Thursday, 16 October 2008

Wandering the streets of Leeds...

. I spent my morning wandering around the streets of one of my local council wards with a local councillor. The aim was to introduce me to the local political scene which he did admirably. On the one hand we are facing a bitter defensive battle against the Conservatives in Leeds North East while on the other there is the tempting prospect of trying to knock over Hilary Benn in Leeds Central. It all seemed rather allegorical to me for the situation we find ourselves in nationally; caught on the one hand by wanting to defend ourselves against the Conservatives resurgence while striving to land as many blows on Labour as we can; it seems to me that heavy damage in the Shires especially is virtually unavoidable.

We should start discussing which seats we can realistically defend and fight for them tooth and claw and pour the rest of our resources into fighting Labour. During the course of the conversation it came up that Leeds council has lost a substantial amount of government funding. I will defend, as I have below, calling this economic wreckage as I will defend using the same term to describe the vast amounts of money that have once again been wiped off world stocks and shares the same thing. This is not to mention the human wreckage - rising unemployment and, as I blog below, rising depression, stress and anixiety due to the financial climate.

As a party we are increasingly going to find ourselves in pitched battles to defend services and if we expect to make tax cuts even more so; the question is going to be asked where we draw lines and it is my feeling that we should continue to put people and services they often depend on first. Is it not some kind of perverse world where the government can find billions of pounds to bail-out banks, necessary as that is but a council will not provide free swimming for young people even when it is government subsidised??

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