Lansbury would never have laboured under a promise of liberal change
PUBLISHED: 15:07 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:02 05 October 2010
As an amateur psephologist, I was both mortified, yet obviously pleased, that the prediction of Conservatives getting an overall majority and a council with no over control was wrong on both counts. (ELA May 6th) The 2010 election was unique, with gene
As an amateur psephologist, I was both mortified, yet obviously pleased, that the prediction of Conservatives getting an overall majority and a council with 'no over control' was wrong on both counts. (ELA May 6th)
The 2010 election was unique, with general and local elections on the same day, but in the event, it was the national media campaign, national issues and particularly the TV presidential performances, which ultimately determined the outcome. Local government was largely ignored.
It is no secret that Labour's Regional officers had delayed selection and moved some candidates from square to round holes. However, the higher turnout, engendered by the media, combined with the over hyped Clegg factor, served to divide the opposition, benefiting Labour candidates and the absolute decline of Respect. Over 40% of Councillors will be new members-none with any experience of the traditional democratic local government responsible for council housing, social services, and education in its widest sense- powers which have been largely destroyed by Thatcherism.
Local government had also been the main institution for redistributing wealth from the Cities of London & Westminster through the 'equalisation of rates' enabling national standards of welfare services. This was also abolished by Thatcher when introducing the poll-tax. As George Galloway would know the 'equalisation of rates' was the rallying call of George Lansbury at a time when the rates in Westminster were half that of' impoverished Poplar (see East London Advertiser May 13). Today, council-tax in Westminster is half the London average.
But above all George Lansbury was a democrat with cumulative local knowledge and practical experience, leading from below, 36 Poplar councillors going to jail when all else failed. He would never have condoned an undemocratic executive Mayor-the poison chalice bequeathed to us by the referendum and New Labour's policies of centralisation. The prospect of the election in Autumn is horrendous-we could well end up with the ludicrous position of a Mayor without any regard to elected councillors: "a cabinet of from 2-9 councillor or officers" : powers to rule by decree and pay themselves what they like - a recipe for disaster. I hope that someone will organise another referendum in 3 year's time!
Belle Harris, 1 Rochester Court,
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