Letter of Cllr Dean Kirk to Ed Miliband prior to his expulsion from the Party

Dear Ed
Firstly may I introduce myself, I am a City Councillor in Hull, elected for the first time in 2011 in a ward not having had a Labour Councillor for 12 years. I fought on a manifesto of no to cuts and firmly believe was elected as a result of my stand.
I did not vote as part of the group for the Tory /Lib Dem instigated cuts. I paid the price as a result and was suspended for a period along with two other colleagues during 2013. I was well aware of the role of the whip and the concept of collective responsibility but felt it would be inappropriate to vote in favour when the Labour Party in opposition were fighting cuts imposed by the liberal Democrat administration in Hull.
I do not consider myself as a “Militant” in the traditional meaning of the word within the Labour Movement but do consider myself a Democratic Socialist which leads me to the point of writing to you. I and several rank and file colleagues have huge concerns about our ability to deliver services for the next few years and are deeply concerned about the future of the Labour Party.
If Labour has any chance of winning Local and National elections we must develop policies that are radical and innovative that shows a clear divide between us and the opposition parties. This must be put forward to explain to the electorate that we are different to the other parties
We must stop any more draconian cuts in Local Government and the public Sector as a whole to reverse the crippling cuts experienced so far.
Whilst I am not an economist (and who would want to be in these times!) I know the value of money and the need for the public sector to take its share of the pain, but we still see the banking industry and the finance sector using their financial power to stifle the economy and limit borrowing. We must develop a national bank to be led by the co-operative movement/ credit unions to assist small business in particular.
Local government Labour Councillors should not be the scape goats for National Government cuts and the Labour Party should not be punishing councillors who feel morally bound to vote against the Tories cuts. It surely cannot be beyond the experience of the Labour Party rule book to take account of this.
We are now entering the next round of budget decisions for 2014/15. I and several colleagues will not be voting in favour of any cuts to an already decimated financial situation. We have leading Labour politicians deciding to outsource a substantial number of services to arm’s length companies as an ill-conceived way of justifying savings and removing direct management of Social Services in particular to a separate company with a few councillors on the Board of Directors, this is madness and no one has justified to me how this makes for a better service to our people.
Therefore I ask you to support councillors who feel that they are bound by their conscience and who wish to support their services in their wards to be exempt for voting for cuts that will have a detrimental effect on public services. (After all we are the Labour Party)
If you would like to discuss this matter with me I am more than willing to make myself available. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read more: http://hull-lrc.webnode.com/news/cllr-dean-kirk-derringham-ward-writes-to-labour-leader-ed-miliband-we-must-stop-draconian-cuts/

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Expelled Cllr Gill Kennett’s letter to Ed Miliband – prior to her expulsion

This article is reposted from the Hull LRC website  and consists of Gill’s letter to Ed Miliband and her report of the reply.

Gill’s letter reflects her clear and deep commitment to fight for the interests of her community. Her treatment and the treatment of other anti-cuts councillors by the Party before and since then is scandalous. Please read, share and protest. 


13/04/2014 11:51

I would like to share this letter that I sent to Ed Miliband a number of weeks before the budget. I am not ashamed to use the word desperate, because indeed, it was sent in desperation. The desperation I felt then and still do feel, I know is shared by so many others. This is evidenced in the response from across the county that Dean and I have had to our actions of refusing to vote in even more deprivation to our city.  My reply came a number of weeks later; indeed it was the day after the budget vote before I received a ‘bland’, procedural and in my view dismissive response. I feel that the tone and essence of my words reflected someone who had sent it in all good faith and with absolute honesty, clearly this was not valued enough to warrant even a modicum of attention.


To Ed Miliband

I ask that you please take some time out of your busy work schedule to read this letter, frankly because it is written in desperation and I do not say this lightly.

Until I retired from work in 2010 when my position and service was ‘cut’ by the LibDem administration, I had worked in various areas of Social Care for almost thirty years predominantly in Children & Family Services. This involved having a huge amount of input with those with few life chances and opportunities; indeed second and third generations of those experiencing the destruction reeked upon them by Mrs Thatcher and her government’s policies.I am also a parent and grandparent who along with my husband struggled to bring our children up through the miners’ strike; the three day week and having to undertake two and three jobs each simultaneously, to ‘keep the wolf from the door’.

From a positive point of view, I also consider myself to be extremely lucky in that I was one of the ‘cod-liver oil and orange juice’ generation. I was born into the ‘Spirit of 45’ and had no idea that my free health care, free education and other benefits of being a ‘child of that time’ had not always been ‘the norm’.

In 2010, inspired by the Leader of Hull City Councils rhetoric and promises around fighting the cuts and challenging the Coalition Government, I was one of the ‘army’ of Union members who worked tirelessly and campaigned passionately to help secure the Labour victory in Hull that year, later becoming a Councillor myself in 2011.

Through the years I have alluded to previously; I always saw a future for the next generations; I always had hope. Now having been suspended from the Labour Group last year for not in all conscience being able to vote in a budget that was in my view, being bailiffs for the government; being agents for their ideological strategy to roll back and destroy the welfare state and the public sector.

I now find myself once again being directed to carry out cuts that are far worse than the ones we criticised and vilified the previous Leader and his LibDem group for carrying out. Our leading Labour Group members are making decisions to outsource many of our services to arm’s length companies. This I feel is the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ and opens the door the more privatisation; loss of terms and conditions and job security.

In light of the above, which I hope gives you a flavour of who I am, that I am not a militant, revolutionary or the naive idealist, some of the descriptions that were circulated about me when I voted against the budget last year as many in the Group tried to attach a rational around my actions. I am a lifelong Labour supporter who was brought up with its values at the core of our family. I am a loving and family member and a loyal friend; I am a hardworking and conscientious local Councillor, who has the best interests of my Ward and my city at heart.

I fail to understand why in the Labour Party; a party that has its roots in needing to stand up against oppression and whose history resounds with giants of our movement who questioned the status quo and broke far bigger laws than I or my colleagues have ever done. Who by breaking those laws built a party that we are proud to state stands up for the people, can in all sincerity remove me for having a conscience; using my small status to challenge this government’s inhuman polices and for being true to myself.

Surely there is room in a party and a movement of the stature, history and reputation of ours for views, values and non-negotiable to cover a wide spectrum? Surly we are allowed to work in and with the party despite our being on various points of that continuum? Suspending, expelling and driving me from the party must be counterproductive as I am Labour through and through. Thank you for your time and I look forward to a victory in the near future where we can once again bring hope to the people who surly deserve it.

Yours fraternally

Gill Kennett

 


They totally fail to recognise that the majority of the public are desperate. Desperate, that word again, for him and his party to give some hope, some leadership and some alternatives; they fail to ‘take on board’ that if they did this, then the country would be ‘theirs’ at the next election. This Shadow Government are failing to understand the need to give us faith for a future that is different to the one we now dread.

Read more: http://hull-lrc.webnode.com/news/letter-from-gill-kennett-to-ed-miliband-leader-of-the-labour-party-we-need-feelings-of-hope-not-dread/#.U0p4rWcO5RI.facebook

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Oppose the suspension of Cllr Rosalind Copeland from Sunderland Labour Group

The following extracts are taken from the Facebook site of Cllr Copeland’s supporters.
Defend Councillor Copeland

Here is the (Sunderland) Echo article on Rosalind’s suspension. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but at least it’s getting people talking.

http://m.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/sunderland-labour-councillor-suspended-for-speaking-out-against-cuts-1-6557158 “

………….

“Councillor Copeland’s suspension is not the result of speaking to the press on the day the Council budget was set. That’s the official reason given by the Labour group, but it’s not the whole truth.

Rosalind was harassed for many months and received numerous official warnings for her involvement in various anti-cuts campaigns. One such warning was given late last year after she dared to support the ‘Hands Off Sunderland Libraries’ campaign to save her local library.

Southwick Library had been an asset to the community since 1931; and when it was threatened with closure by the Council, brave Rosalind joined a protest group to fight for it – which meant intimidation and punishment from the Labour Council leaders. Rosalind defied those bullying leaders, however, and continued to involve herself in anti-cuts activity.

In September she joined ‘Sunderland Against the Cuts’ (SAtC) activists on the ‘Save the NHS’ demo outside the Tory Conference in Manchester; and later she would speak on platforms at ‘Sunderland Against the Cuts’ and ‘People’s Assembly’ meetings and attend demonstrations organised by those groups. The final straw for the Council leaders came when Rosalind attended a demo outside the Council budget meeting on 5th March. The leaders decided enough was enough and ordered Rosalind to attend a hearing on 8th April.

And yet, despite the possibility of being suspended, Rosalind turned up at the ‘Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition’ demo in Millfield on 29th March to show solidarity with those opposing far right extremists, and once again defied the rules dictated by the Council leaders (other Sunderland Councillors have been punished for attending anti-fascist demos). In my mind, Councillor Rosalind Copeland deserves praise not punishment, as she is fighting cuts that are harming the city she is elected to defend. We must fight for Rosalind like she has fought for us, and not rest until her suspension is lifted and the harassment stops. ROSALIND COPELAND, THE HERO OF SOUTHWICK – WE SALUTE YOU!!”

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Protest against expulsions of anti-cuts cllrs Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk from the Labour Party

On Thursday, 10th April,  Hull Labour Councillors Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk were notified by letter that they had been expelled from the Labour Party. Earlier they had been informed by their Labour Group that they had been indefinitely suspended from the Labour Group for not voting for cuts. Dean abstained, Gill voted against but both had been prominent in denouncing the cuts budget which will lead to the loss of approaching 500 jobs and the services they provide, as well as an increase in the Council Tax by 1.9%.

Since their election, Gill and Dean had consistently opposed the cuts in Hull’s jobs and services. Opposition to the cuts had been the policy of the Hull Labour Group in opposition, at the time that they were elected: Gill and Dean have been true to their electoral pledges, the Hull Labour Group has not!  Instead the majority Labour Group has alienated the electorate and trade unions by doing little or nothing to challenge the cuts demanded of them by the Tory/ Lib Dem government.

Gill and Dean were allegedly expelled because they set up an Independent Labour Group on Hull Council . The letter of notification of their expulsion implied that they therefore supported another party than the Labour Party. But the Hull Independent Labour Group was merely established by Gill and Dean as they had been indefinitely suspended from the Labour Group. Having been excluded from the Labour Group, sharing the same outlook, they naturally needed to organise together on the council. No moves have been made by them to support candidates standing against Labour.

Gill told the campaign ‘We believe we stand in the best traditions of the Labour Party. It is our party. It is not a party which should be bringing devastation on the jobs and services, which our working class communities depend on.’

Much is made in Labour Groups about being united and being disciplined to the whips. Unity has usually been fought for and supported by socialists in the Labour movement. But unity to defend our communities – not unity that facilitates attacks, such as these cuts, on our communities. The cuts of councils like Hull are opposed widely not only in those communities but also within the Labour and trade union movement. Demanding unity in implementing cuts is only ‘unity of the graveyard’ – that will kill the Party as a voice for working class people.

That is why socialist Labour MPs in Parliament throughout its history have been forced to defy whips. Nye Bevan’s defied the whip in 1955 in opposition to nuclear armament;  in 1983 35% of MPs defied a 3-line whip on the decision to go to war in Iraq; and most recently MPs defied the front bench decision to support the Tory’s benefit cap. Usually such defiance does not lead to serious disciplinary action, for fear by the Party leadership that it will cause worse division.

To now victimise socialists acting on their mandate and their principles is clearly provocative. It does damage to those trying to get a Labour vote from those opposed to cuts. It is a worrying indicator of how an incoming Labour government will treat those in its ranks who oppose austerity.

We call on all anti-cuts activists in their campaigns, trade unions and Labour Parties to propose motions against the expulsions of Cllr Kennett and Cllr Kirk, and demand that they be reversed.

Please pass on any motions of support for Gill and Dean to our email address as well as any personal messages of support for them. We will pass them on and with your permission publish them on this website.

At this time before the general election and the hoped-for defeat of the Tories and Lib Dems we must continue to oppose the destruction of our services and defend those like Gill and Dean who have held the ‘anti-cuts’ banner so high and so well in the Labour Party.

Solidarity with Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk!

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Councillors Against Cuts to meet UNISON national officers to discuss common campaigning against cuts

We are pleased to report that a delegation from Councillors Against Cuts will be meeting with national UNISON officers on January 29th to explore possibilities of common action against all cuts to jobs and services in local government.

This follows the motion passed at the UNISON 2013 local government conference for UNISON to campaign alongside CAC.

We hope to discuss with UNISON:

1) an urgent and immediate joint call, from both CAC and UNISON, on councils NOT to cut jobs and services.

2) a common campaign of leaflets/ public meetings/ debates and demonstrations explaining the case for Councils not to implement the cuts demanded by the Tory and LibDem coalition.

3) support for Labour councils and councillors who refuse to vote for cuts in jobs and services

Time is short before 2014 local government budgets are agreed. In those budget debates – trade unions, Labour Party organisations and as many councillors as possible must do their utmost to organise against these cuts.

But even if cuts budgets are agreed we need to stand together in stopping them through continuing political campaigning as well as trade union action.

We ask anti-cuts campaigners throughout the country to let us know what else they think Councillors Against Cuts might suggest in our meeting with UNISON. Please email your suggestions to CouncillorsAgainstCuts@gmail.com.

The ConDem destruction of local government services and jobs has to be fought. We will continue to do whatever we can to fight against them, and demand they be reversed, along with trade unions and other anti-cuts campaigners.

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New statement for a fighting policy against all local government cuts

We issue a new statement below in the lead up to the 2014 budget discussion calling for a refusal by Labour councils to implement cuts. Printable statement from this link

If you are a councillor elected on a Labour ticket, please give it your support.

If you are a Labour Party, trade union or other anti-cuts activist please challenge your local councillors to sign and add your support this statement (fill in online form at end of this statement).


The cuts that will be demanded of local government over the next 2 years will be “the end of local government as we know it.” says Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council. Sir Merrick Cockell, Tory Chairman of the Local Government Association, reveals that the latest round of budget cuts would lead to some councils going bankrupt. But what do the proposed cuts mean in human terms?

They mean:

  • Misery for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost or are losing their jobs.
  • Anguish for the elderly, children and their carers, the poor, the undernourished, the educationally deprived who will lose the right to a dignified life.
  • The loss of democratically accountable services run for the public good to private institutions overwhelmingly motivated by profit-making.

We believe that what the government is doing to our communities is immoral. But we cannot denounce their actions without doing our utmost to stop them.

For years councils have claimed that if they didn’t implement cuts then Pickles’ underlings would come in and take control of the council services. But it is compliance with government cuts and the under resourcing of staff in Birmingham that is giving the Tories the excuse to take control of the Council’s child care services.

We do not accept that the local government cuts are necessary. Not in this era of increasing inequalities of wealth, low tax rates on the super-rich and huge profits for the banking sector and their senior staff.

We cannot simply wait for the general election. Implementing cuts will not help Labour beat the Tories. Instead it will make it harder to mobilise working class votes if Labour-led councils are:

  • handing out masses of redundancy notices and
  • cutting services or implementing charges that make it even harder for ordinary people to make ends meet.

We pledge

  • To fight the cuts demanded by the Tories and not just criticise them
  • To campaign alongside unions and the rank and file of local government workers in explaining to the public why these cuts are unjustified and to mobilise in opposition to them.
  • To support local government workers in their fight for jobs and for the protection of local government services.
  • To defend the living standards of working class communities by refusing increased charges or taxes.
  • To refuse to vote for budgets that will lead to an attack on jobs or reduce services.

We call on trade unions and the Labour Party nationally to support both councillors in the council chamber or workers in the workplace that oppose these cuts.

We call on the Labour Party to pledge that if successful at the next general election they will restore local government funding so that councils can do the job that was expected from them – providing care, education, housing, and other services for our people regardless of income and outside the grasping hands of companies driven by profit.

Cllr Kevin Bennett, Warrington Council
Cllr Greg Marshall, Broxtowe Borough Council
Cllr Gill Kennett, Hull City Council
Cllr George Barratt, Barking and Dagenham Council
Cllr Waida Forman, Harlow District Council
Cllr Dean Kirk, Hull City Council

Please fill in this online form if you support campaign
If you don’t receive an email response within a week please email us

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Report reveals local cuts as “the end of local government as we know it”

Jonathan Carr-West, director at the Local Government Information Unit, reveals the extent to which Councils believe the current round of cuts could be terminal in an article on an London School of Economics blog, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/36972.

Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, used an interview on the eve of Eric Pickles’s speech to conference to announce his view that the latest round of budget cuts (another 15% for 2015/16) would lead to some councils going bankrupt… an Audit Commission report estimated that a third of unitaries and county councils could be at medium-term risk of being unable to balance their budgets…the leader of Birmingham City Council Sir Albert Bore has argued vociferously that spending cuts mean “the end of local government as we know it.” … more than 50 councils shared evidence of a medium term collapse in their ability to keep paying for care. We’re familiar with the scenario outlined by the now infamous Barnet Graph of Doom in which councils can afford to pay for adult social care and children’s services and absolutely nothing else. But many councils that we spoke to shared Sir Merrick’s view that it could be worse than that and that they would struggle even to maintain core statutory services.

Councils cannot pretend that implementation of the Tory cuts agenda will help with the longer-term defence of jobs and services. They have to be honest not only with the Local Government Information Unit, but with unions, their employees and the public. They should raise the call to fight back against the destruction of the services they were put in place to maintain, manage and defend.

Pete Radcliff, Secretary, Councillors Against Cuts

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