First up – congratulations to the new Green Party councillor in Woodhouse Park, Astrid Johnson.
You can read more about her and the election result on the Greens website.
Second up – congratulations to the team around her. The sheer amount of work required to get this result is beyond the imagination of folks not heavily involved.
Third up – and only quickly because
a) nobody reads this site
b) I have a job I should be doing
c) I don’t even freaking LIVE in Manchester anymore, some “what next/what else” thoughts (because, you know, my opinion is so sought after).
In the short term, I hope the Greens
a) make it impossible for the Labour Party to keep both their councillors off Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee. The only way to do this is to start flagging it as an issue now, to raise the cost to Labour of keeping them both off. Making appeals to Labour’s moral compass is a mug’s game.
b) I hope the Greens also do a better job than they have done in the last year of updating their website with blog posts (pro-tip – a well-constructed press release can easily be converted into a blog post, if you get the structure right). I hope this leads to them doing more “political education” work, that’s mostly not being done by anyone very well in Manchester.
[But to be clear – scrutinising the Council is not something that should be left to the Greens, or any political party. It’s the work for other organisations too, unless they think that social change comes from cheerleading a couple of Labour Party councillors who claim to be trying to change the system from within.]
I hope the Greens figure out some way of working with the two Liberal Democrats around scrutinising the Council. They might even be able to cover as many as four of the six scrutiny committees, between them.
Presumably the Greens will be targetting Woodhouse Park for their third seat at next year’s elections. Will Eddy Newman even be defending the seat for Labour? Who knows. I hope they can sustain their upward momentum, and morale, and expand their influence.
More generally, let’s not get carried away – this is still a Labour Party with 92 of the 96 seats. They control all the committees. They have a largely supine officer class that looks the other way when elected politicians do things dodgily and flagrantly. The officers know which side their bread is buttered on… Meanwhile, presumably the civil war within Manchester Labour Party continues to rage (and may explain why they couldn’t get rid of the man they all love to hate – John Leech – simply didn’t have enough boots on the ground?)
Manchester is still a de facto (but not, obviously, de jure) one party state. Labour seems to have suffered no discernible electoral damage in Chorlton Park or Old Moat, where a protest vote against the Hough End Fields decision seems to be conspicuously absent.
In a one-party state, the “rules” are different. Getting anything done that isn’t in the perceived self-interest of those running the show becomes, well, I think today’s euphemism is “challenging”…
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates, the government passes laws criminalising protest and the issue attention cycle has moved on from climate change. We face a mind-boggling cost-of-living crisis with all that that entails around ever-deeper immiseration and cruelty towards the most vulnerable in society.
What is to be done?
The tasks – maintaining, at the group level, morale, sanity, absorptive capacity, capacity to act – remain the same, even as the circumstances in which people of good faith try to operate become ever harder.
We won’t get there with stale old brain-dead meetings where you are told about how awful everything is for three hours and then exhorted to “build the movement” by clapped-out grifters and hustlers. Trust me on this.
Anyway, good luck (and, barring maybe one post next week) goodbye.
Meanwhile, all our yestedays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.