Voices from beyond the beltway
A comrade engaged in a similar defence of the last few Labour seats in a South Eastern authority sent me an email after my post below. This guy is not a defeatist - he's out there working hard for a Labour win - and he's also someone with very similar politics to mine so he's arguing for a change of campaigning strategy and organisation, not a lurch to the left (which would get us nowhere in his part of the world). I thought it was worth reproducing:
I am a lurking reader of your blog, and I wanted to say thanks for your piece today about the party needing to be nationwide. ... I don't think the national party (dominated by people from Labour areas) realises how bad it is out in the shires now. In the SE we have some CLPs putting up only one or two candidates for 50+ seat councils, and many local parties have almost given up hope. In the SE we are contesting only50% of seats, so we are way behind before we even start. And in several places I know, we will lose some of our few seats because no-one is willing to stand to replace retiring councillors. The LDs message of "Labour can't win here" is killing us, as people defect, even in areas with Labour councillors. There are at least 100 constituencies and maybe a lot more where that has worked and switched 5,000+ voters from Labour to the LDs. That's at least half a million and I think it could be a million votes lost nationally - and several percentage points in national polls and voting figures (which makes our position look even worse than it is already). I know it will never be easy out here, but for 8 years I have been pleading with the party to start attacking the LDs. They have said for years, "If we do that, it makes them look credible." Well, that idiocy has come home to roost now. After Thursday, have a look at the shires below the Mersey-Humberline - you will see a lot of councils with no Labour members, and great Labour deserts."