A reminder of the good old days when Tony was still in charge

Blair and Gadhaffi

Constructive criticism of Labour or uncritical support for the Greens?

Dr Faust says that my “uncritical approach to the Green Party, and willingness to accept any observation (often from Green Party candidates) about the shortcomings of Labour is quite tiresome”. I thought I would confuse the Good Doctor by sharing a little insight into my sad little world.

First, in the ward where I live, it makes sense (to me, anyway) to vote Labour. A vote for a Green candidate would make little difference.

Second, I am not altogether opposed to what Baron Pepperpot has said, that it would not be too bad if “the old guard” of Labour was removed (although in Jeane Lepper Labour has one of te most active and most effective ward councillors).

Third, I am, by inclination, Old Labour. I am not a Green and it is unlikely that I would ever join the Greens. I am more likely to rejoin Labour if I thought they had regained any semblance of competence and campaigning ability.

Fourth, Labour also has to learn from Caroline Lucas and move on from the 2010 defeat. At the moment the most attractive thing about Labour is Warren Morgan’s choice of breakfast cereal.

For too long Labour thought it had the right to be the party of government in Brighton and Hove. It became arrogant. Two election defeats in a row, and the likely hammering at the polls in May, should be cause for a fundamental review by Labour. As a former Labour Party member, nobody has ever bothered to ask me why I left and whether I might rejoin. (The reasons I left include T. Blair, New Labour, Iraq, privatisation, etc.). Blue Labour is hardly going to help rebuild the “broad church” that once defined Labour, and Labour activists’ obsession with the Evil Princess and All Her Works is so unappealing.

The Green Party has become the “broad church” in Brighton and Hove, providing a home for environmentalists and Socialists alike. But I am unlikely to join the Green Party as it is unlikely to define itself as a socialist party, but then, what chance is there of Labour doing so?

Labour activists seem to go on the attack every time I criticise their party, question their prospe ts, or point out the reality of their ongoing decline. This is half the problem. Labour still can’t tolerate dissent – a legacy of Kinnock and Blair. The Control Freaks remain in charge of the asylum. What Labour should do is allow dissent, welcome diverse opinions, and allow control to be devolved to branch level.

That is probably a big ask given that the branch structure in Brighton and Hove is largely moribund, but it is where Labour’s success in the 1980’s sprung from and this has to be rediscovered if Labour is to be revived in Brighton and Hove.

So Dr Faust, there you have it. Constructive criticism is what I offer. Uncritical approach to the Greens? Not really, it’s just that they are basically right about the strength of its campaign and the weakness of Labour’s. On May 5th we will see if I am right or whether I will be eating humble pie!

What do I really think of Nancy Platt’s defence of Labour’s record?

My dig at New Labour for its legacy in increasing the number of  lap dancing clubs, reduction in public toilets, libraries and, of course, post offices, has provoked a spirited response from the rather wonderful Nancy Platts who left a comment under that post providing a fuller picture of Labour’s record.  Do I agree with Nancy.  Of course I do and I feel that I was rather unfair in my characterisation of Labour’s record.  So, to rebalance the debate, I am repeating Nancy’s comment in full:

“I think I ought to balance BPB’s post with some of Labour’s achievements. What about over 3,000 Sure Start children’s centres and the fact we’re on target to deliver one in every community by 2010? Free childcare, the rise in child benefit, extended maternity leave, paternity leave, flexible working, emergency time off for carers. What about the million pensioners lifted out of poverty, Winter Fuel Payments, free bus travel, free TV licenses, free eye tests for older people?

“What about 149 new hospitals, £96bn investment in NHS, over 80,000 more nurses, 38,000 more doctors, 4,500 more dentists (and remember all the dental schools the Tories closed?), shorter waits for treatment, GPs open longer hours, walk-in healthcare centres, free prescriptions for cancer patients, our cancer pledge to see a specialist within a week of diagnosis, free health checks for everyone in England aged 40-74.

“What about the fact education spending has doubled since 1997, 36,000 more teachers, 172,000 classroom assistants, better exam results, more young people going to university than ever before, the job, apprenticeship or training guarantee so young people aren’t left on the dole as they were in the recession under the Tories?  What about crime dropping by a third thanks to over 16,000 more police, neighbourhood policing and our Community Support Officers?

“What about over £20bn investment in rail, the Crossrail project, high speed rail – more passengers are using our trains than at any other time since the Second World War – over a billion last year. 

“I think it is right to challenge and ask for more, to campaign for a fairer and more equal society but ask yourself this – would all this have happened under the Tories?  It’s a Labour MP that will campaign for more and a Labour government that will deliver more.”

Well said Nancy. Your response characterises your many strengths, not least your passion!  Of course none of the above would have been achieved under a Tory government.  An ideal result in the general election would be a small Labour majority that would force the Executive to listen to its back benchers. 

One of the areas that Nancy did not defend Labour’s record during the financial crisis which was, largely excellent.  The voters will weigh this up and when compared to the excitable youth that is George Osborne, they will realise that the economy is safer in Labour’s hands.

The Legacy of New Labour, great if you are into lap dancing and gambling; shame about the post office

Latest government figures show how Britain has evolved under new Labour. Since 1997 the number of lap dancing clubs has increased by 1,150%, betting shops by 39%, and casinos up 27%.

On the other hand public libraries have reduced by 6%, police stations by 8%, schools are down 10%, swimming pools 21%, and public toilets down 23%.

And then there are post offices, down from 19,000 in 1997 to 11,500 today, a drop of 39%. This is the legacy of new Labour. Not a lot more needs to be said.

Peter Mandelson: A Poltician who scares me

In his 1996 publication, ‘The Blair Revolution’, Peter Mandelson (and co-author Roger Liddle) wrote: “Throughout society, there is a feeling that Britain is in moral, social and economic decline.

“In previous generations, parents felt certain that their children would go on to do better than them. Many (now) worry about whether their newly graduated son or daughter will even get a job”.

So what will the legacy of the New Labour be?They will leave government with record national debt, deep recession, rocketing unemployment. Community relations are fractured with the BNP gaining ground in White working class areas and Islamic extremist rife. Confidence in the political process is at the lowest point in my lifetime.

As a direct resul of it’s libertarian policies we have unprecedented gambing-related debt, alcohol consumption and abuse at record levels, with a 25% rise in alcohol-related cases of mouth cancers, drug use at levels never seen before. The list is endless.

Parents wonder if their recently graduated sons and daughters will ever get a job. Or ever afford to leave home.

The prison population has just topped 84,000 for the first time ever.

What a shame New Labour did not adopt the Mandelson blue print. Stupid me, Blair did.

What will Mandelson put forward next to cover for the failed New Labour model? No doubt he will find someone to blame …. immigrants, the unemployed, the sick, the elderly, trade unionist, socialists, ….. Where will that lead us …. That scenario is truly terrifying!

Ethical Foreign Policy? I think not

Labour was elected with what Robin Cook described as an ethical foreign policy. He went in protest to war.

New Labour has brought us Iraq and Afghanistan. New Labour has denied that rendition flights had used UK airports and bases. They had. New Labour denies torture allegations. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Labour candidates, if you want the support of old Labour voters like me need to demand that Brown apologises for the wars, for rendition collaboration, and agrees, now, to a public enquiry into torture allegations.

He looked pathetic when caving into demands that the Iraq inquiry be held (at least in part) in public. He is in danger of a repeat performance over torture allegations.

If Labour candidates can’t achieve this now, they should individually denounce New Labours unethical foreign policy and offer apologies to their constituents.

Lets be hearing from you, Nancy Platts, Simon Burgess and Celia Barlow. These are extraordinary and difficult times for Labour. Extraordinary and exceptional actions are required from it’s candidates if they are to have any chance at the elections.

Labour Councillors to defect in Brighton and Hove?

We are entering the silly season where we can expect to see defections from one party to another. There is speculation that, in Brighton and Hove, the next year may see some party switches. Already in the last week we have seen former Labour councillor, Vince Meehan, come out in favour of the Greens in their successful campaign in Goldsmid ward.

Previously, in the run-up to a general election, the former Conservative leader of Hove Borough Council, Bernie Jordan, switched his allegiance to the Labour Party. He said that New Labour represented his values and policies!

At a national level, those wishing to prolong their ministerial careers, such as Shaun Woodward and Quentin Davies, both extremely wealthy and neither coming from traditional Labour backgrounds, crossed the floor and were suitably rewarded. Woodward is now Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office, and Davies is Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence !

So what can we expect in Brighton and Hove? There are Labour members who will be, I can say are, questioning whether their careers will be best served remaining in Labour. It would come as no surprise to me to see at least one Labour councillor joining the Greens (not immediately) and one even joining the Conservatives (in the immediate run-up to the General election). Joining the Greens is understandable as they are a more radical party than Labour. One could even see justification for joining the Conservatives given how right wing Labour has become.