On Friday evening several members and supporters of the ICG met at the Isleworth Royal British Legion for our monthly social get-together as we approach the 2010 local elections, which are now just six months away.
Despite several notable absences we had a good crowd gathered around the extended table. Four current councillors, a former councillor, two former Labour candidates and another disillusioned Labour stalwart discussed with other community activists from a position of some authority the demise of the Labour Party in the borough, the merits or otherwise of the coalition and the work that is still clearly to be done if our empowerment objectives are to be realised in full.
No less significant was the way in which the ICG crowd and the indigenous inhabitants of the Legion blended effortlessly. There was no sense of us being in any way a different or separate entity, we were instantly welcomed and treated all evening as though we were part of the community there (which of course some of us are).
With the greatest of respect intended to all those many good people who have served their community in the past, I cannot recall a time when the ICG as an aggregate included so many of such experience and quality as it would appear to today. In and around Isleworth it would be no exaggeration to say that the ICG has drawn the largest part of the community together under its banner almost like a magnet, including former politicians and even current ones from all across the so-called "political spectrum". Those who insist upon remaining outside of the community movement - aloof and superior, legends in their own lunchtime - choose to detach themselves not only from the progress of the locality itself but, increasingly, from the reality of the situation and of the age.
We select candidates for our local election campaign shortly and it's still not entirely clear whose names will be in the ring. Speaking personally, I told colleagues after the 2006 campaign that I felt I had done my bit and that I'd fought my last election, but I look around me and I see that there is still so much unfinished business. I've not decided yet but there is a fair chance I'll have another shot, possibly in a different role to hitherto. There is so much to do and, now, so many people offering to join us in doing it.
May 2010 will be unusual to say the least. For the first time we will be defending the council's record (In some areas of the operation anyway) rather that challenging it. In all likelihood the general election will be held on the same day, which must inevitably skew the result. There is increasing evidence - at the moment circumstantial, but growing by the day - that the old enemy, Labour, is placing so much strategic priority on stopping the ICG from completing its programme that it has begun to consider whether an outright Conservative victory might not be the best achievable result and that at least some consideration is being given to working towards that end. Little wonder that the rank and file are so disillusioned - the majority of them joined the Party to fight their traditional Conservative opponents, not the residents.
There can be no doubt that the coming months will be interesting. In the meanwhile though I am preparing for a second visitation to the IRBL later this morning to attend the annual Remembrance Day parade. More on that anon.