Council leader suspended from Conservative Party but what next?
Cllr Andrew Bowles leader of Swale Borough Council has been suspended from the Conservative party after he controversially retweeted a post supporting far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
He has also come under fire previously for branding electoral candidates in Faversham as ‘Strange’, according to Kent Online he is reported to have said “I have every confidence in the current Faversham Town Council but all sorts of strange people are talking about coming forward at the next election.”
The backlash to both as I am sure you are aware has been overwhelming, with countless column inches of both local and national newspaper coverage and the response on social media has gone off the charts.
However, what does it ultimately mean going forward?
Can Cllr Andrew Bowles remain in his roles as a Swale Borough Councillor, Leader of Swale Borough Council and his ward councillor role within Kent County Council?
The upshot is that his suspension from the Conservative Party has no bearing on any of these positions at least from a constitutional point of view.
The only role that he can no longer fulfil is that of leader of the conservative group of councillors.
We spoke to the council to get clarification and a spokesman said:
“The council leader is elected to serve in that position by councillors, and the current issue is at this stage primarily a matter for the local party.”
“We have received complaints about the tweet, and will be considering those in line with our usual processes.”
There is some expectation that his suspension will be short-lived and that Cllr Bowles will be reinstated in time for the elections in May.
This is reinforced in a statement which Cllr Bowles has provided today which states “I have agreed to attend training on better use and understanding of acceptable use of social media, and I look forward to putting this issue behind me and continuing to represent the people of my ward who first elected me in 1987.”
He also says “My re-tweet was to express my opposition to various social media platforms banning Tommy Robinson. A view shared by many people from across the political spectrum.”
“In hindsight, I acknowledge that I should not have re-tweeted this post and apologise absolutely for any offense this may have caused.”
So, what do you think, is a training course sufficient recompense?
After all, this is a veteran councillor with over 30 year’s experience whom no doubt has already been in receipt of many such training courses and what of his other blunders. Is it acceptable to mock and intimidate prospective councillors from standing?
Showing comments 1 to 4 of 4
Yes, he should go - and not before time. To speak about Freedom of Speech is one thing, to re-tweet as he did is anentirely different matter. But what does he know about Freedom of Speech?: he presides over an administration that suppresses it at every opportunity as anyone who submits questions to the Council for answer at Council meetings will know and in response to its unlawful actions. If he is to go on a course perhaps it should be one to teach him when to acknowledge the truth even when it is staring him in the face and to admit it when he is wrong. No, he will simply want to treat the whole matter as one (to use his own past words) to draw a line under and move on. It will be an absolute disgrace if he remains as leader. It will be an even greater insult to the opposition minority parties but above all to the people of Swale. He has hoisted himself on his own petard - let him suffer the fate of that! But wait. That old devil called nepotism will have him back with his T shirt for completing the course and re-instate him in time for the May elections.
He should also be suspended for the wilful destruction of agricultural land, for the gains of his developer friends.
He has shown a complete disregard for those he represents at borough and county level on the assumption he knows better than those that gave him his power.
I don't have an issue with free speech that is what a democracy is about, but looking at the whole picture with this and other allegations hanging over him, he should be suspended from both roles until a full enquiry has been completed.