An earthquake has hit British politics. An earthquake that has destroyed New Labour and the legacy of Tony Blair. In what was either the biggest shock ever or the most foregone conclusion in history (depending on when you were putting your money on the contest at Ladbrokes), Jeremy Corbyn has become leader of the Labour party. I was on the Childrens march for Libraries when the news broke. A few of the local Labour party looked disconsolate. Most are fairly hard core Blairites. I have seen more smiles at funerals than the local Labour bigwigs. Locally the party backed Yvette Cooper, who got 17% of the popular vote. I suspect that this is an accurate reflection as to how in touch with local party members they really are. I was slightly disappointed that more Labour councillors weren't marching. None bothered to make a speech in support of the campaign. Given that there were hundreds of people on the march, all of whom are looking for leadership from the Labour group and are looking for some idea of the group strategy in relation to the Tory library proposals. I can write blogs and I can walk on marches, but I have no power in the council chamber. I don't get to see top secret "blue paper" briefings on the subject (except when naughty councillors pop them through the letterbox in unmarked envelopes).
The Conservative group have a strategy and policy towards libraries. Presumably the local Labour group do. Presumably they know whether they support or oppose the Tories proposals. Presumably if they oppose the proposals, they should be telling the hundreds of people who were on the march why and how they will fight it. The Conservatives have a majority of one on the Council. Labour only need to persuade one Tory that the proposals are a bad idea and the policy will fall. Plenty of Tory Councillors seats could become vulnerable if their local libraries are closed down. It is a golden opportunity for Labour. To do this, they should have stood up on the podium and spelled this out. They should have demanded that people lobby their Tory Councillors. They should be leading the fight, but they won't. Why not? Was it because they were too shellshocked by the huge mandate given to Corbyn? Who could possibly say, but it is clear to all and sundry that they are not in the least bit interested in putting themself at the heart of the fight to defend our community.
|John Burgess Leading the March|