Thoughts of closing up the shop
I must admit that over the past few months I have had serious thoughts about closing this Corner Shop but leaving the shutters up so you can see what is in here, I’ve also had thoughts of closing the shop down and having it completely demolished, removed, and airbrushed from history. I think that many of these thoughts were linked to occasional depression, the full time search for work, the fumblings of a coalition government struggling to come to terms with itself and the awful state of the economy, and South Tyneside Labour Party’s mind numbing policy of doing nothing at all to upset anyone and towing the line with spending restrictions – after all they knew in advance what was coming and they also knew that the consequences of a Labour victory at the last general election would have been exactly as they are now, severe spending restrictions.
They wore the Tory cloak provided by the Blair/Brown administrations and dared not take any major directional changes, they are total conformists to the point of being pragmatists, but at least the result will be a small relief this year for council tax payers, something which perhaps may not have happened if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were still sitting in Downing Street. However a couple of things sparked my amusement following the reception of some emails this week, both revolving around the inability of the opposition groups on South Tyneside Council to consider their own policies in advance of the May local elections and their unwillingness to forego personal attacks in exchange for discussing policy positions which might benefit us all. During Thursday’s council meeting which set the budget for the coming municipal year I hear that one councillor was far more concerned about what had gone on in this blog three years ago and proceeded to mistakenly harangue a fellow member with references to the opinions of a certain teal lady within South Shields town hall, and another was more concerned at the attempts to find and legally punish the writer of another political blog in the area. All this on an afternoon when they ought to have been proposing measures to raise revenue, reduce spending whilst protecting front line services, and pre planning the local council’s proposals for the next two or three years.
I have said and repeated often enough, that South Tyneside has the council it deserves, not by virtue of the Labour Party but because of the quality, or lack of, the opposition members! Yet once again there are very few reports of a well put together alternative strategy from any of the opposition parties to help us get through very tough economic times. It is all well and good attacking Labour’s record in government, which lamentable though it was, at least provided opportunities for any sixth form student to analyse in five minutes and tear it apart in even less, but politicians even at a local level have a responsibility to provide a little bit more than negative attacks, they need to offer us some firm alternative positions and positively promote the benefits that they would offer if they have any hope of picking up additional seats.
As electors we also have a responsibility to participate in this process by gathering as much information as possible, digesting it, and making an informed decision based upon past history, current policy initiatives, and future prospects, we need to know firmly in our own minds how we would like South Shields, Jarrow, Hebburn Cleadon and the Boldons to develop over the next ten years and be able to see a clear path towards those aspirations. Only then should we confidently make a decision about supporting candidate A or candidate B, or C. Our decisions should not be based upon personal unfounded allegations or attacks, but upon the policies announced by the candidate’s backers or party.
Unfortunately, some of the opposition in South Tyneside will be stirring up very murky waters as they return to type and rally round the type of blog referred to by Mr. Hughes in his report, it is active again and churning out rehashes of old material, expect to see the same or very similar attacks and language used in election material between now and May! Another opposition party is now inaudible, it has gone quiet, and relies on hand outs from it’s London central HQ to get its message across, this is simply not good enough, local councillors ought to be capable of espousing their policies in local forums without recourse to press releases, it will be interesting to see how the Conservatives approach the local elections in May. Will they field a full team, will some wards not have the choice of voting Conservative?
Much the same could be said of the Liberal Democrats, whose leader in South Tyneside Cllr. Joe Abbot is seriously out of kilter with Deputy PM Nick Clegg, will they have the heart to field more than a handful of candidates outside of their Hebburn stronghold?
We have been here before though, the same arguments get used year after year, as each successive May approaches I wonder if anything really changes at all, and this inevitably leads to my boredom about local political matters, however, I still retain a great love for South Shields and the surrounding area, I still want to promote it and the benefits of living on Tyneside, I still find daily ways of showing us off to the world, and still have aspirations that we can build a better local economy based on tourism, hospitality, service, and the growth of small and medium enterprises. I still believe that there are sufficient local people with fresh ideas, strategies, and plans to move us forward and at least catch up with our counterpart authorities in Tyne and Wear. It is to those people that I appeal to get involved either in business or in local political activity, without your important input our local party political scene will continue to bore people to tears and the resurrection and regeneration of the region will go ahead without South Tyneside.
Do we really want to be left behind by an authority which is not challenged by capable and creative opposition?
So, for now, the Shop remains open and looking forward to your ideas, information, and positive thoughts.