Monday, 24 February 2014

Haringey Lib Dems in Meltdown

As reported by the local newspaper the Ham and High almost two thirds (12 out of 21) of the Lib Dem councillors on Haringey Council are stepping down at the London council elections in May.

The departing councillors rather skirt around the reasons for taking this decision now, and the Lib Dem Group Leader cllr Richard Wilson even suggests that this is all part of natural process. Come off it mate, I’ve never known so many serving councillors quitting at the same time, and the reason is plainly obvious.

The Lib Dems in Haringey and much of London (and the north of England) are a toxic brand. People in these areas voted Lib Dem because they were unhappy with Labour in 2010, but are horrified by the subsequent ConDem government’s attack on the welfare state. These councillors know full well that they are highly unlikely to retain their seats and have no doubt been making alternative plans for some time. Rats leaving a sinking ship, you might reasonably conclude, rather than some natural turn over of personnel.

A brief look at the results of the GLA elections in 2012 paints the picture perfectly if you are in any doubt about the Lib Dems prospects at this year’s local elections. Labour won comfortably in every ward in Haringey, and in 18 of the 19 wards in the borough, the Green party beat the Lib Dems. I said at the time, that the writing was on the wall for Lib Dem councillors and sure enough they have just been marking time for the last two years. Some of them have no doubt tried to do their best, but such is the impossibility of providing good quality local public services, whilst central government funding for local authorities is slashed, have decided to jump rather than wait to be pushed.   

But what of our MP and junior Coalition Government Minister, Lynne Featherstone? Well she’s got another year to think about it, since she is not up for re election until 2015, but she is showing no sign of throwing in the towel like fellow north London MP Lib Dem Sarah Teather (Brent central). No, Featherstone seems to think she can win, because she is ‘personally popular’ unlike her party.

There is a great myth spread around by Featherstone and her supporters that she is a ‘good constituency MP’. We are bombarded in Hornsey and Wood Green (Featherstone’s Parliamentary seat) with leaflets telling us what a good constituency MP she is, a case of if you say something often enough, people will eventually believe it.

Well, I’m not buying it. I admit she is very good at self publicity, but that is all. She recently tried to take credit for the halting of plans to build a huge waste plant at Pinkham Way, for instance, but this was all the work of the residents in the Pinkham Way Alliance. This is only one example of Featherstone shamelessly claiming the credit for some achievement, when she’s done nothing but write the odd letter about it.

What’s more, she is an embarrassment in Parliament where she is commonly referred to as ‘Featherhead’ by other MPs (including some in her own party). But the main thing is, as the dozen departing Lib Dem councillors realise, personal reputation, whether real or otherwise, is not enough to save Lib Dem politicians. Featherstone will be unceremoniously booted out in 2015, for the part her party has played in propping up this deeply unpopular Tory led government.   

Close the door on the way out please Lynne, but make sure it doesn’t hit you in the face.        

1 comment:

Mike B said...

I rather enjoyed this blog. I am Labour supporter and despite our differences I would urge Greens in Hornsey & Wood Green to vote for Catherine West in 2015.