Dead Men Left

Monday, July 12, 2004

Desperation in the West Midlands

Tom Watson MP, the man in charge of Labour's filthy campaign in Hodge Hill - "smash teen gangs" and starve the immigrants - maintains an inadevertently revealing website, full of his puffed-up pronouncements about how well everything is going, Labour's opponents in disarray, triumphant forward march of Blairism continuing, etcetera, thus making him New Labour's very own Comical Ali ("Liberal Democrats? Where? We killed them all. The glorious British people and their wise leader will not submit to agression.") At first I wasn't sure if Watson wasn't conducting an elaborate, self-parodying joke of some sort...

They should stick to the issues - like why they don't want crack heads and junkies to go to jail.

...and so on, but quite evidently New Labour are absolutely serious about their reactionary populism. Indeed, lest we forget:

Labour is on your side—the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers...

We have taken tough action against those who abuse the system as a cover for economic migration.

While Labour were tough the Lib Dems were wimps—they tried to stop us taking away benefits from failed asylum seekers and they voted against plans to speed up deportations.

Out of interest, I wonder how many "failed asylum seekers" there are in Hodge Hill. Possibly this horde - I feel sure there must be several tens of thousands - forms "teen gangs" that "hang around" the constituency, causing mischief of a nature mysteriously unspecified in Labour's election leaflets.

Aside from Watson's desire to play the race card, his website suggests a campaign (and a party) in a very sorry state indeed:

Three cabinet ministers, a dozen ministers and another dozen MPs helped our hardy band of campaigners with leafleting and canvassing.

Let that settle in. "Three cabinet ministers, a dozen ministers and another dozen MPs". Labour's majority at Hodge Hill is in the order of 11,000, and yet - in this very safe Labour seat - they must draft in members of the government to help with "leafletting and canvassing". Where are the local activists? Why is so much effort being spent by those who I thought might be concerned about, y'know, running the country and stuff? Why don't these people have a problem with the racist campaign Labour are fighting? When, in 1964, Labour lost another safe seat in the West Midlands, Smethwick, to a Tory fighting on the slogan "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour", Harold Wilson rightly described Smethwick's new MP as a "Parliamentary leper". Should Labour scrape back in at Hodge Hill, the same description would fit Liam Byrne rather well. Yet a supposedly progressive government appears to - if not actively condone - at the very least willingly support and maintain a vile form of politics. Not distancing themselves from Enoch Watson, but turning up to shove his leaflets through the doors of unfortunate Hodge Hill residents.

Everything that has occurred since June 10 has confirmed how correct and how necessary it was to establish Respect. Between a Tory-Green Party coalition in Leeds, and the bile in Hodge Hill, neither of those other contenders to radical politics - the Green Party, or those wanting to "reclaim" Labour - have put up an impressive showing; or, really, any showing at all. Fingers crossed for a catastrophic Labour defeat in Birmingham; fingers double-crossed for a decent Respect vote. I think both are on the cards.