The County Council elections were a tragedy for Northampton in every sense.The re-election of a Tory administration means more of the same.An economic strategy based on cutting services and boasting that what people want is even more cuts so that they can use the money they save in paying low rates to do what?
It is obvious that the rural areas like South Northants,with some of the most expensive properties in the country will be happy with their low rates and thatched cottages and a police officer guarding their garden gnomes 24/7.
But for the urban areas like here in Castle ward we can expect further reductions in services,less street lighting,no youth service,privatised schools,and the usual paraphernalia of the Thatcher legacy.
And what is worse still we have no voice to speak up on behalf of our communities.
Hee in Castle Ward we have lost an outstanding Independently minded Councillor in Tony Clarke.The former Labour MP for Northampton South and an excellent advocate who articulated the needs of this poorest of areas.
The Labour Party in Northampton have proved to be a startling failure of will,a bunch of New Labour clones and retreads who are unable to speak on behalf of their constituents.
In castle Ward(but really the bulk of St Crispins ) Winston Strachan was elected, a nice man whose heart in in the right place but has spent the last four years on the County Council behaving as if he had taken a monastic vow of silence.
Apart from the group of Corby Councillors we have nothing,there was a time that Labour could win the County Council with the majority coming from Northampton.
With all that is happening nationally,with the coalition in tatters and the Tories savaged by UKIP what does the labour Party achieve in Northampton.
A whole gain of three seats!Even the bloody Lib-Dems have done better than the Labour Party.
We were promised a bunch of bright young things who were going to challenge the Tory hegemony.
What we are seeing is the legacy of New Labour,or rather old Keeble and a party so enfeebled by in-fighting and bitter internal feuds that just when there is a need for a strong fighting force to rattle the windows and kick down the doors of County Hall we have.......a vacuum where a political party should be!
A few days ago I drew attention to the NBC's Labour Group's feeble effort in opposing the 'Bedroom Tax'- a trivial battle that they managed to loose.
I feel desperately sorry for the comrades in Corby who once again have to carry the weight of expectation because Northampton Labour Party are simply unable to deliver a coherent message.
If Winston's leaflets were typical of the stuff the party was putting out then frankly they deserved to fail.The desire to find the centre ground has robbed the Labour Party of any capacity to fight on behalf of the people.
Neil Kinnock once described Labour local government as the 'battered shield' to defend the people against the Tory attacks.Here in Northampton we don't even have a battered handkerchief !
Yet the opportunities to defeat the Tory coalition are legion, as they split between themselves in the coalition and the UKIP wing of the BNP in suits assaults the Tories from the far right,now is the time for the left to do what it is doing all over Europe .To present a genuine popular socialist alternative to the crisis of capitalism.
By that I do not mean a call for a one day general strike,or even an insurrection on College Green or even the elevation of St.Dennis Skinner to a secular papacy.
The opportunity at last is to bring together all the disparate forces of the left.Those brave but seriously weakened 'forlorn hope' comrades still in the Labour party, the left groups operating in ideological bubbles,the Greens,the single issue campaigns and all the other merry pranksters of radical intent.
There are new red shoots tarting tom emerge, the Ken Loach Left Unity initiative and the creation by Unite the Union of Community branches represent the coming together not simply of an extra-parliamentary opposition but maybe even the creation of a new force of progress.
This may be the best chance the left has to re-group into a movement that can change the world,or at least our little corner of it!
It may also be our last bloody chance.
"Then Comrades come rally....."