With a by-election looming in Erdington on the 3rd March 2022, we thought it might be an idea to take a closer look at the top 3 candidates.
The Erdington seat was successfully held by Labour MP Jack Dromey for 12yrs until his sudden passing in January. In fact, Dromey won the 2019 election with over 50% of the vote. His closest rival, Tory candidate Robert Alden, took just over 40% of the vote. In fact, Alden stood against Dromey and lost in the previous 4 Erdington parliamentary elections with a deficit ranging between 10-20%. Alden is also the Tory candidate for the upcoming by-election. Labour’s offering is Paulette Hamilton, a local Labour Councillor, but she’s no Jack Dromey and appears to be further right than Dromey. Another key contender is an experienced political figure and a dyed in the wool socialist – Dave Nellist. Nellist is backed by TUSC and has a great deal of union support.
So who are the 3 key candidates really? What are they advocating for, do they have a track record, what are their affiliations? Hopefully the research we’ve done might help to shed some light….
Paulette Hamilton, Labour candidate
- Labour Councillor for Holyhead (Perry Barr Constituency) since 2004.
- Paulette fully supports Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party.
- She was a nurse and later worked for the nurses’ union the Royal College of Nursing
- She wants to tackle anti-social behaviour, poor housing, fly-tipping and regenerating the high street. She also wants more CCTV and more police and wants to tackle the problem of rogue landlords, HMOs and exempt accommodation.
- She believes we need to invest in businesses to bring back local jobs and that we should protect manufacturing jobs and says that she recognises the need for more jobs and skills for young people
- In an effort to tackle rising energy bills, Hamilton proposes fighting to scrap VAT on energy bills, introducing a windfall tax on North Sea oil, as well as giving families a £200 to £400 one off payment.
- She also expressed a wish to tackle rising food and household bills
- Hamilton has been a cabinet member for health and social care since 2016.
- Hamilton also fronted a controversial restructure in homecare in Birmingham that had the council mired in a 2yr long dispute with home care workers after they planned to cut £2million from the budget and force 200 workers to go part-time (Dromey was against the move). Birmingham’s Labour Council now plans to cut adult social care funding by £7.8 million a year, by April 2025, this despite a 4.99% hike in council tax for 2021/22 and a further 2.99% increase planned for 2022/23. According to the Birmingham Mail, details set out in the authority’s financial plan include plans to “increase income from charges to clients by reviewing our existing charging policy to consider introducing a range of new charges on services.” It’s expected that this move will result in many more elderly people being forced to sell their properties to pay for social care services. Hamilton remarked at the time.. “The service needs a complete remodeling, we cannot trim from services anymore. We have to promote independence, we have to encourage people to work within their local community.” Worth noting that this was all happening at a time when Birmingham City Councillors ’ basic allowances were set to rise by 4.4%.
- When asked where she stood on future campaigns on worker rights and worker injustice, Hamilton said… “I will stand up for the individual and the community as I see the need arising. I worked for eight years with the RCN standing up for nurses’ rights and did a damn good job. Standing up for workers’ rights is (important) but it depends on the issue.”
- Cllr Hamilton’s register of pecuniary interests include working for Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust and the Local Govt Association. Her non-pecuniary interests include being a board member on an STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan) – a new planning framework for NHS services to help NHS bodies to transform the health service (transform to what would be the obvious question), as well as a member of the Handsworth Assoc. of Schools Board. She also lists the GMB Union as a non-pecuniary interest.
Robert Alden, Conservative candidate
- Tory Councillor for Erdington since 2006 and is leader of their Conservative Group
- Stood against Dromey in the last 4 elections
- Alden is running on a ticket of… delivering good jobs and investment, more police on our streets, protecting green spaces from development, better public transport and tackling problems relating to houses of multiple occupation and exempt accommodation.
- Alden does not think Johnson should resign. When asked recently, he responded by saying he would not be drawn on the question but then said the Prime Minister has so far “delivered” on the election promises of Brexit and on recruiting more police.
- At a full council meeting, last April, Alden argued to scrap ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ (LTNs), on the grounds that he felt they were unsafe because lack of passing traffic meant people had to travel further to find a taxi and those who lived in the LTN areas could no longer get a taxi to drop them to their front door. Alden gave the murder of Sarah Everard as an example of what can happen when you have LTNs. A number of Labour Cllrs took to Twitter shortly after, angry at Alden’s suggestion that LTNs are to blame for a lack of women’s safety, with one commenting that Sarah Everard “was murdered because a man decided to murder her. End of.”
- On ‘clean air zones’ in general, Alden has said that they’ve “been shown in the council’s own reports to penalise the least well off.. and [fail] to deliver clean air compliance”. He adds that he would rather invest in green infrastructure.
- Alden’s list of Non-Pecuniary interests on the Birmingham Council website is pretty extensive (last count 20 different organisations). This is on top of his 6 Pecuniary interests, which include being a Cllr, Leader of the Conservative Group, Member of the Transport Delivery Committee, Deputy Chairman of the Local Govt Assoc. and working part-time for Gary Sambrook MP. Does make you question how someone with all these interests is able to find time to commit to serving the people of Erdington. Here are just some of his many non-pecuniary interests.. Foundation Governor Schools of King Edwards (Bham), Council appointee to the Bham Museum and Art Gallery Board (his wife works for the Museum and Art Gallery), Edgbaston Cricket Club Safety Advisory Board, Vice Chair of Governors at St Barnabas C of E School, Director of the Local Govt Assoc., member of the LGA City Regions Board and Director of Gravelly Hill Unionist Buildings Ltd.
Dave Nellist, TUSC candidate
- Nellist was the Labour MP for Coventry South East for nine years, however Nellist refused to take a full MPs salary and decided instead that he would only take a worker’s wage (calculated from trade union figures across ten Coventry factories). Nellist gave away over half his salary.. “I accepted every penny of the full salary, but as the Labour Party we gave away roughly £35,000 [per year in today’s money] to help the families of miners in the 80s, community groups, pensioners.”
- Nellist endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigns in both the 2015 and 2016 Labour Party leadership elections.
- Nellist withdrew as a candidate in the 2017 general election and encouraged his supporters in Coventry to back Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister. He said: “I support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies of higher wages, free university education, crash housebuilding programme, public ownership of the railways – and 4 more bank holidays! I want to see him elected Prime Minister on June 8th… we have a chance on June 8th to send Jeremy to No. 10 and we can’t do that if Coventry sends Tory MPs to Westminster.”
- Nellist was also a socialist Coventry City councillor for 14 years and fought against Labour Party efforts to privatise and cut services.
- More recently, Dave has spent 20 years working for Citizens Advice in Coventry, defending workers in the courts and tribunals.
- In the Erdington campaign, Nellist is standing as the candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Nellist has been a trade union member for over 48yrs and has a track record of fighting for more pay and for collective working-class action and organisation.
- He was one of the first MPs to introduce a Private Members Bill for a national minimum wage and continues to fight for a £15-an-hour minimum wage today.
- Dave was a parliamentary spokesperson of the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation and in 1992 he was expelled from the Labour Party for promising to follow in the footsteps of Militant MP Terry Fields, who was facing jail for refusing to pay the poll tax.
- According to the Socialist Party website, while the Labour candidate, Paulette Hamilton, was trying to force through cuts that would hit the salaries of Birmingham bin and care workers, Nellist was fighting the cuts and standing with the workers on the picket lines.
- According to Wiki, when Tony Blair was first elected as an MP (in 1983), he initially shared an office with Nellist but they were so politically apposed that it caused some ructions between them so Blair was moved and ended up sharing an office with Gordon Brown, who had also been newly elected at the time.
- Nellist stood as a ‘No2EU – Yes to Democracy’ candidate in the 2009 European election in the West Midlands Region. No2EU takes a socialist, trade union and alter-globalisation Eurosceptic stance from a workers’ perspective
- Nellist played a leading role in the formation of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
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