The local elections in May gave residents of the borough their quadrennial opportunity to have a say on which political party they wished to see installed in the Council Chamber and committee rooms at Lampton Road .
Overwhelmingly the verdict was Labour , who increased their shareholding to 49 seats out of a possible 60.
It would be churlish for those of us who stood on other tickets not to acknowledge the extent of Labour’s victory. Each set of candidates presented their priorities to the electorate which decided, on this occasion, to give the party that had run the Council and opposed the government for the last four years another term of office.
Those of us whose main issues and areas of concern lie outside of those traditionally embraced by Labour need to acknowledge the situation and consider how best to defend those things that we hold most dear. For us in the Independent Community Group one positive that really emerged from the campaign was the extent to which Labour was prepared to embrace, or at the very least to pay lip service, to the Community ideal.
This would appear to fly in the face of the notion that “voters are not buying into ICG ideology” as one Labour Party commentator suggested during the campaign. It wasn’t that the voters have turned against the values for which we fight, but rather that they had once again learned to trust Labour with those things. Indeed, failure to win seats notwithstanding, we feel vindicated by the extent to which homage was paid to our weltanschauung which only a few years ago the political parties were challenging head-on. Community Power has gone mainstream.
This change in focus by the main parties and by Labour in particular, however sincere it may or may not transpire to be, necessitates in my view a change of direction by us and by like-minded activists everywhere. Rather than endlessly fighting the local establishment we need to position ourselves to ensure that what has been promised will be delivered, in good faith and in good measure.
In the perpetual jockeying for position which will inevitably occur within the ruling party, especially with the elected opposition being so weak and irrelevant and in disarray, we need to be ready to help those who are sincere in their desire to deliver a more inclusive society as opposed to the soulless and clinical partyists who see success solely in terms of seats won and power over others wielded.
The ICG and the wider community movement in general are now sufficiently organised and rooted within the local political infrastructure to be able to influence the direction events take for the better. Politicians with honest intentions should welcome us as allies in their work.