Is Labour losing the moral high ground

BACK in the 1970s, newspaper columnists always said that Conservative scandals involved sex while Labour scandals always involved money.Does that still ring true today? You have to ask the question as financial stories dog the party.

BACK in the 1970s, newspaper columnists always said that Conservative scandals involved sex while Labour scandals always involved money.

Does that still ring true today? You have to ask the question as financial stories dog the party.

It's far from clear that anyone has actually done anything wrong - but when you hear all the stories about phenomenal amounts of money you have to ask yourself what the average Labour member makes of it all.

On the whole Labour party members and voters are ordinary working or middle-class men and women.

They tend not to be people for whom the acquisition of vast personal wealth is the key motivating factor in life.

I'm not saying they want to be hair shirt-wearing revolutionaries, but they would rather pay a penny or two more in tax and know that things are a bit better for those on the lowest rung of the ladder.

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So what on earth do they make of the news that the prime minister has mortgages totalling £4 million - and that's why his wife tours America giving the Yanks the benefit of her wisdom at 30 grand a throw?

What on earth do ordinary party members make of culture secretary Tessa Jowell's estranged husband David Mills having his fingers in all kinds of places - Italy, Iran, pub companies and the formula one circus?

And what do they think of the party apparently encouraging rich donors to “lend” it money so it doesn't have to declare the cash as gifts?

I know many Labour Party members, especially councillors, in this part of the world - and to a man and woman they all seemed motivated by the best possible reasons.

Their tactics can be questioned - and often are - but I, and I suspect most of their political opponents, do not doubt their sincerity. They genuinely believe they are acting in the best interests of society.

But can the same be said of the party as a whole?

The situation is not irredeemable. Firm action now could regain the moral high ground.

If things don't change, however, Labour could end up going the same way that the Tories did after the 1997 election when they were seen as an untrustworthy band of chancers prepared to do anything to stay in power and line their own pockets. Remember the Harrods money stuffed in brown paper envelopes?

Unless Labour takes a long hard look at itself and puts right its problems it could be heading in the same direction as the Tories a decade ago.

WE REALLY are now entering the phoney war before May's local elections in Ipswich.

You can't find a council officer who is prepared to say anything hardly for fear that they will be seen as being “political” while politicians are trying to work out what will happen in the elections themselves.

It would be good to think there will be a positive result so everyone at Civic Centre knows where they stand - but now Dale Jackson and Stephen Barker are planning to put up more candidates which could muddy the waters considerably.

Whether any of their independent candidates will win a seat is pretty doubtful - but their presence on the ballot paper could cause confusion among voters.

It is always possible that they could split the vote in some seats, leading to unexpected results, and that could really alter the state of play at Civic Centre.

Certainly their possible presence on the ballot paper has given Labour fresh hope of holding and winning seats in Stoke Park and Rushmere - and Labour only needs to win one more seat than it currently holds to regain the administration.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats seem certain to remain in coalition if they win a majority on the council between them - but overall the prospects for this May seem much less clear than they did a few weeks ago.

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