In the weeks running up to Christmas I found myself knocking on doors across my ward of Hangleton and Knoll, discussing the Labour Administration’s rather chaotic reorganisation of school catchments areas.
In the bitter cold, one very frustrated resident assured me that I was wasting my time, as politicians were all the same: useless. It is becoming clearer by the day that many have lost faith in politicians.
I suppose a confusing General Election, where the Conservatives won, even after producing a ‘Manifesto-from-hell’, the threat of Jeremy Corbyn, whose ‘new kind of politics’ turned out to be false hope from the far-left, and the threatened takeover of the Labour Party by Momentum, has not helped. International events painted a similar picture as Donald Trump became President, the established French parties were wiped out, and a shock result in Germany sent Angela Merkel from hero to zero in a few short weeks.
The success of Theresa May in the Brexit talks, against the odds, did lift spirits, but it was the pathetic spectacle of Robert Mugabe’s faux-resignation, quickly followed by his removal from office, that helped to restore my faith in the political process. As young student, way back in 1980, I had witnessed the House of Commons debate on Southern Rhodesia, where free elections had heralded better Governance for Africa. Robert Mugabe started well, but his introduction of hard-left policies destroyed incentives and ruined the quality of life in once prosperous Zimbabwe. Over the past decade many of Africa’s countries have been some of the fastest-growing, and this is possible because it is at last seeing improved levels of governance: I have high hopes, once again, for Zimbabwe.
So, as Africa throws away terrible hard-left governments, my disillusioned resident back in Hangleton and Knoll seems to be facing a home-grown experiment, in the form of a Momentum-led Brighton and Hove Labour Party, hell-bent on forcing a dangerous far-left experiment on the city. I am often been asked why we study history at school; so we learn from our past mistakes, and don’t repeat them, is my answer.
Tony Janio is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton & Hove City Council.