Sunday, 19 April 2009

(All washed up) and Nowhere to go

It feels like the countdown to the general election has begun. Not in the number of days, but in the number of further accusations of sleaze, corruption, failures of management or policy that Brown, his party and government attract before the election is finally called.

Unusually for Brown, the McBride affair struck home so directly he was unable to declare as usual that responsibility lay elsewhere – resulting in his eventual, reluctant "sorry".

But the electorate is not fooled by his regular absence from responsibilty for the state of the nation's affairs.

McBride focused attention on the clunking fist style of Brown's and Labour's governance that denies room to criticism, principle and basic democracy.

Alice McMahon pinpoints the trouble with the Labour party in her resignation from the party on Saturday. Never a fan of New Labour, she has been a confirmed left-winger and anti-war campaigner, criticising Labour's alliance with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But now her criticisms are more personal. "I can no longer be a member of a party that at the leadership level has betrayed many of the values and principles that inspired me as a teenager to join."

She says she was sickened by the recent smears of Conservative politicians and their families. And at local level she cites the treatment of Janet Oosthuysen, a prospective Parliamentary candidate in Calder Valley, who was deselected by the National Executive Committee last year. Such party bullying and irregularities are raised again this weekend by suspected candidate vote rigging in Erith and Thamesmead.

"My final reason for leaving the party is because it is no longer democratic. The personally vindictive, dishonest, campaign played out on the pages of the tabloids by certain Labour Party members was despicable."

So that's the view of a former MP and dedicated Labour party member for fifty years. She joins seven out of ten grassroots members who have also left the party over the past ten years.

Not everyone shares the politics of Alice Mahon. But very many people can see the cynicism, dishonesty, bullying and lack of principles that riddles the executives of the Labour party and its government as yet more reason to deny it electoral support at the coming local elections and in twelve months time.

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