Monday, February 14, 2005

Labour, Liberal, Tory, same old futile story

An election must be nearing as a political leaflet was dropped through our letter box at 52 Clapham High Street (and presumably in surrounding letter boxes too) over the weekend. If it wasn't printed in blue, you wouldn't be able to guess which party it came from. It's all about street lighting, roads, residents' parking, graffiti and other matters of everyday concern. This must be what "community politics" means, though it's called "ward-healing" on the other side of the Atlantic. This is all very well but it remains true that local councillors are little more than elected civil servants given some control over how money allocated by the central government should be spent at local level. But the amount the central government has been allocating has been squeezed for the last thirty years by the pressure of the world market obliging all states to cut back on "wasteful" public spending if their industries are to remain competitive. This has trickled down to local level in the form of cuts and/or charging for everyday local services (and in the closure of local post offices). So you can't isolate what happens locally from the workings of world capitalism.
But, to return to the leaflet, it's a bit self-congratulatory with Councillor Gentry patting himself on the back a number of times. That's because in Lambeth the Tories are in power -- in coalition with the Liberals (in case you thought that they were opposed to each other). The poor Labour Party, which imposed the undemocratic cabinet system in Lambeth, has been hoisted by its own petard and now has virtually no say locally.

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