Crisis, what crisis? 109% increase in youth unemployment in Hove

“Half a bee, philosophically, must ipso facto half not be,
when half a bee is not a bee, due to some ancient ….. injury”.

So said Monty Python in Eric The Half a Bee.

One could also say that
“a crisis may said to be, ipso facto, half not be,
when that crisis is described, by a ….. Weatherley”.

Youth unemployment (18 – 24 year olds out of work for six months or more) in Hove has increased from 55 in January 2011 to 115 in September 2011. That is an increase, ipso facto, of 109%. The increase in Brighton Pavilion was 57% and Brighton Kemptown 42%.

Schools Minister and MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Nick Gibb, saw an increase in his constituency of 122%. Nice work, Nick. The highest increase in Sussex was in the Lib Dem held Eastbourne where the increase was 155%.

By most people’s standards this would be regarded as something of a crisis. But Hove MP Mike Weatherley pointed to the rise in apprenticeships as evidence that the Government was making a difference. The Conservative-led Coalition government certainly is making a difference, but not the difference we want to see.

Labour’s view is that spending cuts were threatening to create a “lost generation” whose prospects would be blighted for life, and Labour attacks the Government’s decision to scrap the Future Jobs Fund which created temporary placements for young people to help them compete in the jobs market.

Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder

Noel Coward once sent Winston Churchill tickets for the first night  of his latest play together with a message, “Dear Mr Churchill, here are two tickets for the first night of my play, a ticket for you and a ticket for a friend (if you have one)”.  Churchill returned the tickets with the following message: “Dear Mr Coward, unfortunately I can’t make the first night of the play but would like to attend the second night (if you have one)”.  I am reminded of this by a comment from the Beast of Regency, Dan Wilson, who poses the tedious questions “Where DOES Caroline Lucas actually live?  It’s a question Bappy won’t answer because it will annoy his Green mates. But we should be told!”

‘Bappy’ is one of the names I am called.  As for Dan’s question, to be honest I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care as long as she is around and about in Brighton Pavilion regularly, which she is, that she is available to her constituents, which she is, and that she represents them in parliament, which she does.  As for my ‘Green mates’, you assume I have mates in the first place, and secondly that they are Greens.  As it happens, unlike Churchill, I do have a friend.  Actually more than one, but as far as I am aware just one is a Green (and a Green councillor as it happens).  As a former Labour activists, many of my friends are current or former Labour Party members.

But more important than my impoverished social life is the local election campaign.  Here are some more updates from Doorstep Brighton:

Christopher Hawtree, more than a mere mortal, is so confident that he will unseat Mary Mears in Rottingdean Coastal that he is now targeting Fortress Withdean. He writes: “After going to Preston Park station this morning, I had a stroll around North Withdean. An interesting area, and all the more so when Ken and Ann Norman went by in a wagon, with two hairy dogs, and wound down the window in some puzzlement. They said that they are “friendly”, which I do not doubt, and seemed to wonder what I made of their territory; I do not think that they themselves are territory: they are unlikely to challenge one to a duel, but it does look as if Withdean is hotting up.” I am sure that Ken and Ann are quacking in their boots, not to mention the imminent derailing of the sparkling political career of Robert Nemeth.

‘Steampunk’ has reacted against Dan Wilson’s critique of Green councillors who he dismisses as “gap year … Greenos who chuck it in after one term”.  Steampunk writes: “Nothing wrong with young people devoting 4 years to serve their community before returning to families, careers and education. And I would venture that Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder compared to elected members of other parties who can afford to just fade into the background”.  I put that quote in so not to upset my Green friend.  I am sure that Labour, Tory and even Lib Dem activists might wish to respond to Steampunk on that observation. I know councillors in all parties that work incredibly hard, well beyond the European Directive on Working Hours.  They are decent, hard-working individuals who should get better paid, if you ask me.

As the battle for East Brighton hots up, I paraded my ignorance of the area by referring to two areas that are in Rottingdean Coastal and not in East Brighton.  Labour councillor Warren Morgan, who I was talking to at an event before Christmas, responded: “I’m happy for the East Brighton Tories to do well in Roedean and The Cliff – neither is in East Brighton ward…”. Peter Booth, one of the three Tory candidates, is united with Dan Wilson: “Roedean and The Cliff are of course in Rottingdean Coastal. We have been active in Whitehawk Way and Whitehawk Road today as our Facebook site East Brighton Conservatives will reveal! Our stay will not be brief!….and of course there is only one Mary Mears! (Thank you for considering us in her league!)”.  Actually, I don’t!

After my dig at the anonymous Goldsmid Conservatives, ‘Clive’ has directed me to their Facebook page. And there they are, the Tories’ Goldsmid council candidates – Adam Love, Debra Livingstone-Wade and Rob Buckwell.  You will not be surprised to hear them say that they “are working hard for the residents and community in Goldsmid ward.  Their priorities to improve the lives of people living in Goldsmid are: 1. Keeping council tax low; 2. Cleaner, safer neighbourhoods; 3. More school places for local children”.  If you are sad like me, with no friends, or “if you have a problem you’d like them to look into, or would like to get involved in the Goldsmid Conservatives, they’d love to hear from you.”  I’ll be on the phone to them first thing!

Regarding the irrepressible Ayas Fallon-Khan, Clive says that it “strikes me that the departure of Mr Fallon-Khan (touted on here as a deselection, not sure on what evidence) might indicate that they are not expecting to win this ward.”  Both are possible.  The Tories may well be divided and Ayas was deselected, AND the Tories have given up leaving the ward to these three estate-agent look-a-likes.

In Brunswick and Adelaide, ‘Andy’ thinks that “the Lib-Dems have increased their chances of holding their seat by ditching (David) Watkins. Watkins was good at turning up for dull council meetings, but not much else. He was never seen out canvassing or at local meetings.”  I don’t agree.  He will have some loyalty votes and some people won’t like what Paul Elgood has done to him.  This could cost Elgood a hundred or so votes and that could cost him the election.  What is more likely is that the Lib Dems, at just 8% in the polls, will be destroyed.  Steampunk says that he has “heard from two separate sources that Watkins is indeed intending to stand as an independent in May, if only to spite his ex-colleagues in the Lib Dems who have betrayed him.”

I also heard this week from the much loved, much missed, much lamented Chuck Vere regarding Rachael Bates.  Chuck writes of Momma Grizzly: “I hope she wins (in Hollingdean and Stanmer) – she has the balls to fight for residents & won’t waste time making empty promises whilst delivering nothing”.

And finally, a welcome to a new blog, from Sussex Socialist Resistance, that describes itself as the ‘Fourth International in Britain’.  Hang on, I thought that mantle was with the Socialist Workers Party, or is it the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea? Perhaps it was the Judean Peoples Front for … I give up.  Just ask Monty Python.

The Laughable Left

I have always identified myself as being to the left of Labour. Well, that’s not hard these days with even Roy Hattersley coming across as a dangerous left-wing extremist!

The best characterisation of the left is the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when the People’s Front of Judaea hate the “enemy” separatist faction, the Judaean People’s Front, more than they hate the Romans

So to does it sometimes appear on the left of British politics. The number of left wing factions is laughable.

The Socialist Workers Party is largely made up of middle age men, still fighting student union battles of the 70s and 80s, with slogans to match.

Disillusioned lefties, such as Dave Hill, have left Labour yet dream of great victories by gathering in new parties such as No2euYes2democracy or the Socialist Labour Party.

Even those leaders of the left during the halcyon days of the poll tax are sidelined. Whatever happened to Richard Stanton? Sheila Hall emigrated to Spain, Jean Calder ended up writing for the Argus (although she does not seem to have betrayed her feminist and left-wing credentials), and Andy Winter  does little more than watch and write about cricket!

There are two main consequences of all this. Young people and campaigners are focusing their time and effort into single issue campaigns, with the wider Labour movement becoming increasingly moribund.

The rightward drift of Labour has created perfect conditions for the growth of the BNP. The rise of the far right is not the fault of the left. It is the failures of the Labour government that has caused division and disillusionment.

A strong “opposition” within the Labour Party could have prevented this.