Friday, 25 May 2007

Renfrewshire Labour in Opposition

The shift to a one party right of centre state is never more obvious than when we look at Labour in opposition in Renfrewshire.

Maybe I'm wrong and am just being left behind by consensus politics of the soft right, but I was always under the impression that it was the duty of the opposition to oppose. They did this by holding the ruling group to account and offering alternatives to the policies put forward by that group. This ensured that the proposals of the ruling group were properly scrutinised and compared with an alternative model, that of the opposition. That is the strength of an adversarial system of government.

Labour in Renfrewshire (still in shock at their loss of power and smarting under a new ignominy, they are losing their JPs) are offering no new and innovative policies, they are not even promoting the stale old policies which saw them lose power.

Their stated aim is to ensure that the election promises made by the SNP are kept. But surely it is not the role of the opposition Labour party to ensure that the SNP manifesto is implemented, that is just a stupid thing to say. Labour should be offering a different agenda with new ideas (not the ones which were already rejected by the majority of voters) and fighting tooth and nail to prevent the ideas which they opposed whilst in office from being implemented. That is the duty of an opposition, but they still do not understand that they are the opposition, so they will fight to implement the policies of the SNP and try to take credit for themselves for what goes right, rejecting as not theirs anything which goes wrong.

This is a completely sterile approach to the problems of Renfrewshire, and to think that we paid the dead wood thousands to go away and not prevent innovation. What a waste that was. The new lot haven't an idea between them except to ensure the implementation of SNP policy.


The Cynic said...

Okay Red Mist - you've convinced me. Now I know there really is no credible alternative on the left that I could find myself supporting. From our past exchanges in the blogsphere I reckon you are a genuine decent enough guy. However, like many of your comrades in the SSP and, similarly, those who followed Tangoman Tommy off to Solidarity you seem blinded by your own dogma.

I have made this point before but like many other Labour Supporters I still regard myself as a Socialist and have no qualms about that. What I do take exception to is this idea perpetuated by elements on the fringe left that as we are not for you we must be against you and therefore, by association, if nothing else, it must follow that we are right wing.

I have said for a long, long time that I was not happy with certain aspects of Labour’s conduct at local, as well as national level. I sincerely hope that a spell in opposition and the recent change in leadership might help improve their attitude and electoral fortunes.

Jim Harkins has taken the pay-off and Tommy Williams, former “Militant” and pal of Terry Kelly has been deposed. Iain McMillan and Jackie Green have taken their place. I don’t know your sources but I am sure that the Labour opposition will closely scrutinise the performance and conduct of the new SNP-LibDem administration. I am also confident that we will see alternative proposals and ideas being put forward.

There might well have to be more consensus than there was previously – coalitions can be fragile arrangements - but is that not what the new PR voting system for local government would inevitably produce. If this benefits the people of Renfrewshire and beyond is that not to be welcomed?

Finally, once again you refer to the “deadwood” that they paid to go away – there are several among those you refer to who were more committed socialists than the SSP and Solidarity could muster between them.

I am sorry RM but you are starting to sound rather miffed - is this due to the fact that the SSP are conspicuous by their absence in Renfrewshire and on nearly every other Council as well as at Holyrood. While their electoral misfortune will hopefully be a salutary lesson to Labour it was not the virtual wipe-out that some would like to depict; perhaps to detract from their own disastrous showing.

red mist said...

Sorry, Cynic, you're sounding a bit miffed yourself, so I guess we're having a tiff, but there was little that was about dogma in the post I made. What I was highlighting was the fact that Labour, having lost power, still think that it is their function to see that the SNP implement their agenda. They have said as much in the local press and are trying to give themselves a sort of oversight/watchdog role rather than offering a credible alternative.

Any consensus, such as it might be is for the lib/dems and the SNP, Labour as the main opposition party cannot reasonably be part of that, they have a duty to oppose, not to ensure implementation of the policies of the SNP Lib/dem alliance. They seem unable to accept that new role and are setting themselves up as scrutineers and facilitators of SNP policy.

It is strange that when Labour have beliefs it is called principle, but when it is the SSP it is called dogma, perhaps a dose of dogma would help Labour return to a position where people who were not millionaires mattered. The real consensus is in the rush by Labour and the Nats to embrace the rich.

I differentiate between those who support the Labour party and its leadership (national and local), but if you can't find it in you to withdraw support from a party which has led us into a war in support of US oil interests, which reigns over a widening inequality between rich and poor, and which shamelessly trumpets its support for weapons of mass murder at a cost of billions when local authorities are unable to build schools and hospitals and have to rent them from private profiteers, then, make no mistake, you are against me, and far to the right of me, and I make no apology for saying so.

What will benefit the people of Renfrewshire and beyond is not a consensus to cut tax for the richest while the poorest continue to pay a vastly greater proportion of their income in tax than the richest. None of the major parties have even suggested that this is a disgrace or that it needs to be corrected. Their idea of consensus is that everyone should agree with them and that any who don't are responsible for holding back progress, but all movement isn't progress, and we are moving in the wrong direction.

Your defence of the deadwood is admirable, and loyalty is to be commended, but look around and see what they did to Paisley and you might judge them more harshly were you impartial.

Finally, I am very disappointed that we are not represented in the formal forums (fora?) but we are not going away and we will return to our traditional style on the streets, and wait it out

The Cynic said...

RM, I take on board some of your points but again I am am not an apologist for the Labour Party.

My support is not unconditional and I will wait to see what happens after GB takes the reins.

However, if the time comes that I can no longer give them my support then I will have to join the ranks of the disillusioned/apathetic becuase, at least at the moment, there is no other party that I would feel comfortable supporting

red mist said...

cynic-- Your comfort is important to us, we'll wait ;).