Conservative Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn’s offensive comments prove the Nasty Party never went away

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(Re-posted from https://francisclarke.org/)

On Thursday evening, I attended the local elections hustings event for Bournville & Cotteridge Ward, arranged and hosted by the ever civic-minded The Cotteridge Church.

 

As a Labour activist, I came along to support our two excellent candidates, Councillor Liz Clements and Fred Grindrod, and to speak up for the socialist policies in Birmingham Labour’s manifesto, Building a better Birmingham. I did not, however, expect, to have to challenge the Conservative candidate, Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn, over his use of the offensive terms “tinker” and “coloured”, and to hear him framing the dramatic increase in demand for our local B30 Foodbank by quoting the Bible and describing ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ people in need.

 

Sadly, my first close-up encounter with Peter Douglas Obsborn brought home to be me the harsh reality that, despite their best efforts to soften their public image, the Conservatives are still the “Nasty Party” of British politics.

 

No shows from Tory Rob Sealey and the Greens

 

The hustings started off predictably enough, with each of the candidates introducing themselves and setting out their respective stalls. In addition to Labour candidates Councillor Liz Clements and Fred  Grindrod and the Tory Peter Douglas Osborn, we also got to hear from the Lib Dem candidate David Radcliffe as well as Clive Walder, an affable person representing the left-wing Trade Union & Socialist Alliance. Sadly, the two Green candidates standing in Bournville & Cotteridge gave their apologies. A seat and a name sign were left for another Conservative candidate, Rob Sealey, but unfortunately he never turned up (we were told he was flying back to Brum that evening so he may well have been held up along the way).

 

Peter Douglas Osborn: back from the USSR

 

In retrospect, I should have picked up from Peter Douglas Osborn’s opening remarks that things were going to take a turn for the worse.

 

Whereas Liz presented a clear case for how the Tories’ politically motivated programme of austerity, driven by their ideological obsession with shrinking the state, was directly responsible for the social and economic problems facing Bournville & Cotteridge, Peter Douglas Osborne’s opening statement was somewhat more, well, ‘idiosyncratic’.

 

Peter Douglas Osborn started off by on a somewhat rambling account of a trip he’d made to the USSR 40 or so years ago. On this trip, we were told, Peter learned about how Soviet authorities took a dim view on religion and churches playing a role in political life. He then remarked on how great it was that we live in a country with religious and political freedoms that mean a church can host elections hustings.

 

As someone who specialised in Russian history at university, I actually quite enjoyed Peter Douglas Osborn’s story but I must confess I struggled to see how it was relevant to a local election campaign and the very severe challenges facing our community and city. In fact, the closest he got to even talking about Bournville & Cotteridge was when he recalled his days playing rugby in our local playing fields many years ago. And even this choice of anecdote was somewhat ill-advised, given the fact that we’ve only recently lost our park keeper thanks to the Tory austerity cuts our Labour-run city council has had to implement.

Question Time

 

Our host, Reverend Mike Claridge, then proceeded to read out a series of questions members of the public had sent him on a range of topics, including the impact of spending cuts, how to improve congestion and parking in Cotteridge. For me, what was striking was the way that both the Lib Dem candidate, David Radcliffe, and the Tory Peter Douglas Osborn, both conveniently overlooked the direct role both their parties have played in creating the austerity agenda the Labour-led Birmingham City Council is being forced to implement. This reached its zenith when Peter spoke up in favour of more public transport for school children. Did he forget that under the Tories bus budgets have been slashed by 40% since 2010?

 

“The poor will always be with us”

 

So far, so relatively harmless. That was until Reverend Michael Claridge asked each candidate for their thoughts on what’s behind the dramatic increase in local people accessing the B30 Foodbank, which is based out of The Cotteridge Church  (demand is estimated to have roughly doubled between 2016 and 2017).

 

Whereas Liz presented a convincing case for how the Tories’ politically motivated programme of austerity and dismantling the welfare state, combined with the rise of zero-hours contracts, has driven local people to crisis point, Peter Douglas Osborn took an altogether less analytical approach.

 

Rather than give a straight answer, he opted to quote the Bible: “for you have the poor always with you”, effectively dismissing the huge rise in demand as something beyond anyone’s control, let alone anything our politicians should seek to tackle. He also heavily implied people were motivated by the prospect of being able to obtain free food, rather than because they were experiencing genuine hardship.

 

Unconcerned with what he’d said about foodbank users, Peter Douglas Osborn then proceeded to spend the rest of his allotted time talking about his strong commitment to helping the people in our community who he felt deserved help, notably people with mental health difficulties, whose welfare he actually seemed quite concerned about.

 

Fortunately, the other candidates and members of The Cotteridge Church didn’t let Peter Douglas Osborn’s ignorant opinions go unchallenged. When Fred challenged Peter for essentially saying that the rise in foodbank usage was down to ‘scroungers’, Peter said in response that “people didn’t want to hear the truth”.

I’m pleased to say Reverend Roger Collins, who runs the B30 Foodbank, was also on hand to calmly present the candidates and members of the public with the statistics they collect on their service users. These clearly showed how changes to benefits, including the recent roll-out of Universal Credit, together with precarious work, was driving demandThings take a turn for the offensive

 

After thinking things couldn’t get any worse, Peter Douglas Osborn somehow managed to plumb new depths. In response to a simple question about the recycling service in Birmingham (something the Labour, Lib Dems and Trade Union & Socialist Alliance all agreed we as a city need to get better at), he again chose to take us on a trip down memory lane, this time talking about how, in years gone by, the “tinkers” would pick up items people had left out for them.

 

As an Irish person, I take issue with the ethnic slur”tinker”, although I appreciate some people use it without realising its true meaning. Here’s the Wikipedia definition for the avoidance of doubt:

 

Wikipedia defintion of tinker

 

As a former local government equality officer, I am well aware of the sensitivities which exist around language. I am also conscious of the fact that people can often unknowingly use offensive language and so I feel it’s important to give people a second chance when they do. This is what really troubles me about what happened next.

 

A case of ‘political correctness gone mad’ or simply treating everyone with respect?

 

After each of the candidates had finished making their statements, I expressed my concern over the language Peter Douglas Osborn had just used, explaining that I felt it was completely unacceptable for anyone, let alone a public servant, to be using such offensive language in Birmingham in 2018. Peter seemed surprised and annoyed that I had challenged him but not apologetic.

 

In order to test his true intent, I followed up with a question, “would you use the term ‘coloured’?”. Shockingly, he said yes he would and proceeded to say the words “tinker” and “coloured” back to me and the room. Seeing the expressions of disbelief in my face and the faces of the other candidates, he continued to talk. Instead of apologising, he criticised me for caring so much, saying words to the effect of “you can get upset as much as you like”. He then followed this up by dismissing  wider social concerns over offensive language and political correctness as being a “manufactured” upset, echoing the ‘political correctness gone mad’ attitude which is sometimes expressed. 25 years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and with the Windrush scandal showing no signs of easing, I was disturbed by Peter Douglas Obsborn’s comments, especially given that he currently sits on the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, and so exercises influence over policing in our region.

 

Holding Peter Douglas Osborn and the Conservatives to account

 

After my encounter with Peter Douglas Osborn, I concentrated on simply getting through the remainder of the hustings without further incident. It was only afterwards, as I made my way home and told my wife about the evening, that I began to truly comprehend how unpleasantly the Conservative candidate for Bournville & Cotteridge had behaved.

 

If anything good has come out of my encounter with Peter Douglas Osborn, it’s that it has made more people realise what’s at stake when Birmingham goes to the polls this Thursday. The election here in Bournville & Cotteridge is not only a choice between Labour candidates  who will do everything they can to protect the most vulnerable in our community versus Conservative candiates who will happily go along with the austerity programme being orchestrated by the Tories in Westminster.

 

At a more basic level, it’s a choice between decent human beings (everyone on the panel bar PDO, it would seem) who believe we should look out for each other and someone who casually dismisses concerns over racial slurs and the very real hardship an ever increasing number of people in our local community are experiencing.

 

I’m pleased to report that the Labour candidates Councillor Liz Clements and candidate Fred Grindrod have written to the Conservative West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street and the leader of the Conservative Group on Birmingham City Council, Robert Alden, asking them to condemn the remarks made by Peter Douglas Osborn. I’m also heartened by the amount of support both Bournville & Cotteridge and I have received online and offline from people throughout Birmingham and beyond.

 

I hope the Conservatives will condemn and distance themselves from Peter Douglas Osborn’s unpleasant attitudes, otherwise I believe  this incident will only serve to conjure up memories of the Conservatives as the ‘Nasty Party’ of British politics.

 

I’ll aim to write an update post after the local elections are over. In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with the latest developments by following me on Twitter @francisclarke. You also follow Bournville & Cotteridge Labour @LabBournville if you’d like to find out more about our campaign.

Francis Clarke

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Vote Garnham, Dar and Lansman

It’s the last few days of an absolutely crucial NEC ballot and we cannot forget what is at stake.

We have an historic opportunity to have a left, pro-democracy majority on the party’s ruling body. One that can oversee a serious overhaul of the party structures, and, you never know, pay some attention to a few of the issues in the West Midlands covered on the pages of this blog and on social media over the last few months.

Clearly, there were issues with the decision-making process that led to us having Rachel Garnham, Yasmine Dar and John Lansman (or as we like to call him in Birmingham, John Lemon) on the Momentum/CLGA slate. The candidacy of Lansman/Lemon in particular has been identified as the weak link by Labour First and Progress, who are backing the LF slate that dare not speak its name of Eddie Izzard, Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan.

Many of us would have been happy with those three if it had been put to the membership of Momentum and we had been offered a vote, so it was unfortunate that we didn’t have that vote or a way for grassroots views to feed into the decision-making process. Let’s hope it isn’t repeated next time round.

But we are where we are and the decision, in my mind, is a pretty straightforward one. Either the left will have a majority or Labour First/Progress will, and all the signs are that many of the people in those two organisations, who are not the same but are getting closer and closer the more desperate they get, have learnt nothing in the last couple of years, and many are still unreconciled to a Corbyn leadership, whatever they may say publicly. Just have a read through the recent Daily Mail article that focused heavily on Birmingham if you can stomach it and you will see the real agenda, which was about undermining the left in the NEC election. Or have a read through the Twitter feed of someone like Richard Angell, which makes you feel like you’re Alice, in Wonderland.    

We have seen in Birmingham what happens when these people have control and it isn’t pretty. A left majority will give us a chance to change things permanently for the better and give members the power over what happens – and right now a left majority will ensure that all members, whether on the right or left, pro- or anti-Corbyn, will have more rights and more of a say.  

The members know what they are doing and what is necessary, and the kind of party we need to have an historic, game-changingly successful Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn and not repeat some of the mistakes of the Blair/Brown years.

So please, if you haven’t already, vote Rachel Garnham, Yasmine Dar and John Lansman/Lemon!

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

MSB Newsletter 01/05/2017

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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. There are a few at the moment…….although we have cancelled our stalls meeting on the 15th and putting one or two other things on the back-burner.

Hall Green and Perry Barr ward by-elections

Please don’t forget the by-elections in Hall Green and Perry Barr wards, this Thursday, the 4th May. It’s fair to say that the Hall Green campaign in particular has been eventful so far, and not for good reasons, but clearly the priority now is to get the Labour candidate elected. Liz Clements is standing for our party – she’s been out a lot, is pro-Corbyn and has been joined by many members and local councillors – but still needs more help. In Perry Barr Mohammed Hanif is the candidate and he has to try and overturn a previous Lib Dem majority of 1200 votes, so it is going to be tough. If you go on the Birmingham Labour Party website and search for forthcoming events there is stuff going on all the time, be it door-knocking or leaflet drops. We have also detailed what we know is planned in Hall Green in the CLP section below. You can also find out more about the Hall Green campaign on their branch Facebook page Momentum activists will be out in force too – let’s make sure we get Liz elected!    

General election, June 8th.

We are all rather electioned-out I suspect but sadly we are going to have to go again as this one is very, very important. We have 5 weeks to close a 20 point gap in the polls (recent developments show a positive trend, pleasingly), defend what we have already in Birmingham (9 of the 10 seats) and we’ll also be campaigning alongside a new candidate in Edgbaston, Councillor Preet Gill of Sandwell, following Gisela Stuart’s decision not to stand again. There are some pictures of Preet at the first constituency stall since her selection here and there are plenty on our Twitter feed too (@MomentumSBham).  

MSB are under no illusions, this is going to be the fight of our lives and we have a few weeks to change a lot of minds. Many of the sitting Labour MPs are not particularly to our liking, to put it mildly, and we should have been given a chance to vote for our candidates, but we are where we are.

There will be plenty of information about campaigning on our social media and also, hopefully, on the Birmingham Labour Party website. We’ll try and keep everything as up-to-date as we can and this newsletter will serve as a snapshot of everything coming up that we know of. The individual CLP sections are below and we’ll be keeping a spreadsheet with everything we know about here. We are hoping to make it an all-Birmingham affair very shortly.

The officers of MSB have produced a statement that can be read here and if you want to get involved in campaigning please drop us a line at momentumbhamsouth@hotmail.com.

Momentum nationally have also produced lots of information that can be read here.

Labour will also be running a semi-permanent phonebank at one of their offices at the city centre – for more details and to book a session please click here to find them. You can pick the constituency you wish to focus on when you go and we suggest you prioritise Northfield and Edgbaston, the two most marginal seats (more details below)

 

**Voter registration drive**

  • Don’t lose your vote: If you’re not already registered to vote, register now. It takes just 2 minutes, and all you need is your national insurance number. Remember, if you’re a UK resident from the Republic of Ireland or a Commonwealth countryyou’re eligible to vote. If you’re not sure where you’ll be on 8th June, make sure you register for a postal vote. Just fill out this form and post or email it to your Electoral Registration Office. It must reach them by 5pm on 23rd May, so make sure to send it a week before.
  • Get everyone you know to register: If every single one of us gets five people to register, we’ll win this election. Do your bit, make sure your friends and family are all registered to vote by 22nd May.
  • Momentum activists in Birmingham are helping with voter registration initiatives – if you want to help please drop us a line at MomentumbhamSouth@hotmail.com and we’ll pass on your details to the people co-ordinating it. We’ll be targeting young people in particular and potentially leafleting outside colleges.

 

“Marginal Seat Saturdays” in Edgbaston and Northfield

Momentum activists from across Birmingham met on Sunday the 30th April and we agreed to prioritise Northfield and Edgbaston, the two most marginal constituencies. We will be mobilising for “Marginal Seat Saturdays” every weekend and after we piloted it in Edgbaston last Saturday we will be joining Northfield CLP en masse this weekend coming. Please keep an eye on our social media for more information and we’ll also email out the full details when we have them.

 

KONP Birmingham meeting, Wednesday 3rd May

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. The next one is on the 3rd May at 7:30pm at the Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN. Currently they 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.

 

Stand Up To Racism Summit, 6th May:

“Confronting the Rise in Racism”

An SUTR summit takes place on Saturday 6th May at the Custard Factory in Birmingham. Lots of workshops and speakers including Saira and Saffiyah whose picture during an EDL confrontation last Saturday went viral around the world. You can book your spot here.

 

FOLOB planning meeting 5.30pm Monday 8 May

Friends of the Library of Birmingham’s next planning meeting is on Monday the 8th May at the UNISON office,19th Floor, McLaren Building, 46 Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 7LF These meetings are open to all, so do join them.

 

A Moral Economy – a talk by Ann Pettifor,

Wednesday 10th May

Ann Pettifor, an advisor to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, was a founder and leading spirit of the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign which in 1998 brought 70,000 people out in a human chain onto the streets of Birmingham. After 2000 she joined the New Economics Foundation where she headed their research unit. She set up Advocacy International, a UK-based consultancy that advises governments and international organisations and has helped secure debt relief for the governments of Guyana, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The talk starts at 18:30 and is going to be at Carrs Lane Church Centre, Birmingham B4 7SX. To register click here.

 

Moseley and Kings Heath Labour Party conference: “What is Conservative Party education policy?”, Thursday 11th May

M+KH branch have decided to put every single other Labour ward in Birmingham to shame by hosting their own conference but it looks absolutely brilliant – and as far as we know it is still going ahead. What is Conservative Party education policy doing to our schools? What is the alternative vision? There will be loads of speakers and discussion, it is on Thursday the 11th May and will be held at Moseley School & Sixth Form Centre, Wake Green Road, B13 9UU. It’s free to attend but you’ll need to register.

 

Homelessness charity gig, 19th May

Attached to this newsletter email is a flyer advertising a gig on the 19th in support of Project Birmingham. The Project, also known as South Birmingham Young Homeless Project, is a quality assured advice centre specialising in Homeless Prevention, Welfare Benefits and Debt, our aim is to prevent homelessness and improve the lives of vulnerable people, they do this by offering free impartial advice and support. It’s at the Royal British Legion in Kings Heath and kicks off at 8pm. Cost is £5.

 

Sat 20th May: Unite STP Campaign Conference

Unite union are organising an STP Campaign Conference to be held at Carrs Lane Church Centre, Birmingham city centre, runs from 10:30 until 13:30 and you can register for it here. Speakers will include John Lister (Health Campaigns Together), Gill George, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS and Sarah Carpenter (Unite national officer for health), speakers from Solihull KONP and Birmingham KONP. STPs are going to have a massive effect on what happens to the NHS over the next few years and activists campaigning against them or for radical changes need to be armed with the full story – this will be a great opportunity to get that.

 

Women’s March against Trumpism: 20th May

On Saturday May 20th the anti-choice fraternity is organising its own UK version of ‘March For Life’ in Birmingham with the slogan ‘life from conception – no exception’. Abortion Rights is joining up with women’s groups as part of the Women’s March Against Trumpism to call its own demonstration against the misogyny and sexism that Trump galvanised in his election campaign that is creeping over here. More details here – the 20th is going to be a very busy day politically in Birmingham!

 

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary

  • Tuesday 2nd May – Quinton (Door-knocking) Meet at junction of Ridgacre Road and Highfield Lane (B32 1QR) at 6.15pm.
  • Wednesday 3rd May – Bartley Green (Phonebank) Meet at 4 Greenfield Crescent, Edgbaston (B15 3BE) at 6pm.
  • Thursday 4th May – Sion Simon Polling Day – Edgbaston (Phonebanking and Door-knocking) Phoning from 9am to 6pm at 4 Greenfield Crescent, Edgaston B15 3BE. Door-knocking teams leaving same location to campaign in Edgbaston from 6pm onwards.
  • Saturday 6th May – Quinton (Door-knocking) Meet on junction of Martley Croft and Quinton Road West (B32 2QG) for 11am.
  • Sunday 7th May – Harborne (Door-knocking) Meet on junction of Sandon Road and Willow Avenue for (B17 8HB) for 11am.

 

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary

  • Hall Green By-election: Times/meeting places listed here where you can RSVP to let them know if you’re going along. Below are the events scheduled so far but the website is updated regularly.
  • Door-knocking: Tuesday 2nd May, 10am – 12pm, Outside, 1 Brooklands Close, Birmingham B28 8JX
  • Door-knocking: Wednesday 3rd May, 10am – 12pm, meeting at 23 Ingestre Road, Birmingham B28 9EQ
  • Polling day: Thursday 4th May 9am to 9pm:56 Scribers Lane, Birmingham B28 0NZ

 

  • Mayoral election: As above you can RSVP on the Birmingham LP website.
  • Sparkbrook ward – 9am to 9pm Azim’s Restaurant (New Dadyal), 284 Stratford Road, Birmingham B11 1AA
  • Group GOTV in Sparkbrook – 4pm to 5.30pm, junction of Abbotsford Road and Conway Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1NS
  • Group GOTV in Balsall Heath – 5.30pm to 7pm, junction of Balsall Heath Road Mary Street, Balsall Heath, Birmingham B12 9RW
  • Moseley and Kings Heath ward – 4pm to 9pm, 41 Clarence Road, Birmingham B13 9SZ
  • Springfield ward – 9am to 9pm, 100 Allcroft Road, Birmingham, B11 3ED
  • Group GOTV in Springfield – 7pm to 9pm, Junction of Stoney Lane and Wilton Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham B11 4PP

 

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary

  • Tuesday 2 May:
  • Two Doorknocking sessions: 11.00-Meet at the junction of Reeves Road and Millbrook Road, B14, and 18.00-Meet at the junction of Cherrington Road and Ribblesdale Road, B29.
  • Phone bank 18.00 204 Alcester Road South, B14 6DE

 

Northfield constituency dates for your diary

Contact northfieldlabour@gmail.com for more information

  • Tue 2nd May, 6pm – door-knocking in Kings Norton, meeting at the corner of Shannon Road & Ridgemount Drive (B38 9SN).
  • Wed 3rd May, 6pm – door-knocking in Weoley Castle, meeting at the corner of Castle Road & Princethorpe Road (B29 5PX).
  • Northfield will also be out in the afternoon of the 3rd at school gates on Tue (Kings Norton) and Wed (Weoley Castle) – let them know if you would like to help out with either of these and they can send you more details of where they will be and when.
  • This Thursday is polling day for the election of a new Mayor for the West Midlands, and they will be reminding everyone to go out and vote for Sion Simon throughout the day both on the doorstep and over the phone. If you have any time available to help out during the day or evening, please do come along and lend your support.
  • Thu 4th May, 9am to 9pm – campaign centre for Northfield constituency (covering Kings Norton, Northfield, and Weoley wards), to be held at The Old School House, St Nicolas Place, 81 The Green, Kings Norton, B38 8RU.
  • Thu 4th May, 9am to 9pm – campaign centre for Longbridge ward, to be held at 10 Rednal Mill Drive, Rednal, B45 8XX.
  • This Saturday (6th May) will be the first of their Super Saturdays and they will be organising loads of activity in the Longbridge area – more information if you email the address above.

 

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

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

 

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

The stakes at this election

The membership of the Labour Party is now huge. But sadly, in my experience in Birmingham, many of those new members haven’t really got involved beyond clicking a button for Jeremy Corbyn a couple of times. Some of those very people may be reading this now, knowing in their heart of hearts that it is them I am talking about.

There are some good reasons for that of course. The Birmingham Labour Party is hugely resistant to change, or even rudimentary democratic practise, at all levels. It’s a microcosm of the situation that Corbyn has faced as leader since September 2015(which feels like a very long time ago). The decision to deny members even a rudimentary say in the selection of their local government candidates is a symptom of this malaise.

But I’m afraid those things won’t do as an excuse. Not now. This is the moment when people need to get involved. If we want a radical Labour government then the members need to campaign for it.

We are 20 points behind in the polls. Let’s not pretend that isn’t the case. And let’s not pretend that if the election was held the day it was called that Labour wouldn’t have been trounced.

The right-wing machine of the party have to take a lot of the blame for that, of course. Some of things they have done have been unforgivable frankly.

But the left of the party have to take some responsibility too. We’ve left the field clear for them too often in the last 18 months. We haven’t got involved and turned up for stuff. We haven’t persevered enough. We could have done more to transform the party into the mass movement it needs to be if it wants to take power and implement socialist policies. But that would have involved more of us turning up to some frankly tedious meetings for a while and forcing through change, and the left isn’t known for its patience.

We can’t do anything about any of that now. If we are serious about it we can go back and make a start on June 9th, whatever the result.

Now, the priority has to be campaigning for Labour candidates – even the ones that Momentum doesn’t like very much.

We have 6 weeks to start and win an argument with the British people that the Tory Party is not the answer and we need a socialist government. One that rejects austerity, privatization and Hard Brexit. One that starts a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power in society from the few to the many. We have a leader who means what he says. Who actually resonates with people when they meet him.

But winning that argument means campaigning – and campaigning is on the streets, not on Twitter or Facebook (much as we wish it was). It means stalls. Knocking doors. Delivering leaflets. Going to the working class areas that the politicians have given up on. Giving up the odd weekend and day of annual leave to get out there and do stuff.

You’ll get abuse. You’ll come across people who just won’t listen to reason. You’ll have crazy dogs slamming themselves at the door when you knock or stick a leaflet through.

It won’t be fun, unless you’re a masochist.

But believe me, it’s the only way.

I have no time for Owen Jones whatsoever. I think he’s in the process of reinventing himself as a left commentator who talks the talk but stopped walking the walk a long time ago. A spoilt brat who has thrown his toys out of the pram because Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t make him part of his inner circle. Too often these days the socialist rhetoric feels like an act with him. But the call he made recently for every member to do a couple of nights of canvassing really resonated with me. If our half-million members all did that it could make a massive difference. It could really turn the tide against the deluge of lying, dog-whistle, poisonous shit that we can expect from the Lynton Crosby-steered Conservative Party over the next few weeks.

So please, get out there and do something. It doesn’t have to take over your life.

And while I am at it with the moralising I have a message for a couple of other groups of people.

  • The Greens, TUSC etc: please don’t stand any candidates in Birmingham. It is pointless. If you genuinely want social change you know that it is Corbyn or bust now. Many Momentum activists campaign with you on opposing cuts and austerity; we work together in trade unions and in our communities. I know you are all sincere and the arguments you make come from a place of wanting to make the world a fairer and more just one. But please, put aside your pride and think about what matters. The Corbyn surge could and should have taught you a lesson about how things work in British politics.
  • Independent lefties: we all know them. Socialists, sympathetic to Corbyn, good sorts, but won’t take the plunge and join or campaign for the Labour Party or get involved in organised politics. Again, I’m sure it starts from an honest and decent place. But seriously, if you want to change the world, you will have to get your hands dirty. And that means Labour I’m afraid. If you have a better plan do let Momentum South Birmingham know. But I won’t hold my breath.

We may not get a better, or another chance in our lifetimes. Let’s at least be able to look back after and say we gave it our best shot.

 

JC

MSB newsletter 23/01/17

Welcome to the latest South Birmingham Momentum newsletter, full of exciting events for you to attend and ways to support the group fight the good fight.

As per usual there is plenty of stuff to get involved in, in fact this week is something of a bumper edition……. If you’re reading this newsletter and haven’t joined the Labour Party, then please do so. And if you have and haven’t got involved yet, please do!

Many thanks to everyone who was out on a bitterly cold Saturday morning this weekend just gone campaigning for our NHS and Labour’s West Midlands mayoral candidate, Sion Simon!  

Copeland and Stoke by-elections

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that the Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent by-elections are both likely to take place on Thursday 23rd February. It is critical that we throw our energy into campaigning for two Labour victories. Local Momentum activists have already been on the doorstep in Copeland and national Momentum are currently planning the best way for Momentum members nationally to support these campaigns – from pop up phone-banks to coaches and carpools. Register here if you’re interested in volunteering in the coming month. You can find details of the Labour campaign offices here for Copeland and here for Stoke.

West Midlands Labour are also organising plenty of activity in the Stoke Central constituency and any help would be very much appreciated: meeting Monday to Saturday at 10am, 2pm and 5pm, and Sunday 10am and 2pm, at the GMB building (the old CATU building) for campaigning across the constituency. The address is Garth Street, Hanley, ST1 2AB and there’s a free car park opposite the office. For more details, click here.  If you’d like to deliver the latest leaflet, or help another way, please let them know here.

It’s imperative that Labour wins these two by-elections so if there is any support you can offer either campaigns it could make a huge difference.

MSB stall at Maypole, 28th January

We’ll be running a stall in support of keeping Baverstock School open this Saturday morning between 11am and 1pm. We’ll be meeting outside Sainsbury’s on Maypole Lane and talking to local residents about the school, and maybe a bit about Momentum too. Please join us, even if it’s only for half an hour or so. More details here and more details of the protest planned for Monday night a bit further down.

Tower of Song 10th anniversary: 28th January

Some really good friends of ours, the Tower of Song in Kings Norton, are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year and to mark the occasion they are putting on a gig with the proceeds going to our group – like I say, they are very good and generous friends of the group. Please go if you can, it will be an absolutely terrific night and a nice way to conclude your day after the campaigning at Maypole. More details here (ignore the date though – it is definitely the 28th!)

Save Baverstock School protest, 30th January

 ‘Save Baverstock School’ are organising a protest on Monday 30 January at 7pm outside the school’s main entrance. MSB will be there as it is an issue close to many members hearts – please join us if you can. There could well be some local TV coverage too………

Kings Heath and Moseley Multi-Academy Trust Information meeting: 31st Jan

There will be a public meeting about proposed multi-academy trust on 31st Jan at 7pm, West Midlands Travel Sports Club, Wheelers Lane, B13 0ST. It will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the plans and start reflecting on whether they are a good idea or not………..

Momentum Votes

Nominations have opened for the National Coordinating Group (NCG), Momentum’s highest governing body. Don’t miss your chance to stand for election. For more information about the NCG and how to nominate yourself, visit the nominations website here. Your nomination must be completed by midday on Monday 30th January.

Following an online poll of our branch we have decided to endorse one of members, Sam Poulson, who is seeking election to the NCG and we will be promoting his candidacy on social media. He would be an excellent representative for Birmingham on the organisation’s leading body so please consider voting for him. Keep an eye on our social media for more information or follow this link to vote for Sam http://mvotes.io/3dqncv

Next MSB branch meeting: 5th Feb

Our next branch meeting is on Sunday 5th Feb at our usual venue, the Highbury Pub in Stirchley. There will be lots to discuss: our activity in the trade unions, the Labour Party and also the recent developments with the new Momentum constitution. Please join us if you are a Momentum supporter or member in South Birmingham. And if it’s the first time you’ve attended don’t worry, we’ll look after you we promise! The usual rule applies, if you are a member of another political party you won’t be able to attend unfortunately though, sorry………

Next Friends of the Library of Birmingham Planning meeting, 13th Feb

FOLOB’s next planning meeting will be held at 5.30 p.m. on Monday 13 February in the UNISON office,19th Floor, McLaren Building, 46 Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 7LF. These meetings are open to all, so do come if you’re interested in getting involved and helping the campaigns to protect local library services.

Explore your Political Pathway: Birmingham, 1st March

The Parliament Project is an initiative to increase the number of women in Parliament and they have an event on the 1st March at the Council House.

From the Blurb:

“Women, have you considered getting involved in politics but not quite been able to take the plunge? Do you need more information but don’t know where to get it? Or do you worry you don’t have the skills but you still want to make a difference?

Come along to our first Birmingham workshop from The Parliament Project, an initiative to increase the numbers of women in political office, as we help women explore their political pathway.”

‘Our NHS’ demonstration: 4th March

Our NHS is at breaking point. With a backdrop of continued cuts and closures, private companies seek to gain even more of a foothold within the NHS. Theresa May’s demands for yet more austerity in the NHS represent a real risk to the safety of patients and the service. The Government’s latest wheeze, Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are in reality just a smokescreen for further cuts and privatization. A coalition of organisations have organised a demonstration on the 4th March and MSB are planning on organising a coach, but first we need to gauge interest (tickets will be something like £10-12 for a return. If you would like to go can you please email Nicky Brennan at nicky151289@gmail.com.

Edgbaston constituency dates for your diary

  • Harborne Ward Labour Party meeting, Moorpool Lower Hall, 26A The Circle, Birmingham B17 9DY, Saturday February 4th Feb, 10:30.

Hall Green constituency dates for your diary

  • Hall Green BLP Activity: Delivering Sion Simon Direct Mail. Date: Thu 26th January. Time: 10.30am. Meeting point: Outside the Balwins Arms, 230 Baldwins Lane, Hall Green, Birmingham B28 0QB
  • Moseley and Kings Heath BLP Activity: Street Stall. Date: Sat 28th January. Time: 10am
  • Meeting point: Outside Asda on the High Street, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7BW.
  • Sparkbrook BLP Activity: Delivering Sion Simon Direct Mail. Date: Sat 28th January. Time: 3pm. Meeting point: Dadyal Resturant, 284 Stratford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1AA
  • Springfield BLP Activity: Delivering Sion Simon Direct Mail. Date: Sun 29th January. Time: 1pm. Meeting point: Junction of Dolphin Road/St Johns Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham B11 4RG

Selly Oak constituency dates for your diary

Nothing to report this week but keep an eye out for updates in future editions!

Northfield constituency dates for your diary

  • Northfield ward Labour Party meeting: Thursday 26 January, at Hampstead House, Condover Road, B31 3QY, at 7pm.
  • Weoley ward Labour Party meeting, Thursday 26th January 7.30pm at Weoley Hill United Reform Church, Green Meadow Road, Birmingham B20 4DE.

MSB stalls committee – volunteers needed

Our stalls co-ordinator, Chris Kuriata, is on the lookout for people to join the group’s stalls committee. Stalls have been a crucial way that we have got our ideas across. You might even get your picture taken with John McDonnell! Email Chris: Chriskuriata@live.co.uk

MSB social media classes

Nicky Brennan, one of our social media managers, is interested in running some 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

Statement on the Birmingham Board

Momentum South Birmingham have produced a statement in opposition to the recent Birmingham Board of the Labour Party decision to restrict eligible voters in the selection of council candidates next year. Opposition to this mystifying and self-defeating move is growing across the city’s CLPs – in the area we cover resolutions calling for it to be reversed have been passed in at least one ward in each constituency and in some cases rather more than that! You can read the statement here – please share with all of your contacts as we believe this is a big issue – and please raise in your local Labour Party.

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

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