It was right to stop the cuts vote – the only democracy we have is in resistance

The destruction of Birmingham’s local services leaves people with only one option to express themselves democratically: protests. Today dozens of people blockaded the council house at every entrance, which had Birmingham residents linking arms and preventing entry to Councillors. During the meeting a few hours ago I was tackled out of the council chamber twice for breaking in to the meeting and shouting at the council leadership.


At 8am in the morning protesters build a barricade in front  of the car park entrance.

At 8am in the morning protesters build a barricade in front of the car park entrance.

Those who believe that we should seek a democratic society should be seeking to block and disrupt the operation of Birmingham city council. This is what I and others did today, Tuesday the 26th of February, the day on which £101m worth of cuts are being voted through by Birmingham City Council’s ruling Labour group. The claim that disrupting the vote on cuts would be fundamentally undemocratic is ludicrous.

Protesters link arms to block main entrance of council house.

Protesters link arms to block main entrance of council house.

For a system to meet the basic requirements it needs to be deemed democratic, there must be evidence of a direct mandate from the people to enforce an act. No such a thing can be claimed to be held by those running the city council at present. Labour who controls 77 of the 120 council seats ran on manifesto that only mentioned the cuts once in 16 pages. Further the only mention was an anti-cuts message: Labour in Birmingham will continue to challenge the cuts to the West Midlands Police budget.” This clearly provides no mandate for the sweeping cuts they are now implementing.


A Liberal Democrat Councillor is denied entry by a blockade.

The democratic system within which we reside falls down at both national and local level. Our democracy is a poor two-party system which shuts out alternative voices. We can only express ourselves poorly once every 5 years. Already polls nationally have shown that a clear majority of the population are now against austerity and want a growth plan B.  If we lived in a responsive democracy we certainly would not be adhering to Osborne’s disastrous plan A which has steered us into a triple-dip recession.

Birmingham never voted for the cuts in the first place. A national agenda is being forced upon Birmingham. This is one of the most deprived cities in the country, and it voted against the cuts all along.  I see no reason why the privileged Tory Shires & Home Counties who are not hit by the cuts should have the right too dismantle services all across Birmingham, reaping the benefits of more tax cuts for the rich. If Birmingham wants to resist these cuts which are being forced on it then that is perfectly valid.

When society is deprived of any meaningful democracy then resistance in the form of strikes, mass actions and protests forcing the will of the 99% onto the tiny elite is the closest thing to any sort of democracy. This democracy is a democracy of people voting with their feet – walking out on strike, taking to the streets. This is what we need now.

Activists blockade side entrance to council house. This gate saw most of the police attention focused on it as Councillors where helped through by police.

Activists blockade side entrance to council house. This gate saw most of the police attention focused on it as Councillors where helped through by police.

Birmingham has a proud history of this kind of mass democracy on the streets. In 1972 30,000 people marched on the mines, shutting them down, in response to the Conservative government who were trying to force massive pay cuts on mine-workers in Birmingham. The city’s residents also turned to the ballot box, rejecting the Conservative government en masse. This sent a clear message: if we weren’t to be paid a fair wage, then we wouldn’t work.

This is not the ideal democracy, obviously. But when faced with an unrepresentative government and local council – who are choosing to implement devastating cuts – or a democracy based on the will of ordinary people, taking to the streets, the decision is a clear one.

While the blockade today may not have been large enough to prevent the vote taking place today, those organising within Birmingham’s communities have clearly presented a strong and vocal Left. This gives a democratic alternative which one can rally behind. Activists have been meeting across the city, forming new groups and collaborating on a scale that hasn’t been seen in a long time. The ever-growing numbers provides a scope for actions to expand and become a real threat to the political status quo.

Get involved join Communities Against the Cuts on Facebook here and get on the e-mail list here. Join groups like East Birmingham Against the Cuts on Facebook here.

Related posts

Fault-lines of a Library mutual

Fault-lines of a Library mutual

By Friends of the Library of Birmingham In December the Business plan for a proposed Public Service mutual to run community library services in Birmingham will be published. If agreed by the Council the Mutual could be up and running local libraries from 1st April 2015. Pushing...

Article removed

Article removed

Article removed pending decision of editorial board.

The Peoples March for the NHS.

The Peoples March for the NHS.

  By Brian Sheridan From the 16th of August to the 6th of September 2014 a group of women from Darlington, known colloquially as the “Darlo Mums”, and their many supporters marched from Jarrow to London through twenty three towns and cities in order to raise public consciousness of the...


  1. Rob February 26, 2013

    “But when faced with an unrepresentative government and local council”

    ie, one that doesn’t do exactly what YOU want!

    ha ha ha

  2. Trackback: Birmingham Council Have Voted Through £102m Of Cuts – Today’s Blockade And Demonstration Is Not The End | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  3. Ozzy February 27, 2013

    I’m a voter who resents your illegitimate obstacles you are attempting to place in front of elected reps.

Leave a comment