Posts Tagged ‘Croydon’

The story from the local elections isn’t that Ukip is popular. It’s that Labour is not.

23/05/2014, 11:11:18 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Last night Labour was busily managing expectations that 150 gains in the local elections would have constituted a good result. Naturally, the final haul is likely to significantly exceed that number, but it is quite extraordinary that a total as low as 150 gains was even vaguely plausible.

The last time most of these council seats were contested was on the same day as the general election, when Labour slumped to its second worst post-war result.

Inevitably the focus for much of the media has been Ukip but the obsession with Farage and his out-sized personality misses the most salient political point: Ukip only exist because Labour is not the vehicle for popular protest.

When Labour previously made the transition from opposition to government, it brought together a voter coalition that extended from the left all the way into parts of the centre right. The breadth of this coalition and its sheer reach wasn’t based on ideology or policy but emotion.

The feeling that voters who may not traditionally have been Labour supporters, could safely lend the party their votes, to teach the Tories a lesson. That even if they disagreed with some aspects of policy, they could confidently project their personal hopes and aspirations onto the party’s leaders and supporting Labour meant backing the winner.

The stardust of success is beguiling. It creates an aura of optimism that lowers voter reservations attracts support. Everyone loves a winner.

But this stardust is missing from today’s Labour party. And in the absence of a confident and successful opposition to challenge a tired and uninspiring government, fringe populism flourishes.


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Memo from Croydon to Westminster

12/08/2011, 11:08:21 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Walking down, past Reeves Corner in Croydon on Thursday evening, one thing was crystal clear.

The government doesn’t get it.

Cameron’s proposals in the parliamentary statement didn’t come near addressing the reality of what has happened.

And while Labour did slightly better, particularly on police numbers, the response didn’t give a clear sense of an alternative.

When David Cameron talks of a sick section of society and the need for a moral fightback, he sounds like an opposition politician.

‘Broken Britain’ was a decent routine two years ago, but he’s in power now. Government’s job in this situation is to identify what failed and fix it – not opine impotently on social morality.

Instead, the prime minister’s parliamentary statement gave us some irrelevant commentary, a pointless inquiry on gang culture and a re-heat of existing plans.

There’s nothing new in the police being able to force people to remove facemasks or in social landlords evicting tenants found guilty of looting. Councils across the country are already pushing ahead on this front.

Ed Miliband was cautious in his response. He asked pertinent questions, but didn’t frame a narrative for how Labour would make a difference. The net result is a political vacuum from our leaders.

It shouldn’t be this difficult. All our leaders need do is to listen to their constituents. (more…)

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