Friday, May 05, 2006

English local elections give Labour a fair beating


England (not the UK) had its local council elections yesterday and while I tend to avoid getting too excited about one side vs. the other (all being different version of Nanny State) I tend to feel the Conservatives are slightly less likely to tax and regulate than Labour or the LibDems.
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Voting is done by ballot box, not postal as in New Zealand and was on a Thursday – so turnout is a derisory 36%. I remember when NZ had voting by ballot box for council elections and turnout average around 25-30% unsurprisingly.
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Unlike New Zealand where, with the exception of perhaps Auckland and Christchurch, party politics are not strong (and even where they are, they have stupid deceptive names with words like now, future, citizens etc to hide them being left or rightwing blocs), in the UK local councils are strongly partisan – effectively being mini-versions of the House of Commons. All the parties see it as a test of overall popular support – and this time round, that would be a fair assumption.
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It seems odd to punish local councillors for what central government politicians get up to. John Bank and the pro-Nat/ACT Citizens and Ratepayers Now bloc won in 2001 in Auckland City, a year before the Nats had their worst election result ever in the general election. A good council (whatever that is) should not suffer because its party is bad in central government and vice versa - but that is what happens in England.
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Labour has suffered an enormous defeat – not helped by the scandals of John “how the hell did he get laid” Prescott, Charles “lets not deport the rapists” Clarke and the media pack anxious for Blair to step down. Labour is looking more and more like a lame duck, probably unfairly so – whereas the Tories, although with some cynicism, are operating in a united, cohesive fashion and David Cameron has injected some life (if not principle) into the party. The LibDems have been rescued from oblivion by Sir Menzies Campbell putting them on life support, so are holding their own.
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Labour lost control of 18 councils and lost 254 councillors, the Tories gained 12 councils and 250 councillors, the LibDems gained 1 council and 18 councillors and 5 councils shifted to “no overall control”, with no single party winning a majority.
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More disturbingly the “we’re not racist we just have lots of yobbos in our party who hate dark skinned people” BNP won 11 seats in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham – pity anyone not white living there. The BNP does well tapping into latent racism and fear of crime among working class white people, you know the sort you don’t want to be sharing a beach in Spain with. The BNP is an odd bunch, the core neo-Nazis who hate Jews (the word Zionist is used in the manifesto) and anyone not Aryan, a neo-conservative Christian core who are not that different from US protestant KKK groups and old fashioned socialists who believe the state should own and do a lot more than it does – national socialists you see? Although if you look at its manifesto, the BNP wants to look at the NZ experience in abolishing agricultural subsidies! I wont be moving to Barking and Dagenham (like I would anyway!).
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I’m just thrilled my own council, Camden, for the first time in its history is no longer a Labour council. Might be nice to see some accountability in a council that is responsible for the monstrosities pictured above, although if the LibDems and Labour co-operate it will be a tax and spend council once more.
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David Cameron should be pleased, Blair will be despondent, and the LibDems relieved. John Prescott will reportedly take the "blame" for the result - the real blame is that England is tired of New Labour spin, and has swung to the right. The poor have gone to the racist right and the middle and upper classes have gone to the Tories.
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1 comment:

Serf said...

All in all, a good kicking for Labour.