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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

This time is different

IT IS DIFFICULT to evince any enthusiasm for local elections. Although councils run key local services and administer huge budgets on behalf of central government, the independent power they once had has long gone. Few beyond the parish-pump activists of the main political parties and local cranks take any interest in local politics. On the street hardly anyone knows who their local councillors are or, indeed, who’s standing in these elections. This is why few can be bothered to vote on the day. But this time round is different, and the results could end the political careers of Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer.

Although local polls are only important to those whose livelihoods depend on who runs the Town Hall, they are barometers of public opinion. If the Tories lose badly throughout the country Johnson is toast. If Labour fails to make spectacular gains so is Starmer.

Johnson may well be the first to go. Deceiving parliament over the ‘Partygate’ scandal may well be trivial compared with Tony Blair’s lies about the “weapons of mass destruction” used to justify British support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, but it is still a serious breach of bourgeois parliamentary norms that the Remainers will use to get rid of the man who took Britain out of the European Union.

Johnson failed to make the most of Brexit. His dream of a Trans-Atlantic free trade area and the “Anglosphere” he thought would be built around it died when Donald Trump lost the US presidential election in 2020. Far from seeking to broaden trade with People’s China he did Biden’s bidding and turned his back on them, and now we pay the price in lost jobs and lost opportunities.

Meanwhile the usual suspects, including Rory Stewart and Tony Blair, are gathering around the campfire to set up a cross-party “centre” bloc that seeks to build a new broad coalition which puts “hope, decency, integrity and the common good at the heart of our politics”. They’re calling it the ‘Britain Project’ but it’s actually the ‘Brussels Project’ and it’s clearly a new throw by the Remainers to pave the way for a return to the EU.

At the same time, over a thousand pro-EU campaigners have written to Starmer urging him to rethink his stance on Brexit in a new Remainer drive to turn Labour into an EU front.

The letter was organised by ‘Grassroots for Europe’, an umbrella movement set up in 2018 to kickstart a new campaign in support of the Treaty of Rome.

In Parliament unrest is growing amongst Labour’s backbenchers who expect the worst in the May polls and say Starmer, who is a hopeless campaigner, must go before the next general election.

Some are openly touting for Barry Gardiner, the Brent MP who was in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet and served as a junior minister under Blair and Brown. Gardiner’s last bid for the Labour leadership collapsed in 2020 when he failed to get the 22 Labour MP and MEP nominations needed to get on the ballot paper.

Gardiner’s supporters say he’d be the ideal stop-gap to restore “unity” in Labour’s ranks following the Starmer purge that some say has lost them some 200,000 members. Others, such as Angela Rayner, would obviously disagree.