Tonight was no ordinary night in Hamilton, for one night only… it was City Mayor’s Question Time!
With a slick-looking “Question Time” signage lending gravitas to Leicester’s political stars, Sir Peter Soulsby and his deputy-in-waiting, Rory Palmer, I took my seat alongside the other 19 attendees.
To begin tonight’s democratic offering, Sir Peter took delight in patronizing his audience with tales of EU generosity.
The starstruck couple then blew hot-air about all their good work in our city, and how, despite the Tories vicious cuts in public funding, they were working miracles with ever decreasing sums of money.
Towards the end of the hour of questions, I asked why Sir Peter and his Council refused to fight the Tories catastrophic attacks on public services. I pointed out that they could set a legal no-cuts budget as a first step towards building a city and nationwide fightback against the hated Tories.
This question led to Sir Peter to start mumbling on about not being allowed to set illegal budgets. To which I replied, “but I said legal.”
He then cited the best recent example of a proudly militant Labour Council that successfully beat back the Tories, in order to prove that fighting back, like Liverpool Labour city council did during the 1980s, can never work.
Sir Peter drew upon the sickening record of then Labour leader Neil Kinnock to justify his own garbled and factually deficient right-wing attack upon Liverpool. The Liverpool city council having dared to take on, and go on to win millions of pounds of funding for their city from Margaret Thatcher.
I noted how building a hugely popular campaign which drew in the active participation of tens of thousands of people in mass rallies across Liverpool succeeded in building more council houses than the rest of the country combined.
Sir Peter’s response was to slander the good name of the Liverpool Labour councillors, with talk of taxis and redundancies, all because that council did precisely what he refuses to do. That is, stand up to the Tories.
Unfortunately the unsubstantiated nonsense kept flowing from Sir Peter. I tried my best to reply to some of it, but it came so thick-and-fast I became a little overwhelmed myself.
On a positive note, when the main event was over, Rory Palmer interrupted me as I was talking to another member of the audience to tell me that he had a quote from the revolutionary socialist Oscar Wilde on the wall of his office!
How nice I thought to myself. But I would be a lot happier if Palmer and Sir Peter just acted like socialists and started publicly posing a serious alternative to the Tories, instead of just privately gazing at socialist epitaphs from across their desks while carrying through millions of pounds of cuts to public services.