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  1. Politics
4 May 2007

Blair’s idiocy has damaged the party

Ric Metcalfe who was, until yesterday, leader of Lincoln's council reacts to a Tory win in the histo

By Ric Metcalfe

Labour have done a fantastic job of governing the City of Lincoln for more than 25 years. Anyone who is in a position to compare the City as it is now, with the place it was in the early 1980’s, will know the transformation which has taken place under Labour leadership.

Labour energetically tackled the economic decline resulting from the loss of the City’s traditional manufacturing base and with an ambitious programme of sustainable growth, a new City centre University, a strong programme of social justice, and an increasingly impressive record of service improvement, has boosted the quality of the lives of people in the City beyond all recognition.

All the more galling then that Labour has now lost control of the City Council, albeit by the narrowest of margins with the Tories on 17, Labour on 15 with one Liberal Democrat, and pleasingly, the BNP getting a fairly derisory vote in all of the 11 wards of the City.

The most significant factor in this result is the current national mood. Try as we have, to play to our local strengths of competent and compassionate local governance, voters almost invariably cite their disappointment with Labour in Government as their reason for not voting Labour. They are anyway, of course, much more heavily influenced by daily exposure to national media coverage , dominated as it is by a hostile Tory press, successfully evoking a whiff of decay about Labour in Government.

Tony Blair’s idiotic decision to announce his intended departure so far in advance has simply created a prolonged hiatus, a real sense of loss of direction and aroused the potential for party disunity as people have jostled for power. This has without doubt, damaged the party, and contributed to losses in these local elections.

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The Tories in Lincoln have proved themselves to be a pretty incompetent opposition and we expect this will be all the more evident as they attempt to run the Council. The combination of inexperience and the slimmest of majorities will mean they will be in very considerable difficulty.

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Labour will be a strong & highly effective opposition and will be in a very good position next year to resume control. In the meantime, we will be doing our best to minimise the damage they do to the City.