Monday, 1 April 2013

Time for the party to come to the aid of the people

FAO George Carr-Williamson -Regional Organiser East Midlands Labour Party

Dear George,
You told me that Cllr. Naz Choudary has been sending you my columns,presumably not because he is a fan but rather he is hunting out heretics and thought you should know.Well this time I'll save him the trouble,and you can judge directly if I should be burnt at the new labour stake!
On Saturday in common with many other places we had a demonstration here in Northampton against the iniquitous 'Bedroom tax'.
A respectable 60-70 people turned up from a variety of groups and individuals to demonstrate on the steps of the Guildhall.
It wasn't quite the magnificent effort that Corby put on, with between 200-300 people and Andy Sawford MP, John McGhee(Leader of NCC Labour group) and the Leader of Corby Council, as well as a number of local councillors.

In Northampton by contrast we had the PPC for Northampton North who posed for some photos then scurried off to do something more important.
We did however have two Labour Councillors,who both spoke and made a welcome contribution.
But on an issue that will affect so many people in this town it has to be asked,where were the other 14 Labour Councillors?

I ask because in the past Labour Councillors here have been in the forefront of such struggles.many years ago,when the late Roger Winter was Labour Leader we turned up with him at 6.30am to join a picket line of  UCATT workers on a council building site.It was a freezing day but we gamely stood there,a pity by the way that the Union convener,a SWP member failed to show!

Some years later another fine comrade,the late Ron Linsdell  during his mayoral year joined a print workers picket line outside the Chronicle & Echo offices.Ron was a print worker but put solidarity with his workmates against the glory of the office.The local Tories and the press excoriated Ron, but the group were proud of him and gave unconditional support.

In those seemingly far off days the Labour Party banner was frequently to the fore, on Saturday there was the Green Party banner,the Co-op Party banner and Defend Council Housing's banner, I wonder if the Labour Party still have a banner?

However there is something important that the 16 Labour Councillors still can do, they can offer leadership and resistance to this dreadful legislation.They have a wordy and pious resolution going forward to the next council meeting.That is frankly too little too late.
The resolution that needs to be put is a very short one:
"NBC will not evict and tenant affected by the 'Bedroom Tax'"
Of course they will not win it,but they might detatch one or two Lib-Dems and add to the coalition chaos.
The other thing of course they need to do is use their size to requisition a special Council meeting, and keep the Tories there all night!
that would not only show leadership but give hope to thousands that there isd a battle on and that it can be won.This tax is the Tories nmew Poll Tax moment and the battle lines are starting to grow.
The other obvious thing that has to be done is the passive defence of any tenant faced with eviction.A disabled speaker on Saturday said that he was facing imminent eviction.If that proves to be the case then apicket line outside her flat by as many Labour Councillors as can get there would be a positive signal that Northampton Labour is getting off its knees!

It was good to see a number of young Labour candidates in May turn up on Saturday,but now the Party must match its rhetoric with political action.

That sufficiently inflammatory Cllr.Choudary?Does it perhaps make you want to slam the phone down again? 


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