The Labour Party in Hackney is getting into gear for next year's Mayor and Council elections.
Council freebie newspaper 'Hackney Toady' (sorry, 'Hackney Today') seems to announce everything from street lights to secondary schools as a 'personal project' of Mayor Jules Pipe.
And Mayor Pipe has also issued a 'personal' survey to thousands of residents. Generally, you would think it a good thing for a local Labour Party to ask people's opinions (although it would be better to have a genuine base in local communities so they were in touch with opinions without needing a survey).
So what's the problem? Respondents are asked to name the three issues that concern them most, meaning that ...
Firstly, it does not ask for your opinions on those issues! So, 'improving council housing'
might be your number one concern, but do you support ALMO, stock transfer or want to stay with the Council? 'Tackling anti-social behaviour' might be your top priority, but do you support ASBOs or not? Want more police, or more police accountability?
It looks to me like Hackney's Labour Group is setting itself up to claim that it has acted on people's concerns, but without bothering about our views on what should be done. Maybe local people know what we are worried about, but are too stupid/irrelevant to know what to do about it. Or maybe our Council is not too confident that people would endorse their policies if given the chance to express an opinion.
Secondly, what if you are concerned about four issues? Or five, or six, or seven?! Say your estate is run down, your kids can't get into a local school, poor air quality is aggravating your asthma, your Housing Benefit claim is late, and you really want the Tube to come to Hackney (hardly an unusual set of circumstances). Pick your three! Which two are you going to indicate that you don't really care that much about?!
Look in your crystal ball. You go to see your Councillor about an issue. But it's not one of the Top Three survey results, so they tell you that it's not a priority for the Council and that's tough luck. Are we being co-opted into cutting our own services? We shall see ...
It looks more like 'Family Fortunes' than socialist local politics.