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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Turning the Tables on the Tories

Over the past few years, I have sometimes had the impression that some people have seen the Tory government's inept economic mismanagement and targeting of local government as an opportunity to rerun the 1980s.  This was a time when a small number of unsuccessful Labour run local authorities were used by the then Tory government to discredit Labour as a whole.

Certainly, I always felt that was Eric Pickles' playbook.

Regrettably, some people "on the Left" seem to have wanted the same thing.

It seems to me that the collapse of Northants offers Labour an alternative narrative.  Northants was a Tory run Borough that has been run into the ground and is now facing a series of deeply depressing decisions.  The evidence suggests it will struggle to implement them.  They seem to include a fire sale of the Council's assets to buy time before the abolition of the authority itself.  Maintaining any sort of Authority before abolition will become increasingly difficult as staff seek find alternative jobs and no one will want to replace them.  This is no doubt why local Tory MPs and Tory councillors are scrambling to escape responsibility.

Together with the failure of contractors like Carillion, the Northants failure (and future corporate failures by other local authorities) show up the failure of Tory ideology in local government.  This leaves Labour free to make a case on value for money in local government rather than the cheapest price, which has been the essence of the Labour case since the 1990s.

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