Of the candidates who replied to our pledges, Lisa Trickett won in Kings Heath & Moseley, Brett O’Reilly won in Northfield and Uzma Ahmed won in Bordesley Green. We look forward to Brett & Uzma fulfilling the pledges they signed and Lisa following through on the statement she made opposing leisure service privatisation and promising to support Connexions and young people in the city.
Perhaps the most surprising result came in the Sutton Coldfield Vesey ward, where Labour won, taking a Sutton seat for the first time in over 60 years, so we are told. In that seat, the Conservative candidate won by 700 votes in 2011, this year the Conservative Candidate lost by over 800. This is not a direct comparison since the Conservative candidate was not the same person both years but it shows a huge swing against the Conservatives, who polled 1,400 fewer votes.
Over the country we see Tories and Liberal Democrats losing seats and councils, and in Bradford, Respect followed through their by-election result, gaining 5 of the 12 seats they fought including the seat of the Labour Leader in the city. In Birmingham, Communities Against the Cuts had respectable votes coming close to the Lib Dems in both Bournville and Kings Norton after just 5 weeks of campaigning. This, along with the low turnout, shows that voters are rejecting the mainstream parties and looking for alternatives as the economy continues to stutter.
Thankfully the BNP have done badly at the local elections, suggesting that the far right is failing to gather support in the UK but we must be vigilant and push our message of economic and social justice for all people. We have to continue to present ourselves as the alternative to the mainstream parties and be confident in our rejection of austerity and our proposals for alternative, sustainable, economic management.
What we are seeing is a rejection of this coalition, of their disastrous economic policies that have seen rising unemployment, real wages falling as inflation stays high, we are back in recession and the deficit is not falling – the CBI even predict the deficit will rise this year. Meanwhile the people who are paying for this economic failure are those who can least afford it – swingeing benefit cuts hitting people with disabilities, workfare undermining minimum wage work and failing the unemployed, working tax credit cuts for working class families, VAT rises whilst the top rate of tax falls.
Food, fuel and rent are all rising, but wages are not keeping up – and if you are on low wages claiming housing benefit then you might find that you can no longer afford your home under the new Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules.
Austerity Isn’t Working. Let’s pressure the new Labour controlled council here to take that message to central government, to fight for the people of Birmingham and against the economic agenda of the ConDem coalition, and to let their own national party know that saying these cuts are too far and too fast is not enough – we must reject cuts and austerity in favour of investment and employment.