Animated Gif showing a contestant on the TV gameshow 'Total Wipeout' running and jumping onto the big red balls before falling off into the water

in Opinion, policy, Politics

Total Tory Wipeout

I’m proud to report that my local area is now officially a Tory-free zone™️. Last Thursday, Liz Clements and Fred Grindrod, Labour’s candidates for the new ward of Bournville & Cotteridge, were elected to serve as our local councillors. Even better, our existing Labour councillor, Mary Locke, was elected to the neighbouring single member ward of Stirchley.

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).

Liz Clements (second from left) and Fred Grindrod (right) with Labour volunteers in Bournville

Cllr Liz Clements (second from left) and Cllr Fred Grindrod (right) with Labour volunteers in Bournville

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.

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  1. the ‘Preston model’, pursuing policies which support inclusive growth and keeps money in our city
    That sounds good. It’d be great if it applied to IT as well; lots of us here in town.

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