Category Archives: National politics

Where do they stand? Budget speech to Full Council February 2019

This is now my third budget as a Councillor in Brent, and the toughest I’ve seen. This time the weight of government cuts forces us to cut down to the bone. In community safety we have seen the impact of Tory austerity at a national level, with the withdrawal of the current offer for Met Patrol plus as a result of cuts to the Mayor’s policing grant. We are working on long term alternatives to fill the gap and will be coming forward in the spring. My colleagues have similar experiences themselves.

Whilst we can tell positive stories about the opportunities in reshaping things, or what we can defend, the truth is that there are very few things contained in this budget that myself, colleagues and residents would have preferred not to cut. We will prevent damage to service users as best we can, but let’s be clear – the real responsibility for stopping cuts to the local services people need so desperately lies with central government, with Mrs May in Westminster. It’s a responsibility that her political party locally have completely failed to even acknowledge. Where do they stand?

As I’ve said it’s my third budget. I now know exactly what to expect from the opposition benches. Though the alternative budgets of the other Tory faction from the last term have gone, with their innumeracy and over-reliance of punctuation, the same themes remain.

Our Tory opponents will now recommend a series of small savings to money that was spent on a one off basis, as if this offers some sort of solution to costs in services which run day to day, year to year, and depend on continued revenue.

They will try to coax us into spending the reserves, so that if, god forbid, this council is stuck by an emergency, there will be nothing left in the chest to help our residents.

They will attempt to blame Gordon Brown for the global financial crash, or to convince us that despite all of the evidence of the last nine years, that austerity offers some sort of answer to the problems we face as a county or to the system failures themselves.

They will have nothing to say about the fact that their party has shifted so much of the weight of cuts onto Councils in a cynical attempt to turn Labour and trade union activists against their own representatives and allow the Tories to escape the blame. They will ignore what they’ve done to Councils who dare to stand for the poor and the working class, even though their own ministers are currently scheming a further 15% cut to London and its deprived boroughs in order to fund financially incompetent Councils in the Tory shires. As if this can simply be ignored. As if it isn’t real.

But councils face by far the biggest cuts…

…and it’s people like us taking the brunt of it.

Our absent friends in the Lib Dems will have nothing to say. Where do they stand?

The former colleagues of both parties here today who are now in the independent group will be there to make excuses for the coalition’s record on these issues to, under the pretence that in this age of division and inequality it will all get better if we all just come together and pretend that austerity has not deepened at of the country’s divides in class, attainment, health, education, or wages. The independent group think that George Osborne, and I quote here from Anna Soubry, ‘did a wonderful job’. These people live on a different planet to the people of Brent.

The Labour Party has its own problems at the moment. But it is the only party which seems to admit that austerity even has any effect at either a local or a natural level. From the Tories to the Lib Dems to TIG, there is an unspoken conspiracy to mislead, and when that doesn’t work, a conspiracy of silence. Where do they stand?

Silent is something that we in the Labour Party will never be, and if you are one of the many residents who agrees with this, you should join us and get involved. We need to re-route the British economy. We are not just the only party who proposes this, but the only one who will even admit that for years when we have needed to re-route, the driver has been taking us down completely the wrong track.

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The betrayal of young voters is a disaster for democracy

Register to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote


Brent Scrutiny Task group report on IER: http://brent.gov.uk/media/11163926/261114-Promoting-electoral-registration-report.pdf

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New data published by Labour reveals a dramatic rise in the number of young people losing their democratic rights. From March to May 2015, the number of 16 to 18 year-olds being added to the electoral register will be down by over 100,000 compared to 2014.

It is likely to mean that less than half of those young people eligible to vote for the first time at the General Election will be registered.

This is not just a scandal, it is a disaster for our democracy. Continue reading

A&E closures – Brent demands answers

Hospitals bosses will face serious questions from Brent councillors about ‘life and death’ issues at a scrutiny meeting next week after the opening of the new A&E at Northwick Park was delayed for a third time in as many months.

The repeated delays to the opening of the expanded A&E at Northwick Park has led to Brent residents facing the longest waiting times for emergency surgery in the UK. Only around 75 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, according to the latest figures, which is significantly below the 95 per cent NHS target.

The opening of the new £21million casualty unit at the hospital in Watford Road, Sudbury, had originally been pencilled in for October but this was delayed until mid November.

Health chiefs have now pushed back the opening for a third time prompting fears that the already dire performance at the hospital, which has been criticised by England’s health watchdog, may get even worse if there is an increase in admissions caused by cold weather.

In September the council called for the closure of the Central Middlesex A&E to be delayed until reassurances were received about the quality of care at Northwick Park Hospital. However, despite the fact that England’s health watchdog the CQC judged Northwick Park’s overall performance to ‘require improvement’ and that its critical care service was deemed ‘inadequate’ health bosses ignored the council’s plea.

Councillors will now be demanding urgent answers about why the Northwick A&E has still not opened. North West London Healthcare Trust (NWLHT) bosses will also be under pressure to explain why the promised improvements to local GP facilities, which was supposed to prevent unnecessary A&E visits, have not been delivered either.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “Our worst fears about the effects of closing local A&Es before the expansion of Northwick Park was ready have come true.

“Our residents now face some of the longest A&E waiting times in the country and immediate action needs to be taken to resolve this as we are talking about life and death emergency treatment. Further delays to the A&E improvements at Northwick Park will only make the problem worse. We will be demanding answers from NHS bosses at our next scrutiny committee.

“Our residents deserve the best healthcare and we need to understand why the reconfiguration of local health services has been botched so badly and get answers about how the Trust plans to improve the care they offer urgently.”

Rethink the A&E closure

Labour Councillors are calling for the suspension of the closure of Central Mid A&E. Many have also protested against the closure more generally, which I continue to feel is very reasonable.

There is no government mandate for the changes, they are bad for care quality and ease of access, jobs are wrongly at stake, and nowhere near enough consideration has been given to transport.

While the Tories and Lib Dems press ahead, Northwick Park is in a right old state. Continue reading

We must oppose anti-Semitism: letter to the Brent & Kilburn Times

I have just submitted this letter. Let’s see if it gets published.

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The actions of Israel’s government over recent weeks has been appalling, generating vast civilian death including hundreds of children. I am glad to see Ed Miliband demonstrating strength and leadership in opposing it. The refusal of Likud to negotiate and its ongoing siege are also ruinous for peace in the region. We must do whatever we can to stop this continuing.

At the same time a wave of vile anti-Semitic attacks has been generated across Europe as ordinary people are targeted in retaliation. This is racist and inexcusable. Every effort must be made to ensure that Jewish people in Brent feel safe – anger at Israel’s behaviour offers no excuse for racism at home, or anywhere else.

Yours,

Cllr Tom Miller
Willesden Green Ward