Leader of the Labour Group on Birmingham City Council led a massive walkout of last night’s Birmingham City Council meeting, The Stirrer reports today. Sir Albert Bore (pictured right) led a walkout of all opposition members after a debate calling for the withdrawal of British troops in Iraq was limited to a mere eight and a half minutes.
The exiting Labour group was joined by Respect councillor, Salma Yaqoob, who commented that she had never seen debate stopped in such a way. The councillor for Sparkbrook went on to say “we have discussions that just go on and on about far less serious subjects when they go into all the minutiae, but with this one they missed the chance to send out a powerful message on behalf of all the people of Birmingham.”
Birmingham City Council is currently run by a Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
Council Deputy Leader, Lib Dem Paul Tilsley later blamed Labour members for dragging out a previous debate on post offices (proudly advertised on Conservative councillor Deirdre Alden’s blog as being proposed by her), and explained “it’s our duty to protect the interests of the people of Birmingham and so far £5bn has been spent on the war. That’s £50 for every man, woman and child in the city.” I can’t work out Cllr Tilsley’s arithmetic, but I’ve got a simple bit of my own – if the war has cost £5bn and Birmingham City Council cannot spend more than 8½ minutes discussing it, that values the time of our good councillors at £588 million a minute… it’s no wonder Brummies don’t think they’re getting value for money out of the council.
The Deputy Leader went on to state his disgust at the people of Birmingham being left to pay for an “illegal war” based on a “bogus agenda…” yet objected to any more than 8½ minutes being allocated. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Tory-Lib Dem pact at Birmingham don’t want to engage in a debate over Iraq – I sincerely hope the electors of Birmingham won’t be so forgiving when they try to re-open the debate with some one-sided propaganda against Birmingham’s Labour Group in the run-up to the May elections.
John Ritchie is Chair of BULS