How Will Labour React
With the changes that have taken place following the democratic vote in Wolverhampton, the interest will remain very high in what is taking place in this City.
In these first few days after the election it was always going to generate an electric atmosphere. Now we shall have to wait for the signs of this new Tory/Lib Dem coalition making a change in direction.
I think for me the key question now is how will the Labour Group react to being the official opposition? There are so many parallels now with Birmingham.
In Birmingham's case there has been quite heavy criticism of the role the Labour Party has played in leading the opposition in that City to the Tory /LibDem controlling group.
Many have felt that the Birmingham Labour Party had been slow to come to terms with being forced out of power.
In Wolverhampton Roger Lawrence who was returned as Leader of the Labour Group unopposed, will have to show some astute leadership skills, if he does not want to suffer from the criticisms Birmingham Labour Group have had levelled at them whilst in opposition.
I also think that the time has come for a bigger role for the greater Labour Party here in Wolverhampton. It must not just stand either silent nor must it just accept what is taking place.
Whilst the Tory/Lib Dem coalition starts taking control, some 90% of all they will do in this first 12 months will be Labour policies that have been worked up for delivery. The Labour Party must ensure that their local constituencies are constantly reminded that these programmes are Labours.
Already there is evidence that initiatives like re-cycling plastics and cardboard collected from the kerb side will be re-packaged as a Coalition initiative, when Labour has worked up the programme for delivery.
It is no use wringing hands and moaning about the political change.
Wolverhampton voters have made their choice. What we need to do as the Labour Party is to quickly accept we are no longer in control and sharpen our act to protect those services and the delivery mechanisms from the coaltions knives.
We must also look to review how we are organised and how we can overhaul our communications networks. We have two years to become better and smarter and we should use those two years to look at how we are organised as a Party to deliver and win elections.
The battle for 'hearts and minds' will be as much won by communications as it will be won by delivery of service. We do have to be better and quicker at getting our messages out. Relying on the current local news and media by itself to pick up and deliver our key statements will I fear be not enough.
We have to use other methods the battle has only just begun, how will it end in 2010 should be our key concern.
Author: Phil Bateman
Article Date: 8th May 2008