”, the government urged other areas were urged to come up with their own proposals for which powers and budgets they would like to win back from Whitehall.

The two counties agreed to join forces to submit a bid,

No deal was signed, but the move could pave the way for a new combined authority or elected mayor for the region.

INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE SLOW LANE

Preliminary work on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) finally started this month after a year of setbacks, including the revelation in the summer that the cost of the project had rocketed by £30m. The government, county council and enterprise 
partnership joined forced to plug the funding gap.

News that another road upgrade – the A47 – was not likely to start

construction until 2020, prompted prime minister David Cameron to quip that he would get in the diggers himself.

The campaign to run trains from Norwich to London in 90 minutes took a step forward with key aims in the new contract for an operator, but an upgrade to the junction vital to twice-hourly trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge and Norwich and Cambridge was delayed.

CHALLENGES AT COUNTY HALL

The question of where the axe should fall on council budgets dominated business this year.

Cuts were approved to the transport budget for people using adult social care services in Norfolk, community services, arts funding, libraries and roads spending this year.

Attention turned to cuts of the future proposals. Plans to shut 27 of Norfolk’s 47 libraries to save £1.6m and the most extreme £2.9m cuts to the fire service, which might have led to the closure of 18 fire stations and the loss of hundreds of firefighter jobs, were abandoned. The EDP launched a Save Our Stations amid warnings from fire chiefs that lives could be put at risk.

The fire service is still facing a redesign and it is likely the public could be consulted over the closure of two fire stations – at Outwell and Heacham.

RAF MARHAM JETS EXTEND INTO SYRIA

Prime minister David Cameron finished the year with a convincing parliamentary mandate to extend air strikes into Syria. A day-long debate culminated in MPs giving the green light for RAF Marham jets to carry out missions beyond the Iraqi border with Syria. In our region just Norwich South MP Clive Lewis and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb opposed the extension of the strikes.

25 comments

  • RushallChap; we can hope that 2016 will be a better year but with an assault on democracy, gerrrymandering of politics and dishonesty at the top of governemnt we will be lucky to realise that.

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016

  • John Bridge; I would add that ALL Private Medical hospitals etc. must be forced to train a minimum number of medical staff at their cost and, when Private clinics make a mess of clinical procedures they must pay the NHS to correct their incompetence. The cost to the NHS of bad breast implants and cataract operations was unacceptable.

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016

  • RHC2, I googled 410 and I am still none the wiser, you obviously know more about this than I do. As for just half a percent of the population coming here lets put that into some kind of perspective. When Ken Livingstone said that over 10% of London`s population was asylum seekers the population of said city was around 7`5 million, this number has increased considerably and the people claiming asylum has increased by around 5% year on year. In other words at least five times the population of Norwich are claiming asylum in London alone. Immigration into Britain over the past decade has meant a population increase about the size of Southampton year on year. Kindly explain to me how this is a `just a few`.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Monday, January 4, 2016

  • The prime monster has vowed to eradicate poverty this year ! you just cant believe how this black comedy of a govarment carries on , im guessing we will see another change in the way figures are recorded , shame on you sir !

    Report this comment

    cal

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

  • Ps billy smith - interestingly child beating, corporeal punishment and a monoculture state is exactly the same thing IS and their lot want. So in actual fact the bn,p and them are basically the same. You are exactly the same as the people you claim to despise. Both clubs for losers, shame on you all.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

  • @billy smith and John bridge - here are another few choice excerpts from the bn,p 2015 manifesto. Education, restore discipline-including corporeal punishment. Crime, give judges the option of the death penalty. Immigration and identity, offer generous grants to those of foreign decent resident here who wish to leave permanently (there is no mention of how this would be funded). Basically it's a comedic rac,ist gift that keeps giving; a bit like until death us do part of steroids! Hilarious and tragic.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • @john bridge - there are on a few people coming here. In 2015 there was a net increase of 330,000, when you consider that in a population of some 64.5 million that is only half a percent, hardly life changing. Also consider that even with these extra people we still have hundreds of thousands of job vacancies (the dwp estimated in 2015 there were 700,000 vacancies in the uk economy). So you can chortle and guffaw all you like but that's because you live in an works cut off from the reality of the modern uk. Enjoy your bitter, put your feet up and leave the serious business to those of us who are better equipped to deal with it, there's a good boy.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • @billy smith - maybe you and your family could try working for a living then you wouldn't be reliant on the state for the housing and benefits that you oddly believe you are entitled to by the sheer accident of birth. Further more employment should be based on merit, not simply a case of employing people because of where they are from; that's corporate protectionism if you want that go to France. As for putting you first for paying taxes, that makes no sense. Every employee pays their share, the tax man doesn't care where you come from. The only people who get away from the taxman are osbornes corporate chums. The bn,p are devicive fools who pray on the unfounded fears of the weak willed. Theirs is a politics of fear and ignorance. If you are proud to be counted in their number I, quite genuinely, feel sorry for you.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • @john bridge - FYI there is no problem with multiple accounts, I've already discussed this with the managing editor of the edp and he has no problem with it. If people are crackers enough to want to do it that's absolutely fine. As for your excuse re 'typing 410', pull the other one. Lol, you were caught, fess up.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • i make no apologies for voting for parties that put me and my family first in housing ,jobs and taxes . why should i ?. . I have never hid the fact that i vote for parties like ukip and the b.n.p . The B,N.P have a policy of putting british people first . This is not a crime to want you and your families to be put first in their own country . The left seem to think it is?.

    Report this comment

    billy smith

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • Good morning gentlemen, although I checked my post there were errors, I then posted the 410 post which should have had a forward slash in it but there wasn`t, things seem to go wrong in the sending. As for 410 auto fill I haven`t got a clue! RHC2, if you think I am everybody else then get on to the EDP and get me banned. Now where was I, the five billion quid plus being given to the climate change flood fund by the UK should be spent on flood barriers and flood plains here not abroad. Old pub opening hours should be brought back, if you can`t get enough alcohol down your neck within these times you should give it up. As someone once said, `if you want a café society build more cafes`. All tax on proper bitter should be dropped and put on insipid lager instead. People who advocate wind farms should be taken out and shot because they are all crackers. I wonder if the people rubbing their hands with glee because UKIP failed to make the breakthrough are the same people who were jumping up and down with excitement when Tony Blair was elected? RHC2 says we do not have an immigration problem because `there are only a few coming here` {chortle snort splutter}, theses are his actual words! Anyway peeps I am of to Tesco with the wife, according to whippers {bless `im} I have at least six of them.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

  • The political system in the UK is in tatters & predictably people are arguing about the merits of the Conservative or Labour Party. Until this country introduces Proportional Representation & gets rid of an unelected House of Lords the same arguments will simply be played out over & over again. Surely by now the electorate must have realised that neither the Conservatives under Cameron or the Labour Party under Corbyn are able to dig this country out if the hole it's in? If the Conservatives remain in power then what's left of our public services will be completely privatised & the NHS will be well on the way to suffering the same fate. If Labour get in our military will become a glorified militia & our new allies will be Iran & Hammas. In case anyone thinks I'm disenchanted with politics & the shower that we call MPs then you are probably right!

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • @billy smith - thanks for confirming you support the bn,p. Poor you x

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • @johnbridge - oh dear, your 'typing 410' post rather gives the game away old chum. This is a command for an auto fill program, it lets trolls enter the same text over and over again into multiple comment pages without typing it all in. Generally, they are used by hired hands to fill up chat room etc with their propaganda...as you mention the bn,p presumably they are your paymasters. Poor you, this is a log in name you'll need to burn. Bring back milecross or one of the others! Good night and good bye. Ps don't try and deny it, just fess up and move on.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • @ingo . We still have an unfair voting system because for years the three main parties have blocked a proper vote on pr . All three are at fault ,The liblabcon . They have deliberately done this to block the B.NP from getting mps into parliament and there is no point moaning . The libdems had the opportunity to get Pr and fluffed it . Going on first past the post system we have in the uk the french front national would have been the winner . But their system is different . i will agree with you on this that PR is the best system . Not only does the voting system need changing the corrupt postal vote need to be changed . Look at tower hamlets? . Look at oldham?. A third world voting system exists in the uk today and needs to be changed to make all voices heard . PR would give all who voted a voice instead of a few

    Report this comment

    billy smith

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • Typing, 410

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • I am looking forward to the EU referendum {yes I know I should get out more}, agree with the referendum or not it is not often we have democracy in its true form. I wrote to my MP saying the massive modern Phizer building should be turned into a doctor training facility, could also double as a teaching hospital but above all the doctors should have their university fees paid for as long as they pledge at least five years to the NHS. I was told this would be illegal, can`t think why, change the bl**dy law! I also say that new old peoples homes {couple of sizable ones being built near me} should have say 10% of beds suitable for people who need that little extra medical care rather than block hospital beds, again I`m told it against the law. I think poor countries in Africa should have coal fired power stations built and run for free by the west, easiest way in my view to help them help themselves and in the scheme of things relatively cheap. The BNP say no British armed forces should go into action unless British interests are under threat, sounds good to me {and before the usual suspects start I read ALL manifestos}. In my view the Ukraine situation is the almost forgotten problem, the faceless people behind the wars and the greed must be wetting themselves thinking about all the bombs missiles and hardware they can sell when it all kicks off. Britain is an island and a dose of such mentality would do us good. Fells a bit odd saying this after that lot but happy new year, even to the one that hate my guts.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • Dear ingo, rob and martin, I wish you all a very peaceful and prosperous new year. I, of course, extend those sentiments of goodwill to billy smith and all his aliases aling with everyone else who contribute regularly and occasionally. Have a very good and fruitful 2016.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap2

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • To carry on were Rob left off, why are our party politicians not interested to offer us the choice of a fair proportional voting system? They gave the Welsh, Scots and NIrish this choice, but not the English. Is it more important to preserve the stale status quo, as the establishment and City of London demands, or is the goal of a politicians to serve and represent its constituency? What should we call a party that refuses to have an open inquiry when someone in their midst complains of bullying and takes his own life in desperation? Is the resulting cover up in full swing a sign of compassionate Conservatism? or a sign of bullies and back stabbing that runs through the whole party like a rotten thread?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • Martin Wallis, I am sure most sensible & fair minded people will concur with your analysis. A change in the voting system is what is needed to sustain a modern democracy but we have a Prime Minister who has no heart for democracy and no desire to see the British people put in a position where they may unseat him. It will only chnage when more than 50% of people get off their butt's & say "wev'e had enough" will that ever happen in a country that is glued to TV repeats and soaps in a fantasy world???

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • How can anyone deny the country is in a mess firstly created by a less than competent government and now by a toadying undemocratic bunch of blunderers who have doubled the national debt, failed to do anyhting on flood defences, bombing a country as a vanity act and are handing over much of the island to foreign powers. House prices reach new hights and become even more unafordable, food banks are now the standard shop for many, the high street the tories said they were going to revive gets nowhere near the support the likes of Amazon receive in corporate welfare - to the detriment of the small trader. This chancellor has borrowed more than all labour chancellors in history but still get a hearing when he should be unemployed, the first past the post discredited voting system will eb sustained to promote gerrymandering and the honours system continues to provide gongs to overpaid political toadies. The country is in a mess. When are the media going to start reporting facts instead of fairy stories??? Happy New Year

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Friday, January 1, 2016

  • "Annihilation at the polls for Labour..."? Annhiliation? As Ingo says, the First Past The Post voting system is well past its sell-by date (which was 1832): in the May 2015 general election Labour INCREASED its share of the vote compared to May 2010 by 1.5%, that is by twice as much as the Tories who increased their share by 0.8%: yet the Tories emerged with a 12 seat majority. Discuss...

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

  • Billy, this is a resume of the Governments selective good deeds, well, sort of. I ask myself how we can afford bombing the ME and carrying on with this farce, creating more desperate people, where is all that m,oney coming from? The US is almost running out of ordinance and the arms manufacturers are rubbing their hands in glee at this enthusiasm, and what for? to exploit more fossil fuels, when we just agreed to change our polluting ways? We are forced to pay our police more money, finance Osborne's future tax cuts, and watch him underwrite billions of risky arms deals with countries such as Saudi, Qatar and whoever, because his mates are earning big bucks in the City. The Tories are borrowing and spending record amounts on their hobby horses and vested interests, so what little would we need to integrate refugees? But this is not the thread for it.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

  • @ingo . As you support the uk taking syrian refugees maybe you would like to tell us how bankrupt britain is going to pay for them . ?

    Report this comment

    billy smith

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

  • Another GE fought under an unfair disproportional and fraudulent system landed us with a Tory Government elected by 27% of eligible voters and non voters. We saw record borrowing by apprentice Osborne and economic targets taken out of Grimm's fairytale books, with more and more criminal money laundering in the City of London and failure to stop excessive bonuses. Osborne failed to negotiate the regulation of tax havens under British jurisdiction and he failed to regulate banks, rather preferring them to monger on as they have done. We heard desperate pleas, for more Syrian refugees, and we decided to join a war without legal backing, a war without a plan for the aftermath, a war for oil and gas that does not belong to us. Cameron failed to make his point in Europe because he's opted out of compassionate help for the Syrian refugees he helped to flee, an issue that might break the EU in the long term. Team Cameron and Osborne failed to realise that devolution also includes education matters, the Hewett takeover, against the parents and pupils opinions, was ample evidence of it. Devolution is a mere buzz word for the Tories, its not definitive, or explained to us, or journalists for that matter. Both PM and chancellor also condemned the British public to Chinese and French nuclear servitude, with our taxes. Both countries will get subsidies from us all, during the lifetime of these dangerous and unnecessary plants, add to that what we pay for this expensive electricity and you have colossal sums. To accelerate this move all alternative energy planning is made harder and only privileged persons need apply. There is much more to be said to this year, about dependencies to Chinese and Indian wishes, TTIP, TISA and TPP, but there are so many other well educated people here in Norfolk who can chip in a comment or two.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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