Friday, 25 October 2013

Lack of respect in Respect?

Information has emerged of significantly less than respectful happenings within George Galloway's controversial party, 'Respect'.

As a former inhabitant of Bradford West, where Galloway managed to achieve his by-election victory, I remember witnessing the streams of propaganda bombarding us from leaflets to megaphones off double-decker campaign buses about Respect's stand for a new kind of politics. This far outshone any style of electioneering I have previously witnessed and caught his opponents off guard, highlighting their apparent lack of organisation and preparation.

In an election victory which became dubbed as the 'Bradford Spring' in 2012. Galloway promised a new future for the northern city which has been hit hard by the recession and where the quality of life has recently been titled worst in the UK.

However, reports have emerged of a growing internal crisis in relation to allegations of Galloway's absenteeism and apparent lack of interest in the roles required of an MP, recently commenting that it was "98% tedium" and that "I like elections more than I like serving" to the Evening Standard. For a constituency in such need of support to have such an apparent lacklustre commitment from its MP is unhelpful to say the least.
Galloway has also voiced his desire to run for Mayor of London in 2016, where there is a bigger share of the limelight to be had.

This has not gone unnoticed and resulted in all five of his Respect councillors to quit and stand as independents, casting doubts on the future of the fledgling party. Dave Green, the Labour leader of the Council believes that Galloway has "shown a contempt for all those people who voted for him last year."

Despite this disarray I have seen great improvements within Bradford over the three years I lived there (2010-2013) and would hate to see this political disunity halt it's progress.

Much ado Abbot nothing?

One of the most high-profile firings of the recent Labour party reshuffle was, the now former, Shadow Public Health Minister, Diane Abbott. 

Abbott has been the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington for the last 25 years and has earned her widespread recognition through regular TV and radio appearances, including the well-known BBC political opinion show, This Week.  Abbott had also stood up against Miliband in a small but significant leadership bid in 2010.

As an MP and Minister, Abbot did not earn her notoriety through her ability to stick religiously ‘on message’ like many of her peers. While this proved useful for her personal media image as one of Miliband’s few remaining left-wing team members it was unable to function within the well-oiled Labour media machine, desperate to promote an image of being back on track after a disappointing vacuum of policy information pre-conference.

Naturally, Abbott's firing generated a lot of press coverage and in her post-firing remarks she has directly referred to her refusal to follow instructions regarding British strikes against Syria as a catalyst for her removal, remarking that it “tipped my enemies in the party machinery over the edge” and that “I think Ed wanted more message discipline. This was far from being her first media offence, in fact she has often questioned Miliband’s stance on a wide range of issues such as immigration and their response to the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

This idea of strict party discipline in relation to the media is far from being a new phenomenon and is not limited to the Labour party, although they are attributed to institutionalising the idea and importance of ‘media management’ through their ‘rebranding’ as New Labour in 1997.

Despite her media mistakes, Abbott still firmly believes she has remained loyal to the Party, sticking by the leadership while “a lot of people in the shadow cabinet were slagging off Ed Miliband”. While we are unlikely to be on the brink of a Thatcher-esque mutiny against Miliband these comments are definitely worth making a note of for future awareness of the health of Labour support.

Rumours have recently emerged that Abbott has set her sights on running for London Mayor but she is yet to declare her position on the topic outright. (I for one would love to see an Abbott vs. Boris showdown but that may be slightly unprofessional)