With a government as bad as Boris Johnson’s, piecemeal stuff going badly wrong in random places is pretty inevitable. But the whole Manchester fiasco is pretty strange.
What are we to make of Andy Burnham? Compare and contrast with Sadiq Khan (always a ‘transactional’ politician) who has quite graciously praised the collaboration he’s been getting from central government and is evidently in daily, and broadly constructive, dealings with HMG. Burnham, though, is threatening the equivalent of a hunger strike and inviting the authorities to force-feed him. Which they are doing. He’s an unlikely leftwing firebrand-hero, and comes across as just a sad, angry, frustrated individual which – given his responsibilities – he can be forgiven for on every count, at the purely human level, even if Not Very Statesmanlike. But even some of his neighbouring council leaders seem to think he’s gone too far in playing hostage games with his constituents’ (short-term) well-being.
And we’re not hearing quite so much from Sturgeon just lately. Maybe the rigours of winter will make everyone just retreat into a huddle of confusion, aimless resentment and slow economic disintegration.
Of course, it all feeds into one of our current themes, namely, what next for bankrupt local authorities? I can report another developent in my local Croydon saga: the (Labour) leader of the Council has gone the way of the Chief Exec and others. The incomer is Sturgeon to his Salmond, as Sturgeon would have been viewed when she first took over, i.e. just an acolyte. Is she any good? We may find out quite rapidly. The council has requested permission from the government to use capital resources to plug the gaping hole in the revenue account – the ‘Northampton’ solution - and there’s an enquiry being held into the really outrageous conduct of the council’s wholly-owned housebuilding company, a blatantly political and thoroughly incompetent project the details of which I won’t bore you with. Unhappily, the council’s other vast “investments” are mostly in commercial property …
Finally, what are we to make of Kier Starmer? His ’100% Sniper’ strategy of never engaging with the enemy on the field of battle is strikingly clear and ruthlessly disciplined. He is obviously betting everything on it. Where is his support for Burnham and a general anti-government upsurge? Will his sullen and increasingly rebellious troops stay in line? Is Transactional Khan mapping out a clever central course of constructive engagement with reality that will serve his own long-term plans? Is Angry Andy Burnham exactly the “everyman” leader Labour needs? Questions, questions.
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