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Who’s left and who’s right? – our Brum politics Xmas quiz

Who’s left and who’s right? – our Brum politics Xmas quiz

🕔10.Dec 2012

It’s that time of the year when even the most serious-minded news organisations pad out their offerings with Xmas quizzes, and let no one claim that Chamberlain Files isn’t on trend.

Here is a series of questions about politics in Birmingham.

Which political party, or parties, during the past decade sought to:

  1. Offload management of 65,000 council houses to a network of independent trusts?
  2. Dispose of the city’s old people’s homes to independent trusts?
  3. Open a municipal bank with funding of £200 million?
  4. Build an Olympic size swimming pool at a cost of £80 million?
  5. Hand over control of all roads and pavements to a private company for 25 years?
  6. Investigate the possibility of privatising the refuse collection service?

And which political party, or parties, delivered the following?

  1. A new civic library at a cost to the public purse of £187 million?
  2. The refurbishment of New Street Station at a cost of £600 million?
  3. Persuaded the Government to bankroll the city centre Midland Metro tram extension?
  4. Lent Warwickshire County Cricket Club £20 million to improve the Edgbaston stadium?
  5. Started to build council houses in Birmingham for the first time in 30 years?

The answer to questions 1,2, 5 and 6 is the Labour Party. The answer to the remaining questions is the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which was in charge of the council from 2004 to 2012.

Clearly, politics in Birmingham are rarely quite as straight-forward as you might imagine.

Unlike most other major English cities, Birmingham City Council has never been a sure fire bet for Labour. There have been long periods of Labour Party rule, but these are interspersed with timely interventions by moderate Conservative and, laterally, Conservative-Liberal Democrat administrations.

And as the three major parties scrabble for centre ground votes, our traditional understanding of the key differences between left and right wing philosophies becomes blurred and unhelpful.

The Labour Party, under the leadership since 1999 of Sir Albert Bore, has often appeared eager to embrace right of centre solutions to difficult problems. Rather too eager as far as many backbench councillors are concerned, and rumours of a prospective leadership challenge are already beginning to circulate.

The latest example of Bore’s radicalism concerns a move to consider whether a “partner”, presumably a private sector partner, might be recruited to run the refuse collection service. A clause about this is tucked away in the middle of a lengthy cabinet report about a proposal to switch from plastic sacks to wheelie bins, thanks to a £29 million Government grant.

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