With financial meltdown looming and their membership nose diving it would ordinarily seem uncharitable to intrude on the private grief of the labour leadership election with criticism of their local activists. However, something – perhaps desperation, perhaps inexperience – is affecting local labour party judgement. This is evident in their choice of candidates – dropping the somewhat harder hitting Councillor George in favour of Judith McMahon – the same McMahon who was rightly booted out of Kursaal at the last election after an ineffectual stint on council and poorly organised campaign.
In St Luke’s meanwhile they’ve put in Kursaal resident Anne Jones whose interest and knowledge of the ward is so great that her ‘Labour Rose’ news leaflet failed to mention a single local issue.
Now obviously I’ve no knowledge of the politics or policies that lead to these people being chosen and normally I’d never even comment on this sort of issue. However, only a few months on from the last election it’s clear that it’s smears, not substance, that Labour intend to campaign on. Take for example the ‘Labour Rose’ news leaflet alluded to above and the way in which Southend Labour solicits donations by claiming “not to be funded by property developers or tax exiles”. Can there be any purpose to this other than to imply that local conservatives are funded by such people? Is such a shallow and transparent technique really how they hope to raise money from hard-pressed taxpayers in St Luke’s? They know full well that locally conservatives are funded very transparently, and receive no direct funding from Ashcroft etc. Nationally, while I dare say no party is perfect, Labour is certainly in no position to be throwing stones.
So why are they so happy to try and lower the public’s opinion of politicians? Either they are extremely amateur and content to treat the public as fools, or they are so dismayed by their prospects they have given up trying to be a real political party and are just hoping to blacken the reputation of others out of spite. Perhaps this is why so many of their best candidates have seemingly disappeared from the political scene.
The real pity of this is, however, that to be an effectual administration you need an effectual opposition and Labour are the only party that can fulfil this role. The LibDems blow with the local wind and the ragbag collection of Independents cannot form a joint policy let alone offer joined up opposition. So we need a responsible Labour party that holds us to account based upon policy not whim and political expediency.