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New Leaders and Bitter Rows

by Barry
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After the Election the elected Labour Councillors form what is called the “Labour Group”, in this they elect a Leader who’s job it is to decide how the party will represent itself at Council meetings and the like.  For the past 3 years Mark Hobbs (Moreland) has held the reins, but this year the Leaders Mantle has been passed to Kate Haigh (Matson and Robinswood), who kept her seat in the recent election after raising her majority to over 500.  

Mark has steered the group through some particularly tough times and has left some big shoes to fill, but I know that Kate will put her heart and soul into it and fill those shoes well.  But as with anything, a change in leadership will change the dynamics and drive within the group in different ways, so it will be interesting to see how this change in leadership becomes prevalent in what the group do and the effect it has on Gloucester Labour as a whole.

The other bit af ‘amusing news’ is that there is apparently a ‘bitter’ row between the local Labour and Lib Dem parties.  This is largely all down to Lib Dem leader Jeremy Hilton blaming us for their poor showing (in general) at the election.  I had some personal experience of this when I had an email from him blasting our election campaign and being so naughty as to making a link between them and the Liberal Democrats.  (I always thought the clue was in the same name).  But apparently it was disingenuous to link them to the same Liberal Democrats in the Coalition.  But its fine to link us to the national Labour Party and the previous Labour Government.   Though I would hadly call it a row, but Jeremy certainly seems to be bitter.

I agree with Mark Hobbs, who said “The Liberals should look to their own party leadership for the reason they suffered major defeats in councils nationally, and Jeremy Hilton should look to his own leadership locally as to why he lost key seats in this city.   Over the past year the Liberals on the city council have voted consistently with the Tories on key issues such as the green waste collection charging.  If he thinks that it is Labour’s fault the Tories are now back in overall majority he should be taking a serious look at his voting record for the past year and remind himself of how he and his group have let the people of this city down.”

As I have said previously, I don’t really care what the Gloucester Lib Dems are up to and their campaign strategy.  It’s not their fault that we lost locally, I think the electorate made their view pretty clear.  The fact that across the city they came 3rd in the vote share says a lot.  But what says more is that the turn out was very low, between 30% and 35%, I think that is more damning for all councillors,candidates and parties.  People either don’t realise just what the council does with their money, don’t care what they do on their behalf or believe that it is a complete waste of time. 

I believe that we as Gloucester Labour will be both inward looking at ourselves to learn from this election, but also outward looking as to what we can do to prove that the people of Gloucester can trust us with their vote.  I think our councillors, under Kate’s leadership will prove that by their actions, and the rest of us need to do the same and follow their example.  Not only do we have a need to gain voters for Gloucester Labour, but also to show to the electorate that they are (or should be) the most important piece in the mechanism, especially if we want to change it.

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Joe K May 18, 2011 - 9:47 am

I’m kind of skimming the above entry, Barry, to raise something that has just become apparent to me concerning Gloucester Labour. It was always faintly ridiculous that their Facebook group featured a member (an admin, even) called ‘Gloucester Labour’, when one person can’t represent a group of people and also be an individual member. Thankfully, you’re in charge now, and ‘Gloucester Labour’ seems to have disappeared.

Now, however, it’s started all over again, in a fashion, with Gloucester Young Labour. The simple Facebook group which I was a member of (twice) with you, Daniel King and a few other people, has apparently been deleted, and ‘Young Gloucester Labour’ is now a Facebook user that you have to be ‘friends’ with, even though the only post on his/her/its page is from James Hoddy.

Along with groups that you have to be a ‘fan’ of, this is becoming the standard way of avoiding awkward conversations on Facebook. You’ll probably recall me posting one or two times to ask when the Young Labour group was going to do something, moths after the page being created. Is this the real reason for the change, and will Hoddy and his ‘friends’ sit back and relax now they can’t be challenged?

This along with new group leader Kate Haigh’s Dhandaesque unwillingness to allow comments on her blog, is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about below that TiG article of Dhanda’s. The stables still need a clean-out…

Barry May 18, 2011 - 7:20 pm

Hi Joe
I think really what your pointing at is the peculiarities of Facebook itself and how we are interacting with it as it evolves.

The “person” Gloucester Labour was intended to make contacts and post general Gloucester Labour Information. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say I’m now “in charge” but more becoming more involved.

The Young Labour has been going through a bit of a change recently as well, with some of the younger members trying to reinvigorate itself and part of that was catching up with who was looking after what. This is still in fairly early stages as people keep getting older. James Hoddy has just stood down as Youth Officer because of his impending Birthday makes him too old to be a “youth” member and representative. I think that as an organisation will grow but it will take time. The Youth side does suffer in that people involved are either deep in Education or in the fledgling stages of their Careers. I don’t think for a second its about a desire not to be challenged as we do enjoy a good debate (especially over a beer or two). Unfotunatly I’m ‘just’ over the age boundary myself for Young Labour (Though I think I still qualify as a Young Engineer).

And you know how I feel about how people use their personal blogs. Its their trainset and Kate uses her site how she feels appropriate to what she wants to do with it.

Incidentally I might have a go at some video posts to mix things up a bit, but we will see.

PS: Want to buy a family car anyone?

Joe K May 23, 2011 - 11:28 am

Sorry I haven’t replied sooner. You know with me it’s either ‘return of post’ or days, even weeks…

You always give good reply, Barry, but that you seem to be carrying the whole team where the internet is concerned is a problem I’ve mentioned before. Whether openly or under a group ‘persona’, the person adding information is still just… a member who adds information. I didn’t have to create the member ‘BTNP’ for our partnership page, and this idea that any Facebook account should represent more than just one person still looks dodgy to me. I’m sure Facebook don’t have a problem with it, though, like they don’t worry about all their underage users.

The problems you speak of with the Young Labour group seem to be simply down to the fact that there is no real interest in it from young people in the wider community (and yes, there might be plenty of debate among the small cadre of Young Fabians, but if it were carried on in public, even more young folk would probably be put off). It’s not as if the local are party are really pulling out all the stops to encourage interest, though. We’re well into summer and I see no promotional events on offer. Without proper leadership, it just looks like a hazy idea, barely executed.

Which brings us, roundabout, to Kate Haigh. Sure, she can do what she wants with her trainset, but posting entries on a regular, weekly or so basis, and accepting comments, complimentary and critical, is what bloggers generally do. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in ‘The Fly’, drink deep of the blogosphere, or not at all!

More communicating with constituents on the same level, and less Ed-ish gaffes, pointlessly calling for resignations, will restore the party’s fortunes in Gloucester. Maybe Sonia and Shaun could actually post something on the boards, years after joining…

I see you have Ian Mean speaking at your next meeting, by the way. Probably wouldn’t have seen it advertised in TiG if he hadn’t been, and even then, I only found it because I was looking for the ‘optimism’ story that dropped of the front page online. Almost wish I could be there, but we have our meeting the same day.

Barry May 24, 2011 - 8:29 am

Joe – Maybe I am carrying the can a bit as far as the internet stuff is concerned, but that is probably down to my enthusiasm for using it as a medium more than anything else and I think I am not doing quite so efficient job of “selling it” as I could be. I think the “Gloucester Labour” persona was made when many other people were doing the same thing and I notice that many other people do it to, there is even one for Kingsway (Gloucester Kingsway) and I have no idea who “runs” that, but I know a lot of people look at it, hence why I put notices on it.

I think Young Labour has been a problem for a while in terms of it getting some real momentum, but more is being done now, it has had a bit of a “relaunch” and they ahd their first meeting last night I believe, I don’t know yet how many people turned up (I am away with work – again) but will hopefully hear soon, I knwo there was more interest than has been in the past.

You are right, we do need to communicate with the residents of Gloucester and this year should see a step change in what we do and how we do it. But our most effective way we like to communicate is face to face, hence why we spend so much time door knocking. Using Social Media is still in its infancy for us really, and it is ensuring that it complements what we do rather than replaces the personal work.

Yes, I am looking forward to Ian Mean presenting at the meeting next week, one of the biggest issues in Kingsway is its projected reputation, and the Citizen has played no small part in that. I’m not expecting to hear any apologies, they print the news that the hear, but hopefully it would provide some context and understanding of concerns. We publicise it around Kingsway with banners and posters so hopefully many of the residents will turn up. We will see.


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