Friday, August 10, 2007
The Brown bounce has officially flopped. Respect has hammered the former Labour council leader Michael Keith in Shadwell. I reckon the almost 40% turnout is unusually high for a bye-election, but this one was a heated campaign. New Labour were seriously pissed off to lose all three seats in what had been one of Labour's safest wards in the whole country. Standing Michael Keith against us was symbolically important to them, since he was one of those to lose his head when Shadwell became Respect-occupied territory. They wanted to show that we were one hit wonders, but the fact is that Michael Keith and his party made themselves desperately unpopular by trying to privatise local housing, by doing little in the way of necessary repairs or renovations, and by making cuts this year of £3.8 million to frontline services while raising the council tax by 5 percent. The number one issue in the borough is housing, and it was a campaign led by Respect that killed New Labour's privatisation drive. What's more, no one believes that Gordon Brown's cabinet is going to be different on the war or most other significant issues.
There was some speculation in the East London press that the resignation of a Respect councillor that led to this bye-election was "orchestrated" by Michael Keith (right). I don't know if that's true, but if it's got the slightest grain of truth to it, then he's got to be kicking himself. So much effort, only to get another kick in the teeth. Congratulations are in order for everyone who worked hard in this campaign.