I've had enough. I've been a Labour Party member for over 20 years, but I've had enough. Why? It's a culmination of many things. The last straw was a couple of weeks ago. I was at the gym and I was on a cycling machine. At my gym, we have large TV screens which show various channels. On one of these was SKY NEWS. The top story was the closure of a refugee camp nearl Calais. French Riot police, who looked for all the world like latter day stormtroopers were removing the refugees, bulldozers were tearing down the shanty town. They showed the faces of terrified young men, women and children as they were lead away. I thought to myself "This is no civilised way to treat such disenfranchised people". I hate bullying and this was state sponsored political bullying at it's worst. I thought to myself "I'm glad we don't behave like that". As I thought that, Alan Johnson, a LABOUR cabinet minister and seen by many as the heir to Tony Blair came on. What did he have to say? he said he was delighted by the actions.At that moment, I realised that myself and Labour no longer believe in the same things. I know refugees are not popular in some quarters, but most of this lot came from Afghanistan, a place where we are fighting a war. If we are going to engage in military campaigns in far away places, it is inevitable that we'll face issues such as these. If I was an Afghan living in Helmand and I didn't want to be a fundamentalist Taliban Muslim, and I saw the British army in my town, I'd probably decide to come here as well. I'd probably want my wife and children to live in a peaceful tolerant country rather than a warzone. Alan Johnson's comments show a total lack of compassion and understanding. This is not what the Labour party should stand for.
Let me make a couple of points. I hold local Labour Councillors such as Alison Moore in high esteem for the work they do. I doubt that you could get a cigarette paper between her and my views on just about any important social matter, but the people such as Johnson and Mandleson at national level just don't believe in what I believe or stand for what I stand for. When a Labour business secretary such as Mandleson proposes privatising the Royal Mail, how can someone like me associate themselves with that. I believe in progressive left wing politics, I totally support Ken Livingstone's progressive alliance, but I'm sorry I cannot support a party where senior people condone such actions.
This has been a very difficult issue for me as we desperately need to get the Tories out of Barnet Council. Labour will quite clearly be a part of that process. I believe that they will only achieve this by distancing themselves from national policies. Don't get me wrong, I will still strongly support all Labour candidates who believe in what I consider to be core socialist values. I just find that there are too many things which I fundamentally disagree with to classify myself as a "Labour member". I hope that the party will realise it's mistakes and when that happens I'll rejoin.
As to the tone of this blog. It won't change. I'll still urge people to vote Labour in Hendon at the next election. Andrew Dismore is a good MP (albiet one who I have had disagreements with). His opponent, Matthew Offord is a man who left a trail of disaster in his wake when he was Deputy Leader. He may do a fine widow twanky impersonation of Brian Coleman, which is really rather funny, he may write a nice blog about sailing, which is interesting and informative, but he is useless at being a politician and would be a liability. As to locally in Mill Hill. We have two Lib-Dems and one Tory John Hart. I like John Hart, I'd say he's the best of the bunch for Barnet Tories, but he's followed the party line so I'm afraid he has to go. As such I'll be supporting the Lib Dems in Mill Hill. On the wider Barnet scene, I'd urge people to do the following. I cannot believe that real local Tories can be happy with Mike Freer and Brian Coleman. I'd urge them to stand as independent Conservatives in seats such as Totteridge where the opposition stand no chance. I'd actively campaign for any independent who stood for honest, transparent administration on this blog and give them whatever platform I could. I doubt the Tories will lose in Barnet next time, due to the national scene, but I intend to try and help some sort of cross party effort to clean up Barnet and make it a Borough to be proud of.
I hope that Labour, Lib-Dem and Independent Conservatives can unite to solve our systemic problems. We may disagree on much, but lets get the administration into the open. Lets support the following :-
* Recording of all open Council meetings
* Only hold meetings in private when 80% of Councillors agree
* Bring back management by committees of councillors and scale back the powers of the Cabinet
* Put all expenses, gifts & hospitality and other relevent information on line (as has been done for the GLA)
* Change the Council Constitution so that the Mayor requires 75% of Councillors to elect them
* Reform the Standards process to weed out malicious or frivalous complaints, but to take real action against Councillors who can't behave themselves. Allow complainants the right to address the committee in Standards hearings.
* Put all council invoices over £2,000 on line to ensure best value for the people of Barnet
This has been a very difficult decision for me to make. It is in no way a reflection on any Labour member or councillor in Barnet. I must emphasise that Labour's Barnet Councillors have done absolutely nothing which I could criticise during the tenure of this blog. I just can't belong to a party which has the current mob at the top any longer. Sorry.