A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A nice man leading a nasty party

Watching Ming's interview I couldn't help thinking that the real problem was not that he was too old, but that he was too nice to lead a bunch of back-stabbers like the Lib Dems.

The idea of calling for them to disolve as a party and the UK revert to a two-party system has lost its superficial appeal when I realised that as well as Lib Dem voters we might have to take some of their activists and MPs too.

21 Comments:

Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

There is simply no factual evidence (do we see an emerging theme here?) that the Lib Dems are coming to get you. Win your seat, maybe, and even that would take a 15%+ swing, but certainly not come and carry you off in Simon Hughes big yellow taxi to some secret vault under Clissold Leisure Centre.

Was a big scary Lib Dem mean to you when you were a (political) kiddy?

Or maybe you object to them on an ideological basis, ie they still have some whilst yours seems to be MIA - except of course the bits about hating Lib Dems, power at any cost and, of course, the arms trade?

The idea that the membership of the "yellow peril" are going to go anywhere is risible - look at how few activists the Tories lost after not one dodgy leader, but four!

Luke, seriously, please heed my advice on the "meral ece" thread and seek some professional assistance.

7:27 pm, October 16, 2007

 
Blogger susan said...

LoL. There are of course no backstabbers and plotters in the Labour Party, are there? Does not our current leader owe his job to backstairs knife-wielders like Tom watson, Chris bryant and sundry others ???????

8:14 pm, October 16, 2007

 
Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

While accepting the justice of Susan's remarks, I have to say I agree with you, Luke (second time in a week!) that the Liberal Democrats do appear peculiarly unpleasant for such a small party (having said that, Ming appeared to be party to the unpleasantness last time - hence the soubriquet 'Ming the Merciless' so I'm not over sympathetic.

9:20 pm, October 16, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Lord London Fields Lido -

My objection to the Lib Dems is that they campaign in a completely unprincipled way and when they get into power locally have a history of screwing up local authorities. It isn't peculiar to me - everyone I know in both the Labour and Tory parties who has has had to deal with them at a local level feels the same. And it isn't just a Hackney thing - Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Southwark, Islington and now Haringey and Camden have all had a pattern of Lib Dem insurgency, followed in the ones where the council went LD or hung with awful local government and Labour recovery.

Yes a big scary Lib Dem was mean to me when I was a political kiddy - Stephen Williams MP when he beat me for Cabot Ward on Avon County Council in 1993.

I haven't noticed that they have any ideology beyond local tactical advantage - e.g. supporting traffic calming at one end of a street and opposing it where it's unpopular at the other end.

Of course they are not going to go away but I think it is a realistic medium term objective for Labour to destroy them as an electoral force in urban areas. That would just leave the west country and celtic fringe Liberals, who take seats off the Tories so don't worry me as much.

9:13 am, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrea said...

"but that he was too nice to lead a bunch of back-stabbers like the Lib Dems."

Didn't Ming himself have a role in Kennedy's downfall?

10:31 am, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Leaving aside the disgrace of how our two main parties connive in maintaining an unrepresentative and increasingly disengaged electoral system that mitigates against the very existance of third/smaller parties...

The repeated mess that the Lib Dems have gotten themselves into is surely a reflection of their lack of any intellectual coherence? Even their earlier image of sandal-wearing party of protest was somehow coherent and recognisable.

Hence, in the prevailing climate within the party any kind of opportunist or amoral behaviour among their MPs is permissable.

I was going to sat

10:51 am, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger HenryG said...

The irony of course is that Luke is in favour of proportional representation (if I recall correctly). This would pretty much guarantee the Liberal Democrats a place in every future Westminster Government regardless of whether they improved their standing or not.

1:00 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"The irony of course is that Luke is in favour of proportional representation (if I recall correctly). This would pretty much guarantee the Liberal Democrats a place in every future Westminster Government regardless of whether they improved their standing or not."

Well, that was the plan in Scotland and Wales. Voters often have other ideas.

You certainly get the feeling that they could've thrown their weight behind Ming and carried him through the present crisis if they'd wanted to.

It'll be interesting to see whether the consequences of letting him fall on his sword are better or worse than backing him.

I think they'll get more at the general election that they've polling now but they could lose quite a few seats.

2:30 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger el Tom said...

"My objection to the Lib Dems is that they campaign in a completely unprincipled way and when they get into power locally have a history of screwing up local authorities. It isn't peculiar to me - everyone I know in both the Labour and Tory parties who has has had to deal with them at a local level feels the same."

Completely true. They may not be so evil on TV, but on your doorstep, they're as bad as it gets.

3:02 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Mark Trotter said...

Luke (The Ginja Ninja)Akehurst -

Yes a big scary Lib Dem was mean to me when I was a political kiddy - Stephen Williams MP when he beat me for Cabot Ward on Avon County Council in 1993, he also called me a Ginger Twat that has no friends, that hurt.

4:11 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

HenryG

yes I do support electoral reform for the Commons. I want to persuade voters to stop voting Lib Dem, not to rig the system so they don't get represented. If 20% of the population are daft enough to vote Lib Dem they should get 20% of the seats. You could get round the hung parliament issue - which in any case can happen under First Past the Post - by separation of powers and having a national equivalent of a directly elected mayor i.e. a directly elected PM & executive.

4:13 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lib Dems have no ideology. And you're a Labour man - oh the irony.

5:27 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Don't confuse having an ideology you don't like with not having one at all.

5:46 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

Luke,

a) Camden, Brent (both coalitions) and Islington are doing very nicely and by election gains in Camden have shown that people are clearly still happy with their new council.

b) When did the Lib Dems have a majority on Hackney or Lambeth?

c) Don't get me wrong - I think there are great councils out there of all political colours (though I am struggling to think of a good Tory one at present) but your contention that all Lib Dem councils are incompetent is childish at best. To draw a direct analogue to your assertions, look at Liverpool - it went Labour for a while and look where it got the city. Things have improved immeasurably since Labour were kicked out. And equally, Richmond has done so nicely that Hackney have copied their best policy (though missing out the public vote bit used by Islington - which I have no doubt would have been easily carried in Hackney)

Ultimately, although we are a representative democracy, you need to represent your ward electors - and if that means that Chatham residents want something different to those in Wick or Kings Park, so be it. Yes, a mutually agreeable solution is the right thing to aim for, but you have to fight your residents' corner sometimes to get there! You obviously feel that the new Labour line is more important than your voters' wishes. I hoped we had dealt a firm blow to the "patrician" style of governance when Douglas-Home was booted out of Downing Street, but I do wonder if Hackney Labour have other ideas.

I have lived in Hackney for many years and have yet to see one iota of ideology come out of your council group. If it's there and I'm missing it, perhaps you could jot it down (on the back of a cigarette packet or the like) and we could publish it under a suitably illustrious title - maybe "My Struggle" or even "the Orange Book" in deference to your beautiful barnet.

I note that Cabot ward remains resolutely Liberal. Maybe you had a lasting impact?

7:58 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Sorry, but the LibDems are making an almighty hash of Liverpool. The improvements have nearly all been because of national Labour policies, not the Lib Dems!

With any luck they will lose their majority next time

I live in Sefton where there is a permanently humg council and where the Lib Dems are totally incoherent politically - some well on the left, some to the right of the Tories

I was a LibDem member for a while when it seemed that Labour couldn't get to grips with the progressive agenda. But I can't really see the point of the Lib dems at the moment. As for 'Hocus Focus, their liesheet whre they claim credit for what everyone else has done....

11:09 pm, October 17, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Lord London Fields Lido,

what's the basis for your claim that "You obviously feel that the new Labour line is more important than your voters' wishes"? You obviously don't know very much about my activity as a ward councillor or behalf of residents or you wouldn't make that assertion.

I'm not sure if it fits your definition of "ideology" but we delivered tens of thousands of copies of a lengthy manifesto in the 2006 elections - our "little pink book" - which is online at
http://www.hackney-labour.org.uk/

in the section headed "manifesto".

I would sum up the Mayor's ideology as a Morrisonian belief in the capacity of municipal government to create a more equal society at a local level.

I don't believe "all Lib Dem councils are incompetent" - I just reject the false prospectus they have offered in inner city areas.

You cite Islington as doing well but they lost about a dozen seats to Labour in 2006.

In Lambeth the Council had a Lib Dem leader, in coalition with the Tories, in both 94-98 and 2002-06. In Hackney the Lib Dems were the largest party in the bloc that stopped Labour being in power from 1996-2000, and in the early part of that period all the disastrous "Transforming Hackney" agenda was enthusiastically backed by LD leader Kevin Daws.

8:47 am, October 18, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Lord London Fields Lido,

by my reckoning the 30.2% I got in Cabot was a better result for Labour than all except one of the subsequent elections in that ward.

9:19 am, October 18, 2007

 
Anonymous Albert Shanker said...

lord london fields lido is only half right in terms of Camden: "by election gains in Camden have shown that people are clearly still happy with their new council." Yes, the Lib Dems won both by elections since 2006. However, in both wards the was a very small Tory vote which was squeezed - no surpirse given that there is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition running the Town Hall.

I'd think that most people have come to the conclusion that the honeymoon period has warn off now that they've revealed plans to (a) knock down a school for deaf children (b) close an innovtaive Day Centre for people with personality disorders (c) ignore the need for a secondary school in the south of the borough, and build one in the north (d) cut funds to voluntary groups, forcing closures (e) end door-to-door recycling on council estates (but extend it in Hampstead) (f) fail to make parking fairer, as they promised - the council still earns buckets of cash from unsuspecting mortorists.

I'd agree with Merseymike that the Lib Dems are a real shower.

In Camden they are essentially propped up by the Tories.

9:29 am, October 18, 2007

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

To summarise, you think Lib Dems are evil, and I believe they are an acceptable progressive option.

"You cite Islington as doing well but they lost about a dozen seats to Labour in 2006."

"by my reckoning the 30.2% I got in Cabot was a better result for Labour than all except one of the subsequent elections in that ward."

Don't these two bits kind of contradict each other? Or is it just that losing seats is okay if you're Labour? Or are you ineffable?

I'd describe Islington c.2005 as the most impressive failure of Labour campaigning in recent years. The highly dubious strategy of attacking one ward councillor on as personal basis as possible and hoping the other two would fall clearly backfired - you just succeeded in splitting a pile of wards, in effect removing all the unpopular Lib Dems and leaving the popular ones - meaning you haven't got a cat in hell's chance of winning in 2010.

And as for the Kentish Town by-election, didn't Labour come third? And wasn't there a recount for second/third place? That must have stung. Especially since I do remember seeing a number of Tory leaflets from that campaign attacking the Lib Dems far more than they did Labour. Kentish Town started as a three way and finished up with a whopping Lib Dem majority.

Mr. Shanker might want to keep schtum about recycling - here in Hackney my estate doesn't have door to door recycling, despite a trial - it's reserved for the rich people in Stokey. And there was the whole fiasco on plastic - apparently recycling plastic was evil, until Labour decided to give it a go after (what appears from their website) to have been a four year campaign by the evil, evil Lib Dems.

My problem with the "new" Labour party stems from it losing its way (twice) - firstly with the great shift to left, and secondly with its great shift to the right. And if you want a prime example of why I don't believe Labour have a jot of ideology left, you'd do worse than consider the war in Iraq, the continuing erosion of civil liberties and the level of pandering to the media perpetrated by the government.

"Morrisonian" tickles me; "Marxist" or "Thatcherite" or even "Bennite" or "Blairite" maybe but "Morrisonian"... that's a bit like being "Campbell-Bannermanite" or indeed "(Ming) Campbellian"

It amuses me that I have riled you quite so much - you've clearly now roped in your mates to slag me off, and have felt obliged to write
an exposé of your enormous level of effort in attending mostly meaningless meetings
. It's about WHAT you do and WHAT you stand for, not how much (necessarily - and not in an Eric Ollerenshaw, bugger off to Lancaster, way) you talk about it.

1:14 am, October 20, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I've never "lost" a seat - unlike the Islington LDs - I was fighting a seat that was already Lib Dem.

I'm interested to know which of the meetings I listed is "meaningless" in your view.

Of the 26 listed:

2 are about personal casework for residents
8 are other opportunities to meet, report back to and listen to residents
2 are decision-making
2 of the others are about the way the decision-making process is run (which is my responsibility as whip)
1 is about how we teach RE in schools which is pretty important to community cohesion in a multi-cultural borough
1 is an outside body that actually asks to have someone from Hackney attend
2 are about scrutiny of the cabinet/policy development
8 are internal Labour policy development or campaign planning or being held to account by the people who select and campaign for us

The only one I can see that I could justify not bothering with is the Progress Conference, which I'll enjoy, so I intend to go to it.

I probably get invited to another 20 meetings/briefings/seminars a month which I do turn down because they don't interface with the public or aren't decision making.

4:10 pm, October 20, 2007

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

whilst most of that sounds like the Chewbacca defence, i think you've still missed my point - it's not how much you do so much as WHAT you do - as a clear illustration, you say above

"being held to account by the people who select and campaign for us"

I thought you were accountable to the electorate, but there we go. Maybe it's a Morrisonian interpretation?

I hate to disappoint you on Morrison, but he never actually said he'd "build the Tories out of London" and when he said "Socialism is what a Labour government does", he didn't mean that whatever claptrap new Labour thought of this week was the de facto definition of socialism.

And as for "losing seats" I believe you are deliberately misinterpreting me - I simply meant that you got less votes than the Lib Dems and hence lost the election.

5:09 pm, October 20, 2007

 

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