Sir Steve makes the case for where responsibility lies

Steve Bullock has written a piece setting out how he has approached the cuts package agreed by Mayor and Cabinet last week:

It has been clear for most of the year that there would be significant reductions in public spending and Lewisham Council has been planning for this since before the general election in May. That planning began by identifying what we then believed was a “worst case” target of £60m over three years. I told officials that in preparing proposals to cut spending they should firstly look at way to make the organisation more efficient and secondly that cuts should target what are known as “back office” services.

Last week I agreed to recommend to a full Council meeting the first package of cuts amounting to £16m over three years.

There has been much talk and not a little shouting about “bringing down the government” and demands that Labour councillors in particular should refuse to make any cuts to services. I am clear that having been elected as mayor I have both legal and moral responsibilities. However much I disagree with what the government are doing I do not deny their right to do so. I believe they are making dreadful errors and I am attempting to make my voice heard not just for effect but also in ways that will actually make a difference.

Read on…

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Lewisham's Politicians, Steve Bullock. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sir Steve makes the case for where responsibility lies

  1. Max Calo' says:

    I’m not criticizing Sir Steve for his current performance as Mayor, I’m sure he’s doing his best and working hard to protect as many services and assets as possible, but the analysis he gives of what the Lib Dems should have done after the elections, suggesting that they should have formed an opposition coalition with Labour instead of a Government coalition with the Tories is in my opinion completely flawed.
    The theory is that if the Tory had formed a minority government then they would have braved Parliament with the advantage of calling the shots and would have soon brought the country back to the ballot blaming the opposition for the failure of the Government during an economic crisis and the result would have been a majority Tory government.

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    As it happens I have some sympathy for your analysis of the Lib Dem’s position in regards to the logic of the current coalition. As you say had they chosen to force the Tories into a minority government there is little doubt that we’d be gearing up for a new general election now.

    Of course you can construct a case that this might have been a good thing; the cuts that the government have pushed through wouldn’t have happened had the Lib Dems stayed true to their (pre-election) analysis; that the risk of damaging the recovery by cuts now was not sensible. And so the recovery might have had a chance of bedding in.

    But, the thing that I think a lot of people question about the decision the Lib Dems took is how little they seem to have got for supporting what seems, to us, to be an essentially Tory policy agenda.

    I concede that it may look a little different from inside the tent, but the current polls suggest that about half of the people who voted Lib Dem in May see things that way.

  3. Max Calo' says:

    It is legitimate to be concerned about the way things have moved, I feel very ambivalent myself.
    But had the Lib Dems made the opposite decision then it would have been the other half of those that voted Lib Dems to feel that way.

    There are policies that I completely oppose, like the size and speed of the cuts and the involved number of job losses and I amconcerned about what impact the slimming down of public services will have on the fabric of society as well as on the individuals impacted.
    And yet if we look at the result of the elections the democratic thing to do is to form a government coalition with the Tories. The Lib Dems said that in absence of an overall majority they would have formed a government with whoever got the clearest mandate. To oppose the Tories would be an even bigger U-turn.

  4. Andrew Brown says:

    Agreed the only realistic deal – and possibly the only legitimate deal – was with the Tories given the electoral arithmetic. And that’s why I started by saying I have some sympathy with your analysis of the position the Lib Dems found themselves in.

    It still leaves the question of whether the deal they got from that position was sufficient to sell to their voters and it looks like that’s not been the case for a huge proportion. Of course there’s still a long way to go before an election in 2015 so they may be persuaded back, but I wonder whether there’s the room for manoeuvre to allow that to be a realistic proposition given the demands of coalition.

  5. Max Calo' says:

    Good question, and the answer may well be no.

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