Both sides claim victory….but at what price?
So, the bin strike in Leeds is over and as is usual when industrial disputes end both sides claim a measure of victory. The workers have by and large successfully protected their wages (good news) and the council have an acceptance of their productivity targets.
Everybody must be happy then? Well, kind-of because serious questions have to be asked about the long-term electoral consequences for our party in the Leeds area. As I have pointed out before the Labour Party has gained much political capital (and rightly so) by supporting the strikers. It has stepped-forward and surely reminded some of it’s erstwhile jaded voters that it can still represent working class interests. I have no doubt this will be reflected at a local level even if the governments national unpopularity will cause it other problems.
Nationally, Labour still has alot to answer for; Sundar Katwala says that the country would best be served by a coalition of ourselves and Labour. However, such a coalition would be hard to sustain while the attitude of some within our party remains so basically antagonistic to working class interests and representation. However, such a coalition would doubtless to my mind bring great benefits to both parties.
Meanwhile, locally the Liberal Democrat Party is tainted when it comes to a serious claim to represent working class interests. It has also shown itself intolerant of dissent and incapable of debate; mysteriously after I published articles reflecting the unions standpoint I vanished off an internal activist mailing list.
I was told privately that I risked ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ by making my views public on this blog. I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions about what this says about internal democracy within the local party. Would somebody be loyal if they watched as somebody they professed loyalty too wandered off a cliff? I think not. However, local party instinct is so tribal it shames the football terrace which catcalls every time a decision goes against their team. Is that what democracy is within this party? I sincerely hope not because if it is then the electoral consequences of the actions of Leeds Liberal Democrats is just and well-deserved indeed.