It’s fair to say that MSB are not always entirely uncritical of our local council. I often wish they would do more to challenge the austerity narrative relentlessly, especially as we now have all these new Party members, but sadly I do not believe enough of those local members are thinking along those lines at the moment. We are where we are and I and others in MSB will continue to argue for a radical and democratic Labour Party, both nationally and locally.
The Labour group are implementing huge cuts (£78 million this year and nearly £600 million since 2010/2011) because of massive Tory government cuts to local government funding and there will continue to be big reductions over the coming years. We should never lose sight of that. If services are being cut, it is the Tories who are chiefly responsible. What they are doing is immoral, ideological (they are clearly taking advantage of the financial crisis to try and wipe away any last trace of municipal socialism from our towns and cities) unnecessary and completely destructive of the services that so many residents rely upon and use in so many different ways.
On a personal level I am frightened for our local swimming pools. I use them most days and learnt to swim properly in them many years ago. The idea that they will be closed, and the opportunity I had to find a lifelong hobby that has brought me so much pleasure will be denied to generations who follow me, unless they can afford to pay extortionate private memberships and travel miles, fills me with dread.
So it was interesting, to put it mildly, that without a trace of irony the Harborne Tories (and there weren’t many of them) were giving the above leaflet about library services out at their stall on the High Street on Saturday. They decided to plonk their table right next to the Labour one.
Lord Whitby was in fine form, although I think the patter that may have been convincing a few years ago is wearing a little thin and he looked like he was trying too hard. Not impressive. Clearly they are giving out peerages like confetti these days.
Anyway, the leaflet is cheeky and disingenuous on two levels:
- The aforementioned Tory government cuts
- Harborne Library isn’t under threat of closure at the moment.
Reading through the leaflet the Tories don’t claim that it is, but the headline suggests otherwise. Kelvin MacKenzie would be very proud, Mike.
Clearly library services are bearing the brunt of local cuts and there is a big debate about how necessary the cuts are. Edgbaston libraries, for one reason or another, have largely been spared from that.
But this leaflet shows how dishonest (and feeble) our local Tory Party are. We need our Labour council as the alternative is horrendous.
Momentum South Birmingham might like that Labour council to be behaving a bit differently, but we need our Labour council.