Tories regain power in Brent

A storm in a municipal tea cup was resolved this Monday when a councillor rose from his sick bed to restore the Tory majority over the Liberal-Labour coalition that had temporarily seized power.

It was impossible to follow the procedures from the spectators’ gallery because the Tories arrogantly ran the meeting like a private party. We could only see that the Tories were carrying the votes. The Labour Party had been no better when it also carried a series of motions before the main meeting, presumably to protect its temporary majorities on the committees.

Labour had reduced council rent increases to ‘only’ three times the rate of inflation and increased the amount for council house repairs. Other small improvements were under consideration. But to quote Labour leader Paul Daisley, “The Labour Party in Brent is not the Labour Party of ten or fifteen years ago and with budget settings we will stay within legal limits.” In effect Labour accepts Conservative policy except for small details.

Among those lobbying the meeting were school dinner workers protesting against Tory plans to replace hot school dinners with sandwiches for those entitled to free meals. They were understandably disgusted with the Tory victory.

And what of the Labour Party? Will it perhaps take the struggle into the community, rally the trades unions, organise the class nationally against Tory policies? It will of course do nothing but grumble.

This is what made the Socialist Workers Party’s chants of “Kick the Tories out” so pathetic. It claims to believe that bourgeois parliaments and councils are just talking shops and the real class struggle is in the community. Brent’s Labourites will not fight in the community, cannot fight in the council. Workers need an alternative leadership, not the reinforcement of any remaining illusions in the Labour Party.

Phil Kent