local government

Chaos under Corbyn

First published in Progress magazine

A year in decline under hard-left control

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Brexit prolongs austerity but Labour’s brilliant local leaders will help communities survive

First published on LabourList

The British public’s decision to pull out of the European Union has shaken our politics and the economy. In turn the implications on our public services will catch up. And they are likely to be huge.

Mark Carney’s injection of £250bn into the economy and George Osborne’s tax break to companies has blown the public finances. But this additional spending is not the end of austerity but the prolonging of austerity. Public services will have constrained budgets for another decade longer. Just when you thought it was not possible, local councils will face even deeper cuts from central government, and services on which so many rely will come under further pressure.

Thankfully Labour councils are better led than at any point in our history. (more…)

Progress annual conference 2016: Straight talking, honest politics

Venue: Main Hall, Congress Centre, 23-28 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3LS
Date and time: 14 May 2016, 10am

Progress director Richard Angell addresses Progress annual conference.

You can find more content like this at: progressonline.org.uk

Watch the speech here:

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Leaked letter opens the floodgates

First published on Progressonline

David Cameron has made a pig’s ear of it again. A leaked letter that he is pressuring his local council to resist the worst implications of George Osborne’s cuts is either confirmation that Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity politics is catching on or that the prime minister has no idea what the implications of his own policies are in his own back garden. You decide.

Either way – Labour has seen the chink in his armour and is pressing its advantage. Jonathan Ashworth – member of parliament for Leicester South and shadow Cabinet Office minister – was straight on Cameron’s flagrant disregard of the Ministerial Code as he offers up use of the No 10 Policy Unit to provide free consultancy to his local struggling Tory council. (more…)

Jim McMahon is a man to watch

Council leader and Labour’s byelection candidate

First published on the Times Redbox

“Labour’s recovery will come through local government,” remarked Liam Byrne in his speech to Policy Network on Tuesday, predicting a 1930s return to “municipal socialism” and the days when Herbert Morrison clawed Labour back to credibility as leader of the London county council.

For those despondent about a Labour recovery, there is good news. We do not need to wait. Since Labour left the Whitehall stage, a generation of exceptional local government leaders have come to the fore. They are dynamic, innovative and charting an exceptional path for Labour. In the most challenging fiscal environment they are creating jobs, transforming services and winning powers from central government. However, the parliamentary party has yet to find a way to harness this energy. (more…)

Labour has to be honest about the hole that it’s in

First published on The Staggers

Labour suffered a “hidden landslip” at the polls last week. Getting out of the hole requires some frank conversations.

Let us be in no doubt how bad last week’s result was. We lost – I repeat – lost eight seats to the Tories, and of the 88 seats we were targeting to win from the Tories we gained just 10 and reduced their majority in only a further 10.

Our prospects at the next election now look more distant than ever. Had we this time around gained 3,000 net votes per seat from our closest rival we would have gained 49 seats. Next time, if we rose 3,000 net votes against seats’ new majorities we would gain just 24. Just as Joan Ryan identified the ‘hidden landslide’ – 2005 seats won from Labour by the Conservatives which massively increased their majorities against us in 2010 – this time we witnessed the ‘hidden landslip’  of our party sliding further away in the seats we need to win just to get near a majority. The Staggers’ own Stephen Bush has calculated the large swings Labour would now need to secure in target seats if it is to return in 2020. (more…)

Hope

First published on ProgressOnline

Hope the play

Hope runs at the Royal Court, London SW1 until 10 January 2015

Actor Paul Higgins moves seamlessly from foul-mouthed and over-confident Downing Street operator in the Thick Of It to his latest role as contorted local councillor in Jack Thorne’s latest play, Hope. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Higgins is number two this time to cold Labour council leader Hilary (played by Stella Gonet) rather than hothead Labour apparatchik Malcolm Tucker.

The play revolves around the huge and desperate cuts that Eric Pickles and his colleagues have forced on local government. It looks at the trials and tribulations of a council having to find £22m of cuts in the coming year. All trying to do the right thing, many hours are spent trying to choose one cut over another. It all turns sour when a day centre for disabled people gets axed. Run by the ex-wife of the deputy leader, she is able to use her foot in both worlds to rally anti-austerity forces locally and nationally. The council backs down and it only gets worse. (more…)

Time for NEC reform to strengthen members’ and councillors’ voices

First published on Progressonline

The events of last weekend were historic and unifying. The changes will be meaningful and, let us hope, lasting. Giving 2.7 million trade unionists the chance to step closer to the party their forebears helped create is no small thing. And asking the nine million people who stayed loyal in 2010 when the party got the second-worst electoral thumping since 1918 should chart a new opportunity for the people’s party. All make it more likely we win the coming general election.

Missing from the reform package, and Refounding Labour before it, is the necessary changes to the committee that is now to implement the Collins proposals, the NEC. (more…)