Tag Archives: Ed Miliband

Council votes to oppose Sheffield’s financial settlement

Sheffield City Council last night voted to oppose the city’s local government financial settlement, which will require deep cuts in council spending.

The cut to the grant, which council leader Paul Scriven pledged to oppose should it be over 15%, came in at roughly 8%, although this is still 4% higher than the national average.

Cllr Brian Lodge, deputy leader of the city’s Labour group, said that when council tax receipts and the additional grant for social care are taken into account, the effective cut for 2011/12 is more like 14.57%.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the full council, he said: “This is a devastating settlement for Sheffield. This is a 15% cut like for like.”

Labour councillor Jack Scott further accused the Liberal Democrats of going along with the coalition settlement despite it being unfair for the city, and hitting the poorest hardest.

He said: “Every week we see how this government brings new meaning to the phrase ‘women and children first'”.

In response, an animated Simon Clement-Jones, Lib Dem cabinet member for finance, said: “Honestly, I’ve heard some shrill whining in my time, but this?” before repeatedly asking what the Labour group would do in their position.

Paul Scriven, leader of the council pointed out that Labour leader Ed Miliband had said before the election that many of the same cuts would have been made. He said Labour had said one thing before the election, and another after, which drew jeers from across the chamber.

The vote was lost by the Liberal Democrats as Green councillors sided with Labour against the motion. Green councillor Rob Murphy said: “30 years of broken promises? The Lib Dems broke that many in 30 days.”


The Analogue Election – Doorstepping with Ed Miliband and Paul Blomfield

Paul and Ed

Paul and Ed chat to a green leaning floating voter

We’re told that this year will see the first “digital election”, an election decided by who has the smartest twitterers and the biggest facebook groups. Either Sheffield didn’t get the memo, or the Labour party are leaving nothing to chance in this constituency, because we’re on our way for an evening of old school campaigning. We’re off to knock on doors.

As we step from Labour’s offices in Sheffield’s Trades and Labour club to the car park outside, I feel certain Paul Blomfield is leading me towards the silver Jaguar parked in the corner. A politician’s car if ever I saw one. I’m slightly blindsided when Sheffield’s newest Labour candidate flips the central locking on the much less ostentatious maroon Clio parked behind it. We’re making a short journey to Sharrow to meet environment secretary Ed Miliband, author of Labour’s recently launched manifesto.

As we park up, we’re joined by a small army of volunteers sporting red rosettes. There’s an air of giddiness about the younger members of the group. Part pure enthusiasm, part excitement at the imminent arrival of such a rock-star of politics. The team disperse through the nearby streets, knocking on doors to ask people’s allegiances, and seeing if anyone fancies a chat with a cabinet minister.

Paul's team prepare to get sore knuckles.

Ed’s running a little late, he’s been visiting a recycling centre near Scunthorpe and the traffic’s a nightmare. One of the younger campaigners jokes that an approaching, slightly tired looking Jag could belong to the minister, to which Paul quips, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s driving a Prius.”

Ed soon arrives, wearing a slightly weary smile and a suit that surely cost more than my education, and heads off with Paul in a door-knocking tag team. The army’s tactics are starting to become clear. They’re looking for wavering Labour voters whose fears they can calm, and Green supporters who Ed can convince to vote tactically. He offers his eco-credentials as assurance that they can vote for a winner without betraying their values, along with promises of electoral reform, to make conscience voting easier next time round.

Does he not find it odd asking people to vote for them, so they can more easily vote for someone else next time? “Obviously I want people to vote Labour, but the truth is if you want accountability of MPs it’s good to have a system where you have to get more than 50% of the vote.” Ed tells me, “We want people to be able to express their opinions, but then vote second or third for someone else, and frankly we’ve got to take this opportunity to reform our politics.”

Today’s other big message is that the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s only serious competition in Sheffield Central, “can’t win nationally.” Nick Clegg gave a crowd pleasing performance at the first round of leaders debates last night, surely cause for concern in such a hotly contested seat?

“The reason I’m here to support Paul is that this is one of the key seats where a vote for the Liberal Democrats could let in a Tory government.” Ed says, deftly dismissing the idea of a hung parliament, let alone an outright Lib Dem win. “I think Nick Clegg clearly had a good outing in the debate, but he didn’t come under much scrutiny because the Liberals tend not to. I think he’ll face more scrutiny in future debates, but on that key Labour-Tory choice, Gordon Brown won the debate.”

One thing Ed and Paul clearly have in common is an enthusiasm for the old fashioned pressing of flesh. While enthusiastic pledges of Labour votes have been a little thin on the ground, people are genuinely impressed that the pair have bothered to turn up in person to ask for them. It may be quicker and easier to reach a lot of people with a tweet, but it’ll never have the same impact. As Ed says before he heads off to his next meeting, “Getting out and meeting people, there’s no substitute for it.”

Originally from this week’s Forge Press. Well worth picking up a copy if you can, the election section’s really good, and you’ll find my guide to the Digital Economy Act in the Fuse pull out.