Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rain didn’t stop play: Stratford Labour stall

This morning we had a rather “damp” but cheerful West Ham Labour Party street stall outside Stratford shopping centre. Despite the on/off rain I thought it went pretty well - led by members of the Stratford and Newtown Ward Labour Action Team. Together with our MP, Lyn Brown, they picked up loads of case work as well as giving out lots of lovely red balloons.

An irate “opposition” supporter accused me of “endangering” the shopping centre roof by giving kids balloons! Since apparently some of them were letting go of the balloons inside the centre and they would explode when they touch the hot lights on the roof bringing it all tumbling down (or somethink like that). He said I “would be held personally responsible for this” and then rushed off. I thought that I had at long last met up with Mike Law but apparently it wasn’t him.

I had a more interesting and constructive conversation with a shopper who worked in Canning Town. He asked me about what Labour was going to do about bringing down public spending and reducing the national debt. He argued that it was excessive spending on public services that had brought about the debt. My counter argument was that no, it was the collapse in tax revenue caused by the recession that had caused the debt. The real problem was the past over acceptance of a neo-liberal financial model that the “free markets knows best”. It was the Banking and Financial services disaster that brought about this debt not past public spending. It is absolutely amazing to me how blame for this recession, which never, ever, forget was caused solely by the actions of the greedy, corrupt and irresponsible rich friends of the Tory Party, has somehow turned into being the fault of public services?

After we packed up the stall and on route to voter ID (aka door knocking) in Plaistow I had a chat with a long standing Party member about our chances in the forth coming General election. He thought that we have every chance of winning a majority. The most likely scenario at the moment was a hung Parliament but he pointed out that hung parliaments are incredibly rare in our political system (he does have a PHD in history). The General election campaign itself will be absolutely crucial. He reminded me of 1970 and 1992. In 1970 the then Labour government called an election while ahead of the polls and until the last week were widely expected to win. The Tories won because they ran the better campaign . In 1992 Labour were expected to defeat the Tories yet a better than expected performance by Prime Minister John Major and his Party in the campaign resulted in their victory.  So in a tight spot - if they do well, the "underdogs win".

So comrades – there is still everything to play for – but we must play to win.


Unknown said...

Every time the deficit is mentioned either in press or on tv and radio, there should be a strong reminder of how it happened - the banks went belly-up and the government had to rescue the economy.

Worth mentioning as well the role in which the growth in employment in new industries, such as those concerned with a greening the economy, will help to raise tax revenue and thus stabilise public finances.

The Lib-dem leadership has now shifted to Labour's position on the need to maintain support for economic recovery. So there's hope that the argument against an age of austerity can be won...

John Gray said...

Hi James

yes, but we can't force the media to accurately report the real reasons for the recession but we must ring and write to complain every time they get it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why do you assume that all bankers are tories? Nick Leeson infamous trader whose unchecked risk-taking caused the collapse of Barings Bank. His father was a plasterer and he was from a working class background and grew up in a council estate.

You are right to blame bankers, but you are wrong to exclude the blame this Labour government.

Many economist knew the economy as not right and there was too much debt. Gordon Brown failed to insulate the economy from the financial system.

I find it ironic, that Margaret Tatcher never bailed out our car industry, our coal miners, our ship builders etc... yet a Labour government has bailed out the bankers!

Thanks to Labour our bankers are still sipping the finest champagne!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can explain to me what will happen to Stratford shopping centre after Westfield is built?

Is n't that two cometing shopping centres side by side?.

Mayor Robin Wales wants to build Westfield shopping centre because he wants to see designers stores like Gucci. Perhaps, he is overpaid?

Whether Westfield shops are affordable or not is another matter, but it will drive people out from local high street into Westfield.

Our high streets are struggling, perhaps it is before your time, but Upton Park Green Street was a good clean shopping street. There was even a Marks & Spencers and Woolworths.

East Ham High Street is going downhill fast. The Marks & Spencer has shut down and a sign the local economy cannot support it.

Newham should be working to attract people to the high street.

If people don't shop there, then how can owners have money to refurbish shops?

I am not in favour of chain shops, but I do like to see high quality independent retailers in the area.

I like the Dr Who shop which has moved to Barking Road...

John Gray said...

Hi anon 00.20

Most bankers are not working class in the same way it is true that a small minority of the working class are "fish and chip" tories.

Yes, the Labour Government was wrong to not challenge the whole neo-liberal free market agenda. They will in the future and thankfully the tory free market headbangers were not in power before or after or else things would have been very different!

Hi anon 00.46

Stratford shopping centre should face a very positive future if its management gets its act together.
I don't think you get or understand what will happen when Westfield is open.

Green street is actually a jewel in our crown already!