Welcome to Labour Britain

Nabeel Khan, Lambeth’s director of “climate and inclusive growth”

You might think I’m jumping the gun: the Labour landslide is still over a month away. Yet by relying on a little extrapolation it’s still possible to predict the main features of a country run by the Starmer gang.

All you have to do is look at a solidly Labour council and treat it as the microcosm of the country at large. And the South London borough of Lambeth is especially close to my heart because I worked there for six years.

My office was across a roundabout from the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and across the river from the Houses of Parliament. I dare say the view from my window was among the world’s most beautiful. For one thing, it made me realise that Monet didn’t just imagine the Mother of All Parliaments turning blue or pink at dusk.

On an overcast day, when the last ray of sunshine forced its way through the clouds, it painted those neo-Gothic buildings just those colours – and I never thought old Claude was a stark realist.

Lambeth as such unfolded behind my office building, and there things got less romantic and infinitely less beautiful. The first thing I noticed was that the local council pursued a foreign policy different from that favoured by the officials across the Thames.

A sign at the entrance to the borough declared it a Nuclear Free Zone, which must have given its residents a nice safe feeling. Should push come to nuclear shove, the Russians would definitely programme their ICBMs to give Lambeth a wide berth.

Apparently, Lambeth councilmen are still preoccupied with international affairs, specifically the war in Gaza. Ever since it started in November, the borough has been debating the level of support, mostly moral, it should offer the victims of those dastardly Jews.

Since most of the Labour politicians operating on the national stage also abhor our nuclear deterrent and love Third World terrorists, the extrapolated prediction seems to work. But that’s only a start.

The Lambeth Council is firmly on the side of the net-zero angels. It declared a “climate emergency” in 2019, beating all other London councils to it. And the Council pledged to achieve that Shangri-la by 2030, this time beating the national government by a virtuous 20 years.

Thus over the past five years it has spent £25 million on “climate and active travel”. Actually, ‘active’ has turned out to be quite a misnomer. For as a result, travel in Lambeth has become rather passive.

The profusion of new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and cycle lanes makes the traffic permanently gridlocked. Children can’t get to school, nor their parents to work, on time. Emergency services can’t get to their emergencies. A bus ride that used to take 15 minutes now takes 45. And the Council’s transport department has been thoughtfully staffed to achieve just such an outcome.

Eight of its employees were recruited from a cycling charity that worships LTNs the way so many of Lambeth residents worship Allah. And speaking of recruitment, the Council reflects its party’s generosity to woke sinecures.

It’s paying more than 40 of its employees over £100,000 a year, whereas the most valuable of them, “director of climate and inclusive growth”, is on £160,000. One has to compliment the Council on the fiscal prudence of combining those two vital functions that seemingly have nothing to do with each other.

I can feel their pain: they’d dearly love to have one director in charge of climate and another taking care of inclusive growth. But paying £160,000 each must be beyond the Council’s slender means. After all, 15 per cent of its budget goes on servicing its £1 billion debt.

Do you feel me, as they say in Lambeth? Or do I have to remind you each time that we’re looking at a microcosm of a Labour Britain? No, I didn’t think so.

The Council’s housing policy also follows national patterns. It has been busily selling off properties at below market value to build new affordable housing for the socioeconomically disadvantaged, if this is this the right term.

To that end it lent its council-owned developer £79.5 million and put its chief executive on £217,000 a year. The authority managed to build just 65 affordable houses in five years, which comes out at almost £16 million a pop – and believe me, they aren’t stately mansions. The chief executive had to be moved sideways and given a new brief, that of promoting  “ethnic diversity in housing leadership”.

How much of that £79.5 million was kicked back to the councilmen? Just wondering. Or perhaps gross mismanagement so typical of British public administration in general and Labour administration in particular explains it all adequately.

Getting back to social housing, there exist two types. Some projects are under the aegis of private charitable trusts, such as Peabody or Guinness, whereas most are run by councils. The difference is striking: while the former are quite decent, the latter are all approximations of slums. And Lambeth slums are among the worst in the country, with damp, mould and blocked drains omnipresent in the dilapidated tower blocks.

I’m not trying to create the impression that Tory-run councils are paragons of sage administration, fiscal prudence and commitment to efficiency at the expense of ideology. Far from it.

The toxic ideology of modernity has infected both parties, and our choice isn’t between good and bad, but between bad and worse. And Lambeth is a concise reply to the question “How much worse?” A lot, is the answer to this one.

There’s an upper limit to the good a government can do but no lower limit to the damage it can cause. And the Lambeth microcosm of a Labour Britain shows how low that limit can get. We’ll be scraping the bottom.

1 thought on “Welcome to Labour Britain”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful place. I know nothing about Lambeth, other than seeing Lambeth Towers in movies and television shows. I would think that as the Muslim population increases the votes for woke council members would decrease. A quick search for housing in Lambeth led me to the phrase “precariously housed” and a number of paragraphs that I honestly failed to understand – my woke doublespeak obviously not up to speed.

    Our version of LTNs is called “traffic calming”. These are city-wide initiatives that rely on local residents to petition the city to help calm their neighborhood. What would cause someone to ask the city to install speed bumps, time-dependent lane restrictions, and to close certain roads to all traffic is beyond me. My mother lives 4 miles from me. The first 3 are not “calmed”, but the last mile is. There I have to bounce over 8 speed bumps. I avoid this by going past her house and circling back. I suppose the preferred method would be for me to ride my bike to take her to her various appointments.

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