Friday, 4 May 2012

It's Time For a Purge

Well, the local elections are utterly fascinating this year. And I'm not joking. I'm a bit sad that Plaid Cymru have slipped back, but they have a peculiar problem: they're a leftwing party but a lot of their voters are rightwing rural types who'd vote Tory if there were any who spoke Welsh.

The Greens have done OK here and there, and there are a sprinkling of leftwing party winners too. But the night really belongs to Labour. Locally, they've smashed the Tories and Lib Dems: only the two posh wards perched on the rock in Western Dark Place voted Tory: now we know that the inhabitants of Tettenhall don't care about the old, the young, the poor and the sick. Labour 17, Tories 2, Lib Dems 1. Fascists nowhere!

My personal favourites were the results from Witney Central and Chipping Norton, which both went Labour. Why? Because Witney is David Cameron's constituency, and Chipping Norton is the home of Jeremy Clarkson, Rebekah Brooks and a load of other unpleasant so-called 'personalities'. I'm fervently hoping that Clarkson's new councillor is a black vegetarian lesbian disabled Mexican… who rides a bike.

Labour are probably going to lose the London mayoral election, but that's a weird one anyway: it's a personality contest between a very sinister man who turns up on Have I Got News For You and gets away with calling black people 'piccaninnies', and a man who could cause a sectarian split in an empty room. I like most of Ken's policies but he can be a bit of a dick. Looking at the pair of them, I'm reminded of The Thick of It: in one episode, two awful politicians from each side are abandoned in a radio studio by their spin doctors on the basis that they're both just irredeemably awful. From about 8.15 minutes though the whole clip is a gem:

I know a lot of my socialist friends are horrified by my nonchalance when it comes to nationalist success, but I can't bring myself to be that ultra-purist. I'm from an Irish background, so post-colonial nationalism doesn't seem automatically rightwing and reactionary as it might in an imperialist nation (let's not go into how things actually worked out in Ireland, eh?). Plaid and the SNP are (mostly) post-68 left-nationalist, and Labour's done very little to help either of their languages or political development because it's been too comfortable as a one-party state to work hard enough.

Finally, there's a sting in the tail for Labour. The Tories have cunningly made sure that the most vicious cuts will be in council activities. That way, they'll be able to blame Labour councils in every press release and interview. Their own councils won't care much: they've already cut back services because their rich voters don't use libraries, social services, municipal pools, buses and so on, so they're free to reduce council taxes and proclaim that they're 'efficient'. Labour councils will try to protect the poor but be forced to make cuts - at which point the Tories will attack them. Cynical, isn't it?

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