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Irretrievable breakdown: country separates from Brown

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, and what last week's elections mean for Labour

Published on May 7th 2008.

Irretrievable breakdown: country separates from Brown

Last Thursday’s local election results are the worst results for a governing party since one person one vote was introduced. Manchester, again, was the exception standing out like a sore thumb as a place where the population rewarded a good Labour Council

Labour needs to learn how to do humble and lose its arrogance. This together with a loud SORRY for the abolition of the 10p tax band fiasco may avoid a decree nisi with the electorate.

The electorate were not sending the Government a 'message' last Thursday, to repeat one of the more annoying clichés trotted out by Labour spokespeople, they were starting divorce proceedings.

Every member of the Labour Party and newspaper pundits has a list of pet projects, which they believe would be Labour's salvation. I doubt however that the Government can dig themselves out of the hole they are in by trying to implement a wish list of desirable polices. More importantly it needs to learn how to do humble and lose its arrogance. This together with a loud SORRY for the abolition of the 10p tax band fiasco may avoid a decree nisi with the electorate, and then it must fully compensate all the losers in low paid jobs.

I cannot understand, and nobody I have spoken to can either, how a Labour Government can give tax concessions to higher income earners at the expense of some of the poorest paid workers in the country.

The Government has to ask itself the question that was always at the front of Labours mind in opposition, 'What do we have to do to win?'

It sounds cynical but it is a question that is at the heart of the democratic process. If one asks that question one cannot get too far away from what people want. It is impossible to believe that anybody asking themselves that question would at the time of rising food, fuel and utility prices decide it was a vote winning strategy to invent new taxes for rubbish collection and congestion as well as increasing fuel and road tax.

It would be hugely popular, and a break with bad decisions in the past, to bring our troops backs from Iraq. They are serving no useful purpose being holed up in Baghdad Airport where they are vulnerable.

But even with this change of attitude the toughest question still has to be asked and answered – Can we win with Gordon as Leader?

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kev PMay 7th 2008.

Excellent piece. I couldn't agree more. I think Labour have lost touch with the voters after so long in power and it inevitably happens with any Government. The question of whether the party can renew itself while still in office is one that a lot of people are asking and the answer is uncertain. I hope for the sake of the country that the answer is yes. The alternative, Dave the Chameleon, is too frightening to contemplate. I'm glad you acknowledged that Labour are doing a good job in Manchester - Luckily the majority of people here have sense and vote on local issues and locally we're doing a fantastic job for the people of this city. I hope local election results continue to reflect that and we win back the seats that were lost last Thursday and more in 2010.

Mike WaterfootMay 7th 2008.

Labour have lost the plot. Billions are being spent on an illegal war and yet the government tell old folks to heat one room to keep warm over the winter months. I have done this over the winter months and my utility bill is over £700 for the quarter. It's Ok keeping your fuel consumption down, but they still want the same revenue and then some!

johnthebriefMay 7th 2008.

The answer to your final question, Mr Stringer, is no. The same question was asked on the BBC's question time recently, and when the government representative on the panel tried to answer she was laughed at. That tells you the contempt your party is now held in. Labour is tired, out of touch, arrogant, divided and incompetent. We have reached the point where people don't much care who comes in, they just care that labour goes out.

BenMay 7th 2008.

good riddance gordon - we didn't vote for you any way. you've spent all our cash, now there's nowt left... things can only get better...

JamesMay 7th 2008.

Mr Stringer...excellent piece. I'd love to now what a lot of colleagues are thinking now. I hope they are as direct as you, so they might rescue the party.

The end is nighMay 7th 2008.

It's a terrifying, terrifying world when faced with a choice of Labour or Boris Johnson, people actually seriously vote for Boris Johnson...................It leaves us with little hope that people will actually see David "Tony Blair without the integrity" Cameron for what he really is and we'll end up with that bunch of halfwit, Eton educated numpties who inhabit a world of their own in their enclave in Surrey...running the flipping country.

Simon TurnerMay 7th 2008.

I've voted Labour for 27 years, local and national elections, every time and without fail. Through some of this time Mrs Thatcher was leading the Tories so my voting decision was easy to make. I believed also in Blair, and although there was a lot of gloss off Blair by the end, I never thought Brown was going to make a good leader. To me, he's like middle-management spod, paper-pushing and dull-brained, and the person everyone avoids at the office Christmas party. His 'economic competence' was first down to the fact that Ken Clarke etc hadn't done too badly 95-97 and then was the result of creating a false economic bubble based on borrowing. Totally over-rated Chancellor, disastrous PM. He has no excitement in his veins, no answers to our society's problems, and no vision for the country. For the first time my vote is wavering.

moscow in 2 weeksMay 7th 2008.

Tony buys his 6th house,this one £4M.Socialism at it's best!

Bob LMay 7th 2008.

At least Graham seems to have some connection to the real world unlike his more senior colleagues, and the local councillors in the wards of is constituency.

johnthebriefMay 7th 2008.

Under labour disloyalty is the ultimate sin, I'm afraid. Mr Stringer has probably already been sent for re-education - hence his failure to come back to any comments on here! And Kev P, I thought you were a sound bloke with your views on Tribeca, but now it seems you're a Liebour apparatchik. How sad...

el beanioMay 7th 2008.

Mr Stringer is quick and vocal when it comes to finding fault with others, but can offer anything constructive himself?A few points: rubbish taxes are a realistic step to get people to reduce the packaging they buy and increase uptake of recycling. They are also relatively fair because people have a degree of choice how much they pay - unlike with income tax.Everybody seems to agree that the abolition of the 10p tax band is scandalous, and so do I. However, it may be worth remembering in the general feast of Gordon-bashing (talk about an easy target) that he also introduced it (not the Tories, in case you were unsure).Regarding Mr Stringer's point about democracy - he may be right that voters don't want to pay more fuel tax, but to be honest, it is beginning to emerge that people pay lip service to green (and other) values exactly as long as it doesn't hit their own pocket. So as far as democracy and the planet are concerned - God help us.Finally, Mr Stringer's belligerent attitude reminds me of when he recently wrote several harsh and unsympathetic letters about lack of education provision for a child with SEN to the Council, despite of the Council's efforts to put things right, and its struggles under the current system for SEN provision (close the special schools in favour of mainstream integration that often doesn't work) - one would have hoped that as an MP he could take a broader perspective and ask questions about national educational policies in Parliament, rather than picking on Council staff who are frankly doing their best. You point one finger, Mr Stringer, and there's three fingers pointing back at you....

too many shoesMay 7th 2008.

I'm a staunch socialist, but even my resolve and loyalty is being pushed to the limit with the Reds at the moment. Gordon Brown's grip on his party is as slack as his jaw and the sooner we replace him with a credible leader the better. Frankly he couldn't lead a conga. I always fancied John Reid as Labour leader, but whether he'll make a return from the backbenches remains to be seen. To be fair to Gordon Brown though, the rot set in long before he took up residency in number 10. Just as the British public were ready for a change from the Tories back in the summer of 97, they are ready for a change now.

BrelMay 7th 2008.

I was in Parliament yesterday on a Lobby in support of sacked Nurse Karen Reissmann. A Greater Manchester MP who shall remain nameless (not Mr Stringer I add), said that she had spoken against the Government, and he supported her sacking. "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - We only asked for support, not his life! The cradle of democracy? I don't think so!

anneaMay 7th 2008.

Mr Stringer is probably not in Manchester to see what he started. I stand to be corrected but I don't know of one MP in the north who has spoken up for in defense of Karen its to political for that. When we were trying to defend the NHS they came and went and only the councilors not (Crumpsall ones they never attended) supported the cause and Micheal Meacher MP. On the day of the Lobby Mr Stringer could not be found in the Parliament building several groups were looking for him.?

Mr TMay 7th 2008.

Mr T pity's the fool that votes labour, he can't believe you buy their jibba jabba, haven't any of you learnt by now? A squirrel could run our government better than that mess of a leader Gordon Brown.

KevMay 7th 2008.

This is an embarrassing situation for a government to be in, but then there is loyalty and political parties are built on that. Maybe these articles are somewhat disloyal don't you think?

enuffs enuffMay 7th 2008.

Wonder what kind of house Mr Graham "socialist" Stringer lives in? Bet its not on a council estate with dirty faced bare foot tearaway kids and staffordshire bull terriers making other peoples lives a misery eh? I bet his house isn't in his constituency even! Maybe he'd be able to empathise with the majority of his constituents here in Blackley as opposed to lording it up in Westminister then perhaps?.....labour politicians are all the same, incompetent windbags going back to Neil Kinnock and his predecessor Michael "Loony: Foot! All liking to keep the voters at the bottom of the pile whilst living the highlife themselves encouraging us to get into debt with their champagne lifestyle on lemonade income mentalities as they themselves drink the finest Veuve Cliquot champagne. Hypocrites the lot of em. I voted tory this time a change for the better i hope........they have sold our country to the Middle East, China and Europe. These arent folks who want the best for our people are they? We have become the laughing stock of the world, a cesspit and dumping ground for anyone who wants to come here, criminal or not without any proper controls? Do you think the likes of the Scandinavians and Japanese would do this to THEIR people? I rest my case.

Great ScottMay 7th 2008.

What a remarkably honest comment from Mr Stringer. Can he become Prime Minister? Labour needs to listen and to change, quite qucikly demonstrate it has changed too.

anneaMay 7th 2008.

I agree with all the comments and its true to a point thatMr stringer has always been straight forward with comments. Our MP rarely seen We see more of William and harry!. Lets face it they all talk the talk but do little for the ordinary man/Women.Promises not fulfilled,I wont even mention the suggested insulting pay rise for the NHS staff as well as the other stuff that has already been mentioned. They say that North of Watford doesn't exist and that is how we are treated.I am sure that a lot of ministers feel Gorden is not the man but they voted him in and forced other candidates to back down for him?. It is ok to be full of remorse now but is it to late? It wasn't just the 10p tax cock up it was everything we have going on not only here in the North but the whole country. Why do parliament not listen to its people. It is sad but non of my family voted this time and my youngest it was his first time said 'why bother'!Gorden seemed to be a good Chancellor but leader, don't think so. We need to see some one who is prepared to stay in touch with the people, who will listen to his/her ministers,Tough when needed very competent,not easily conned. Do we have anyone like that! come on show your face. Gorden seems to blubber a bit when asked a straight face on question that wasn't rehearsed for the camera. they say every successful man has a women behind him. Mrs brown knows her place watch her body language when next seen in public. you can not be a private person when in the public eye does no one tell the other halves before the decision is made to go for it. Learn from Prince Philip not that I suggest that they should behave with out decorum is it all about personality, god hope not.

ktfairyMay 7th 2008.

A good Chancellor? Any numpty good be made to look good during an economic boom - quite how he managed to get us into so much debt during it is beyond comprehension - he should have been making hay whilst the sun was shining. He is lucky he got out of the Chancellor job before the credit crunch - but it his legacy that will leave this country reeling from it for longer than most.

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