I apologise in advance for another post on that subject, but an A3 leaflet which was doing the rounds on Isleworth's Worton estate earlier in the week finally convinced me that it is game over for the abomination that is New Labour.
On those rare occasions when New Labour in Hounslow gives any impression of being interested in knowing why it has been so thoroughly wiped out in its former stronghold in Isleworth, the usual practice is to suggest that the ICG is some form of local, right-wing political party - either of a meekly Conservative bent or representing something altogether more sinister, depending upon the audience to whom the suggestion is being addressed.
I have long been of the view that there are essentially two reasons for this wilful misapprehension of what has been happening in and around Isleworth, perhaps only one of which is after all pernicious.
The first, of course, is simply about blatant smearmongering. At the 2006 local elections Hounslow Labour's strategy seemed to revolve around committing almost its entire political machine to the cause of returning Isleworth to where it "belonged", with a campaign based wholly on the failed tactics of 2002 involving the terrorisation of minorities and other vulnerable people. Its tragic miscalculation of ICG strength and its ignorance of political realities in Isleworth led to the Party bogging itself down in the Russian winter of a hopeless cause while we merrily cleaned up in Syon, and even helped engineer the downfall of a leading Party apparatchik in Brentford.
The second reason for New Labour's determination to attribute a political motive to the ICG's operation, I believe, is more to do with simple reassurance. If New Labour bigwigs are able to convince themselves that their rejection by the community of Isleworth has some kind of ideological foundation, it helps absolve them of any blame for their own predicament. And, of course, of the need for any serious introspection of a kind which might reveal nasties of a kind which they would prefer to remain unrevealed.
Whichever of the two motivations drives New Labour in its dealings with the ICG today what is clearly apparent is a lack of scruple, combined with an equal lack of any real kind of programme beyond the pursuit , or retention, of political office. Nowhere is this more evident than in the aforementioned leaflet (above right), which leads with the interesting announcement: "Ann Keen says Cut the Council Tax".
The article goes on to tell us: "...the level of Council Tax is controlled by Hounslow Council and so could, and should, be cut to help at this difficult time...unfortunately the Conservatives who run Hounslow Council could only freeze the Council Tax this year...
"Ann's suggestion has been backed by Labour councillors in Hounslow who argue if it's possible to freeze it then surely it must be possible to cut the council tax locally...
"Hard pressed local families have enough to deal with without more taxes on top - unlike the Tories and Lib Dems we think the local council tax should be cut."
There is little point in dwelling for too long upon the sheer gall of the message conveyed by New Labour in these few short words. It is very widely known indeed that New Labour in Hounslow has for two years outspokenly opposed the policy of the current administration of keeping Council Tax low, and that it dares to believe that it could get away with now trying to suggest the exact opposite serves only to reveal the utter contempt in which Mrs. Keen and her followers hold their own voters.
Believe it or not, what overcame me when I read the headline was actually a genuine sense of sympathy and embarrassment for all those New Labour apologists and acolytes, including one or two who have technically left the Party itself, who had invested so much time and effort in writing letters to the local press, posting comments on internet forums and using every other available means to argue the case for a higher Council Tax in order to protect what they would have us believe were services for the vulnerable (but often in reality, of course, jobs for cronies). Greater love hath no woman than this; that a woman lay down her friends for her life - as John the Apostle might have said had he encountered the appalling Mrs. Keen.
Locally, as nationally, it is evident that New Labour has lost its way. As it has done so it has become progressively (if that is the right word!) more dishonest, more opportunistic, and less motivated by any kind of principle. Rather than being a means towards achieving an end, the acquisition of political office by any means possible has become the end in itself.
And yet, ironically, I believe not only that there is a need for a Labour Party in our local politics, but also that a Labour Party rooted in honesty, integrity and sound principles would in the fullness of time actually turn the tide around once again. Alas current Party wisdom seems to have it that the way forward for an organisation which finds itself increasingly rejected for its cynicism, its dishonesty and its nastiness is to become more cynical, less honest and nastier.
For the forseeable future, it would seem, political life for the ICG must go on.