Really rotten boroughs – the case of Robin Wales

Newham's one party stateby Robin’s ‘Hood

Many of us have had concerns about the executive mayoral model, especially in unitary councils run as one party states with no effective opposition. Recent events in Newham, East London, illustrate what can go wrong. Three councillors (5% of the total) have currently been placed in administrative suspension by the national Labour Party, including one who is known as being a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and who recently helped launch Momentum in Newham. Perhaps not a great career move if your local party leader was a well-known supporter of Liz Kendall!

It might turn out that the allegations against these Councillors are justified. However, it makes you wonder exactly what these three backbench Asian councillors have done when you consider that recent findings against leading Newham Labour political figures, who were not at any stage suspended by the party during investigations, resulted in no action being taken against them whatsoever by the group or the Labour Party – despite serious misconduct being established. Continue reading

The Coalition’s boost for patronage

On Tuesday,  an innocuous little announcement was dribbled out of Whitehall with little or no pick-up in the media.    It said that the Government had decided to wind up the Appointments Commission.   Since this Commission was set up as an independent body precisely to stop political interference in public appointments, particularly in the health service under the Thatcher Government, it starts to ring alarm bells when this notice of abolition has been issued by the Department of Health whose Minister, Lansley, has just announced ‘reforms’ which will effectively eviscerate the NHS.   It strongly suggests the Tories are set on packing the NHS with compliant placemen/women to ram through highly contentious changes to privatise large chunks of the health service.   Continue reading

Labour in Parliament: in need of reform

As the House of Commons rose yesterday for its summer holidays, the record new intake of 232 first time MPs have some grounds for feeling they’ve had some impact. Though only time will tell whether they paid any heed to Nye Bevan’s excellent warning to new MPs that parliament is “an elaborate conspiracy to prevent the real clash of opinion which exists outside from finding an appropriate echo within its walls” (and more here), they do seem at least to have taken on the task of holding the executive to account. The question is whether new Labour members will have the same effect within the parliamentary party. Continue reading