Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Lambeth South, has lost the support of some of Croydon’s trades unionists, with one group promising to stand a candidate against the Bliarite “New Labour” advocate at next May’s General Election.
The Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition, TUSC, has taken issue with the latest Reed defence of his record when he was leader of the so-called “co-operative” council in Lambeth, where long-term housing co-operative tenants are being forcibly evicted by the Labour-run council.
It may be no more than coincidental that in charge of Lambeth’s housing policy since May’s local elections is Gipsy Hill councillor Matthew Bennett, whose day-job is as head of office to… Steve Reed OBE.
The Sutton and Croydon branch of the TUSC has written: “Steve Reed, ‘One Nation Labour’ MP for Croydon North, is on a mission to introduce ‘outcome-focused models of public services’. In a recent article full of the very latest in management-speak he laid bare his vision for how New Labour will tackle the key issues facing Croydon residents.
“His approach is based on something he and his colleagues ‘came up with’ (his words) in Lambeth. They called it the ‘Co-operative Council’. It is based on the startling insight that council services should take into account the requirements of citizens and, indeed, work with them! Whatever next?
“This approach is contrasted with the old model, apparently dating back to the Second World War, where public services were driven by the needs of professionals who ‘knew best’. This, it seems, has ‘disempowered’ individuals and the community. They must therefore be ‘re-empowered’.
“There is nothing even remotely new about the idea that public services should be built around the needs of those concerned, and with their involvement. Mr Reed must surely know this. This issue is not even political – it is what good public services should be about as a matter of course. It is the simple difference between good administration, and bad.
“However, there is also a subtext to Mr Reed’s public service ‘model’ that reveals more about the politics on offer from ‘One Nation Labour’.
“Reading the article leaves you with an overwhelming feeling that Mr Reed blames the ‘service users’ and local communities themselves for their plight. They have, he suggests, lost their self-reliance and have become ‘service dependent’ and disempowered! Because of the old ‘service model’, he says, ‘the ability to be self-reliant has been taken away’.
“The so-called old model ‘professionals’ may indeed have been patronising, especially if they had had a ‘we know best’ attitude; but there is none more patronising than Mr Reed and his New Labour ‘enablers’!
“But even we leave all this aside, you can’t help thinking there is more to the story. Later in the article, we discover the amazing fact that, ‘even if you’re faced with a 50 per cent reduction in the funding available to you, you can still deliver far better outcomes…’.
“It is plain. The strategy of Mr Reed and his co-thinkers is to suggest that government and councils have no choices. They must simply do what they can within the expenditure cuts framework set by Tory/Liberal policy that places the burden of the economic crisis on to working people – not on to the people who caused it (on the contrary, they were bailed out…).
“The plight of Croydon communities and individuals, according to One Nation Labour, has nothing to do with mass unemployment, nothing to do with zero-hours contracts, with public expenditure cuts, with poverty wages, with rising rents, with factory closures.
No. The fault lies with the people of Croydon for becoming ‘disempowered’!
“Labour will do (and is doing) nothing fundamental to change the way society is run. The bulk of the wealth of this country will remain in the hands of a tiny minority, for whom there is no economic crisis – and ‘Labour’ will do their bidding much as before. As for the problems of devastated communities? Sort it out yourself. And for this, we are asked to vote ‘Labour’?
“For our part, the TUSC is very much in favour of communities taking action to solve their problems any way they can. Many TUSC supporters are already part of that. And if the local council can offer practical help, so much the better. And if they were fully funded they could deliver much more – as fully funded, say, as the privatised railways who get around £3 billion a year from the taxpayer.
“Communities will take action with or without the permission of Mr Reed and his band of ’empowerers’. And one thing they may do is find a candidate in Croydon to stand against him.”
It is worth noting that when Reed was elected to parliament in November 2012, he polled nearly 16,000 votes, with a 11,000 majority over the Tories. In contrast, in the Croydon local elections in May, the TUSC fielded a handful of candidates and polled 385. That’s in total, between all five of them (although in one ward, Selhurst, the TUSC candidate did beat the candidate standing for the Communists).
So there’s little chance of any electoral “earthquake” coming in Croydon North from the TUSC. Though Inside Croydon would offer them a word of caution.
Earlier this year Reed, having just moved to a new home in Croydon, in suburban Heathfield, managed to get the Grauniad website to publish a similarly self-serving piece of (also largely re-cycled) old twaddle about his ingenious invention of the co-operative council in Lambeth. We published a critique of this article, and then received emails from the MP over the course of a weekend variously demanding that we remove the article, and by implication accusing us of libelling him. Which of course was utter nonsense.
We offered to publish Reed’s comments in full, as a right of reply, and to allow our loyal reader to see just what sort of a person, and MP, he is. Reed declined our offer.
We continue to consider our options over the publication of Reed’s emails.
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Coming to Croydon
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- David Lean Cinema: Grand Budapest Hotel, Aug 7
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- David Lean Cinema: The Wind Rises, Aug 14
- Mind-Loosing Workshop, Aug 16
- David Lean Cinema: The Love Punch, Aug 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- David Lean Cinema: Stop The Pounding Heart, Aug 21
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- David Lean Cinema: Frank, Aug 28
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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