Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The job of an opposition is to oppose!

The twenty second of March 2013 was the day that the Labour Party in Northampton  finally gave up its claim to be a political party that represented anyone other than itself.
The evening in the Guildhall started off well enough, as a piece of gesture politics the walkout by Labour councillors before the Tory administration gave its eulogy to Thatcher was quite good theatre.Marred only be the fact that their colleagues in Corby had done it in a far more stylish way the week before,but at least it erred on the side of righteous indignation.
However it went downhill after that,in dramatic style.
A couple of weeks ago there was a demonstration on the Guildhall steps against the bedroom tax.A couple of Labour councillors, Stone and Mennell turned up and spoke passionately against the legislation.Sally Keble also appeared,at least for the press photo-call and then scurried off.
So far so good.
Then came the meeting.Labour had five motions to be debated and the last one was about the bedroom tax.
To call it a motion is in fact stretching credulity.it was more a whimper,it was the mom and apple pie version of a motion.
First it called the bedroom tax 'so called', thus rather undermining the national party's decription of the tax.It then rambled on a bit about it being something the Labour group was against and would fight it 'through the usual channels' and it then came to a dramatic dénouement- the high point of the labour Party's stand against what many think is Cameron's poll tax moment.
NBC Labour group was urging the Tory administration to speed up the creation of an appeals panel!
Yes you've read it here first-the labour party has decided that barricades and defence of tenants is a bit passée, so instead of calling for no evictions as the Green led Council in Brighton has done,or redesignating rooms as many Labour council's have done-the passionate political giants on Northampton want an appeals panel to be set up quickly.
Of course the fact that the Tory administration would set up and dominate the panel and that it demonstrated quite clearly the defeatism of the Labour Party really diodn't bother the assembled comrades.
After all Lee Mason, former Labour leader and former Chair of housing cheerfully admitted that it was a non-political resolution!
A non- political resolution about the most politically contentious issue facingf local government today!
For good measure she also confessed that as an opposition party they did not have a majority and therefore could not win a vote.
The logic therefore is to present a defeatist motion, get it passed and proclaim in every Labour Rose a great victory!
Torry Wire the Leader rather lamely criticised those of us who urged that they withdraw the motion that we should have heard them last montgh,when no doubt in an opposition business statement they told the Tories that they were all very naughty boys and girls.

The tragedy of all this is that over the next few months things are going to get worse, and tenants might have hoped that the opposition would at least put up forceful arguments in the Council chamber to give them some hope and inspiration.
But the rules of debate in NBC mean that the topic cannot be revisited for several months(six months seems to be the period)
This was known to the Labour group and even discussed,but yet they allowed the  weakest and most pathetic resolution to stand.And they even managed to lose that fucker!
The Tories were playing with them, the anodyne resolution from Mason had its rug whipped away by a sanguine Tory leader who was enjoying himself hugely at the expense of the official opposition.

Even the Lib-Dems made a better fist and tried to warn the Labour party of where their Tory appeasing motion was headed.It was instructive to see the look of anguish on the faces of some of the Labour councillors,but sadly anguish was not enough.
Lee Mason and her non-political motion has failed the Labour party in Northampton, if they win more seats in the County Council elections it will only because the Tories and Lib-Dems are even more unpopular, but this sad display of ineptitude has revealed just how hollow and directonless the local Labour Party have become.
And that is not only bad news for those who seek socialist transformation but for the people of Northampton.

Labour councillors hang your heads in shame!      

Saturday, 13 April 2013

I've been trying to avoid mentioning her

Far too many trees have gone to the great forest in the sky on order to give the last rites to Margaret Thatcher. I'm completely bored with the idolatry that has surrounded her death and the endless vilification that has been heaped on anyone who has dared to criticise her.
One huge piece of of irrelevant fawning that has accompanied every apology about her from people who know how much damage she has done begins with the :
"She was an old lady and you have to think of her grieving family...."
Her grieving family who both lived thousands of miles away,allowed her to live alone in that private home for the rich and useless-The Ritz
Her doting family cared so much about her in her dotage that they stayed as far away as possible from leaving,leaving her care to paid minders and the odd sycophantic Tory MP.
The only unforgivable thing about her doting family is that the boy Thatcher wasn't arrested when he finally touched down for all his dodgy activities in Central Africa and elswewhere.
How did a knob like him amass a multi-million pound fortune?He even managed to fail his accountancy exams!

The fact that she was an old woman who died alone in her expensive suite,donated by the Barclay Brothers(offshore newspaper owners and arrogant gits) is quite sad.But before too many tears are shed think about the thousands of working peole who died prematurely because of her actions.
Suicide rates in mining communities have been high ever since she used the state to break the miners and their union.
Unemployed youngsters in the communities her policies ravaged are greater victims than any sad old millionaire popping her clogs on the Strand.

Those of us who oppose her are not bothered about her as a person,but rather the politics that her administration promulgated that gave power to the wealthy and greedy,as well as the corrupt and in some cases frankly evil.
Just look at the guest list to her funeral that we are so generously paying for, what a bunch of bloodsucking leeches, has-been politicians,underwhelming 'entertainers' and neo-cons and failed authoritarian leaders from the dark side.
If Jimmy Saville was alive he'd be in the front pew,along with Pinochet,PW Botha and that lunatic Reagan.
She chose her friends well,but then she served her class interests well.So it is a huge but not unexpected surprise to see the Blairite hegemony circling  her wagon protectively.No wonder Blair is keen to remind everyone that he won three elections too and when his time comes will expect a Queen or two following his coffin.
He was as most remind us the natural heir to her policies,he was happy to keep up the privatisation fandango,enrich the bankers,ignore and weaken the trade unions, and start fucking useless overseas wars when things got a bit tough at home.

The last few days and the next four or five have given the Tory party a lifeline, they have cowed the official opposition into being complicit with the longest and most sustained party political broadcast for this discredited coalition.

Here in Northampton the slightly foxed and largely discredited local Tories have launched a Thatcherfest with memorial resolutions at council and books of condolence and flags at half mast and all the other symbols of state power.
I expect they are only sorry that they can't deck all the lamposts with union jacks,portraits of the dear departed leader and solemn funereal music piping out of loudspeakers all over town.
I expect there are some who would like to hang a couple of retired miners or unemployed steelworkers just to give added authenticity to the ceremonial  mourning.

There is a chain we have to break, from Thatcherism through monetarism   via the free market to Blairism. 
Working people and their organisations didn't create the crisis of capitalism, capitalism created the crisis of capitalism and the local manifestation in this country was the political ideology that dominated the 1980's.
If the people are ever to get off their knees then two things need to happen, the independent organisations of people need to be rebuilt and we need to create a new party that will look towards a progressive future for the young people who are wondering why we old grey beards are humming a tune from the 1931 film 'The Wizard of Oz'
The forward march of the Munchkins resumes!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Time for the party to come to the aid of the people

FAO George Carr-Williamson -Regional Organiser East Midlands Labour Party

Dear George,
You told me that Cllr. Naz Choudary has been sending you my columns,presumably not because he is a fan but rather he is hunting out heretics and thought you should know.Well this time I'll save him the trouble,and you can judge directly if I should be burnt at the new labour stake!
On Saturday in common with many other places we had a demonstration here in Northampton against the iniquitous 'Bedroom tax'.
A respectable 60-70 people turned up from a variety of groups and individuals to demonstrate on the steps of the Guildhall.
It wasn't quite the magnificent effort that Corby put on, with between 200-300 people and Andy Sawford MP, John McGhee(Leader of NCC Labour group) and the Leader of Corby Council, as well as a number of local councillors.

In Northampton by contrast we had the PPC for Northampton North who posed for some photos then scurried off to do something more important.
We did however have two Labour Councillors,who both spoke and made a welcome contribution.
But on an issue that will affect so many people in this town it has to be asked,where were the other 14 Labour Councillors?

I ask because in the past Labour Councillors here have been in the forefront of such struggles.many years ago,when the late Roger Winter was Labour Leader we turned up with him at 6.30am to join a picket line of  UCATT workers on a council building site.It was a freezing day but we gamely stood there,a pity by the way that the Union convener,a SWP member failed to show!

Some years later another fine comrade,the late Ron Linsdell  during his mayoral year joined a print workers picket line outside the Chronicle & Echo offices.Ron was a print worker but put solidarity with his workmates against the glory of the office.The local Tories and the press excoriated Ron, but the group were proud of him and gave unconditional support.

In those seemingly far off days the Labour Party banner was frequently to the fore, on Saturday there was the Green Party banner,the Co-op Party banner and Defend Council Housing's banner, I wonder if the Labour Party still have a banner?

However there is something important that the 16 Labour Councillors still can do, they can offer leadership and resistance to this dreadful legislation.They have a wordy and pious resolution going forward to the next council meeting.That is frankly too little too late.
The resolution that needs to be put is a very short one:
"NBC will not evict and tenant affected by the 'Bedroom Tax'"
Of course they will not win it,but they might detatch one or two Lib-Dems and add to the coalition chaos.
The other thing of course they need to do is use their size to requisition a special Council meeting, and keep the Tories there all night!
that would not only show leadership but give hope to thousands that there isd a battle on and that it can be won.This tax is the Tories nmew Poll Tax moment and the battle lines are starting to grow.
The other obvious thing that has to be done is the passive defence of any tenant faced with eviction.A disabled speaker on Saturday said that he was facing imminent eviction.If that proves to be the case then apicket line outside her flat by as many Labour Councillors as can get there would be a positive signal that Northampton Labour is getting off its knees!

It was good to see a number of young Labour candidates in May turn up on Saturday,but now the Party must match its rhetoric with political action.

That sufficiently inflammatory Cllr.Choudary?Does it perhaps make you want to slam the phone down again?