Labour’s best local election result since 1995 and the Tories’ worst since 1996, yeah, we’ll take that

Labour leader Ed Miliband with Labour Group leader Sir Albert Bore

Ed Miliband in Birmingham yesterday with Birmingham Council Labour Group leader, Sir Albert Bore

That’s right, throughout Friday Labour saw it’s best performance in a local election since 1995 (all in proportion to how many Council elections were up for grabs as last year we gained more but far more were up for grabs). And similarly the Tories saw their worst local election result since 1996 and the Lib Dems now have dropped down below 3,000 councillors for the first time in the party’s existence.

This was a result that exceeded everyone’s expectations on all fronts. With most Tories attempting to spin the result to say we needed around 450 councillor gains to be seen as a success, we only smashed that with 823! When everyone expected Scottish Labour to lose Glasgow City Council we not only fought off a SNP challenge but took control of the council at the expense of the Lib Dems and Tories. When everyone said Labour would only win a slight majority in our very own Birmingham City Council, we smashed all expectations by gaining 20 councillors and winning a 34 seat majority. When it was expected Welsh Labour would fail in taking Cardiff City Council, we defied all predictions by gaining 33 councillors and winning a majority of 17! And we’re very proud of very nearly almost gaining control of the Greater London Assembly, falling short by 1 Assembly member.

This election wasn’t without its disappointments though. BULS’s very own Honourary life Member, Dennis Minnis, was unsuccessful in taking Edgbaston. And biggest of all, huge disappointment at Ken’s defeat. We are all glad Ken did defy most  (but not all, sadly) odds by not letting Boris have a shoe-in election by pushing the margin on the second round to a close 3%. Many Tories see Boris as the next leader and Prime Minister in waiting. “Wiff-waff” may well have edged it in London, don’t expect the country to do the same.

Of course, the results did see successes close to our hearts in BULS. Obviously there was turning Birmingham City Council red, but BULS saw former student of the University of Birmingham, Karen McCarthy, join former BULS Secretary, Brigid Jones, as a Councillor for Selly Oak. Quinton ward, where Grandee Nash played a large hand in, was also successful in electing Caroline Bradley.

All in all, while this was a brilliant result for Labour nationally we have to remember this has happened to opposition parties in the past. Hague, Howard and Kinnock all saw similar successes at mid-term local elections in their time in opposition. This was a much needed boost, not a prelude for the general election. Though it is safe to say, that the media, politicians and the wider public can no longer claim Miliband has no chance at 2015. There’s still a hell of a lot of work to be done, but we now know that we still do have a shot at 2015.




Today saw BULS’s 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) with most of the positions up for grabs. And the results are as follows for the new committee-elect:

Chair – Catie Garner

Vice-Chair – Ed Gilbert

Secretary – Areeq Chowdhury

Treasurer – Ellis Stacey

Website Editor – Alex Swanson

Communications Officer – Sam Faulding

This represents the beginning of the end for what I’d like to call, the ‘General Election generation’ of BULS. The last contingent of the BULS society who still remembers the day the final Leader’s debate came to campus, the day we met the Cabinet (shame he didn’t shake my hand) and the day we watched Giesla Stuart win Edgbaston in Joe’s Bar on results night.

I wish the new committee-elect all the best and hope they will be a progressive force for good and a committee based on consensus and mutual trust and respect.

By Max Ramsay, outgoing Vice-Chair

What’s happening across the Ocean?

Great news y’all (may as well get in the spirit of this post) America has seen its fifth consecutive month of falling unemployment; down by 8.5% to 8.3% with 243,000 jobs being created. Coupled with growth figures from last week showing a rise of 2.8% in GDP in the final quarter of 2011 (1% higher growth on the previous quarter) it’s becoming increasingly apparent that America’s strategy of economic stimulus is comparatively buoyant when next to Europe’s strategy of austerity. Yes, unemployment levels are higher than here in the UK (for now at least), but that’s primarily because of the USA’s private sector economy focus (when compared to our economy at least) and some of the weakest employment protection laws in the world.

What is beginning to emerge is that Europe’s (and more specifically, the UK’s) austerity programmes are not working. If you make too harsh a cuts to the public sector you’ll also damage the private sector as numerous contracts are arranged between the two sectors. That’s right, they’re intertwined, you attack one part too harshly it will have a knock on effect on the other.

It is hugely unlikely Cameron, Clegg and Osborne will take notice of Obama’s successes. But at least the American people hopefully will this November.


I’m sorry but “political” reasons?

20.01.12: Martin Rowson on union opposition to the health and social care bill

Andrew Lansley recently showed a prime example of how not win your case by describing the ever growing opposition to his NHS reforms as being motivated by “political” reasons.

I’m sorry but “political” reasons? The British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Nurses, the Conservative dominated Commons Health Select Committee and Norman frigging Tebbit all oppose the reforms, which will open up the NHS to EU competition law, for “political” reasons? These are not organisations (with the exception of the latter obviously) that sit from the outside and attempt to vaguely analyse the inner workings of the NHS. No, these are organisations that deal with the inner workings of the NHS every single day. They know how it works. They know what will be detrimental. And they are the ones that will know that these reforms will fundamentally destroy the NHS.

Cameron said it himself, no top down reorganisations of the NHS. Now drop this bill!


Growth and all that jazz

Chris Riddell's Observer comment cartoon 15.08.10

Sorry for the break in blogging, we’re trying to up the ante this year

Probably the most pressing of all news items is the recent dismal growth figures. Over a year ago when Cameron and Osborne claimed we were “Out of the woods” and “Out of the danger zone”. How very wrong they were. With the final quarter of 2011 seeing a contraction of 0.2% this then means that in the last 15 months since Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October 2010, we’ve had a massive 0.3% of growth. Cameron then has the audacity to blame the recent growth figures on the Euro crisis. Well I’m sorry, the UK economy has been stagnating long before the crisis began to effect.

Cameron you said it yourself, “I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the economy.” then take responsibility and change course!


Angry atheist rants

As I approach my role as Vice-Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) by keeping religion and my position in BULS totally separate. So, this post you’ll be reading from BULS member and atheist Max Ramsay, rather than BULS Vice-Chair Max Ramsay.

Ancient copies of the King James Bible are carried during a procession at Westminster Abbey to mark its 400th anniversary. Photograph: Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images

Today David Cameron declared “Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so” and “that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”.

Now, I’d like to point out that I respect everyone’s right to have whatever faith they so wish. But, to be quite honest, Cameron really hasn’t read much of the King James’ Bible if he believes this is the case.

Now the first point is something seemingly imported from the USA. Given that a poll in 2004 conducted by the BBC showed that 39% of the UK population did not believe in God. That’s right, today we’re anything but a Christian nation, we’re a secular nation.

You may say, “Oh, but we were founded upon Christian ideals and it has played a such a vital part in history in the last few centuries.”. Really?! If we did derive our morals and values from the bible we’d still find acceptable;

  1. General slaughters (I Chronicles 20:3, Judges 8:10 and Deuteronomy 3:6-7)
  2. Burying victims alive (Numbers 16:32-35)
  3. Killing unbelievers (Deuteronomy 13:5, 13:6, 13:8-9 and 13:15)
  4. Genocides (II Chronicles 14:9 and 14:12 and II Samuel 12:31)
  5. Raping (Isaiah 13:15-16)
  6. Slavery (Exodus 21:2-6 and 21:20-21, Leviticus 25:44-46 and 1 Peter 2:18-21)
  7. White supremacy (Romulus 12:1-3 and 12:19-21 and Philipians 3:18)
  8. Jewish Persecution (Matthew 27: 22 and 27:25, John 7:1 and 8:44, Acts 7:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
  9. Women’s persecution (Leviticus 15:19-21 and 18:19, Proverbs 21:19, Corinthians 11:3 and 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-24 and Timothy 2:12-15)
  10. Justify physical punishment of children (Leviticus 20:9, Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 22:15 and 23:12-14)
  11. Homophobia (Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:24 and 1:26-27 and Corinthians 6:9-10)
  12. Oppose medical science (Acts 15:29, James 5:13-15 and Matthew 9:2-8)
  13. To justify war (Exodus 15:3, Deuteronomy 20:4 and 1 Timothy 4:18)

Now can Cameron really claim that we were founded upon these values? That we derive our morals and values from the bible? And that we’re still a Christian nation? Again, while I respect people’s right to believe this, it is quite clear that what binds us and gives us true sense of values is secular enlightened thinking.