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Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Loony Left Alternative

I attended a Labour Party meeting where we had for some reason invited a speaker from "Brent fightback", a group whose main activity seems to consists of attacking people in the Labour Party.

During the discussion it was suggested that the Council should just ignore its responsibilities and refuse to ameliorate the effect of the Tory cuts in any way.  I think that there is both a human and a political answer to that.

The human answer comes from imagining someone suffering from the cuts. Let us say an able bodied person who works for a low income and struggles to make ends meet. Let us suppose the cumulative effect of the various cuts, inflation and so on are to push that person below the waterline.  The Fightback position appears to be that they be left to sink, so that Fightback can demonstrate that the cuts come from the government, and Fightback disapproves of them.  This allows Fightback to preen itself on the warm glow of ideological purity whilst other people pay the human cost.  Personally, I find that unacceptable.  As a human being, I am going to do what I can to help people in need even though I know what I do is inadequate to the scale of the task.

The second part of the answer is: would such a political strategy work? I think not. I think most people would look at a Council doing nothing and say: "You bastards.  You are not even trying to help.  You are just trying to score points politically."

At least as it is, I can argue, that we are doing our best but the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition is making it impossible.  Of course, that is different from the likes of Sarah Teather who voted all these nasty policies through as the price of a ministerial job.


The Fightback speaker has responded below.  Unusually, she accuses me of failing to voice opinions, which is not a fault I am generally accused of.  I think most people at the discussion were interested in the cuts the government was making to the NHS and to welfare benefits (which was also the focus of my own contribution).  I think that is certainly the main thing we should all be worrying about.


The latest comment appears to be slightly off the subject of this post, but I'll respond anyway.  The report sent in by Brent's health scrutiny committee is cross party, and scrutiny committees are not whipped.  The opinions in the Report are therefore those of the committee, not necessarily those of one party. The documents recording their discussions are here.  Anyone who wants to understand their logic can read the report, the minutes or contact the committee members directly.


Unknown said...

I'm a little confused Councillor Powney. I was the Brent Fightback speaker at this meeting and at no time did you mention these points which I'm sure would have made for an interesting discussion. In fact there was not a peep of disagreement from you. Might that be because you recognised that the anti cuts position had overwhelming support within the room? Or is it your usual practice to stay quiet during a meeting then come and snipe on your blog afterwards?

Anonymous said...

A I recall the discussion, there was no suggestion of the kind of grandstanding you mention. Insofar as the discusion centred on the council, people were genuinely concerned to hear what could be done to protect people. For example, Knowsley Council is reclassifying rooms to offset the impact of the bedroom tax. Others have a policy of no forced evictions - concrete ways to offset the impact of coalition cuts.
Mike Phipps

Michael C said...

The "main activity" of Brent Fightback is to fight against the cuts. If Labour chooses to implement cuts on behalf of the coalition government then it will be criticised too. Perhaps since you are belatedly prepared to share your views, you could explain why the Labour group on Brent Council has opted not to refer back the decision to close the A&E at Central Middlesex?

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