About those Lambeth Conservatives…
Unlike Dave and his Bullingdon Toff’s, it is rather difficult to feel any sentiment either way with regards the blue rinse mob in the Rotten Borough.
Sure, the estate agent style Tory signs along Fentiman Road are an invitation to release an unpleasant odour as you walk past each evening. But Lambeth Tories are actually rather *shhh* nice.
They are as harmless as they are wet, safe in the knowledge that they will never be able to gain any real political power within Lambeth. A LibCon coalition may be a possibility after May 6th, but apart from the leafy suburbs of West Norwood and West Dulwich, Lambeth Conservatives are about as dangerous as a cold cup of tea.
The Tories in Lambeth are the sting reaching out from the tentacle of the LibDems. Both parties are aligned to one another, not so much in policy, but more so in political reliance. You would have thought that more would have been made of this special relationship in the blue rinse manifesto.
In the absence of the LibDems, the Tory Wordle draws out Norwood, Streatham and Clap’ham. Coldharbour is not on the Conservative map.
And what of the prominent Worlde ranking of Community? I thought that there was no such thing as community over in the land of the free market?
But anyway – time to seek out the substance at the end of the LibDem tentacle sting.
The front page is titled: Changing Lambeth for the Better.
Sounds good to me. Can we just leave it at that, rather than look at the detail that lurks within?
“Lambeth, in the heart of London, is home to many national and international institutions and companies. Lambeth Palace, Brockwell Park, The South Bank, The Imperial War Museum, Shell, Clapham Commom,… the list is endless.”
So there you go: Vote local Lambeth Tory, prop up a multi-national oil company with a very dubious track record on protecting local communities. What the hell is Shell doing being name checked in a Lambeth local election manifesto?
“Why is it that a borough that is home to so many talented, public-spirited people is so badly managed by the Council in its housing, environment, leisure, and schooling?”
However the environmental record of @LambethLabour isn’t that bad, and school results have continued to improve under Labour.
“The policies here are based on Conservative principles, namely: freedom, efficiency, tolerance and community.”
All sounds fine, but I would like to ask whose freedom, whose tolerance and whose community?
Freedom to protest locally in our community against multi-nationals such as Shell? Tolerance for the thriving gay village springing up around Vauxhall? And would the Lambeth Tories support immigrants coming into our area, escaping persecution elsewhere and wanting to become part of the larger Lambeth community?
“In Lambeth, the past four years have been grim. Under the current Labour administration, Lambeth Council has:
Imposed the largest rent rise in England
Shrunk local housing offices
Frozen all but emergency housing repairs
Matched the largest Council Tax rise in London [and then frozen Council Tax for two years]
Hammered leaseholders through service charge increases
Doubled Home Help charges for the elderly and ill
Failed to build schools alongside new, long-planned housing
Abolished Area Committees where residents previously had a voice
Closed leisure facilities throughout the borough [no arguments here]
Placed a dustcart depot in a residential area [nimby-ism]
Wasted millions of pounds on propaganda [I smell a political hot potato]
Awarded Labour (“Cabinet”) councillors huge pay rises” [note the rise of a the Lambeth career politician, currently trousering just under £40k per year.]
The Tories then outline how Lambeth will move forward under a blue banner. More school places, parent-promoted schools (as favoured by @LambethLabour) and supporting Faith schools, all appear to be at the base of the argument.
Education, Education, Education etc.
And we all know what kind of folly that turned out to be from the last PR friendly politician who was elected largely on a manifesto based on learning.
In a borough that is as rich in diversity as it is poor in economic terms, Faith schools have no place within Lambeth. They are divisive and breed irrational fear of other ways of life. You can see why the Tories are so fond of them.
The bullet point list for improvements continues with:
“Improving parks and consulting more fully with Park “Friends” groups” [identical policy to LibDems – planning ahead together?]
“Supporting local libraries, “as libraries” as well as their being community hubs” [blimey – make your mind up. A library is a library is a library. A Hub is a failed political policy, usually delivered by @LambethLabour.]
Speaking of which…
Progressing work on leisure facilities in Clapham, Streatham and
Norwood; we will make sure Streatham Hub gets built” [nice mention of Norwood – very Tory friendly. Whatever happened to the promised pool at Waterloo, as pledged by @LambethLabour?]
“Supporting the Upper Norwood Joint Library: this library, operated jointly by Lambeth and Croydon, is an ideal model for local control of community assets throughout the borough” [um, what about the not very Tory friendly area of South Lambeth and the much needed support required for the South Lambeth Library?]
Minimising rents by moving costs from the Housing budget to the general budget, where it is proper to do so” [
boilingbalancing the books.]
Nine key policy areas are then outlined in detail, covering children and young people, housing, environment, community safety, transport and roads, senior citizens, council tax, health and community well-being and democracy and our town centres.
It’s a breathless, and somewhat exhausting further twenty-three pages of reading. I came close to packing it all in on p5, where I found a photo of oik George Osborne.
Still, it has to be better than the Joy Division style symbolism, as featured on the website for the Conservative PPC in my Vauxhall ward. Would you seriously vote for this man?
The education section states:
“We will support parent-promoted schools – we know this can work because in Lambeth it has already done so [by @LambethLabour] at The Elmgreen School, Norwood.”
The Conservative support for a @LambethLabour policy tells you more about the right wing credentials of the current Nu Labour cabinet than it does about fresh ideas within the Tory party at a local level.
And what if the parent-promoted schools attract a passionate and supportive parental base, but then once one generation of pupils have left, who is to say that the next wave of parents will be prepared to carry on with the responsibility of the management of the school?
Like the @LambethLabour much mooted (and ridiculed) John Lewis form of local government, *and* the @LambethLibDems “resident led” council – mutualisation appears to be the answer from all three mainstream parties to address financial cuts.
Remove local government responsibility and accountability, and let the Little People of Lambeth sort out the mess created the council. And you all expect me to vote for you?
Shifting the balance of blame is also on the agenda for the Lambeth Tories when it comes to housing:
“Houses boarded-up with brown shuttering are a symbol of Labour’s failure. We will lease out these properties to “factor” companies: they will invest in the houses, fill them with tenants from Lambeth’s waiting lists, take the initial rent and then share the rent with Lambeth.”
Which is a polite way of saying let the free market look after council housing stock (much in the same way that ALMO’s do with @LambethLabour) and allow the private sector to take home half the profit.
Not so wet after all, then…
“Ensure tenant control over home ownership and management. Conservatives agree with tenant leaders that the ballot on the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) which established Lambeth Living was gerrymandered.”
The mere mention of gerrymandering in a local Tory election manifesto is sufficient to remind me why the Tories can never be trusted, or even allowed to take control of local authority housing stock ever again.
As one would expect from a party with green Dave (yeah, right…) as the leader, the environment features heavily in the manifesto. Underneath all the political re-positioning to try and claim the green ground in mainstream politics, Lambeth Conservatives come rather close to cutting it for me.
Councillor Whelan (female variety) has a decent record in defending green spaces in Lambeth. She campaigned heavily to defend the disgraceful betrayal by @LambethLabour in losing green space at Brockwell Park, simply to gain extra pavement. I was personally very impressed with the policies that the good Councillor argued during the hustings organised by Lambeth Cyclists.
Crime and Punishment Community Safety from the Lambeth Conservatives is centred around the idea that:
“Lambeth can only reduce crime in a sustainable manner if it works with the police and the Greater London authority and Mayor’s Office.”
I wonder if that will still be the case mid term when there is the very real possibility of a non-Tory toff Mayor sitting at City Hall?
The manifesto then becomes interchangeable with @LambethLabour, as right of centre ideas are banded about, all centred around more state control of the citizen:
“Utilise mobile CCTV, close down irresponsible bars, punish irresponsible dog owners…”
I wonder if leafy West Dulwich and West Norwood will get this snooping style of Community Safety?
Under Transport, Lambeth Tories pledge to:
“Scrap the huge, ugly ‘Welcome to Lambeth‘ signs erected by Labour at huge cost and find real ways to engender civic pride.”
This is hardly a lifestyle changing policy, but I would wager that it would get the support of 99% of the electorate. You can’t create civic pride by simply putting up road signs. You need individuals such as (Labour’s) brilliant Mr Mayor to actually bring the community closer together.
Council tax is for the cut under the Tories in Lambeth. I wonder what else will go with it? The manifesto states that:
“We will seek to cut the Council Tax year on year. For 2010-11 the Conservative shadow budget proposed a 2.1 per cent cut in Council Tax or £20 off the basic Band D rate.”
Something has to give, as our blue borough friends over in the neighbouring Wandsworth have found out to their cost.
Health and Community Wellbeing (urgh – just call it leisure) is addressed extensively in the manifesto. This is also the case for @LambethLabour, but we all know what a sorry state our leisure centres have been left in after four years of @LambethLabour neglect.
Not surprisingly, the Tory heartland (arf) of Norwood is at the top of the agenda:
“See the Norwood Hall site in West Norwood regenerated for community use. Leisure facilities are needed in the area. We have concerns that Labour have not properly costed the current plans and has failed to ensure that they are affordable and best suited to local need.”
It’s not exactly gerrymandering, but yeah, look after yer own…
“Get Streatham and Clapham swimming again. Despite Labour’s promises the proposed leisure hubs at Clapham and Streatham have failed to move forward and the only remaining place for swimming is the Brixton Rec. We will conduct an urgent review of these projects to get Lambeth swimming again.”
I’m actually getting bored of blogging about the meltdown of leisure in Streatham and Clap’ham. The buggers have won. I have been disenfranchised. Someone *please* just sort the whole sorry mess out.
The manifesto then takes on more of a #hyperlocal approach. Fine policies are put forward locally. It is more telling to see which areas of the borough that the Tories are targeting, and more specifically by implication – the ones that they are neglecting.
Back in Sunny Stockwell and it seems that I am buggered if I vote blue.
I wouldn’t recommend that you sit down and read the entire twenty-eight pages of the Lambeth Conservative manifesto in one sitting, toilet reading, or otherwise. It’s a hefty, policy-packed read. Our blue friends in the borough should be congratulated for this.
Unlike @LambethLabour and @LambethLibDems, the publication is ideas heavy. Political mudslinging is in short supply.
But is Lambeth *really* ready for change?
Given the right wing nature of the current administration, most definitely so. But swapping right wing Nu Labour for wet Conservatism?
We live in strange political times.