Monday, May 05, 2008

The aftermath of the local elections

Having spent the bank holiday weekend recovering from an arduous election and the shock of seeing Boris win the mayoralty, it has not been the best weekend and along with many on the left it has been a pretty depressing time.

London under Boris means we'll have to face new realities and adapt to new circumstances. The thought of Boris in charge of London doesn't fill me with much confidence and the days of progressive politics in this city are at an end for the moment. I believe that London has a lot to thank Ken Livingstone for; especially the transport improvements; the neighbourhood policing teams and of course London becoming the host city for the 2012 Olympics. Ken, despite his mistakes, had a track record of success. Likewise his policies on affordable housing was something I welcomed as making housing affordable is of vital importance in a city which has some of the highest property prices in the world. One thing I will guarantee, is that Boris Johnson will not have the same commitment to affordable housing. Tory councils across London including Merton will be able to get away with providing low levels of affordable housing.

Despite the success of Boris Johnson, this is still an evenly balanced city. Labour despite the mayoralty saw it votes rise in real and in percentage terms. In losing Ken received more votes then in 2004, sadly more of the suburban Tory area of London voted then the strong Labour areas.

The other disturbing part is the election of the repugnant BNP to the London Assembly, despite their vote only marginally rose from 2000. It was however, enough to see Richard Barnbrook elected along with giving them a platform for their polices of hatred and division.

The rest of the country meant it was not a great night for the Labour Party. Lessons have to be learnt from the result which were poor with a few notable exceptions(Slough, Oxford, Ipswich and Liverpool, spring to mind). As a party we need to have seriously consider how to re-connect. The whole 10p tax issues has not been an unmitageted disaster. What would be disastrous is recriminations, if this happens, we haven't a chance in hell of winning a fourth term. These are difficult times, and lessons need to be learnt. The party does need to be focus more on addressing issues have had an impact on support for Labour. Unlike some in the media, Cameron hasn't got the next election in the bag and the Labour party can recover from its present position.

I also believe that the current economic circumstances will change. People are feeling the pinch at the moment and the economy is going through a rough patch. There is no denying that things are challenging for many people, especially those with mortgages. However, things are in no way comparable to the early nineties with interest rates and unemployment a fraction of what it was under the Tories.

This is not the beginning of the end and we have to remain confident that things will change. Politics has its up and downs, I've had many up's, but sometimes you have your downs, last week was one of those. We lost on Thursday, but we can return to winning ways.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BNP are now on the GLA for one reason and one reason only. That reason is that the Labour Party introduced a list based PR system for this election. It's too late to moan about it now, list based PR systems always allow extremists in. Another U-turn coming from G Brown?

2:54 am  

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