Elections took place across the country yesterday, against the backdrop of council cuts and central government cuts. As expected, voters have deserted the Liberal Democrats in droves, who lost 2/3rd of their councillors and half of the councils they controlled (in the councils that held elections). It is a clear indication that people have punished the Lib-Dems for forming a coalition with the Tories, attacking our public services, introducing tuition fees and slashing EMA.
Although nationally the conservative party held up their vote, making very small gains, in Birmingham they lost nearly as many seats as the Lib Dems.
Labour was the big winner of the night, winning 800 new council seats across England, whilst the Greens also made significant gains, becoming the largest party in Brighton & Hove.
Birmingham followed a similar pattern to the rest of England, with Labour gaining 14 seats, also making them the single largest party and showing the strength of feeling about the £212 million being cut this year from services to some of the most vulnerable people at the cost of up to 7,000 jobs in the next 4 years. The council will still be run by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition though, as there were never enough seats up for election this year to give Labour overall control.
The election results are a resounding NO! to cuts, both locally and nationally – with the Liberal Democrats bearing the brunt of the electorates anger.
Full results for Birmingham can be found here
In Kings Heath and Moseley, Martin Straker-Welds won for Labour, unseating the Liberal Democrat Emily Cox. Martin has been working with Kings Heath and Moseley against the Cuts, and we expect him to continue to work against cuts now he is in the council
Former deputy leader of the council, Stewart Stacey – who also unseated a Lib Dem – said this:
On the doorsteps and telephones everyone was telling us they were fed up with the cuts:
Cuts in income with Winter Fuel Allowance or EMA
Cuts in spending power the with VAT increase or inflation calculations
Cuts in public services with the Police and NHS
And cuts in library, leisure and care services, with worse to come.
And this was right across age, class and ethnic divides.
I stood on a platform of being a Strong Voice for them in Tough Times, and I intend to make my, and their, voice heard.
Labour also took seats from the Conservatives, notably in Harborne – where Peter Hollingworth had held the seat for 51 years – and Longbridge, an area still suffering from the effects of the closure of the Rover factory, and likely to be badly affected by cuts.
However, In Sparkbrook, a fierce contest between Ishtiaq, the Respect Council and Tony Kennedy for Labour saw Ishtiaq – who has been a vocal opponent of cuts – lose his seat. Turnout in this ward was particularly high, showing that voters in the area had come out to express their anger with the ConDem coalitions by voting Labour. We hope that Tony Kennedy will continue to fight the cuts with the same vigour that Ishtiaq displayed.
Elsewhere in the country, Liberal Democrat councillors fell like dominoes, with the Lib Dem leaders at councils in Sheffield, Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool all losing their seats. In Nottingham where the lib dems lost all of their seats, the Lib dem leader immediately called for Nick Clegg to resign.
In this economic climate there is more of a concern than ever that if services are cut it can lead to the politics of dispair. The ConDems would love us to be divided but the BNP and far right that normally try to capitalise on this were wiped out. In Stoke, the BNP lost all its seats, and had a bad day around the country. This is credit to anti-fascist campaigners who have been working hard to ensure that the downward trend of the BNP’s election results continues.
Overall these results send a solid message to the council and to central government. In Birmingham, and across the UK, people are rejecting the cutting policy, and calling for alternatives. They know that their jobs and services, the welfare state, NHS and education are under attack, and that the economy is not being served well by the cuts.
And these results send a message to activists and campaigners – there is a mood in the city, and country, to fight the cuts.
We need to build on this mood and work to create mass involvement in the forthcoming fights against cuts. We hope the election results give confidence to workers, unemployed workers, students and the community that we can break this nasty but weak coalition. Clearly that 500, 000 people on the streets of London on the 26th March has had an impact on the elections but a million on strike on the 30th of June will be a massive show of democracy with the highest level of committment from ordinary people.We hope this will give councillors confidence in joining with us to resist cuts and to support for workers balloting for strikes over the next month