Labour at war in Oxfordshire

hammer & SickleThere are signs that Labour factions in Oxfordshire are fighting within their own ranks rather than taking the fight to their Conservative opponents. The Banbury Labour Party has always been a traditional Brownite Party of the unions and what used to be the traditional “working class” who got their hands dirty in metal-bashing industry.

champagne glassBy contrast, the Oxford Labour Party contains large numbers of Blairite, wealthy, public and academic sector workers with bloated pensions and high level, high table lifestyles. “Champagne socialists” would not be an unkind epithet for many of them.

Put these two groups together and you can expect explosions and we have seen them! Labour’s Banbury constituency is trying to select a parliamentary candidate to oppose Sir Tony Baldry (majority in 2010 was 18,227) in the 2015 elections. This follows their axing of long-serving Cllr Les Sibley as their parliamentary candidate who has fought for the Parliamentary seat on numerous occasions and is well known as a community activist. It is ironic that Cllr Les Sibley is now supporting the County Council Conservative minority administration after Labour axed him.

Word on the street is that Labour had reduced their Parliamentary selection process to three candidates of whom one was Mr Perrin Moon, a second was Mrs Savita Sehdev, based in Wolverhampton and the third was local Cllr Sean Woodcock. The Moon couple have been active in opposing spending cuts in general and school transport cuts in particular although their recognition of their own Party’s role in the need to make public spending cuts has been less apparent as has any view as to where alternative cuts should be imposed. They may well believe we should keep on borrowing an extra billion for every three billion raised in taxes from hard pressed working people but I could not possibly comment.

No-one seems to have heard of Mrs Sehdev.

Well, to cut to the chase, the Banbury Labour web site has announced: The hustings scheduled for this coming Friday evening, 7 March in Banbury and on Saturday morning, 8 March in Bicester, were both cancelled. It seems that three applicants were nominated but one of these nominees had to withdraw before the short-list was drawn up. The constituency selection committee has now heard from one of the two short-listed nominees that they are also withdrawing from the selection. This last-minute withdrawal left only a single contestant – the young and relatively inexperienced Cllr Sean Woodcock. The selection committee has therefore apparently decided to cancel the current selection process, with the intention of running the procedure again later after seeking further applicants.

I am hearing that the truth behind this bland announcement is that Mrs Moon, who led a campaign against necessary Oxfordshire County Council homes to school transport policy, took her campaign to County Hall only to find her efforts rubbished by Cllr Lady Liz Brighouse and the County Labour Group, including Labour County Cllrs Christie, Beal, Dheshi and Cherry. She then seems to have had a fit of the vapours and, one must assume, pressed, her husband into withdrawing his candidacy for the Parliamentary seat.

Labour need to find someone else to attack Sir Tony’s 18,227 majority!

This is not the first time cracks have become evident in Labour policy between Labour at Bodicote House and at County Hall. Cherwell Labour, led by Cllr Sean Woodcock, opposed the Conservative budget because it retained current parking charges. At County Hall, the Labour Group there proposed an amendment to increase parking charges at the county sites, including Water Eaton in Cherwell District. Some Labour councillors voted one way in one council and contrary in the other! This proposal was thankfully defeated but one wonders what Labour policy is in Oxfordshire with County Labour wishing to tax the motorist back to the stone age while Cherwell Labour (including, it would seem, the Labour County Councillors) opposing any parking charges.

If they can’t get their act together at a local level, can anyone imagine Miliband in No 10?

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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