Labour perks

CORRUPTION in local politics is as old as the hills. The present allegations about political favours in Birmingham are not due to any decline in Labour Party morality but to a simple falling out among thieves. The object of their greedy desires is the safe Sparkbrook seat, due to be relinquished by Roy Hattersley.

One faction alleges that rightwing fixer and MP for Small Heath, Roger Godsiff, has been soliciting personal support by diverting urban renewal grants worth up to £20,000 each to his supporters in the Labour Party. Godsiff admits that 95 of his constituents were referred to John Woodcock, an expert in housing renewal grants, who helped them fill in the complex 26 page application forms. Here is the real corruption - mandatory grants so complicated to apply for that ordinary people cannot get them.

Mr Godsiff in protesting his innocence has suggested the real corruption is elsewhere. “If people want to throw mud around and make me the fall guy, I say ‘no way’. If they go on with it and start turning up stones, they will find a lot of other nasty things coming out.” He seems prepared to keep quiet about his opponents’ activities if they keep quiet about his.

Nationally Labour is benefiting from the sleazy image of the Tory Party and is determined to look respectable. As a result four Birmingham constituency parties are being suspended while Peter Coleman, Labour’s organisation director, tries to clean up their image.

This kind of toytown chicanery would be very difficult if the Labour Party was a genuine working class organisation, with its officials and representatives democratically elected and subject to recall. But then it would not be the Labour Party - that bureaucratic mess of self interested little cliques with their own hole-in-the-wall agendas.