ConDem lot fail us all

On Sunday I tweeted about a story from the New York Times published on 14th October 2011. For your reference I have included it at the end of this blog.

For quite some time now the Tories, and their “yes” men and women in the Fib Dems, have been saying that the problems we Brits face were all caused by the previous government and their spending plans. I say the Labour Government implemented investment plans because spending seems to be a dirty word in government and I believe our Labour Government invested in our education and health services now and for the future amongst many other things.

Now that this ConDem government isn’t capable of solving the financial problems we face the World Recession has become the excuse for their incompetence, as if it has suddenly arisen and wasn’t there before.

The focus of the government is on the benefits system and their obsession with lowering the income of the families and individuals who are already on low incomes, and reducing the support given for decent housing. The Social Landlords particularly will be held back from delivering more social housing because of the impact on rental income and their ability to borrow to invest. Watch for more Rachman type businesses flourishing.

On Monday evening I attended a Councillors update session on the changes to the welfare benefits system and some of the impacts this will have. Would you believe that a certain Tory actually said that the benefits system was too generous and that it needed reducing to solve the problems our country faced!! Well you would believe it wouldn’t you – they are like that.

Our local Tories in particular are in denial. They seem to have completely forgotten, or never recognised, that the taxpayer contributed to the rescue of the corrupt banking system and bankers to the tune of £Billions and that Ireland has been assisted to the tune of £Billions which we the British Taxpayers had to borrow to lend to!! It would have been better invested in our communities and manufacturing industries!

One thing I will repeat here is the fact that I still regret the Labour Governments belief that banks and the banking sector in general could be trusted to regulate themselves – something which should have been dealt with many years ago. You may have noticed that the big banks are using the same old threat of taking their business out of the country if more regulation is introduced. Take it I say, and let’s get back to manufacturing products that people want, not just rely on a system that has failed itself but that has also failed our people. Moving money about does not bring wealth to the masses it simply makes us all poorer.

From NY Times:-

“For a year now, Britain’s economy has been stuck in a vicious cycle of low growth, high unemployment and fiscal austerity. But unlike Greece, which has been forced into induced recession by misguided European Union creditors, Britain has inflicted this harmful quack cure on itself.

Austerity was a deliberate ideological choice by Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, elected 17 months ago. It has failed and can be expected to keep failing. But neither party is yet prepared to acknowledge that reality and change course.

Britain’s economy has barely grown since the budget cuts began taking effect late last year. The most recent quarterly figures showed the economy flat-lining, with growth at 0.1 percent.

New figures released this week reported Britain’s highest jobless numbers in more than 15 years. Independent analysts expect unemployment — now 8.1 percent — to keep rising in the months ahead. The government has kept its promise to slash public-sector jobs — more than 100,000 have been lost in recent months. But its deficit-reduction policies have failed to revive the business confidence that was supposed to spur private-sector hiring.

Drastic public spending cuts were the wrong deficit-reduction strategy for the weakened British economy a year ago. And they are the wrong strategy for the faltering American economy today. Britain’s unhappy experience is further evidence that radical reductions in federal spending will do little but stifle economic recovery.

A few years of robust growth would go far toward making swollen federal deficits more manageable. But slashing government spending in an already stalled economy weakens anemic demand, leading to lost output and lost tax revenues. As revenues fall, deficit reduction requires longer, deeper spending cuts. Cut too far, too fast, and the result is not a balanced budget but a lost decade of no growth. That could now happen in Britain. And if the Republicans have their way, it could also happen here.

Austerity is a political ideology masquerading as an economic policy. It rests on a myth, impervious to facts, that portrays all government spending as wasteful and harmful, and unnecessary to the recovery. The real world is a lot more complicated. America has no need to repeat Mr. Cameron’s failed experiment.”

Reflections and challenges

It’s nearly three weeks since the local elections and though very busy sorting out forming an administration for the next twelve months, I’ve been able to reflect on the message that was sent to us by the electorate.

The last twelve months have been a traumatic time for the communities of Blackburn with Darwen; horrendous cuts in funding have been made, services have been threatened and job cuts have been made not only in the Council but elsewhere in the Health Service and education sectors and in private companies across the Borough.

In case we have forgotten, the outcome of last years General Election led to the formation of the Coalition Government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Unsurprisingly nowhere in either of the Liberal or Tories manifesto’s did it give the slightest hint that they were proposing to inflict pain and cuts on the most vulnerable in society, particularly in areas like ours, cutting vital grants and investment in housing, schools and across the key voluntary and charitable sectors.

On May 5th the electors had the chance to have their say on what has been going on both nationally and locally, where up to last September, the Tories and Liberals with support of the For Darwen Party, they had run the Council.

The election gave voters some clear choices here in Blackburn & Darwen. Did they, for example, want an administration that spent money recklessly on buying up vacant business properties and refurbishing the Town Hall whilst closing Leisure Centres and cutting community based services? Or did they want an administration that would stand up for them, listen to them and most of all protect their key services?

The response from the electorate was clear and unequivocal. They wanted Labour to run the Council and as consequence Labour now has 38 Councillors and a working majority of 12.

As Labour forms an administration for the next twelve months we are aware that things will not be easy. However we pledge the mandate the people of this Borough has given us will be used wisely and responsibly. As a result we intend to carry on the work we agreed to undertake when taking control last September and we will continue to work for the entire Borough not just the areas we represent.

We also promise to use our mandate to support the vulnerable and those who rely on Council Services and we will do our utmost to act as a buffer against the excessive attacks on our communities from the Tory led Coalition Government whose main interests remain. elsewhere.

Sad times ahead for our town and its citizens

This week we face sad and worrying times in Blackburn as a consequence of the vicious cuts imposed by the Tory High Executioners in Westminster supported by their Liberal Democrat poodles. The members of those parties locally should hang their heads in shame at the damage their colleagues in Government are inflicting on our town and our people.

This Thursday Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive Board will put in train a process that ultimately will lead to around 1000 people losing their jobs and from the end of March we will see Council services slashed and in some instances discontinued all together.

The loss of these jobs will have devastating affect on the local economy and together with the decline in services no family living in the Borough will be left unaffected.

Blackburn with Darwen is faced by a cut of nearly £28 million in this year alone, despite your Labour Council trying hard to protect front line services all key areas have been hit. We have reduced Councillors allowances by 10%, cut the number of senior officers by 30%, made efficiencies by sharing our management with health and greatly reduced back office costs but in reality these are but a drop in the ocean given the size of the short fall in the funding we have received..

Sadly, therefore I have to inform you that from April there will be less street cleaning, less care for the elderly, less provision for our young people, less buses, reduced hours in libraries, leisure centres and less help and advice for those on benefits, just when we need it most. There will be less delivered by the voluntary sector, the health sector and the Police Authority

On Thursday and in the weeks and months ahead however, we will not forget where the blame for such damaging consequences lies. The Tories have always looked out for their banker friends with their bonuses in the City and those who live in the affluent areas of the country. It is patently unfair that a Council like Blackburn has been hit harder than the leafy Boroughs of the south or the rural parts of the North West.

When David Cameron and George Osborne cynically claim that we are all in this together we can be forgiven for resorting to so called un-parliamentary language by questioning their sincerity and honesty.

Why Labour should take control of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

In May of this year, despite losing the General Election, the Labour Party in the North West, and in particular locally in Blackburn and Darwen performed well and showed its policies were supported by the majority of the electorate.

In Blackburn Labour made significant gains and is the largest party on the Council with 31 seats. Despite this, the rag bag of other parties including the Tories and Liberal Democrats managed to coble a coalition by agreeing a number of back room deals and engaging in the usual “pork barrel” politics that has become their trademark. Those of us in the Labour Party predicted it wouldn’t work and that it wouldn’t last and we have been proved right.

In the last few weeks after hundreds of ordinary Blackburn citizens took to the streets in protest of the Coalition’s policies to slash services including closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and our Community Centres two members decided they had had enough and have resigned from the Coalition.

Although these two members have chosen to sit as independents the Labour Group is faced with a dilemma. Should we wait till next year when we are likely to win a majority of seats ensuring we can take overall control of the Council or should we act now?

All members of the Labour Group entered politics to protect their communities and make things better for the people who take the time to support and vote for them. We have seen in the three years that the Coalition has run the Council the damage they can inflict on our communities and neighbourhoods. They have cut vital services, increased fees and charges, withdrawn bus routes and cancelled popular events enjoyed by all such as Arts in the Parks. They are closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and the Community Centres and they are undertaking a number of reviews that we know will lead to scaling back in key area such as libraries, social services and education and are cutting the valuable PCSOs who protect our communities.

That is why we must try to act and act now.

The Labour Group has agreed that once everyone returns form their summer holidays the Council should meet and a vote of no confidence in the policies of the Tory led coalition will be debated. If, as we expect, the motion is carried the Labour Group is prepared to take control of the Council in order to sort out the mess we find ourselves in.

We know it won’t be easy but we owe it to the people of Blackburn and Darwen who voted for us in their thousands to take responsibility and represent their interests including trying to protect the most vulnerable who rely on the Council’s services.

We are sure the vast majority of Blackburners and Darreners will support us in our endeavours.