Monday, March 13, 2006

Party animals

I can't say I'm surprised by the decision of Birmingham's Peoples' Justice Party to disband and join the Liberal Democrats. I am surprised that the Liberal Democrats allowed them in and suspect that they might yet regret that decision, although it will give them a short-term political bonus.

One thing it will do is shift the power within the coalition - or 'progressive partnership' to those without a sense of irony. The allocation of cabinet posts depends on how many councillors that the parties bring to the table. Currently, the Tories have 40 and the Liberal Democrats now have 32, which gives the Tories 7 cabinet members (plus leader) and the LDs two (plus deputy leader). Unbalanced doesn't start to describe it - and that's a word used a lot about the coalition. So, it seems likely that even if things remain the same after May's elections, then a realignment is overdue.

I am reminded of the story told to me by a resident who had the misfortune to be represented by the fore-runners of the PJP, the Justice for Kashmir party. She once tried to contact her local councillor, but was told that he didn't run surgeries. She eventually managed to track him down and he agreed to meet her on the forecourt of a petrol station, finally advising her that there was nothing he could do for her. (Her problem was later solved by a more helpful councillor from another party).

Dave Radcliffe has missed something by claiming that this marks a return to 'two-party politics' in the inner city wards in Birmingham. He's missed the probability that the peculiar alliance of the hard left and the Islamic radicals that is the Respect coalition may do rather well.


e-tat said...

Radcliffe? Where? On-line or off? I'd be interested in seeing more about that.

Zoe said...

When I was a housing officer in Small Heath, the various PJP/Justice Councillors were notorious for their inactivity. I'm sure they will be a fine addition to the Lib Dem ranks.

PoliticalHack said...

Second link at the top of the article, e-tat.

TonyF said...

Considering the hassle with the PJP in the 2004 election, I'm surprised that the Lib Dems have allowed them in. Now what was it that John Hemming accused Shaukat Ali Khan of?