Birmingham Labour’s chickens come home to roost

I’ve written a series of pieces over the last few weeks detailing numerous irregularities in selection meetings across the city for the 2018 local elections.

Matters came to a head on Wednesday the 19th September, just before Labour Party Conference, when several members of the party’s National Executive Committee personally intervened, following what I have been told were over 50 complaints (at least two of which involved demonstrable dishonesty), to seek the suspension of all selection meetings across the city pending a review of the process and to allow outstanding panel applications and appeals to be addressed.

(I’m given to understand that much of the concern centres around the Harborne and Handsworth selection meetings – readers will be aware that I have covered the rollercoaster ride in Harborne ward in some detail.)

Furthermore, the planned Birmingham Board AGM and ordinary meeting on Friday September the 22nd was called off.

The AGM itself was called off also at the insistence of the NEC, although it is still unclear whether they instructed the whole meeting be cancelled entirely. Having such an important meeting of the Board when so many members were likely to be away for Conference was wholly inappropriate in any case.

The AGM, which hasn’t been held for years (despite the clue being in the name regarding frequency), was called at 6 days notice despite the rules making it clear that 28 were required for such an important event in the Birmingham Labour calendar.

There were also several attempted changes to the composition of the Board that have come to light in the week leading up to the meeting, which were, shall we say, interesting, and appear designed to ensure certain outcomes in certain votes (and will warrant further investigation by someone with the time…..) The most important of these was thankfully blocked.

And of course, all of this is set against the backdrop of the continued turmoil in the Labour-controlled city council, with the Group leadership election last week (that ordinary Birmingham party members had no say in at all, depressingly, despite clearly being the best judge of these things).

So all in all it wasn’t a terrific few days for the Labour Party hierarchy across our fair city and region.

In this context the seriousness of the National Executive Committee’s intervention cannot be exaggerated. For the NEC to get involved and suspend the selection process in the largest metropolitan council in the country, and just before Conference, represents an absolutely devastating vote of no confidence in the functioning of the local party apparatus.

I am told that several very senior individuals locally were in an absolute state of panic following the move – one feels that after a couple of decades of being allowed to act with complete impunity they suddenly realise that the repeated stitch-ups, irregularities and manoeuvrings are catching up with them. Not before time.

For many party members locally the NEC’s move is a welcome one and the vindication of a longstanding and at times demoralising campaign to democratize the city and regional parties. It is no more than a start, but nevertheless hugely significant.

It is clear to any objective observer of Birmingham Labour party politics that there is a serious problem, that the sheer scale and diversity of the irregularities across the city in the last couple of months suggests it is a huge, systemic problem, and given the sovereign power of the NEC within the party’s structures it probably required NEC intervention to try and address that systemic problem.

All that said, the decision does itself potentially pose a few problems. There has been some commentary on social media suggesting that the timing is disastrous and it could really hurt the party locally in May 2018, with candidates potentially not being in position for some time. There have been numerous delays already and selections were meant to begin a year ago.

I would argue however that doing nothing, and allowing this farce to proceed, would have been far more damaging. An attempt to clean this up was always going to be messy, whenever it began (and in many areas of the country selection meetings have barely started anyway).

The reality is that the West Midlands and Birmingham Labour Parties are rotten from top to bottom. There is no democracy and members have virtually no say. The Birmingham Board, on paper the ‘Local Campaign Forum’ which according to the rules is supposed to control candidate selection, in reality simply rubber-stamps decisions made by paid (or formerly paid) officials and senior MPs elsewhere.

Board meetings are months apart and no reports are provided to members unless huge pressure is applied. Minutes are impossible to get hold of and those that are produced are ludicrously brief.

For example, at the Board meeting that was due to be held on the 22nd, the minutes were to be handed out at the meeting and not circulated by email beforehand!

Many local members are still entirely unaware of the Board’s existence and in the last year the composition mysteriously has shifted before meetings where crucial votes may have been lost by the Regional Office.

That until recently four (now three with the lifting in Hall Green) of the ten Birmingham CLPs are in ‘Special Measures’, some for over 20 years and with seemingly no plan in the remaining three to lift them out, was and is used to justify the most Kafkaesque regime imaginable in the whole city.

The lack of democracy has real-world effects. There is no way that a Birmingham Labour Party more responsive to members would have treated the refuse workers so disgracefully.

A more democratic, member-led party would not have produced such a meek response to savage Tory-imposed austerity.

And a West Midlands Regional Office with any life and vibrancy in it at all would not have run such a spectacularly inept, and at times repugnant, mayoral campaign (if I wanted to give out leaflets with the Cross of St. George on the front I’d have joined the National Front).

Because of this we have a Tory regional mayor in a region that should comfortably have returned the Labour candidate. A more democratic regional party would have actually provided us with a choice of candidates and allow most members to participate in that selection – thus providing us with a final candidate who we could actually get behind rather than ending up campaigning, half-heartedly, for a candidate most of us (whether on the right or left) didn’t want, in an election the people of the region didn’t want in the first place.

The hollowed-out West Midlands party structures are what you are left with after decades of only sporadically interrupted and disrupted Labour First and right-wing control. The effects have been a disaster and unless and until things are cleaned up we will face repeat after repeat of the Sion Simon campaign.

Returning to Birmingham, Momentum members and sympathisers in the North and South of the city, along with members of all wings who just want a democratic, vibrant party, voted and campaigned for a more just and democratic freeze date for members to participate in selection meetings. Members were expected to have joined over two years ago to participate in meetings this year. The “freeze date” was set literally at the month when all the new members started joining to support the first Corbyn leadership campaign – July 2015. It was so blatant it was almost embarrassing.

The national rule is 6 months.

All the protests and resolutions were ignored; when it finally came to the Board for consideration (which in itself took Herculean efforts I understand) it was voted down by what I have also been told was an unconstitutional secret ballot.

It took a personal intervention by Jeremy Corbyn at an NEC sub-committee meeting to shift the freeze date to about a year. Far from perfect, but the fact that the party leader felt it necessary to intervene himself to protect members’ rights, over the head of the local party leadership, showed that something was seriously awry, and that the intelligent individuals in the West Midlands Regional Office would surely know that they were now on notice.

The recent developments would suggest that if there was a debate in the WMRO, however, it was won by the “carry on stitching-everything-up and bludgeoning through regardless” brigade.

The attempt to ram the AGM on the 22nd through at such short notice, the tin ears around the freeze date and the unending, clumsy, cack-handed attempts to manipulate the 2018 selections suggests a local party bureaucracy used to doing what it wants with impunity and incapable of reflecting on the mood shift in the party across the region and the country.

Members with any involvement in trying to assert and extend party democracy locally, in however small a way, will know the stock response they have always received from the machine: sullen, ignorant, po-faced, dishonest, indifferent and unbending intransigence every step of the way. No room for compromise. No meeting anyone half way or ever giving any ground on anything. Every setback, however minor, for the WMRO met with another attempt to force through what they wanted by another, invariably even less democratic route. Witness all the selection meetings held in August after they “lost” the freeze date battle.

The selection process in Birmingham has become the site of a civil war that the West Midlands Regional Office started. This mess is owned by them.

MW

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Monyhull and Druids Heath selection 

The attempts to manipulate the selection process in Birmingham for the 2018 local elections show no sign of abating.

Earlier in the year a plan was agreed by the Birmingham Board, in consultation with the NEC, for a significant number of wards and seats to have All Women Shortlists (AWS) in order to boost the number of women candidates and councillors, and to concurrently accelerate the outstanding and new applications of women members for the panel.

There have been persistent rumours of certain prominent (and always right-wing) individuals in the local party wanting to water the commitment for gender balance down in order to get their preferred candidates selected, and it is clear that the commitment to accelerate the applications of women applicants has not been kept. At the time of writing I’m aware of at least 5 women awaiting a decision, only one of whom has even been interviewed.

And in recent days a further development. A quick scan on the newly updated election section of the Birmingham Labour Party website reveals this juicy tidbit:

 


This seemingly innocuous piece of information marks an interesting and very significant shift. Druids Heath was up until very recently an AWS.

So why the change? Rumour has it that the West Midlands Regional Office (who have been coming up in these articles a fair bit haven’t they………) have decided to remove the AWS for a certain male individual’s benefit.

And on what authority did the change get made? The rules of the Birmingham Board state that the power over selections sits with the Birmingham Board, a body that hasn’t met since July and whose latest meeting, which was meant to be on the 8th September, was not for the first time, postponed until the 22nd. Who is calling the shots in between the rarer-than-hen’s-teeth Board meetings?

One wonders if the NEC will be happy with everything that is going on under their noses in the city……….

 

MW

The curious case of the postponed selection meetings

The difficulty with reporting on the selection process in Birmingham Labour for the 2018 local elections is that in different areas democracy is being sidestepped in different ways.

  • So, in some wards meetings are forced through in August.
  • In some wards candidates are “accidentally” not informed about the meeting.
  • Certain applicants with empty activity diaries find it oddly easy to get approved for the panel.
  • Other applicants with far fuller activity diaries find it nigh on impossible to get a response to an email, let alone an interview for the panel.

We now have a new technique to add to the list – postpone the meeting.

The Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook selection meetings were due to be held on the 4th and 5th September but I’ve heard from several reliable sources that these meetings have been called off (with no new date agreed so far) at the insistence of the West Midlands Regional Office, who had in turn been urged to act by one of the candidates, currently a sitting councillor, who was not available on those dates. Those more familiar with the local minutiae can probably work out who that candidate is but suffice it to say they are known for having a bit of a volcanic temper.

There is something deeply problematic about a selection meeting being called off because one of the candidates decides they can’t make a given date outside of the traditional Summer holiday period, particularly when that candidate is a sitting councillor. It smacks of an abuse of incumbency.

There is also the small matter of the setting of a selection meeting being the decision of a CLP, not the Regional Office. Hall Green CLP, many of you may know, has recently come out of ‘Special Measures’ which means that it should, in theory, be able to make its own decisions about its own business.

But it would appear that certain individuals want to carry as if the lifting of ‘Special Measures’ never happened and the venerable tradition of Regional Office manipulation of selections in the area continues apace (both wards are considered rock solid Labour, you won’t be surprised to hear).

I’ve argued on these pages previously for delaying some of the selection meetings. But in Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook there is a real danger that if the delays continue then the candidates will be imposed – with the impositions being of individuals that would not have a prayer in an open, democratic selection meeting.

This is the fourth piece I’ve written in less than 3 weeks about these issues – I have a nasty feeling that there will be a lot more to come over the next few weeks. There is a serious problem becoming apparent and it is city-wide.

 

MW

#Meghanigate part 3 – this *is* the fault of the CLP.

The Harborne Labour 2018 selection farrago has being continuing apace – there have been more plot twists in a couple of weeks than there have been in 7 seasons of Game of Thrones.

There is to be a re-run of the selection that saw the ahem, controversial  candidate Sundip Meghani selected at a barely-quorate meeting held, bizarrely, in August.

After the decision to re-run, the Edgbaston CLP chair sent out the following email to Harborne party members:

Dear

I am writing to inform you that, after discussion with Harborne Branch Officers and Regional Office, we will be rerunning the Harborne Ward Council Candidate selection.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been in constant discussion with Regional Office to understand whether there were any procedural problems with the selection. It is clear that one candidate, who expressed an interested in the selection meeting, was not told of the date and location of the meeting by regional office and therefore was not able to attend. This candidate has now requested that the selection be repeated. Under these circumstances it is only right to rerun this selection.

I must stress that this was not a mistake made by CLP or Branch Officers; however we are in a position where we need to take the lead in putting it right.

I should also note that this is in no way a reflection on the candidates, successful or unsuccessful, who originally stood; it is solely a case of making sure that a procedural error is corrected.

You will be notified in due course of the date and time of the selection by post. It will be the open selection which is rerun. The All Women Shortlist selection had no irregularities, with Jayne Francis being selected unopposed – this result stands.

Apologies to those members who came to the last selection meeting. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

If you would like to speak to me about this please call on ***********

Yours sincerely

T**

 

More intriguingly, they also sent the following email to CLP officers:

 

“Dear Exec members,

Please see the text below of an email which is being sent to Harborne Members this evening.

I am not going to get into apportioning blame publicly, but as you can imagine this is hugely frustrating for Harborne Branch and not at all of their making. I will stress again that this is not the fault of any CLP or Ward officer. Regional Office have been very apologetic and will be paying for the full cost of the re-selection, the sending out of notifications and any incurred costs.

I am sorry that I have not been able to speak to many of you in person about this – however it has been discussed with all branch officers, selected candidates and the regional and deputy-regional director. I know that all exec members will treat this situation with the discretion it requires. If you have any questions please call me.

Thanks

T**”

 

It is little wonder the CLP chair doesn’t want to “apportion blame publicly” as it would involve admitting that this chain of events was largely of their own making.

1. The CLP chair was the one who chaired the selection meeting despite two (not one) of the candidates being both not present and not informed of the meeting – did any of the CLP or ward officers make any attempt at all to find out why they weren’t in attendance? I am told by those present that they did not.

2. Did the CLP chair ever see an expression of interest email from Sundip Meghani, as per the rules? No proof of the existence of the email has surfaced. And in the absence of this crucial email, did the CLP chair not think to query the legitimacy of the process that they were being asked to oversee?

3. I understand from various sources that the CLP chair pushed for the meeting to take place in August with members only having a few days notice of the meeting – increasing the likelihood of a “mistake” such as this.

4. If the CLP chair knew weeks ago that there were issues with the candidacy why did they sanction the printing and distribution of a full-colour campaigning leaflet for Sundip Meghani that has already been distributed widely? What if Meghani loses the next selection meeting?

5. Or is the CLP chair simply being somewhat economical with the truth and by rushing a leaflet out (again, in August, with the election 9 months away……) hoped to present Meghani’s candidacy as a fait accompli and head off any possibility of the legitimacy of the meeting being questioned afterwards?

6. Why did the official Harborne Labour Party Twitter account continue to retweet Sundip Meghani, including on the day that the re-run announcement was made and the officers must have known he was no longer the elected candidate – thus endorsing someone not yet selected?

7. I am also given to understand that it was Regional Office who ordered a re-run of the meeting – so it simply isn’t true to say that the CLP were the ones to “take the lead in putting it right”. Left up to them it is pretty clear that nothing would have happened and the result would have been allowed to stand. The rush to get the leaflet out is pretty conclusive proof in that regard. Repeated questions from ward and exec members on these issues have been completely stonewalled by the CLP chair and other officers for weeks, I understand.

There are a couple of other issues that this shambles throws up:

1. The selection meeting was chaired by the CLP chair as I am told that the meeting was informed that the ward chair was unavailable. Surely in those situations it would fall to the ward vice-chair to chair the meeting (who I understand was present)? If not then what is the point of having a ward vice-chair and did the CLP chair not think it inappropriate to chair the meeting when they are:

2. Part of the selection process in that constituency themselves? The CLP chair is of course also seeking to be a councillor. It does appear that there is something of a conflict of interest, given that Meghani appears to have been the regional office imposed candidate.

3. I do also wonder how the regional office will view the CLP chair not “apportioning blame publicly” but then going on to blame the regional office for this. Disloyal much?

This story has drawn the attention of the local press. I’m also given to understand that it has also come to the attention of senior members of the NEC. The reputation of one of our South Birmingham CLPs, Edgbaston, has been dragged through the mud and it was all totally unnecessary – all that needed to happen was to have the meeting in September when members were back from their holidays, give them plenty of notice it was happening, inform the candidates in good time and stick to the rules.

Why was that so difficult?

 

MW 

MSB newsletter 10/07/17

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Welcome to the latest Momentum South Birmingham newsletter – your unmissable weekly digest of all the interesting things going on politically in our area and beyond.

Many of you may have seen the various articles and rumours floating around on social media about the “freeze date” for shortlisting and selection in the 2018 Birmingham City Council elections. This article in particular has been widely circulated.

MSB will not be commenting officially until we know exactly what has been agreed – we have heard so many different dates and versions of events that it would be unwise to do anything that would add to the confusion. There is a Birmingham Board meeting this Friday, the 14th, and we hope that they attempt nothing that in any way subverts any decisions of the NEC, our party’s sovereign decision-making body. The Birmingham Board is there to represent and act on behalf of the members of Birmingham’s ten CLPs – not do as it pleases.    

 

Hall Green CLP out of “special measures”!

Labour Party democracy watchers will know that four of Birmingham’s ten CLPs (Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood and Perry Barr) have been in ‘special measures’ for 20+ years. This means in practise that joining the party in any of these four is incredibly difficult and those CLPs have not been able to function properly and in some cases have withered badly. In one of a series of positive developments concerning local party democracy recently (more in future newsletters……..) Hall Green has finally been removed from SM – members of the CLP deserve enormous credit for their tenacious campaign to get them lifted and hopefully the other three will follow suit shortly. Below is an excerpt from a Hall Green Constituency Labour Party statement on the issue. Many congratulations to the CLP, which we hope will now go from strength to strength now the SM straitjacket has been remove.

“After 24 years, what is known today as ‘Special membership measures’ has been lifted on Hall Green CLP. We are now the only CLP out of 4 in Birmingham to have Special membership measures lifted. This has been through years hard work of our officers and members. We had finally made a case where we are able to show our CLP has progressed and is able to self-govern.

What does this mean?

New members will be able to join without the months of waiting and extra documentation. We will govern with the rules set in the rule book, without extra measures upon us. Our CLP will be treated the same as most CLPs in the country with members at the heart of decision making.”

There’s also an item about the issue in the latest Hall Green CLP newsletter that you can read here.

 

Abbey Branch Labour Party presents

Attila the Stockbroker, 13th July

Just over the Birmingham border in Bearwood, Abbey Ward Labour Party have organised a social with Attila the Stockbroker performing this Thursday, the 13th July – doors open at 7:30pm. More details here. 

Coffee for Corbyn, 22nd July

We are hosting a coffee morning on Saturday 10:30 at Cosy Coffee Northfield High Street. All welcome apart from people who live in Edgbaston constituency – it’s your CLP AGM that morning and you need to be there! Full details here.

Sisters Uncut Birmingham meeting: 22nd July

Sisters Uncut are having their first open meeting on Saturday 22nd July at 14:00 on the ground floor at Rhubarb, 25 Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AE. You’ve probably heard of them but for the uninitiated they are an intersectional feminist group taking direct action for domestic violence services – they have been involved in some pretty inspiring initiatives in London. Attached to the newsletter is a flyer.

MSB Book Club:

George Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’, August 1st

Our inaugural book club meeting is on the 1st August! It’ll be at 7pm at Loco Lounge on Kings Heath High Street. Members will be discussing Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’. If you want to join in or need any information email chezhedges@hotmail.com.

Save the date – MSB Summer Party on the 4th August!

Just a date for your diaries – our Summer Party will be on Friday the 4th August -the downstairs room at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath from 7pm. It’s a free event. With a raffle! More publicity to follow!

Birmingham Momentum Women’s Group –

Future meetings (next one 14th August)

Women Momentum members across Birmingham are now meeting regularly to discuss women’s position in the Labour Party and how to gain gender equality. It’s a safe space for Momentum and Labour women to come together to support each other, explore issues and plan campaigns.

The next meetings are:

  • Monday 14th August, at Loco Lounge (32/34 High Street Kings Heath, B14 7JT) at 7:30pm.
  • Monday 11th September – City centre location, TBC

 

Save the date – MSB Quiz Night 1st September!

We’ll be having another quiz night on 1st September- Details to be confirmed!
Northfield constituency dates for your diary

  • Northfield CLP Momentum sub-group meeting: Wednesday, 12th July, 7:30pm, Black Horse Pub on the Bristol Road – upstairs conference room.
  • Longbridge Labour branch meeting – Wed 12th July, 7pm at the Hollymoor Centre, Manor Park Grove, B31 5ER
  • Weoley Labour branch meeting – Wed 12th July, 7pm at Weoley Hill United Reformed Church, Green Meadow Road, B29 4DE
  • Northfield Labour branch meeting – Mon 17th July, 7pm at Hampstead House, Condover Road, B31 3QY.

 

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary

  • Quinton ward AGM, Wednesday 19th July, 7pm, Quinborne Centre, Ridgacre Road: Quinton ward officers to be elected and possibly councillor selection meenting.
  • Edgbaston CLP AGM Saturday 22nd July – 10am, St Faith and St Lawrence Church Hall, 115 Balden Road, Birmingham B32 2EL. CLP-wide officers and officers for Bartley Green, Edgbaston and Harborne will be elected and very likely the 2018 councillor selection will be conducted too.

 

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary

  • July 13th Moseley and Kings Heath ward meeting: With the election campaign over, normal meetings resume and they will be having their regular meeting on Thursday 13th July at the Moseley Exchange.
  • Hall Green CLP are having an all members meeting on Friday 14th July, 6-8pm at Community Room B, Sparkbrook Community & Health Centre, 34 Grantham Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, B11 1LU.

 

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary

  • Billesley ward door-knocking, every Monday. The newly-constituted ward is seen as one of the toughest for Labour in Selly Oak and therefore every Monday members will be out talking to local residents. 6pm – the carpark on the junction of School Road and Highters Heath Lane – opposite McDonald’s.

 

Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Women in Momentum’s three Birmingham branches are now meeting regularly and the dates of their next two meetings are further down this newsletter. They have also produced an excellent article on improving the gender balance on Birmingham City Council. There have been some worrying rumours about attempts being made to water it down in some of the new wards – the way that we can challenge this is oppose any dilution in our Labour Parties but also for women to stand as councillors. The piece can be read here – please share far and wide.

 

New to the Labour Party?

Many of us are fairly new to the Labour Party and it can be quite an intimidating environment with labyrinthine rules and procedures that are at times baffling – with all the different abbreviations and structures it can be like learning a new language! Momentum Sheffield (who look almost as amazing as MSB…..) have produced a very helpful guide for newcomers that explains the structures, rules, terms and puts things in day-to-day language. It’s worth a read even if you are an experienced old hand! A link to the document is here.

  

Defend our children’s centres!

26 children’s centres are at risk of closure across the city. While Birmingham City Council is an almost impossible position due to the cuts it is being forced to make by the Tory government, these centres provide early education and day care for children from 6 months to 5 years and are a vital service for families. Numerous consultation meetings are taking place across the city (list is here, a copy also attached with this newsletter), there is an online consultation form to complete and there is more useful information here.

 

KONP Birmingham

KONPB do a huge amount of brilliant work but are always in need of more help. For those who are interested in supporting and/or joining KONP and contributing to campaigns their contact details are btuchcc@hotmail.com.

Meetings are 1st Wednesday of every month (except August), so people can drop in any time at The Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN.

Currently KONPB have campaigns on the STPs in Brum/Solihull and Black Country. the Midland Metropolitan Hospital (PFI/2) and they are looking to do some more work on the mental health arrangements for young people 0-25 years in Birmingham – currently ‘red risk’.

Please get involved in, and support, KONPB in any way you can.

 

South Birmingham Momentum T-Shirts

Not before time in our view, wear it with pride: MSB t-shirts are going to be ordered: £10 for members and £12 for none-members (another compelling reason to join Momentum!) red with Birmingham Momentum on it and a big picture of Jeremy! If you would like one email nicky151289@gmail.com, they are available in medium, large or extra-large.

 

Burton Unite members in dispute with Argos –

let’s support them!

While of course the eyes of Momentum South Birmingham were mostly fixed on the general election and ensuring our city’s constituencies returned Labour MPs, we should not forget that there are industrial disputes going on that can and should be supported. One of those is just down the road in Burton where Argos workers organised by the Unite union are on strike.

There is much more information here: please offer any help you can at this very busy time for all of us.  We are also aiming to bring you more information about the refuse workers strike in Birmingham in future editions and on social media – keep your eyes peeled.

 

Fundraising survey

Our fundraising co-ordinator, Nicky, has drawn up a quick survey for members and supporters to fill in to canvass our views on what we want. If you have a spare couple of minutes please fill it in here.

 

‘Regional’ Momentum co-ordination

Cecile Wright, one of our elected NGC reps for the large ‘region’ that Birmingham and the West Midlands sits in, would like to keep in touch about how she can best open communication with us to better represent us on the Momentum Council. She wants people to feel free to get in touch with her and her email is c.wright230@ntlworld.com. As things develop further post-conference we’ll keep you informed.

 

School cuts

The NUT have set up a school cuts website providing information on what is going on and the likely effects. You can email your MP through the website, it only takes a minute. Please click here. Since the New Year a number of parents groups have sprung up across the country to fight for more funding for our schools. It is an important development that parents have started to organise because Governments cross parents at their peril. Please visit their website.

 

MSB social media classes and blog pitches

Nicky Brennan, one of our social media managers, has started running classes if you are uninitiated in Facebook and Twitter etc. and want to learn more about how to make best use of them – they are crucial part of modern political campaigning and you are never too old to learn something new! If you’re interested get in touch with Nicky: nicky151289@gmail.com

We are also looking to get more original content on our blog – it is a somewhat underused resource for discussing ideas and giving our members a platform to write about the issues of concern to them. Drop Nicky a line if you have any ideas – particularly if they are about local issues and our campaigning – or things you think we should be doing more on and want to draw attention to.

 

Ward and CLP meetings

If you want the group to publicise upcoming local Labour Party activities and branch and CLP meetings to encourage attendance, please let us know either by emailing me direct or the group account below; our wonderful social media managers Kate, Lucy, Nicky and Sam will do the rest!

https://www.facebook.com/momentumbirminghamsouth/ 

https://momentumsbham.wordpress.com/ 

https://twitter.com/@MomentumSBham/ 

MomentumbhamSouth@hotmail.com 

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/momentum-south-birmingham 

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/wall-of-fame 

To join Momentum: https://join.peoplesmomentum.com/

 

Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Birmingham Momentum women’s group has launched a campaign to get more Labour women onto Birmingham City Council.

Only 40% of Labour councillors in Birmingham are women – 32 out of the 80 seats Labour currently holds. That’s way below Labour’s national target of a minimum of 50% female representation amongst Labour councillors in every local authority in the country.

The ward boundary changes and all-out local government elections in 2018 are unlikely to see any improvement. Based on the 2016 council election results, the number of Labour-held seats is likely to drop from 80 to approximately 68. So hitting the 50% target would require 34 women to become Labour councillors.

At the moment there are 30 women councillors on the Local Government Panel (the list of people whose nominations have been approved). But of the 35 non councillors on the panel only four are women! So to achieve the target of 50% in 2018, 34 women would need to be shortlisted, selected and elected i.e. all of the 30 women councillors currently nominating and all four of the new nominees. That’s rather unrealistic given some wards are becoming two-seat wards, and that not all panel members want to represent any area in the city.

We’re encouraging women to apply for the Local Government Panel for 2018. To be shortlisted as a candidate you need to be on the panel – it’s as simple as that.
At the time of writing we are unsure when councillor selections will start – probably from early July. Panel applications will still be considered and may be approved even after the selection process has begun.

We know it’s a big step so Birmingham Women’s Momentum will be supporting women who apply, by sharing information and our experience as we go through the process.
We are also looking at what training is available for applicants, and other platforms that provide development opportunities. Watch this space in late summer/early Autumn.

Finally, being on the panel doesn’t mean you have to accept a nomination to stand for selection in any particular ward – just that by being on the panel you would be considered.

Application forms are available by logging in at: http://www.birmingham-labour.com/splash?splash=1 and clicking on ‘City Council Election 2018’.

If you have any queries or just want to chat contact momentumbhamsouth@hotmail.com and we’ll point you in the direction of your local Momentum contact on the issue!

MSB Newsletter 26/06/2017

cropped-cropped-momentum-cover-photo-61.jpgWelcome to the latest Momentum South Birmingham newsletter – your unmissable weekly digest of all the interesting things going on politically in our area and beyond.

I’ll keep the preamble fairly to a minimum this week as there is a lot of stuff to read through. There are a couple of useful articles about the situation with Birmingham councillors (always another election to think about!) and a very interesting all-Birmingham Momentum gathering planned next Sunday with the fantastic Chris Williamson MP as our guest speaker! It promises to be a really interesting discussion and we are focussing on giving our members and supporters time to debate the big issues and listen to the views of one of the best MPs Labour has.  

For all of you Birmingham Labour Party democracy watchers this statement from the officers of MSB may be of interest regarding recent shenanigans on the Birmingham Board. Clearly some people have learnt nothing from the general election, sadly…… Feel free to circulate to anyone who you think might be interested.

Anyway, enjoy this week’s edition – there is plenty going on so you won’t be bored…….

James

 

Chris Williamson in Birmingham next Sunday!

On Sunday 2nd July Momentum activists in Birmingham are coming together to discuss the positive election results and what we need to do to ensure that a Corbyn-led Labour Party is elected next time out, which could be very soon!

We’ll be meeting at the The Lamp Tavern 157 Barford St, Birmingham B5 6AH at 2:30pm and will be joined by the fantastic Chris Williamson, newly re-elected MP for Derby North, who will be leading off a discussion of how we continue the great work we’ve started.

Please join us if you’re a member of Momentum or a Labour member or supporter who supports our leader. The usual rule applies, if you’re a member of another political party you won’t be able to attend – sorry!

Birmingham needs more women councillors!

Women in Momentum’s three Birmingham branches are now meeting regularly and the dates of their next two meetings are further down this newsletter. They have also produced an excellent article on improving the gender balance on Birmingham City Council. There have been some worrying rumours about attempts being made to water it down in some of the new wards – the way that we can challenge this is oppose any dilution in our Labour Parties but also for women to stand as councillors. The piece can be read here – please share far and wide.

Birmingham Humanists Meeting, Tuesday 27th June

Birmingham Humanists have organised a discussion meeting on Tuesday, 27 June – Jeremy Rodell speaking: ‘The changing landscape of religion and belief in the UK: a Humanist response’, 7.30–9.30pm @ Moseley Exchange, 149–153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP. Here is a flyer and their upcoming programme of events:Birmingham Humanists DiaryJun2017

Birmingham Against The Cuts meeting, Wednesday 28th June: ‘Come Together To Campaign Against The Cuts in Birmingham’

BATC are bringing together 4 campaigns opposing austerity and privatization on the 28th for an evening of speakers and debate. 7pm at the Council House. Speakers include John Lister from Health Campaigns Together. Here is (another) flyer – just think of all the paper we are saving! BATC flyer-page-001

Moseley Festival: 1st July

This weekend is going to be a busy one. There is supposed to be a national Labour day of action around the theme of austerity – if we hear of any activities we will let you know on social media. If not please join us at the Moseley Festival – there’ll be loads to do including coming along to our stall; where you will be able to buy one of our fantastic new bespoke Momentum Birmingham T-Shirts! Also, if you fancy volunteering to staff our table please let us know – any help would be much appreciated!

The Great Get Together – until the 2nd July

Here is a programme of events promoted by our friends at Hope not Hate as part of the “The Great Get Together” – a collaborative project involving organisations in Birmingham, the Black Country and Dudley. GGT-2017-06-03-EVENTS

MSB stalls committee meeting: 3rd July, 10am

Our stalls co-ordinator Chris has organised the next meeting of the stalls committee on Monday the 3rd July, 10am, at Loco Lounge, Kings Heath High Street. Chris is always on the lookout for people to join the committee. Stalls and campaigning have been crucial to the development of the group. You might even get your picture taken with John McDonnell! Email Chriskuriata@live.co.uk for more info.

KONP Birmingham meeting, 5th July

KONPB do a huge amount of brilliant work but are always in need of more help. For those who are interested in supporting and/or joining KONP and contributing to campaigns their contact details are btuchcc@hotmail.com.

Meetings are 1st Wednesday of every month (except August), so people can drop in any time at The Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN. The next meeting is this Wednesday, the 5th July, at 19:30pm. Currently KONPB have campaigns on the STPs in Brum/Solihull and Black Country. the Midland Metropolitan Hospital (PFI/2) and they are looking to do some more work on the mental health arrangements for young people 0-25 years in Birmingham – currently ‘red risk’.

Please get involved in and support KONPB in any way you can.

Save the date – MSB Summer Party on the 4th August!

Just a date for your diaries – our Summer Party will be on Friday the 4th August. You’ll have all weekend to recover if it’s a large one 😊. More details to follow soon!

Birmingham Momentum Women’s Group –

Future meetings (next one 14th August)

Women Momentum members across Birmingham are now meeting regularly to discuss women’s position in the Labour Party and how to gain gender equality. It’s a safe space for Momentum and Labour women to come together to support each other, explore issues and plan campaigns.

The next meetings are:

  • Monday 14th August, at Loco Lounge (32/34 High Street Kings Heath, B14 7JT) at 7:30pm.
  • Monday 11th September – City centre location, TBC

Northfield constituency dates for your diary

  • King’s Norton ward meeting will take place on Weds 28th June at 7.30pm at the Queen’s Room, St Nicholas Place, The Green, King’s Norton
  • Northfield CLP election celebration party will take place on Friday 30 June at 7.00pm at the Shenley Lane Community and Sports Centre, 472 Shenley Lane, Birmingham B29 4JD. There is a bar in the centre. All Momentum supporters who helped out in Richard Burden’s re-election campaign are invited to attend.

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary

  • Edgbaston CLP AGM 22nd July – more details to follow!

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary

  • Moseley Festival: Saturday 1st July, details above.
  • July 13th Moseley and Kings Heath ward meeting: With the election campaign over, normal meetings resume and they will be having their regular meeting on Thursday 13th July at the Moseley Exchange.

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary

  • Nothing this week unfortunately but we’ll let you know if we hear anything for future editions.

New to the Labour Party?

Many of us are fairly new to the Labour Party and it can be quite an intimidating environment with labyrinthine rules and procedures that are at times baffling – with all the different abbreviations and structures it can be like learning a new language! Momentum Sheffield (who look almost as amazing as MSB…..) have produced a very helpful guide for newcomers that explains the structures, rules, terms and puts things in day-to-day language. It’s worth a read even if you are an experienced old hand! A link to the document is here.

 

Burton Unite members in dispute with Argos –

let’s support them!

While of course the eyes of Momentum South Birmingham were mostly fixed on the general election and ensuring our city’s constituencies returned Labour MPs, we should not forget that there are industrial disputes going on that can and should be supported. One of those is just down the road in Burton where Argos workers organised by the Unite union are on strike.

There is much more information here: please offer any help you can at this very busy time for all of us.  We are also aiming to bring you more information about the refuse workers strike in Birmingham in future editions and on social media – keep your eyes peeled.

 

Fundraising survey

Our fundraising co-ordinator, Nicky, has drawn up a quick survey for members and supporters to fill in to canvass our views on what we want. If you have a spare couple of minutes please fill it in here.

MSB statement on the July 2015 ‘freeze date’ decision

The Birmingham Board of the Labour Party, in their infinite wisdom, decided to retain the July 2015 freeze date for members to participate in the selection of candidates for the 2018 local election elections. We have published a statement that you can read here and rest assured it will not be the end of the matter. Momentum seeks to get Labour members elected to public office. Labour will only succeed in doing that if it engages with its new members and gives them a say. The decision is a monumental act of folly.

‘Regional’ Momentum co-ordination

Cecile Wright, one of our elected NGC reps for the large ‘region’ that Birmingham and the West Midlands sits in, would like to keep in touch about how she can best open communication with us to better represent us on the Momentum Council. She wants people to feel free to get in touch with her and her email is c.wright230@ntlworld.com. As things develop further post-conference we’ll keep you informed.

School cuts

The NUT have set up a school cuts website providing information on what is going on and the likely effects. You can email your MP through the website, it only takes a minute. Please click here. Since the New Year a number of parents groups have sprung up across the country to fight for more funding for our schools. It is an important development that parents have started to organise because Governments cross parents at their peril. Please visit their website.

South Birmingham Momentum T-Shirts

Not before time in our view, wear it with pride: MSB t-shirts are going to be ordered: £10 red with South Birmingham Momentum on it. If you would like one email

nicky151289@gmail.com

 

MSB social media classes and blog pitches

Nicky Brennan, one of our social media managers, has started running classes if you are uninitiated in Facebook and Twitter etc. and want to learn more about how to make best use of them – they are crucial part of modern political campaigning and you are never too old to learn something new! If you’re interested get in touch with Nicky: nicky151289@gmail.com

We are also looking to get more original content on our blog – it is a somewhat underused resource for discussing ideas and giving our members a platform to write about the issues of concern to them. Drop Nicky a line if you have any ideas – particularly if they are about local issues and our campaigning – or things you think we should be doing more on and want to draw attention to.

Ward and CLP meetings

If you want the group to publicise upcoming local Labour Party activities and branch and CLP meetings to encourage attendance, please let us know either by emailing me direct or the group account below; our wonderful social media managers Kate, Lucy, Nicky and Sam will do the rest!

https://www.facebook.com/momentumbirminghamsouth/

https://momentumsbham.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/@MomentumSBham/

MomentumbhamSouth@hotmail.com

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/momentum-south-birmingham

http://www.leftwardtendency.co.uk/wall-of-fame