How voters rejected Coalition attempts to smear labour councils
Council cuts presented a problem to the Coalition: An axe was taken to vital services people rely on, and worse still, it was poorer councils that faced the heaviest cuts. The solution: Smear the local Labour administrations as ‘politically-motivated’, in particular making an example of Manchester City Council
Nick Clegg made a political character assasination of Manchester a central plank of his speech to the Liberal Democrat Spring Forum, saying:
“Cross the Pennines into Manchester, a council having to make almost identical savings… (to then Liberal Democrat Sheffield), you’ll find a Labour council letting nearly 2,000 people go. So don’t let Labour take the moral high ground: In councils up and down the country they’re the ones making the decisions to cut services that could be protected.
“Some people say Labour are making cuts for political reasons…So they’ve got something to blame the coalition for in their local election campaigns. Let me say this: Anyone who sacks a member of staff or shuts down a public service for political purposes is a disgrace to politics and a disgrace to Britain. So yes, we have to tackle the deficit. But we are not a cuts government.”
And we had David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Question’s saying:
“That I think the cuts are being cut by Manchester City Council are politically driven and are too deep… I think that people in Manchester will look at their council will say cut out the waste, cut out the bureacracy, cut the chief excutive’s salary, and only then should you cut services.”
“When you get the type of cynicism and abdication of responsibility in Manchester then it is right for Ministers to get angry and to take to the airwaves.”
Left Foot Forward has shown Local Government Minister Grant Grant Shapps’s comparison between Manchester, and wealthy Tory-run bordering Trafford, which has around half of Manchester’s population but facing roughly 10 per cent of its cuts, as showing profound local ignorance. He even tried to compare Manchester to Militant-run Liverpool in the 1980s – despite the fact that current chief Richard Leese was part of a Labour administration that worked closely with the Thatcher and Major Governments on the Metrolink tram system and the Commonwealth Games bid.
So after the sustained attack of a two-party government and the massed ranks of Fleet Street, what was the verdict of Manchester City voters? Well, its hard to know what they think of Tories, as there are no Tory councillors. But the Liberal Democrats lost every one of their standing representatives. Labour won every single ward that held an election. Some of thier new councillors have majorities of more than a 1,000.
Cameron, Clegg and Shapps should accept verdict of the voters, and withdraw their smears.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.