Guest article

Why I am standing for socialism in local government – Councillor and NEC candidate Jo Bird

Cllr Jo Bird

Wirral councillor Jo Bird is standing for election as a local government representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). In the spring, she stood for election as an NEC constituency representative and, in spite of underhand right-wing attempts to block her candidacy, narrowly missed out on a place only because of the left’s failure to unite behind a single left slate despite her clear popularity.

Here she writes about why she is standing for election.

I am proud to stand together with Cllr Matt White to represent local councillors on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee. Like many in the party, the values of justice and socialism are close to my heart. My own family history and our Labour movement’s collective struggles drive me to ensure that these values are put into practice, rather than just being empty words.

Justice and Jewishness

One of the biggest forces of my intense desire to tackle injustice is the horror of fascism faced by my Jewish family. My Jewish great grandparents were refugees who fled from the horrors of hatred in Europe, and my grandad’s cousins perished in the Holocaust.

They were also proud Jewish socialists and radicals. My Jewish grandad was arrested fighting Mosley’s fascists in Manchester, and my great uncle fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigade. My non-Jewish grandad died fighting Nazism as a soldier in the British army. They were men of principle, and I hope that I continue their tradition of love, humour and socialist politics.

These memories and experiences are something I think about often, and has made me more understanding and sympathetic to everyone in our great diverse society. I was therefore thrilled to re-join the Labour Party when Jeremy Corbyn became leader. As a Jewish woman, I experienced nothing but warmth and welcome at almost all levels of the party. I was elected chair of Derry~Londonderry branch, and when I stood earlier this year in an NEC byelection, nearly 50,000 members supported my campaign.

Having listened to and spoken with thousands of Labour supporters across the country, I know that party members are hungry for fair and just disciplinary processes, worthy of our trade union, labour and co-operative values. As someone who was publicly suspended, only to then be swiftly re-instated – not once but twice – I strongly believe that the party must not outsource membership decisions to an outside body.

There is no place for injustice in our Labour Party. The party should retain and reform our complaints system, based on the principles of natural justice and proper process. One improvement would be the lifting of Kafkaesque burdens of complete confidentiality. Another would be for the accused to know who their complainants are. The Labour Party must be an example of natural justice, learning and solidarity.

In its internal elections also, our party must be the leaders in fairness. Why did some of the current NEC members impose Single Transferable Vote for the elections to all nine Constituency Labour Party NEC seats, but then ignored their own logic for the two Local Government NEC seats?

But of course, justice and socialism must not just be practised inside the Labour Party, but perhaps more importantly, emanate outwards. I am therefore proud, together with Cllr Matt White, to be backed by organisations of the Labour Left – including the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Don’t Leave Organise and Jewish Voice for Labour – to run on a platform of socialism in local government.

Socialism in local government

Communities across our country face four crises – coronavirus, unemployment, systemic racism and climate change. The answer to these crises is not more cuts to public services that we rely on. Of course, all councils are required to balance their budgets.

Nevertheless, all Labour councillors should mobilise and campaign together to properly challenge and resist this cruel Conservative government to provide funding based on the needs of the people whom we serve. For example, supporting Unison’s call for £10bn to Save Our Local Services, a completely reasonable ask from this government which found £15bn for so-called PPE contracts with scarcely any transparency, and continues to pour billions into Trident. Furthermore, this government should cancel all local authority debt, just as they cancelled NHS debt.

On a more personal level, I’ve worked for almost three decades with co-operative enterprise, including co-founding a housing co-op and workers co-op. I’ve helped hundreds of people take democratic control of important jobs and services. As Jeremy Corbyn said, “we are an existential threat to their economic system”, and socialist Labour councils can be at the forefront of this charge.

This means that no more public money should go to private sector companies that do not pay at least the Real Living Wage nor recognise trade unions. Moreover, communities are tired of outsourcing, wealth extraction and neoliberal management of Tory cuts. Labour councillors can provide the socialist alternatives which are so desperately needed.

As a proud Labour and Co-operative councillor on the Wirral, I am very aware of the challenges of local government. Socialist responses are being pioneered by dozens of Labour-led councils. These have included:

• Local and public test, track and trace
• In-sourcing of care homes and other services
• Community wealth building and common ownership
• the Real Living Wage embedded into contracts
Council and community-led housing, shielded from the right to buy
• No compulsory redundancies
• Public and active transport
• Ethical investment of our pension funds
• Acknowledging all histories in our public spaces

The Labour Party will be sending out NEC ballot papers to six thousand Labour councillors around the country from Monday 19 October.

I urge all Labour colleagues to support justice and socialism, and to vote for myself and Cllr Matt White. If you are a Labour Party member, please ask any Labour councillors you know to support us. Perhaps even more importantly, please urge your Labour councillors to maximise socialism in local government.

Jo Bird is an NEC candidate, and Labour and Co-operative councillor on the Wirral.

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19 comments

  1. The lefts “failure to unite” has kept the left out of power for most of the last 100 years!

    1. True Marty. I was going to say that it’s because there are right wing lefts and left wing lefts but I think it’s more about maturity i.e mature left and immature left. Squabbles break out between them and it ends up with name calling and splits.

    2. And since when does one describe the Blairites as being on the left Marty!

      Red Tories and REAL LP politicians can never-ever ‘unite’ Marty, so your assertion is false and phony!

      Or did you somehow miss what happened during the four years Jermy was leader?

      __________________

      “right-wing lefts”, ffs Jack, it’s beyond pathetic!

      1. I was refering to the left beyond the LP. The LP does not have sole monopoly on “being left” It is a different matter within the LP itself, where the right has always effecxtively suppressed the left, inc the JC years!

      2. Oh, I see. So when you say the left ‘beyond the Labour Party’, who are you referring to specifically just out of curiousity. The reason I ask is because I can’t figure out who it is you’re referring to that – in your view – has kept the left out of power for most of the last hundred years. And what is it that keeps them all from uniting, and for most of the past hundred years?

  2. As an antiZionist, Jo needs to be careful of being undermined by Zionists out to establish or cement their credentials with Starmer. They tried to get her at least once but she fought back and beat them. A lesson for Socialists in the Party, – know your enemy.

    1. And just HOW precisely was it that she ‘fought back’ Jack?

      I mean it’s so transparent what you’re attempting to do it’s a joke! And in case anyone DIDN’T get it, what Jack is attempting to do is disparage and berate Jeremy, the idea being that if Jo can ‘fight back’ AND, in so doing, beat ‘them’, then if ONLY Jeremy hadn’t been so weak and cowardly he TOO could have ‘beaten’ them.

      Yeah, and as if any Zionists in the party need to ‘establish’ or ‘cement’ their credentials with Starmer. Jack’s post is nothing but B/S from start to finish, concocted and designed to discredit Jeremy, EXACTLY as he’s done in dozens and dozens and dozens of posts in the past fifteen months or so!

      1. So just HOW exactly was it that she fought back then Jack?

        Don’t hold your breath folks, cos Jack won’t be answering that one, and the reason he won’t is because it’s complete and utter B/S! And it’s precisely because it IS that he avoids answering AND responds the way he does. Classic shill/black propagandist tactics!

        And it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference if I had just asked him the question and said nothing else, he would STILL have ‘responded’ exactly the same way.

        But just out of interest, does anyone else know how Jo ‘fought back’ and ‘beat them’? Needless to say, no-one DOES because she didn’t ‘fight back’, as such.

        _________________________

        As far as I can recall, we never did learn why Jo was suspended a second time, but given that we didn’t, I can only assume that the JLM or the CAA or whoever complained AGAIN about her ‘Jew process’ crack. Anyway, I just did a quick search a few minutes ago to check if that WAS the case – ie that we never learnt the reason why she was suspended a second time – and happened to click on a JC article, and bearing in mind that it was published in February this year, it’s rather interesting that it says the following in the article:

        ‘Sources told the JC that Labour had tried to speed up disciplinary cases ahead of the publication of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into claims the party was institutionally antisemitic.’

        It is of course a falsehood, and if you read the article you’ll see that it has no relevence to what was said immediately beforehand, and was just ‘injected’ into the text in the middle of relating something else. And it also says the following further on in the ‘article’, referring to Jo:

        ‘She insists she has been made to feel “welcome” in Labour since joining in 2015.’

        Needless to say, there was NO ‘insisting’ on Jo’s part, and this is just the evil demonic black propagandists at the JC yet again deceiving their Jewish readers by giving them the impression that it’s unlikely that she’s been made to feel welcome given the A/S and Jew hatred that pervaded the LP when Jeremy Corbyn was leader. The point is that there was no way on this earth that they were simply going to say: ‘She said she has been made to feel welcome in Labour since joining in 2015’.

        And when I say evil, I really DO mean EVIL!

        https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/jew-process-labour-councillor-suspended-again-amid-bid-for-election-1.496561

      2. Do shut up Allan,you make yourself look ridiculous with posts like this.

      3. Posts like what John? Care to elaborate? We both know that Jack is talking complete bollocks AND that you – as you keep on doing just recently (I assume you’ve taken over from SteveH for the time being) – are of course defending – by attacking me – a paid black propagandist shill who utilises every opportunity he gets to put Jeremy down, in this particular instance indirectly.

        You also recently defended another lying black propagandist shill who regularly comments on here, NOT by defending what they said, but by attacking me. Yep, someone who dissembles falsehoods practically every time he posts AND who told a Big Black Lie about five months ago so that he could then discredit Jeremy by comparison. And when I questioned him about it he denied that he’d said it, and accused me of fabricating it, even though it was there in black and white. So what does that make YOU John…. the defender of lying little fascist shills!

        Here’s a direct link to the post in question for anyone who hasn’t seen it – ie a link to what he says he didn’t say, even though he DID:

        https://skwawkbox.org/2020/05/24/video-cummings-heckled-by-own-neighbours-over-disregard-for-lock-down-rules/#comment-147121

      4. NB I am of course referring to what signpost says in the first paragraph about Robin Lees – the guy who spotted Dominic Cummings in Barnard Castle during lockdown – persuing legal action against Cummings, which signpost concocted so that he could then go on to smear Jeremy with by comparison. He doesn’t mention Jeremy by name, but THAT is who he is alluding to of course. And here’s what happens next when I ask signpost what this ‘legal case’ is about (the link below takes you directly to my comment in which I asked him about it, and his ‘response’ is directly beneath mine):

        https://skwawkbox.org/2020/05/26/exclusive-the-dossier-of-concerns-starmer-ignored-to-push-through-his-new-general-secretary/#comment-147428

        PS I didn’t see signpost’s Robin Lees/legal action post until a couple of days after he posted it, and so I asked him about it in a thread that was current at the time, but what’s interesting is that no-one else queried him about it. I mean if Robin Lees had initiated legal action against Dominic Cummings for some reason, it would have been headline news all over the MSM. And although signposts comment about Robin Lees persuing legal action against Cummings is quite a way down the page, it was near the top of the comments at one stage, and then got ‘pushed’ further and further down the comments, but he posted it before most of the other people who posted comments posted them, and yet not one of them apparently thought it a bit suspicious given that they hadn’t heard about it, which they COULDN’T have done of course because signpost concocted it:

  3. Good luck Jo. An inspirational background and CV. Can’t see a way for the party to allowing socialism to succeed but hope I am wrong.

  4. Inspiring petition Jo. You present a strong argument for support. If I had a vote I would not hesitate to cast it for you.

    Campaign hard and be sure that the Trade Union, Labour and Cooperative values that you embody are shared by many constructive socialists in labour despite the party suffering from a self-inflicted injury in the form of its unspeakably bad “new management”.

    Fight hard and flourish Jo

  5. A real pity that she wasn’t selected to stand as CLP rep despite her popularity among rank and file members, a real shame.
    I wish her luck but realistically speaking, we are kidding ourselves if we believe that she and Mark White stand a chance at been elected to represent Cllrs in the NEC.
    Nevertheless, it will provide us with an indication as to the number of socialist Labour Cllrs within the Party. She deserved a position so much.

  6. After implying that the EHRC report was soon going to expose plenty of antisemites in Labour, some snaggle-toothed pretty boy on Newsnight just accused Len McCluskey of using an “antisemitic trope” – for responding to a statement of Mandelson’s by saying he should retire from politics and (something like) “sit in a room and count his gold.”
    He didn’t accuse Len to his face though, he did it later when he put his own spin on the interview, the heroic little pussy.
    He said Mandelson’s grandfather was Jewish, as if that justified his accusation. Like any mention of gold must be antisemitic whether Len was aware of Mandelson’s heritage or not.
    At least Wark reported Unite’s dismissive response.
    Can’t believe the BBC are trying to revive that corpse – they must have spotted that the Tories are on the skids again.
    The subtext of almost the whole programme was that there’s no alternative and no justification for any challenge to capitalism, the left is finished and we should all just accept the status quo and work together.
    I think the BBC political editor suspects they might not have seen the last of us.

  7. The US Did Not Defeat Fascism in WW11, It Discretely Internationalised It

    ‘Towards the end of WWII, General Karl Wolff, formerly Himmler’s right-hand man, went to see Allen Dulles in Zurich, where he was working for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor organization to the CIA. Wolff knew that the war was lost, and he wanted to avoid being brought to justice. Dulles, for his part, wanted the Nazis in Italy under Wolff’s command to lay down their arms against the allies and help the Americans in their fight against communism. Wolff, who was the highest-ranking SS officer to survive the war, offered Dulles the promise of developing, with his Nazi team, an intelligence network against Stalin. It was agreed that the general who had played a central role in overseeing the Nazi’s genocidal machine, and who expressed his “special joy” when he secured freight trains to send 5,000 Jews a day to Treblinka, would be protected by the future director of the CIA, who helped him avoid the Nuremberg trials.’

    To establish itself as the global military hegemon and international guard dog of capitalism, the U.S. government and National Security State have relied on the help of the significant number of Nazis and fascists it integrated into its global network of repression…..

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/10/16/the-u-s-did-not-defeat-fascism-in-wwii-it-discretely-internationalized-it/

  8. In February this year – as reported by The Independent = Jeremy Corbyn ‘called for the extradition of Julian Assange to the US to be halted, praising the Wikileaks founder for exposing US “war crimes”.’ Here are some further clips from the article, and take note in particular of what Boris Johnson says:

    Boris Johnson refused to comment on the case, which will begin this month – but surprised the Commons by agreeing the extradition treaty between the two countries is “unbalanced”.

    The Labour leader’s call came as he also demanded to know whether Anne Sacoolas, who drove the car that killed teenager Harry Dunn, is being “shielded” because she was a CIA spy.

    On Mr Assange, who faces up to 175 years in a US jail if convicted, Mr Corbyn backed MPs on the Council of Europe who have warned the extradition “sets a dangerous precedent for journalists”.

    “Will the prime minister agree with the parliamentary report that’s going to the Council of Europe that this extradition should be opposed and the rights of journalists and whistleblowers upheld for the good of all of us,” Mr Corbyn demanded.

    In response, the prime minister said: “I’m not going to mention any individual cases but it’s obvious that the rights of journalists and whistleblowers should be upheld and this government will continue to do that.”

    Well if the rights of journalists and whistleblowers should be upheld, then there is only one possible decision the judge can come to when she announces it in January. Boris Johnson ALSO agreed with Jeremy that the extradition treaty between Britain and the US is lopsided:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-julian-assange-extradition-us-wikileaks-war-crimes-a9331376.html

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