Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Labour backtrack over Janet Oosthuysen

"Yes we can!" and "Change is gonna come!" are the jubilant cries that will have been ringing in Janet Oosthuysen's ears today as she, and over a million others, brave the freezing conditions in Washington to see the inauguration of, not only the first African American President of the United States of America, but a new way of doing politics.

All over the world there has been an air of excitement as Barack Obama attacked a period of "greed and irresponsibility" and "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age".

Anyone in Hebden Bridge will know that this is exactly the kind of fresh thinking that Janet has been saying, not only as a Hebden Royd councillor, but also in her successful bid for the Labour Party candidacy for Chris McCafferty's seat when she steps down for a well-earned rest at the next General Election.

Well, it seems that change isn't gonna come, not substantially anyway, because the Labour Party National Executive has bottled it, supposedly because Janet got a caution (not a criminal record) for breaking her boyfriend's car wing mirror in a domestic back in 2007.

Allegedly, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that, to the disappointment of some in Millbank, she beat beat Cherie Blair's stepmother Steph Booth by just five votes in last summer's contest for the Calder Valley nomination...

Considering the backgrounds of politicians and "world leaders" since history began, I had always assumed a willingness to break a few rules was a prerequisite so, if anything, this incident was rather tame. (Anyone remember Lord Archer?)

Now the Labour Party will hold another selection process to choose another candidate, and I hope they realise that difficult times require politicians who will ask the difficult questions and be prepared to deliver difficult answers...

As Polly Toynbee says in today's Guardian:

"We have not lived in the interesting times of the Chinese curse - but in banal times where politicians needed to be no better than they were. No great crisis summoned a Winston Churchill or a Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That uneventfulness has blunted our politics: people barely vote or express a view, while blase cynicism substitutes for thought, passion or partisanship. Parties clustered in the dead centre are dead on their feet, and no one cares much, except to sneer at politicians' expenses. The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth. An American model of each individual citizen for himself, each individual citizen the architect of his own life's trajectory, has conquered old notions of solidarity, not needed in good times.

Look across Europe and little comfort can be drawn from any country's leadership, rendering its collective voice feebly uninspiring. In crisis, the EU risks pulling apart, not together, with rising nationalism and protectionism. Who do you call? The Czech Republic's current EU presidency? There has been little here to inspire political hope.

But now Obama comes out of nowhere just when good politics has never mattered more."
I sincerely hope that political parties of all hues get the message.

As for Janet, maybe she's better off out of it, where she can say what the really thinks, when she really thinks it, instead of towing a party line she might not always agree with...

Personally, although I certainly differ on a number of issues to Janet, I have always found her innovative, hard working, of great integrity and a true champion of the disadvantaged and the underdog (I last spoke to her whilst on the march forGaza last Friday) so, in my opinion, I believe the Labour party have made a mistake here, not least by dragging things out for so long.

On a good note, at least for the moment, the Calder Valley and Westminster's loss is Hebden Bridge's gain, as Janet will be around, rolling up her sleeves and getting on with her work in the local community.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining.


janet o said...

Thank you for that Jason. Much appreciated. And whats more my children read it before I got backfrom washington and it made them happy soi thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

Jason said...

You're most welcome Janet.

You speak up when you think things are wrong, so I'm just doing the same!