The feeling in the grassroots


Since the air is still thick with the expenses scandal, I thought we might like to know how the Labour grassroots are coping.

We had a Frank Owen’s Paintbrush outing to a Constituency Labour Party quiz last night, in an undisclosed community centre in one of the drabber corners of outer-inner London.

Spirits were not noticably dampened – wine flowed, comrades communed freely, and some top-notch quizzing was had. the Paintbrush Collective were, unfortunately, pipped to the title by the ominously-named “The Force”, a motley crew of the sort of CLP stalwarts we’d rather not argue with about such trifling matters as their blatant cheating.

There was even a Member of Parliament present, and not only did he make it out alive, the gathered comrades appeared to accept him into the Party’s bosom with the same fraternal love as in happier days. Perhaps this would have been harder to stomach had his team not come a distant third – after all, some things are just more important.

The assembled crowd were having a fun-filled night of trivia and booze ahead of what sounds like a gruelling weekend of campaigning – which means something, I think. No matter what, these people are Labour, and they’re willing to take the good fight to the streets come fair weather or foul.

It’s tempting, at times, to think that the procedure, the who’s-up-who’s-down, the general froth, is what matters in politics. It isn’t – and expenses, whilst important to whether we are able to have faith in our politicians, is part of this general category.

Because once you’ve decided whether to have faith – and, then, in whom to have it – what next? Fundamentally, I think it’s the moral and ideological compass which determines what you would do that matters, certainly far more than a politician’s individual propensity to sin.

The expenses scandal will go, eventually. But what we do with the political system in which our political leaders operate will – or, at least, should – stand the test of time.

So, perhaps a plea for a little more attention on the stuff that matters? My quizzing comrades deserve nothing less.


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