Labour Leadership Hustings: Questions for Labour Party members

Urge your Birmingham Labour Councillors to reverse the Library cutbacks

£88.8 million was spent on the New Library; it was opened by Malala and now is an international tourist attraction. Unfortunately the tourists from Sydney, Australia have arrived to find the Library closed. Hundreds of young people and others have turned up on a Sunday or after 5 pm and been turned away expressing considerable frustration. BBC Midlands, ITV, Birmingham Post and Mail have run numerous programmes and reports indicating the anger of many in the Birmingham population in what can only be described as cultural and educational vandalism. Unfortunately the Labour Council has made no case to the government for extra funding to maintain these valuable services.

Tristram Hunt said that Labour lost the General Election because it did not support peoples’ aspirations but by denying hundreds of young students access to educational and ICT resources this Birmingham Labour Council is frustrating the aspirations of many.

The closure of the City Library at 5 pm does not apply to members of the rich elite, recently the Institute of Directors were viewed on the balcony of the Library at 8 pm on a Friday evening swigging their cocktails. It was a safe and pleasant zone for their party since the ordinary plebs had been swept out of the institution at 5 pm. Pressure should be put on the Birmingham Labour Councillors to reverse the cuts in the New City Library and the many local Libraries under threat.

Labour defends the European Convention of Human Rights but plans to restrict freedom of speech in the City Centre

Urge your Birmingham Labour Councillors to drop plans to ban the use of amplification equipment in the City Centre The Labour Council has launched a consultation on the use of sound amplification equipment used by musicians, religious organisations and political campaigners with a view to cleaning up the City and to make it attractive for business interests. There are already laws governing excessive levels of noises which can be used, this consultation proposes a general ban on the use of amplification equipment. Sound equipment is used by various religious groups including Muslim and Christian organisations. We feel that it is a fundamental human right to be able to advocate their religious ideas and also for others to take a critical view of particular religious viewpoints. Probably the real target of this proposed is the numerous groups in the next 3 years who will be protesting against the £250 million cuts the Labour Council will be implementing without complaint. This measure will severely restrict all sorts of community and political groups complaining about the closure of Libraries, Leisure Centres etc. planned by the Council. The Labour Party and a broad swathe of progressive opinion are correctly opposing the abolition of the Human Rights Act and the proposed withdraw from the European Convention. One of the fundamental principles of the Convention and enshrined in European law is the freedom of speech. But the Labour Council is now seeking to severely limit freedom of speech in the City Centre.

The Labour Party and the Labour leadership candidates should vigorously support the Greek People in their resistance to brutal austerity being imposed by the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank

The austerity imposed on the Greek People is a political and economic strategy adopted by governments to facilitate the passage of money from the 99% to the 1%. Since 2008, while public services, hospitals, roads and welfare have been cut, the rich have got richer, and don’t seem to have any inclination to spend money they have over-accumulated in socially useful ways. The problem with most of the government sanctioned bailouts since the recession is that they doled money directly and unconditionally to financial institutions such as banks. This did not help restart spending, as the enormous sums of money they received from the undemocratic expansion of public debt remain idle and unproductive. This massive expansion of debt is used as an ideological justification for massive cuts in Greek pensions, wages and expenditures on hospitals etc. A BBC report featured a Greek hospital that had their funds reduced by 94%, i.e. it received only one twentieth of previous funding. “Hope is coming” was the slogan the Greek anti austerity party Syriza used before it was elected. As soon as Syriza came to power, the privatisation of public services was halted, and the 48% cuts to pensions were reversed. Then the news came of the gradual reintroduction of the monthly E741 minimum wage; the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits; the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector and a fantastic response to racism: the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. Many of these progressive reforms are threatened by the EU pressure on the Greek government to accept a new deal which will involve tax increases including possibly VAT increases and pension cuts. The resistance of Greek people to this new dose of austerity by the EU and IMF should be supported by Labour Party members including supporting and affiliating to the Greece Solidarity Campaign, http://www.greecesolidarity.org

Protest against the special Budget at 5 – 6.30 pm Wednesday 8th July

Birmingham Against the Cuts plans a protest against the special Budget at 5 – 6.30 pm Wednesday 8th July Waterstones, High St, Birmingham City Centre. The budget will involve brutal cuts in Working Family credits hitting many poor working people, stopping housing benefits for young people under 25 which will mean evictions for many families with children under 5!! Labour’s alternative from Rachel Reeves, the shadow spokesperson on welfare: “We will be tougher on welfare cuts than the Tories”. Yes you can hardly believe your ears!

Birmingham Against the Cuts is a coalition of trade union and community activists who have opposed cuts in B’ham since the election of the Coalition government in 2010. We have monthly meetings on the second Monday of the month at 6.30 pm Unison offices 19th floor McLaren building Queensway City Centre. The next meeting is at 6.30 pm Monday 13th July, all Labour movement and community activists welcome. Follow our activity on our website http://www.birminghamagainstthecuts.workpress.com Birmingham Against the Cuts c/o Birmingham TUC, Friends of the Earth, 54-57 Allison St, Digbeth B5 5TH

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