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May 16 2013

@PraxisReform Speaks on the Labour Split

mans_head2Guest post by Twitter user @praxisreform  on the splintering of the Harrow Labour group. This was originally written for a local paper, but didn’t make the final cut. It’s far too good to discard, so we reproduce it here in full.

The split in the Council was rather surprising, and I’m still agnostic as to whether it will be for the better or the worse. On the plus side, the new smaller Cabinet has to be a good thing, since what with modern technology, outsourcing and the transfer of powers away from local councils, we now have too many Councillors for the work available. So those politicians often seem to be doing not very much, in exchange for quite generous payments. Something that makes very little sense to me in these straightened times.

On the downside, before the split, the Labour group voted through a budget of cuts to services, street cleaning and Council staff, etc. etc. Something that one would usually associate with a Tory administration and the stereotypical Downton Abbey image that I have of them, in which they want to cut everything to the bone except for things which adversely affect members of their own class. So, it would be somewhat disappointing if we see Harrow’s new Lab/Con controlling group force through even more cuts, at a time when the local areas is crying out for new investment.

I’m especially surprised to see Gareth Thomas tweet a view similar to the last point above, but solely blaming the Conservatives:

https://twitter.com/GarethThomasMP/status/333994833297428481

I’m sure he’s a very busy man at Westminster, but with the Harrow Council budget being the most important local Council meeting of the year, it seems like something of a schoolboy error for a Harrow Labour MP to be so poorly informed about what measures Harrow’s formerly Labour controlled council had pushed through in their budget.

I have no insider knowledge, but my gut feeling is that the racism issue is a red herring. Councillor Idaikkadar has maintained power by forming a strategic alliance with other Councillors of all races and creeds, but Councillor Perry presumably has the support of the rest of Harrow’s “Official” Labour party members… It’s a very high risk strategy, and if Councillor Idaikkadar can preside over a Cabinet that is deemed to be a success, no doubt he will be welcomed back to the Official Labour fold as a hero. If not, his political career could be finished.

On a slightly different note, Councillor Hall has pursued the reason for the sudden change of Labour group leader tenaciously for the past couple of weeks, when nobody else seemed to give the matter very much thought – as Opposition leader, I guess that’s part of her job. So, I just hope that as a new Non Executive Cabinet Member, she (and Councillor Macleod-Cullinane) will be as tenacious in helping to develop policies that improve the lot of Harrow’s long suffering residents.

@praxisreform has asked that we with-hold his full identity, but you can reach him through Twitter.

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8 comments

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  1. Marcello Borgese

    You make some good points @PR. I agree that the discrimination argument is a false one. The official Labour group is of mixed ethnicity, as is iLabour. I think it was just Cllr James going into overdrive, it’s her usual excuse for everything. As for GT MP, does anyone actually take what he says seriously?

    This whole thing is an absolute shambles and an utter embarrassment. I expect mindless machinations and clueless cover-ups from Labour but the person I am most disappointed with is Cllr Susie Hall. She has always batted away criticism, even from her own side, stood firm and remained true to her principles (a little bit like another great lady, who recently departed this earth). During the whole of Cllr Idak’s council leadership she rightly challenged practically everything he did and then insisted on a reason for the wholly undignified Labour break-up. She was well on her way to becoming council leader next May, and well-deserved IMO after 7 prominent years of council service.

    But I fear she may now have ‘blown it’. What about the explanation for causing near council collapse? What about the appalling decisions made under Cllr Idak’s leadership? Why is he suddenly the best thing since sliced bread? Why does he deserve time to prove himself, what about the last 6 months? Is this new arrangement even legitimate? If so, says who? If it had been the other lot who had broken away from Labour, would the Tories get into bed with them? Who is the opposition now?

    I don’t buy this ‘doing what’s best for the people’ line, it’s the kind of glib remark oft repeated by Nick ‘gissajob, any job’ Clegg. We all know the iLs will be back in the Labour party before next May. They have said they retain Labour principles and remain Labour Party members. The whole thing stinks.

    I predict this unholy alliance will collapse faster than a Lib-Dem Party Conference head count. Then we’ll be back in this mess; meanwhile Harrow burns while Cllr Nero fiddles.

  2. ricky123

    And I predict your wrong Marcello

  3. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    What amazed me about Thatcher’s death news coverage was that no one mentioned it was HER who introduced MPs allowances because, although she had the guts to orchestrate the Falklands War by ordering the then defense secretary and one of my old school chums Sir John Nott to scrap HMS Endurance, thus making Galtieri think the UK was no longer interested in the Falklands, she did NOT have the guts to give MPs a pay rise so she instead introduced the now notorious MPs expenses, saying at the time “There it is, help yourselves boys!”

    So, apart from killing off all UK manufacturing, Thatcher created MPs expenses and orchestrated a war in order to win an election on the back of a surge of nationalism. And not a word of it in the press…

    Still think she’s a “great lady” Marcello?!

  4. Praxis Reform

    One daft Councillor can be given a slap on the wrist and made to apologise. It doesn’t mean a whole Party is racist.

    I voted against the ill-thought through LibDem change to the electoral system, because I think we want to know something about the candidate and their views, not to be assigned some Party stooge.

    So, I figure those who elected Cllr Idaikkadar et. al. did so because they liked the candidates and what they stood for.

    Therefore, I agree with Cllr Idaikkadar when he says Harrow deserves better… Those who are demanding a by-election seem to be doing so for Party political reasons. But what are they going to get? Either Cllr Idaikkadar gets re-elected and we wasted thousands of pounds, “official” Labour replaces him and nothing changes, or the Conservatives get in, which for those types is likely to be a worse option.

    If Cllr Idaikkadar is being honest, things will improve. If not, his ward constituents can give him the boot come the next election. I suspect that that sort of pressure will focus his attention in a way that Cllr Perry might not be able to achieve, were he to be simply handed the job.

    @Cllr Stoodley, you’re right in a lot of what you say, and whilst no fan of Mrs Thatcher, I found out recently that Britain is still the world’s 9th largest manufacturer.
    http://www.eef.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/1EC00841-E738-44A3-A837-DFBEC00DF99B/20520/EEF_FactCard_2012.pdf

    Not as good as it used to be, but still reasonably impressive. It is however worth noting that a lot of Mrs Thatcher’s popularity was on the back of selling off Council houses on the cheap, and almost giving away Britain’s State businesses (do you remember the furore when BP’s share price fell on the first day of trading and the floatation had to be repriced?)

    Mr Blair also needs to take his share of the blame, since rather than undo the damage that Mrs Thatcher did to the country, he continued with very similar policies… Another interesting fact I discovered recently is that council house building fell to it’s lowest levels under Mr Blair’s tenure.

    So, Mrs Thatcher’s pork barrel politics bought votes from Essex man, etc. while financing the economy from North sea oil. Then Messrs Blair and Brown encouraged the population to take on far too much debt whilst wages stagnated and stealth taxation increased. People were supposed to live above their means by borrowing against an ever inflating house price, and easily available credit.

    Silly policies that we’re all paying dearly for now.

  5. Marcello Borgese

    F.A.O. Willy Stoodley. Apologies for the late response, I don’t have as much free time as a Harrow Councillor has. I totally disagree with you. Thatch was not perfect but she was certainly the best we’d had for a while and most definitely better than any we’ve had since. Quite simply the Falklands were invaded and she defended, perhaps you think we should have just surrendered the islands? As for manufacturing, she sensibly persuaded companies to become more efficient – never a bad thing. If it wasn’t for this action, UK would be much further down the global competitiveness league table. With MPs’ expenses, you can’t blame her for the greed and criminality that ensued – mostly by Labour I note.

    Anyway, now that I have your attention could you answer these questions:
    1.Which political party are you a member of?
    2.Does the Harrow Labour Group still consider you a valued member (Where’s Willy, 20 Feb)?
    3.What is your opinion of the Conservative Party (national and local)?
    4.How do you feel about the fact that you have a cabinet job ONLY because the Conservatives say you can?
    5.Do you intend to be a council election candidate in May 2014? If so, for which party?

    I do concede Ricky123 might be right in that the alliance may not collapse as quickly as I thought because it is now clear some deal has been done so please inform all the residents of Harrow: what favours is Ind.Lab. doing for the Tories?

  6. ricky123

    Marcello Thats all political claptrap, I think iLabour is here to stay, the council seems to have more direction now. In my opinion the cabinet knows what they are doing and are all very experienced with the best leader for the job. What difference does it make if Cllr Stoodley answers your questions. Its refreshing to see iLabour taking control, maybe we will see some new ideas and action instead of the old Labour. I dont understand what you mean by “it is now clear some deal has been done so please inform all the residents of Harrow: what favours is Ind.Lab. doing for the Tories?” Surly it is a good thing that Cllr Susan Hall and Cllr Barry Macleod can scrutinise decisions and give other opinions.
    So forget all this political nonsence and judge iLabour after a couple of months.

  7. Cllr Willie Stoodley

    @ Marcello –
    Sorry to hear you don’t have much spare time; you seriously need to do something about that. Time is very short, as is one’s life, so you should not be living it to the detriment of your free/spare time. Life is not a dress rehearsal – we only get one go so please don’t spend it doing stuff you’d rather not be doing.

    Re heavy industry:
    Cammel Laird – closed due to Thatcher
    MG – closed due to Thatcher
    British Leyland – cut down to Longbridge plant only – due to Thatcher
    British Coal – ceased mining due to Thatcher
    British Steel – closed due to Thatcher
    Industrial North-East – becomes a wasteland due to Thatcher
    Wales – ditto
    Liverpool – ditto
    Channel 4 program “The Tube” and Ben Elton continuously talking about unemployment
    So I guess you weren’t here when it all happened? Thatcher took on the unions which did, I concede, need to be done; but by taking out this country’s heavy industry she deprived the ability of school leavers who happen not to be academically orientated of bread and butter factory jobs. The Edgware Road in the 1950s was so full of factories, from Boosey & Hawkes in Burnt Oak down to Smiths in Cricklewood, that a worker could jack in a job in the morning and be working again by the afternoon; but now there is next to nothing. So we should not be surprised when we see what would have been potential workers, potential law-abiding citizens, turning to drugs, drug dealing and crime. If you take away a person’s work you take away their incentive…

    Quite frankly your Falklands explanation is tosh – my explanation of what happened stands. We wouldn’t have had that war had HMS Endurance not been earmarked for scrapping. Would I have surrendered them? I would not have earmarked HMS Endurance for scrapping is the answer to that. However my late father, who was an aircraft spares salesman who used to visit Argentina regularly and who had sold the Argentinian airforce all the Mirage brake-pads at that time, pointed out to me that it would have been cheaper and cost no loss of life to give every Falkland Islander £1.5 million to repatriate to the UK; an offer I personally think they would have jumped at; but that solution wouldn’t have enabled Thatcher to win her second term…

    Your questions:
    1: The ILG which is affiliated to the Labour Party until and unless we lose our hearing with their NEC.
    2: Define “Valued”; but even so I think the nature of the question suggests that you should be asking them?
    3: My opinion of the National Conservative party is no secret – they are a bunch of ex-public school boy toffs hell-bent on dismantling as much of the welfare state as they possibly can before the electorate boot them out in 2015, and I have told the local Tories this. My opinion of the Local Conservative Party:- I was seriously unimpressed with their efforts to downgrade Harrow’s Adult Social Services to “Critical” care only, but that was in David Ashton’s reign; now they appear to have come on in leaps and bounds, especially with respect to agreeing to support Thaya as leader and the ILG. On a personal level I feel I have gotten on with most of them very well since I was elected, but then most of us appreciate that a difference of opinion does not prohibit a good working relationship – ask anyone in Scrutiny (if you were unlucky enough to miss Jerry Miles’s fabulous speech in Chambers).
    4: Usually I feel with my hands; nevertheless I am not aware that the portfolio that I hold has anything to do with the Conservative Group. However if it does then please supply the appropriate evidence as I would like to follow that up.
    5: I have not as yet decided.

    And the “favour” that the ILG has done to the Tories I should have thought is blindingly obvious – they now have two non-paid, non-voting positions on Thaya’s Cabinet – a situation that used to happen before under many previous administrations.

  8. Marcello Borgese

    You two are not gonna give me a minute’s peace are you? Ricky you seem to misunderstand the purpose of this web site. Correct me if I’m wrong (Mr Boakes) but it is to facilitate dialogue between elected politicians and the people so it’s wholly appropriate to ask the likes of Cllr Stoodley questions and he deserves credit for responding, unlike others who avoid the issues. You think iL will last as long as 2 months? Maybe, but only because there’s nowhere else to go since Labour has now washed their hands of them. Tories have already selected their candidates for May 14 so there’s not much chance of getting in there. How can there be a ‘new direction’ when it’s the same leader who says he retains his Labour principles and will stick to the same old policies.

    Cllr Willy, thanks for responding but you haven’t answered all the questions directly. The Argies invaded before Endurance was withdrawn but apart from that ‘minor’ point you might be right. It was probably just bad judgement but it was always intended that Marines would stay to guard the Islands. I do like a good conspiracy theory though.

    The only way for me to get more spare time is to give up some of the voluntary work I do. I enjoy everything I do, by virtue of my sense of duty to family, friends and community. I loved your dressing down of GT MP, he is a classic case of preferring to represent Westminster in Harrow rather than the other way round.

    Cllr Idak is only council leader because the Tories gave their support but you don’t think they would have first wanted to approve his cabinet appointments? Could this not explain why Cllr Flip-Flop did not get a cabinet job, as their revenge on him? I should know, I’ve been on the receiving end of a nasty Tory vendetta. Yes, I believe you, sir, are Tory-approved!

    It’s funny you should say that about manufacturing. I used to be an engineer in electronics and the 80s and 90s were boom years; I never had trouble getting a job. Then within a few years of Labour gaining power in 97 the tech-bubble burst (never Labour’s fault, is it?) and the knock-on effects to electronics were devastating. Labour were characteristically hopeless in facilitating recovery. The Tories might not be brilliant on Manufacturing but Labour are totally useless on the economy in general.

    The point is: a politician is nothing without some consistency of principle. You want to be a Labour Party member yet refuse to be in the Labour Group, you fundamentally disagree with the Tories yet you are working with them (I’m not convinced by your comments on the local Tories). Where are your principles, man? I’m all for pragmatism and expediency but not at the expense of principles.

    So according to Labour, the iL councillors were deselected due to their performance so stormed off – fine, nothing wrong with that. But then to blame it on racism is disgraceful; that devalues genuine complaints of racism. The Tories look mischievous and opportunistic, iL look desperate and confused. Only the Labour Group have retained any shred of dignity during this debacle and I never thought I’d ever be saying anything good about Labour.

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