Apocalypse Now Part 3
So how have this week's events played with local Labour members outside the Westminster beltway?
I went to two ward party meetings last night - my own to give my councillor's report, then on to another for a wine & cheese evening (it being Stoke Newington).
There were a total of about 20 members at the two, and a good mix of ages, ethnicities, genders, political orientations and active/less active members (NB this is not to show how diverse we are but that it was a reasonably representative sample).
At Chatham Ward where I am a councillor we passed a resolution for conference about social housing then discussed how to get young people locally benefits from the Olympics, the shortage of local boys' secondary school places, the decision making structure of Team Hackney, our Local Strategic Partnership, whether to take collections at the end of our meetings, and at some length the logistics of next year's Labour book stall and tombola at the St John's Church Fete. The Chair (re-elected last year after explicitly saying he was "a supporter of Tony Blair") then asked if there was anything else anyone wanted to raise. I braced myself expecting a flurry of comments about the need for a leadership election. Instead, silence. So we all went home, the elephant in the corner of the room included. As I left I was asked "who is this Tom Watson person you mentioned before the meeting started, has something happened in the last couple of days?"
Arriving at branch number 2, Clissold, historically one of the most leftwing wards in Diane Abbott's CLP, I came in half way through people going round the room saying who their dream candidate for leader was. The result (I got this second hand if anyone there for the whole thing wants to correct me) was Gordon Brown 1 vote, Hilary Benn 1 vote, Hazel Blears 2 votes, undecided/wouldn't say 6 votes. There was unanimity in condemning the coup attempt this week. One specific comment stuck in my mind: "I thought politics was supposed to be an honourable profession, not about jostling for positions."