Political editor WALTER CRONXITE reports on a massive gaffe by party staff in London, who seem to have forgotten the omnishambles caused by their colleagues when in charge in Croydon
The Labour Party in London has made itself the subject of ridicule and derision yet again, with a tweet which featured a recognisably Croydon skyline over a message that promised, “The next Labour Government will hand power to our towns, cities and regions so we can reignite our economy and build a fairer country – together.”
As one of London Labour’s 23,000 Twitter followers was quick to point out soon after the tweet was posted, “Ah yes, Croydon, a wonderful example of Labour governance.”
Croydon, of course, is a local authority that is no longer under Labour control, largely because of how it was bankrupted by the previous Labour administration. The former council leader and his former cabinet member for finance remain suspended by the Labour Party for their part in the council’s financial collapse.
Losing control of the Town Hall earlier this year was also blamed by activists on the mishandling of the mayoral campaign and local elections by party officials from London Region – the very people who will have drafted and approved the issuing of the “Power and job opportunities in London” tweet yesterday.
With a General Election now less than two years away, the tweet marked the release of the party’s constitutional reform proposals, largely drafted by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
They promise “a root-and-branch reform of the constitution, moving political power out of London, banning second jobs for MPs and abolishing the House of Lords”, as reported by the Grauniad.
Brown has drawn up what has been described as a “bold strategy that would hand new powers to local and regional government, including over transport and infrastructure, development funding, housing, training and job centres”.
As the Grauniad puts it, “At the centre of the proposals, set out in a 155-page document, is an overarching commitment to decentralisation, including a new constitutional commitment for Westminster to respect the autonomy of local and regional government.”
The obvious snag with such a plan is the over-weaning centralisation of power in the Labour Party under current leader Keir Starmer and his General Secretary, David Evans, who has made plain his distrust and distaste for constituency party organisations while carrying out a purge of those seen to be on the left of the party.
The calibre and quality of some of those running the party, or running local government – such as the suspended Croydon duo of Tony Newman and Simon Hall – also raises serious concerns, as yesterday’s London Labour tweet amply demonstrated.
Some took issue not just with the image used in the London Labour tweet, but the choice of words. “Am I alone in finding the term ‘reignite our economy’ unfortunate?” said a senior party figure.
“Does the Labour leadership really want to set fire to Croydon’s economy? Or has that already been comprehensively done by a combination of Tory Government actions and local Labour mismanagement?”
Another party official, speaking on terms of complete anonymity, was blunt in their assessment: “This says everything about the incompetence of Labour’s London Region staff.”
Andrew Pelling, the former Croydon Central MP who was driven out of the Labour Party earlier this year after speaking out against the local leadership, was also unimpressed with London Labour’s social media output.
“This is typical of Labour’s ineptitude that the one council that they pictured as giving extra power to was a Labour-run council with such failed governance that it drove its town on to the financial rocks,” Pelling told Inside Croydon.
The London Labour tweet generated something of a “pile-on” on social media.
One said, “That the Labour Party are advertising the ‘next Labour Government’ using a photo of Croydon is priceless!
“Labour-led Croydon Council is over £1.5billion in debt, caused by its Labour administration’s irresponsible decisions. They first declared bankruptcy in 2020. #NeverLabour”.
Another reply on Twitter, from someone describing themselves as an “ex-Labour socialist”, said, “This is the most centralised Labour Party ever, it removes power from local communities every week and you want us to believe that you will do the opposite in government? We don’t believe you.”
They ended their tweet with the hashtag “#StarmerOut”.
The London Labour tweet also created an easy target for the party’s political rivals.
Peter Underwood, the Green Party’s candidate for Croydon Mayor earlier this year, wrote, “That picture is of Croydon – where the Labour Council went bankrupt amid accusations of bullying, dodgy backroom deals, and expelling/deselecting any member who disagreed with the local leadership.
“I’ll stick with The Green Party, thanks.”
And as if to heap incompetence upon their poor judgement, the London Labour tweet remains published, unaltered or amended, on their Twitter feed more than 24 hours later.
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