Saturday 2 October 2021

Insurgency in British Politics

A while ago in Parliament, when Corbyn was still leader, he accused Boris of being a "phoney outsider" - an odd, Westminster-bubble insult as we noted at the time.  Goes to show, though, how much of an advantage being an insurgent is nowadays deemed to be.   Corbs, of course, had been told that being a genuine outsider was his USP, and he wanted to see off any pretenders to this crown.

This was brought to mind as I found myself pondering how to vote in next week's local referendum on whether Croydon should switch from the Leader/Cabinet system of local government to the Elected Mayor variant instead.  (Sadly, the old Committee System is no longer on offer.)

How does this referendum arise?  Well, enough people signed a petition: but why?

Because the local Conservatives, who always used to hold the borough council (and, at one time, all 4 parliamentary seats, as we had in them days**).  But demographics have worked against us and it's been Labour for nearly 8 years (and they also have two out of three MPs now).  But the popular vote is still majority Conservative across the borough as a whole, the ward boundary arrangements not favouring us at all.  So the Elected Mayor wheeze is designed to keep Labour out of power, because they may still command a majority of council seats after the next elections in 2022.    

Given that in their 8 years of control Labour have literally bankrupted the town with their self-aggrandising Toytown politics, you might might think that's a bit pessimistic about the good sense of the Croydon electorate; and maybe it is - though fewer people seem to care about the bankruptcy, the blatant corruption++ and even the squalor of the council properties than you'd imagine.

But equally there's huge, sluggish apathy in all directions.  So the push for a mayoral putsch, which has aroused passions amongst those in favour but barely any other reaction at all, seems quite exciting and, well, insurgent.  I can easily see it succeeding: probably a low turnout with 80% in favour of a mayor, or something bizarre like that.

This is what the left hates about the Tories: endless flexibility when it comes to policies & ways & means.   They hate Boris, too, but seem unable to do anything about him.  They wish they were the populist revolutionaries but in many senses the permanent revolution is on the right.  

More Croydon Referendum news in due course.



** To be fair, it was a bit aberrational: Croydon Central has been a genuine marginal for 60 years, and the two northern constituencies were natural Labour territory, more akin to neighbouring Lambeth and Lewisham.  But they were held by strong Tory personalities: a much loved local worthy (a hanger-and-flogger); and the saintly Bernard Weatherill (who, as an old India hand, could converse with his electorate in their own tongues).  It was never going to last - and it didn't.

++ Space doesn't permit me to recount the stories, but the redoubtable Inside Croydon is chock full of them, as is Private Eye.


APL said...

"This is what the left hates about the Tories: endless flexibility when it comes to policies & ways & means."

Well, yes.

If you were a party that has nationalization of the means of production concealed just below the fold, and along comes the fucking Tory party and nationalizes the whole economy for a complete year.

It pretty well takes your breath away.

But then the cherry on top, is the brazen apologists for the fascist Tory party, putting it out there that stealing Labour's least attractive policies and implementing them* with a speed which actually leaves one stunned speechless is, well cool.

*No mention in the Tory manifesto ( published only six months previously ).

Don Cox said...

I don't think "nationalizes the whole economy" is correct. I would say that the government put the economy on a war footing.

Whether that was an over-reaction is a matter of opinion.

Don Cox

E-K said...

I was raised in Mitcham and then Waddon.

I returned to the area just before lockdown after about 14 years. There's certainly been some sort of insurgency going on.

E-K said...

Then again... Looney House is nearby to both areas.

Matt said...

@ E-K

It's just asylum seeking children (with beards) - nothing to worry about. No need to worry, it's not like multiculturalism has lead to mass rape or terrorist bombings in the country.

Anonymous said...

"it's not like multiculturalism has lead to mass rape or terrorist bombings in the country"

Or stories like this.

"A rogue landlord couple who rented their properties to ‘ghost tenants’ to avoid paying thousands in council fees have been fined almost £190,000. Mohamed Lahrie, 55, and wife Shehara, 51, claimed they were letting six of their staggering 600 properties to a single tenant, which was in fact their letting agent. It meant Waltham Forest Council did not know they were houses of multiple occupation, so authorities did not inspect them or charge HMO licence fees. Between eight and 16 individuals were crammed in each ‘bedsit’, Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court heard. The Lahries’ defence lawyer, appealing for leniency, told District Judge Andrew Sweet the properties were just “one per cent” of their property portfolio, which they have now been forced to sell."

When I was paying one of my student offspring's rent, I was asked to make out the cheque to "Mr Mohamed". I remember thinking "Not many of those around, you try finding HIM, Mr Tax Man! "

Anonymous said...

OT, but am I the only one who finds it odd/significant that no American tax avoiders are mentioned in the Pandora leaks?

Anonymous said...

Also OT - I see all the papers are still bigging the "fuel crisis".

I drove yesterday from Cirencester to Anglesey and back, passed dozens of petrol stations. No queues anywhere. Filled up in Caernarvon, and en route home saw a couple of tankers delivering to garages.

I wonder how much this "crisis" is the Cheap Labour Lobby allying with the Reverse Brexit Lobby (Boris is already folding like a wet tissue), or is it that the same London drivers who won't let you out at a junction or allow you to right turn across their path are the ones panicking at the thought that someone else may have a full tank?

E-K said...

Anon at 11.17

Wife and I have just returned from an odyssey Sth England to Nth Lincs to Nth Wales and back ... yes, a few out-of-service pumps but no queues, no panic and no problems getting fuel.

hovis said...

Don, a war footing?

Actually on consideration I guess I agree - but the war was against their own populace, deploying propaganda, instilling mass fear, restricting communication and deploying the nations armed forces against them. The war was and is against the fabric of a free society, the official "enemy" a phantom, so terrifying all the above were required for people to (make) believe it.

As to nationalisation of the economy by decreeing which businesses can continue to trade, and/or those which can get Govt. subsidy was near de facto, if a little more Blairite 3rd way to achieve the same end.

A little more like this, pretending the political interests of the State were involved:

"State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)

Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions,

Anonymous said...

I like this quote:

Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord 1878–1943
German general

I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.

Maybe your typical Tory councillor would fall into the smart but lazy group, whereas Labour would be stupid and industrious