Corinthia campaigning with homecare workers striking against council cuts in 2018. Photo: Brum SP
Corinthia campaigning with homecare workers striking against council cuts in 2018. Photo: Brum SP

Socialists are real alternative to largest council cuts ever

Birmingham Socialist Party statement

Labour cuts councillor Brigid Jones resigned her seat, after years of picking fights with bin and homecare workers, and helping draw up the council’s latest £300 million cuts plans. On 2 May, there will be a by-election in Bournbrook and Selly Park.

The largest-ever cuts in the history of local government include at least 600 job cuts, the closure of 25 out of 35 local libraries, and 50% cuts to both special needs transport and youth services.

Already, in 12 years, the Labour council in Birmingham has cut over £820 million from our services – robbing over 13,000 jobs from our city, closing 43 youth centres, 12 nurseries, 21 children’s centres, five children’s homes, four libraries, and countless community and leisure facilities.

And we’re paying for it, with a 21% council tax increase over two years – on top of years of wages covering less and less of the spiralling cost of bills, food, rent and more.

With thousands of people asking ‘who can I vote for?’, Socialist Party member Corinthia Ward is set to stand.

Corinthia campaigned in 2018-19 against cuts to council homecare workers’ hours, participating in the mass canvasses of Selly Park and other leading councillors’ wards. And was regularly on the picket lines during the bin strikes in 2017-19, and more since.

Corinthia said:

“Since 2010, Birmingham has lost at least £1 billion in funding. The Labour council argued cuts would prevent commissioners from coming in. Well, it did the dirty work for the Tories, and the commissioners have still shown up.

“We cannot just wait for a Keir Starmer government. Starmer said he cannot ‘turn on the taps’ for local government funding, and there is ‘no magic money tree’, with no pledge to reverse cuts to councils.

“We’ve heard this from politicians since 2010. But the UK has 171 billionaires, with a combined wealth of £684 billion. There is vast wealth in our society, but we need political representatives who are prepared to fight for it.

“Bournbrook and Selly Park is the only council ward election this year. The rest of Birmingham isn’t set to vote for their local representative until 2026.

“The seven commissioners have said they may be supervising the Labour council’s austerity plans for a further five years – on £1,000-plus per day each. But councillors have only decided the headlines of how much they want to cut, and not the detail of which libraries, youth centres, etc will close.”

“We have to start now”

“There is still time to build mass opposition to these attacks. But it has to start now.

“The Tory party is weak and divided. Any serious pressure would strain the already existing cracks, and force them to make concessions. And imagine if our Birmingham councillors led a national campaign of councils, taking the funding demand straight to Downing Street.

“The election of a socialist councillor can help raise the confidence of people in Birmingham. We need a workers’ candidate on an anti-cuts and anti-war programme, who will stand up to the commissioners, careerist councillors, and austerity-driven central government – no matter what colour rosette they wear.”

We have a public meeting to give people a chance to discuss how a fighting strategy could defeat the council’s cuts, and how we can build a mass party for working-class people, as a step towards getting the socialist change we need.

Monday 29 April, 7pm
Bournbrook & Selly Oak Social Club, 13A Hubert Road, B29 6DX

Corinthia will be the socialist alternative on the ballot paper in the by-election but not, on this occasion, representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

She applied to TUSC to use its name and emblem but, with the Workers Party of Britain also standing, under the TUSC ‘consensus rule’ – that all decisions made in the name of the coalition need unanimous agreement – the all-Britain TUSC steering committee could not issue a certificate to any candidate in the contest.

The Workers Party has participated in TUSC meetings since March 2022, and while, alongside the Social Justice Party, still only wishes to have observer status at this stage, in practice has been given the same rights as the coalition’s other constituent parts.