Down at the Methodist Hall on the Neasden roundabout members were subjected to 'Death by Powerpoint' style presentations and separate cafe style discussions on different services and the cuts proposed. A familiar process for those who have experienced 'Shaping a Healthier Future' or Brent Plan consultations. It is a method that seems to dilute opposition and impose the control of the organisers.
I expected little from this 'Shaping a Broken Borough' consultation and that was confirmed by Graham Durham's posting on the Brent Fightback page on Sunday:
There are consultations with residents tomorrow (see image above) where there will be a temptation to argue for specific services in the £6m cap between the cuts set out in the draft budget and the total actually required. However Brent Fightback wants a much more militant approach by the Council"Well what a poor turnout at the All Brent Labour Party meeting yesterday on the £54million cuts proposed by the Labour leader, Cllr Butt. By the time votes were taken only 12 ordinary Party members were present - the rest were councillors. Reasons for this poor attendance vary - obviously considering how to destroy services to the poorest and most vulnerable in Brent is not everyones cup of tea as a priority for 10 am on a Saturday morning. There is also a democratic deficit in the Labour Party as ordinary members know that whatever they say the Labour councillors will ignore it.This cynicism grew when Labour councillors awarded themselves a 25% pay award this year - so councillors now have an interest in turning up to ensure their huge allowances are protected. As usual the trick of proposing slightly more cuts ( £60m) was used so Butt and co can claim later they saved this or that ...but otherwise there were the usual crocodile tears from Cllrs Butt and Pavey that Labour councillors do not want to attack the most vulnerable at all but feel obliged to do so.The cuts themselves were set out in a series of PowerPoints prepared by Council officers - and sadly most of the justifications were read by Cabinet members from scripts prepared by Council officers -as ever it was clear Labour councillors were doing what they were told by officers and exerted no control over Council decisions at all. When the detail of the cuts were revealed there was much unhappiness- in the children's service for example over the £8.4 million cuts.Cllr Ruth Moher tried to present £2.3milion of these cuts as 'uncontentious'-as they represent a £700k loss of residential placements for the most needy children in care ,cuts of £650k in spending on quality remand placements . They were, of course, deeply contentious. Worse was to come as £900k was to be lopped off what is left of the Youth Service, carers and study advice to the most vulnerable young people was to be slashed by £500k, Stonebridge Adventure Playground was to be slashed by £118K, up to ten Children’s Centres closed etc etc.When it was pointed out that there is an epidemic of child abuse in Brent and everywhere else and all these proposals and more put children more at risk of abuse it suddenly dawned on some councillors that they were attacking the very children they had been assured would be protected. One new Brent North councillor declared she spent her working life working for vulnerable children and became quite upset when she realised she was required to vote to damage these very children.When a vote was taken on a Kilburn ward motion to refuse to make the cuts and to campaign against them Party members were tied in the vote - but twelve highly paid Labour councillors were allowed to vote to rule this out (only one Cllr Rita Conneely abstained). There will be sleepless nights counting those allowances between now and March 2nd when the Council budget is set.
A well placed senior source reckons that Muhammed Butt currently has the support of about three quarters of the Labour Group so a revolt seems unlikely at present, although those who are disaffected are VERY disaffected.Fightback believes the Council should resist the cuts, tell the government that they are totally unacceptable and refuse to implement them, that they should organise a march to Eric Pickles' office or Parliament and ask the people of Brent and all the other Labour Councils and the people of other boroughs to come with them. It would be good if Fightback supporters could go to these meetings and make these points
Yesterday millions of French people ignored traffic lights, jaywalking laws, obstruction legislation, rail and tube prices, diplomatic protocols, public order acts, noise abatement bye-laws and all manner of social and racial protocols. They did it in the cause of freedom of belief and freedom of expression.
The sky did not fall in.
Maybe there’s a lesson there for Brent Labour (and for the rest of us).
Didn't Councillor Rita Connolly vote against the budget? Is she one of the VERY disaffected? Maybe there is some hope for a rebellion against Butt.
Highlight of meeting was Graham Durham claiming credit for getting rid of Thatcher - what a hero!
I suspect Cllr Conneely's abstention was more about not wanting to vote against her own (Kilburn) ward's motion rather than any principled stance, although I wasn't aware she had voted against the budget. Was this within the Labour Group or at public council meeting?
We should all give him thanks for that!
The 'very disaffected' who have spoken to me are not necessarily anti-cuts. Their opposition to Butt is based on what they see as his undemocratic style of leadership, his 'capture' by senior officers, his failure to take action on the Employment Tribunal case and his manoeurvres over the exclusion of Cllr Van Kalwala from council committees and the Civic Centre before the courts have heard the case.
The situation is complicated by those who are loyal to Pavey and Butt. Pavey seems like the only alternative, so who those people back will be key.
What about old "Red Star" (Neil Nerva)? Is he popular?
That's interesting. A veteran LP person did say recently that 'People are saying Mikey - at least he listens, Mo doesn't'. Others see Pavey as a loyal deputy who is a bit OTT in the role. A lot may rest on what is in the Pavey review of HR at the end of the month. Meanwhile, after rule changes Cllr Butt is in office until 2016. Perhaps the new Tory candidate for Brent Central, Alan Mendoza, could give some guidance on mounting a putsch!
I would be surprised if Butt gets past 2016. He only ever won because people were worn out by Ann John. All the Labour people I speak to say that Pavey is much straighter and far more willing to listen to backbenchers.
However, Pavey is also reputed to be loyal to the leadership, so he's unlikely to challenge Butt directly. He who wields the knife and all that...
Graham Dunham, 'The Man Behind Geoffrey Howe'!
What would the Green Party do?
Any useful examples from Brighton?
Maybe the Trots in Brent Labour should all move there...
Why doesn't Graham Durham join the Green Party?
We couldn't afford the transfer fee!
Take him on a loan? Or a pay-as-you-betray deal?
I'd be making the same argument there. Green Left has kept up a comradely debate about the need for resistance to the cuts.
Have the Greens "delivered cuts totalling 50 per cent"? Cuts of around that figure have been imposed by Westminster, yes, but by intelligently husbanding resources, rooting out inefficiency and greening the council's building stock, and with great support from council staff, only a very small fraction of cuts have so far been passed on to the frontline of council services.
To date, for example, we've kept all libraries and children's centres open, imposed no compulsory redundancies on council employees, continued financial support for the third sector, significantly increased spending for the city's most vulnerable and have not privatised any in-house services. Indeed, our first act on coming to office was to raise the earnings of minimum wage council employees to the Living Wage.
There is probably not a Labour council in the land that can claim to have scuppered coalition plans so effectively. Some have presided over carnage. Look at Newham's decision to evict single mothers.
Meanwhile, egged on by Bassam, Labour in Brighton and Hove has consistently tried to wreck Green spending plans. For three years running, it has vetoed all Green proposals for modest council tax rises to offset cuts. It prevented the launch of a food waste scheme and then complained about recycling rates. It has tried to block investment in the city's business infrastructure. All this refusal to cooperate (Labour also turned down several invitations to form a coalition) has earned the Labour leader the nickname "Councillor No".
On the Staggers, Bassam goes on to claim, "They said they would build 1,000 new affordable homes but have not even reached a third of that". Again, just not true. Our commitment was to "begin a programme" on that scale and we're doing well: 751 affordable homes are already in the programme (with almost 400 delivered) and we've also brought a staggering 876 empty homes (private and council) back into use.
And so it goes on. Bassam attacks the Greens' record on education when we've seen A-level results rising above the national average,the best GCSE results ever and a new secondary school in the pipeline.
He attacks our radicalism, yet we were the first English council to refuse to evict for bedroom tax arrears while Labour councils were happy to do the government's dirty work. We're also widely praised for groundbreaking work on equalities, particularly for LGBT people, and in finally introducing genuine equal pay for male and female council staff at a time when, elsewhere, women still lag behind men by 15 per cent.
Economically, we've won almost £60m in external funding, which has paid not just for new housing but for miles of reconfigured roadways, cycle lanes and the restoration of inner city parkland, significantly reducing road deaths and casualties, improving the look and air quality of the city and winning a slew of awards.
And our economy, thanks in part to support for our key creative, technical and tourism industries, has grown throughout the recession and is blossoming.
No need, Brent Labour will give him away
Let's hope that's 20.16 .........
If Brighton has had 'successes' why not share them as parties of the left - surely the object here is to protect people and their services, not preserving parties?
The only way to properly protect people is with a Labour government. The Greens are a threat to that.
UKIP are more of a threat to Labour. The core issue is that the leadership have nothing to offer even Blair recognises that in his coded messages. We can't blame the Greens for that.
Not really. The people considering voting UKIP used to vote Lib Dem or Tory in a lot of cases and Blair didn't win three elections with their support. UKIP do have support in Labour heartlands, but not enough to actually win seats. The threat to Labour from the right is being overstated.
Labour could win a majority from the left if it takes all the Lib Dem and Green voters, but that won't happen.
Labour will probably just about be largest party, but no-one will be celebrating come May.
.... in fact they'll hardly notice the difference.
As much as we may delude ourselves, Labour is not the party it used to be - They are neo-liberals and allign with Tories much more than anywhere else. Its why we're not profiting from the downfall of the Liberal Democrats.The Heywood and Middleton showed the danger for party working class votes are going UKIP.
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