Monday, May 05, 2008

Out of touch

I'm feeling a bit out of touch with the political situation just recently. In the past month, I've been lucky enough to be able to spend time campaigning in different parts of the country - Liverpool, Reading and Oxford - doing bits and pieces of canvassing and leafleting for some excellent Labour candidates.

Of the 15 candidates whose campaigns I had the opportunity to see up close, 13 got elected, one lost by 4 votes, and the other by 60. All of them saw their share of the vote increase.

I've read reams and reams of analysis and suggestions about why Labour lost, and what needs to be done now. But one point which hasn't been made enough is that there are actually existing examples of how Labour candidates managed to win, right across England from the flagship Lib Dem run council in Northern England to wards in marginal constituencies in the South East of England. Arguments proclaiming the death of the Labour Party, or which assume elections are just won or lost according to what happens in the Westminster bubble don't explain what I've seen and heard from people over the past month.

Amidst all the doom and gloom (I am still in denial about the London elections) it makes me really hopeful for the future, and so proud to be a Labour activist, to have met so many people who worked so hard and so successfully, and who will make first rate local Labour councillors.

It's not yet the case that all Labour candidates campaign all year round, call round to talk to local people and help sort problems out. It's not yet the case that most people find out about what Labour is trying to do from speaking personally to Labour activists or from reading local leaflets about the issues that they are most interested in, rather than from the telly, newspapers or radio. And it's not yet the case in every area and at every election that all Labour candidates are highly talented people from all ages and backgrounds who want to put their skills and knowledge at the service of local people and give something back to their community.

But where this does happen, the results have been spectacular.


At 8:17 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liverpool and Oxford have seen a reaction against Lib Dems that have been running their councils for a number of years. There is a local incumbency effect that has managed to buck the national anti-Labour incumbency effect. Plus Oxford is rather odd politically.

I don't see that lessons from these cities can provide solutions to Labour's problem nationally. Nor is it plausible to suppose all Labour councillors and MPs are going to be brilliant individuals, at least not in the next couple of years!

At the moment unfortunately we are on course for defeat in the next general election. Being in denial about it doesn't help matters.

At 9:49 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the victorious Councillors who you worked with, I am sure I speak for the others, when I suggest it shouldn't go unnoticed that one of the common variables in that list is your own input Mr Paskini.

So thank you. Although I accept that involving you in every single campaign Labour Party candidates fight for the next 2 years may be stretching what is deliverable even for an activist of your commitment...

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