I went to a meeting last week of a new group called Sandwell Against the Cuts. I thought around 50 people, mostly from trade unionists and ‘left’ groups represented a reasonable start, with the aim of mobilising for the national demonstration against the cuts in London on 26th March. As the only Labour councillor there I got away relatively unscathed. A couple of people complaining about the Council making cuts, (some of which we’re not actually making) or not giving sufficient public lead in fighting back (seemed justified to me) and only one person who said the Council should refuse to set a legal budget (although what the Council’s workforce would say when the money ran out wasn’t clear). Of course, if we didn’t set a legal budget Officers would, and Pickles would love every second of it. But as I say, on the whole the meeting was positive and about building support for the national TUC demonstration on 26th March.
What I will say for the organisers is that at least they are doing something. I’ve had a bit of a go today about one of my favourite blogs. The Plastic Hippo is bemoaning the performance of the Labour opposition in Walsall. I have no doubt some of the criticism may well be justified, although Walsall’s Labour politics have a long and troublesome history. But what gets my goat a bit is when people are dishing out the criticism of what other people are doing without making it absolutely clear what they are doing.
Sometimes the folk shouting slogans and selling newspapers can be a bit irritating, but they are up and doing something. Complaining about doom and gloom and the end of the world as we know it is all well and good, but fighting to the last drop of someone else’s blood ain’t going to do much about it. Walsall currently has some of the best bloggers around and a really good web presence, thanks to sites like The Yam Yam. They could bring the sort of impetus to Walsall Labour politics that is so badly needed. It doesn’t have to be all about sitting in committees.
As The Plastic Hippo says… The electorate deserve a credible alternative voice. Be that change.