05 June 2009

It Will Be A Bloody Civil War, But The Cause Is Good.

Gordon Brown's rise to the top is a culmination of all that is bad about the current Labour party. I had respect and loyalty to Tony Blair because no matter how much you disagreed with him, at least he was elected by party members and was undoubtedly someone who could think on his feet, make quick decisions and handle the ever intrusive and misrepresentative media - i.e. the attributes you need to be a good Labour leader.

Brown by contrast has bullied his way to the top of the hierachy of the party, avoiding elections on the way. It seemed unthinkable that Brown could be to the right of Tony Blair - but Ken Livingstone called it, back in 2000 when he said Brown was an 'awful right-wing chancellor' and Brown holding back (along with other Labour old guard - Prescott and McCartney) the most progressive impulses of Blair - joining the Euro and a more proportional electoral system for Westminster. Maybe Blair was never that convinced of these things, but I believe he might have been if persuaded.

There is a hardcore of bullies that run right through the party. I can see it here in Brighton with vacuous suspect smilies like Ken Bodfish, Sue Johns, Simon Burgess and current leader Gill Mitchell (and Bob Piper is evidence of the sort of bullies that make it to the top elsewhere - all climbing the slimy slope of the party rather than winning the faith of the electorate).

Bodfish, Johns and Burgess all managed to lose safe seats as Labour predictably collapsed here in Brighton and Hove. A local election manifesto that had nothing to offer but a 'discount loyalty card' for leisure centres and a promise to open the central library on Sunday (something the Tories have done anyway). Even the lauded school lottery system was ruined by the way the boundaries were drawn to favour the middle class luvvies in Queens Park.

There was a real neglect that came from having an inept, corrupt, unaccountable bunch of dimwits running the council, that was evident from the lack of care given to the rundown seafront. We are a tourist town for Christ's sake, you can't leave bandstands and seating derelict and railings rusted and unpainted. This made it easy for the Tories to fix these things and point out real noticeable improvements that people can see for themselves.

Maybe the Labour administration spent this seafront money on vital social services, but that should have been done in addition to, not instead of. Once again the case it not made for the good that extra taxation could do. It was a suicidal strategy. Now the Tories are charging more for meals and wheels and daycentres, cutting children's services, doubling the cost of providing weddings ceremonies and even doubling parking vouchers and permits (something I actually agree with). The last two are ironic given the Tories supposed 'pro-marriage' and 'pro-motorist' labels. Of course we expect Tory cutbacks in social services that hit the poorest but promising to build more carparks in the centre of Brighton, a city already choked in traffic is not pro-motorist, it is pro-madness. Being stuck in endless traffic jams while people choke on the pollution will not help motorists or anyone else.

Now Brown is tottering, the Labour party nationally have a chance, a small chance of avoiding the catastrophe that afflicted Brighton - replacing an inept and corrupt Labour administration with an inept, corrupt and heartless Tory one. This is not what the voters voted for here or will nationally in the next GE.

Despite the Greens and Labour winning two-thirds of the vote in Brighton and Hove, the Tories are in control with the most seats. Our wonderful electoral system showing once again how it ignores people and gives us unaccountable party apparatchiks.

There is still time for Labour. Have a proper leadership election to replace Brown and a binding referendum on PR for Westminster at the same time as the next general election - so the Tories can 'win' under our present system (to avoid the charge of gerrymandering), while having to honour what the people vote for in a referendum - hopefully a change to real democracy.

People have never been given a say on how we elect our MPs. How can anyone oppose even giving people a say on this? If we PR anoraks lose the referendum, and we could with the full might of the Tory press and propaganda machine against us, at least you could shut us up for a generation or so.

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