As a Labour activist who has put a lot of time and effort into this campaign, I’m proud of what Liz, Fred and my fellow volunteers have accomplished locally.In the time since I first got involved with Bournville Labour back in January 2015, we’ve gone from having one Labour councillor and two well-regarded Tory councillors to a Total Tory Wipeout. If only the same could be said for the rest of Birmingham and indeed the country as a whole… (for full details of the Birmingham results, see the Birmingham City Council local elections results page).
Positivity beats the Nasty Party (this time)
In the face of Tory negativity and poverty denial, Liz and Fred stuck to their guns and ran a with a selection of progressive priorities, pledging to do everything possible to defend our local area from Tory cuts and implement a range of progressive measures on housing, the environment, community safety and education & employment.
The rebirth of municipal socialism
While Liz and Fred occupy slightly different positions within the Labour tradition (Liz is more closely aligned with the Corbynite wing while Fred is perhaps more centrist/Labour right), both of them fully supported Building a better Birmingham, Labour’s radical manifesto. Even better, Liz went even further and signed We Own It’s pledge to End Local Privatisation.
As a long-term Labour member, I had hoped but never seriously expected to see the leadership of England’s second city (apologies to anyone from Manchester reading this) unapologetically commit itself to recreating municipal socialism.
In the face of Tory austerity (the City Council’s budget has halved since 2010), Building a better Birmingham sets out a hopeful programme that will help create a city that works for the many, not the few. Birmingham will learn from the ‘Preston model’, pursuing policies which support inclusive growth and keeps money in our city.
An end to outsourcing? Let’s hope so
Learning from the numerous outsourcing disasters which have blighted Birmingham Labour in will adopt a position of ‘in-house preferred’ for services. Through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, the City Council will continue to play the leading role in building the social housing our city desperately needs. At the same time, the City Council will develop a range of other municipal services, starting with the new Birmingham Energy Company, which will address fuel poverty and challenge the dominance of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
We still need a Labour government in Westminster
While I am hugely heartened by the fact that Liz and Fred were elected, I’m under no illusions about the challenges which lie ahead. So long as there’s a Tory government in Westminster, Birmingham will continue to face ideologically-driven cuts to local services. Over the next four years, we need to show local people that a Labour city council can make a positive difference to people’s lives, despite the damage caused by continuing austerity. If we manage to do this whilst growing our local campaign teams in all parts of our city, I believe we will have a good chance of persuading the country to vote for a radical Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as our Prime Minister.