Sheffield town Hall
- More Democracy needed.
Many of us believe that Sheffield Council Labour Group’s handling of the whole governance referendum issue has been, at best, hapless, at worst, incompetent.
For those of you with short memories, if the local elections hadn’t been postponed in May 2020, we would be facing the outcome of a public petition driven referendum on whether leadership by cabinet or committee was best for the city council.
The truth is that neither of these models are ideal but the Labour Group – governed by the cabinet model – had allowed itself to be forced into a corner by its political opponents (Lib Dems and Greens) into holding an expensive referendum which could have easily been avoided.
Firstly, the Council has over a number of years allowed itself to be portrayed as out of touch and deaf to the views of the people it claims to represent. The trees saga hit the headlines through protests from residents in the west of the city. Perhaps the fact that Labour holds very few seats in this part of Sheffield persuaded Julie Dore that she didn’t need to take them seriously.
In truth, the whole roads/trees saga painted a picture of Sheffield as an autocratic, out of touch authority which managed to get itself national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
But in the bubble of Sheffield town hall, leadership figures continued to convince themselves that this didn’t matter.
They should be less sure now. The referendum will go ahead in May 2021 and this could all have been avoided. Even right up to March this year – just before the virus lockdown – some elements of the Labour Group failed in an attempt to get the referendum cancelled by accepting a committee system – but one controlled by Labour in its inception.
So, leap forward to September and what has the Group’s leadership learnt from these events?
The answer seems to be very little.
For a start, the Labour Group failed to meet as a formal Labour group from March until September. Notions that the Council is run by one person were not dispelled by the lockdown period where the Group Executive and Council Officers took control with little or no democracy in consulting the wider Labour Group on key decisions.
So, what do you think happened when the Group convened for the first time? The Group decided to vote down any idea that the Council might resume its formal meetings with debates about motions.
For the opposition parties to throw the undemocratic jibe at Labour in the city, this is a gift.
Expect to see leaflet after leaflet, media comment after media comment between now and next May from every opposition candidate saying democracy is dead in Sheffield with Labour in charge.
Labour Party NEC Elections
Please support the following for the NEC.
Two from the Labour Left Alliance (LLA):
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal
Plus, despite our criticisms regarding the way the slate was chosen, the CLGA slate of six: