Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Where did it all go wrong?

I've canvassed for the Labour Party for about 40 years.I canvassed in the good times and in the bad times and in the very bad times.
In the early seventies,when parts of Duston were in Castle Ward I remember a leading trade union official who lived there sort of secretly pledged support but wouldn't put a poster up-in case the neighbours would be offended!
Times changed of course and that trade union official went on to be a prominent Borough and County Councillor.
When times were good everyone wanted to show that they were part of 'New Labour'-millionaires and TV personalities and honest fresh faced property developers and bankers all flashed their party affiliation like it was going out of fashion.

Of course New Labour lost some of the features that made the Labour party distinctive.Socialism was an early casualty, and not long afterwards even Social Democracy took a bit of a tumble-but what the hell! After 18 years of Tory misrule we were winning and it didn't much matter how we won.
Old lefties were derided and hounded into either silence or exile.The New Labour project was always about winning regardless of what we were winning.
And that's the rub, a Parliamentary Party consisting largely of chancers and opportunists.
Principles-that's Old Labour-policies-who cares as long as we win-ideology-that's even older than Old Labour.
So what you are left with is a hollowed out shell of an organisation and what is happening in Westminster today os the result of the destruction of the values of the Labour party.
The nepotism and cronyism is endemic in the Labour party because all it has been about over the last few years is winning
Lets win Mondeo man,lets win suburban middleclass,lets win businessmen,lets win the high rollers.
Parachute our gfavoured sons and daughters into 'safe' seats and get rid of the awkward squad-those who thought the Labour Party was a political Party that cared about social justice and equality.
The events two years ago in my own ward of Castle here in Northampton should have been warning enough.The regional Labour party,that once had some real power and influence in deciding policy and even had annual regional conferences is an invisible bunch of forelock tuggers.
Did you know it is impossible to get a list of members of the East Midland Regional Executive!
Invisible little grey apparachniks.

the Regional Director(no less) decided on some very flimsy evidence that Castle Ward was not fit to select its own candidate-and imposed a useless creature from outside(but luckily a friend of S.Keeble MP,friend of tumble driers everywhere)
Imposing candidates on Castle wardhas become a habit of the Regional Director and she has done it again for the County Council(same candidate)

Two years ago the Regional party ,without telling the local branch or constituency spent over £800 of members money getting this woman trailing home a very poor second.

This time round,with no ward organisation and over 70 other candidates facing meltdown,they intend to spend over £800 again to try and get this pathetic candidate back!

This is the evidence of a Party without purpose or principle,simply perpetuating their own clique because there is nothing left to do.

What they are doing in our ward is replicated up and down the country and reaches its apex in the ugliness that is the PLP saving its own bacon!

There is now no purpose in the presently constructed Labour Party.
Forty years of effort and the end result is Sally Keeble and Tess Scott!!
and an authoritarian right wing political machine that leaves great swathes of social reform untouched.
Socialism anyone?

Friday, 8 May 2009

Now is the time to come to the aid of the County

No,I don't mean the County Cricket Club-too early in the season for that but rather the County Council.
June 4th sees the County Council elections and already the turn out predictions are dire.Some commentators are talking about a 20% turnout, and something similar for the European elections.

This is the anti-politics nation and we are caught in a national consensus of 'I can't be bothered'.

Anyone who has canvassed over the past twenty(or in my case forty) years has seen the decline in interest in political ideas and activism.In fact canvassers are as rare as hen's teeth these days and for a number of reasons:
1.the reluctance of people to open their front doors because of television/fear/indolence/or a simple lack of interest in anyone from outside!

It is frequently argued that the rejection of the political process represents a healthy cynicism-that frankly is bollocks!
What the rejection of the political process represents is a fear of getting involved in thinking about ideas and consequences.It is interesting to observe how many people say that they are not interested in politics and then come out with an astonishing dribble of half baked opinions and second hand anecdotal evidence that consists of hand me downs from the popular press.

Too many people talk and think scribble,and they of course are the raw material on which the bottom feeders of politics thrive.
The BNP and their ilk,UKIP and the Christian Peoples Allianceall exist in the shadowy world of anti ideological politics-the politics of hate,envy and bigotry.

Trouble is they exist in a vacuum that the major parties have created.Most particularly the Labour party,that over the past couple of decades have abandoned the social democratic/socialist principles it once stood for and become a party with no roots and no vision.

The labour party will evolve into radical party once again,but there may be a great deal of pain involved in that evolution and there will be casualties on the way.
But only a strong socialist party with a collective vision for the future will be able to resist the anti politics of the far right.
Part of that process will be the rebuilding of strong roots in the communities that need to work as communities,as local people organising together in the interests of all their neighbours.
The labour party was founded by trade unions who saw the need to combine together to improve the lives of everyone.
Right now we are back at the earliest stage of building such combinations and communities again.
That's why it may be necessary to create local centres to organise and fight on local issues and to encourage people to come from behind their front doors and forget whats on the TV-to hope again!
That's why the sort of campaign that Tony Clarke is fighting in Castle Ward is worth supporting!

And despite all the bluster and bravado the nazis of the BNP,with all the big bucks rolling into their coffers can only manage three miserable candidates in Northampton.