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Twelve angry councillors – Smith supporters speak out

Twelve angry councillors – Smith supporters speak out

🕔01.Sep 2016

A dozen Birmingham city councillors have signed a letter backing Owen Smith in the Labour party leadership contest.

They are among 1,000 councillors across the country publicly to come out against Jeremy Corbyn by urging members to vote for Mr Smith.

The 12 out of 120 Birmingham councillors are: John O’Shea (Acocks Green), Marje Bridle (Shard End), Mohammed Idrees (Washwood Heath), Phil Davis (Billesley), Rob Pocock (Sutton Vesey), Tristan Chatfield (Oscott), Victoria Quinn (Sparkbrook), Alex Buchanan (Billesley), Susan Barnett (Billesley), John Cotton (Shard End), Ziaul Islam (Aston), Mary Locke (Bournville).

None of Mr Smith’s Birmingham backers are among the council’s Labour leadership team, or at least if there are they have not come out publicly in favour of the challenger.

The letter failed to attract the support of any Labour council leader in the West Midlands.

Birmingham council leader John Clancy and his deputy Ian Ward have been careful not to comment on who they wish to see leading the party, and most of the cabinet appears to have taken the same vow of silence.

The exception at cabinet level is Cllr Majid Mahmood, who is one of Mr Corbyn’s most outspoken supporters in the Midlands. Cllr Mahmood, who holds the value for money and efficiency portfolio, routinely uses Twitter to beat the drum for the Corbyn campaign.

Labour members are voting in the leadership ballot at the moment and the result will be announced at the party conference later this month. Mr Corbyn is on course for a landslide victory and is leading Mr Smith by 24 points according to the latest YouGov poll of party members.

The letter signed by the councillors warns of “bullying and intimidation” in constituency Labour parties during the election campaign and of a “civil war” stoked up by militants from both wings of the party.

It states that voting for Owen Smith as leader “is the only path forward to a Labour Government and putting a stop to the immense damage the Tories are doing to our communities and our nation”.

The letter continues:

We have closely watched the debate in our Party in recent weeks and are deeply impressed with how Owen has done. He has driven home the message that the fight Labour must lead is about tackling inequalities in wealth, power, outcomes and opportunities, across our country.

Owen has convincingly made the case that he knows how to get things done and has the tenacity and skill to advance the cause of working people. He has not shied away from saying our Party has been too timid and that he would increase taxes on the wealthy.

He has set out a radical vision for a £200 billion investment programme, re-nationalising our railways and putting the decision to make war firmly in the hands of elected MPs, not the Government of the day.

There are militants in both wings of our Party who are determined to carry out a civil war against each other, whether it harms working people or not. We have intimidation and bullying in Constituency Labour Parties up and down the country. We have those who seem to prefer perpetual division to the job of winning power for the good of those we represent. We need a unifying leader who is principled and competent.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our country faces an existential threat from nationalists and poor-bashing Tories. A new Scottish referendum is on the horizon. This is no time for Labour to keep fighting itself. The next general election has already begun. Owen Smith, with his experience, especially as Shadow Secretary of State fighting austerity, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our party from day one.

Our party needs a leader who can win and is principled. That’s why we need your support in backing Owen Smith.

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