A lot of people are unhappy with the Labour councillors in Lambeth – all the more reason to join Labour and fight for a change of policy.
That might sound like a strange title, after all, Lambeth Labour have slashed services and jobs on behalf of the Conservatives in government since 2010.
At the Carnegie occupation, many people were repulsed at the idea of voting Labour, let alone joining them. When faced with Labour councillors posting up pictures of cats on treadmills to mock campaigners who don’t want gyms in their libraries, or another councillor calling a librarian strike a disgrace, or one councillor implying that because some campaigners were drinking wine in the occupation they didn’t care about the 5,000 children in Lambeth in temporary accommodation – it seems like the councillors are doing the best they can to drive people away from the party.
Lambeth UNISON urges its members and libraries campaigners to join Labour in Lambeth precisely because we want to show the current councillors that there are different voices and views from theirs.
They have spent too long in a party dominated by the right, where they think that being a Tory-lite party is the best way of holding power.
The local councillors didn’t support Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader, one of them, Alex Bigham, even tried to launch a petition to stop the leadership contest so Corbyn couldn’t win. It got 18 signatures.
Despite the politics of the councillors, Lambeth is a Labour borough. The Tories have been reduced to 3 councillors with no MPs, and the Liberal Democrats were wiped off the local map in 2014 – with good reason after their disastrous and disgusting behaviour in the coalition government.
No wonder the Greens are getting stronger votes in Lambeth, but they won’t win control of the council in 2018. Labour will still have the largest vote. So it is important that anti-austerity voices are represented among the Labour councillors.
Some good moves forward have been made recently, a number of wards have passed motions in support of libraries and Dulwich and West Norwood even has it as policy now. A surge of new members inspired by Corbyn’s politics would help shift the balance even more.
But irrespective of the local situation, the election of Jeremy Corbyn has been a game changer nationally. Despite constant press attack and ‘friendly fire’ from his own MPs, Corbyn has shifted the national terrain of the debate to the left in a way that begins to undermine decades of neoliberalism and right wing drift.
And the local councillors are on the wrong side of history. Lambeth Labour is dominated by a group called Progress, a party within a party that was founded by the Blairite wing in 1994. Their candidate in the leadership election – Liz Kendall – got less than 5% of the vote.
The Labour Party is our Party just as Lambeth is our borough and just as our libraries are our libraries. Join now and lets make a real difference.