Communist Party National Trade Union Organiser
for the Mayoralty of the new Combined Authority
West Midlands May 4th 2017
Geoff Ferres, District Secretary of the Midlands Communist Party, reports that West Midlands Communists have enthusiastically endorsed the candidature of
“A crowded aggregate membership meeting in Birmingham followed by a meeting of the Midlands District Committee of the CPB, unanimously endorsed a recommendation from the members and called for donations to a fund to facilitate this,” Mr Ferres announced. “The CPB Executive Committee has advised me that it previously declared itself to back whatever decision was taken by Midlands members, so the game is now on.”
Labour candidate, is Sion Simon, former MP for Erdington. Candidates from the Tories, Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens have already declared. The Combined Authority brings together seven “constituent” boroughs: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull. Walsall, and Wolverhampton, where the electorate can choose a Mayor. Voters in the non-constituent authorities of Cannock, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Redditch, Tamworth, and Telford and Wrekin councils will not vote but their councils will be economically linked to the main county conurbation. Another seven such authorities are awaiting membership applications.
The Communist candidate, Mr Stevenson, who has lived in the Midlands all his life, principally in Birmingham and Coventry, where he was born and lived in his youth, declared: “This is a chance for people in the seven boroughs to start the ball rolling on an entirely new project. We don’t want Blairite Labour here, it’s done enough damage and still does so. Mr Simon stood down as an MP to campaign for election as Birmingham Mayor but the voters rejected the very idea of such a mayoralty. Now, after back room deals with George Osborne, local politicians have excluded responsibility for policing from the Mayor, partly to prevent infighting. Many of the conditions relating to the election keep changing or are not yet properly revealed. This election looks rigged before it even starts. Rigged by the political elite to keep things the same. It’s time things changed to call time on this system of property, privilege, and private profit. But they've stitched it up. From start to end.
The Combined Authority will have significant powers over public transport, including buses and trams. Mr Stevenson, a former head of transport in Unite the Union and President of the European Transport Workers Federation, says that he wants to campaign as Mayor for an input into regional railway and aviation policy as well. “I’m for complete public ownership of public transport. Anyway, isn’t private ownership a contradiction in terms? Nationalise the M6 Toll Road to be sure but whilst we are at it, how about the combined boroughs looking to bring National Express, which dominates travel in the conurbation, into line? Road re-instatement and tougher control of parking and on-street emissions should ease our clogged up back streets”
A £5,000 deposit and a similar sum to pay for an information booklet including mini-manifestos from the Mayoral candidates and further detail on the election will go to the homes of all those registered to vote. Mr Stevenson remarks: “I will not be backed by any major funding operation but by a mass of multiple donations via Crowd Sourcing. Facebook and Twitter pages are already being prepared. And you can bet that no businesses will be filtering funds into my back pocket!”
Planning of housing and brown field site use linked to economic regeneration will be a key part of the new authority’s remit. “I hear this week-end that lettuces have soared in price due to rainy weather in Spain and they are virtually unattainable in lower price supermarkets. Could we not develop urban poly-tunnel farms, providing training and jobs for young people in the heart of the conurbation? The sooner we adopt the Living Wage as the only acceptable wage, and look for a shift to a People’s Britain as the terms for negotiation after Article 50, then fears about migration can be eased.”
As a member of the European Parliament for the past three years, Mr Simon has produced material implying support for “Brexit”, with the England flag dominating. Mr Stevenson remarked: “Comments that `politicians in London have learnt nothing’ brings disrepute on Labour since Mr Simon backed Remain in the referendum and has been a career Westminster Europhile. His first job was working as an adviser to the Shadow Europe minister, he then ran the Europe desk at Labour HQ.”
Responding to the fact that a final part of responsibility for the Mayor and the assembly will be co-ordination of mental health provision, Mr Stevenson points out that, whilst hard pressed service workers need to be fully backed, “CBT therapy as the mainstream answer, first promoted by the Blair government, may be cheap and simple, but it does not reach many underlying conditions that can be hidden by such therapy. Bringing all sections of the community, including those with disabilities and mental health issues is the way forward. Not preparing our communities to receive US-style provisions that blame people for pre-existing conditions or putting the blame on sufferers for not having a positive view of themselves.”
Bank: Unity Trust Bank
Account Name: Communist Party of Britain - West Midlands
Sort Code: 60-83-01
Account Number: 50726499
You may send a physical cheque, payable to “Midlands CP” by post to 22 Brecon Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, West Midlands, B20 3RN. But please supply your full name and address, as due to regulations we cannot accept anonymous donations.
Or you may donate by paying via PayPal click here
A Crowdfunding page will shortly be operable.
There will also be street meetings and stalls to cover; car-driven loudspeaker teams from other areas will be very welcome but check with us first.
To follow the campaign, check these out:
facebook Twitter Grahams facebook page
Communist Party ▪ fighting for peace and socialism since 1920 ▪ Britain's Party of working class and people's power
Central Office: Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, London CR0 1BD