Labour-ruled South Tyneside Council has decided to charge a youth movement departing on a 21st Century Jarrow Crusade to lobby the government for much needed jobs for the young in the region.
Youth Fight For Jobs is planning to march to London in homage to the 1936 march, but have faced nothing but the barriers of officialdom from South Tyneside Council. First the marchers were told they couldn’t depart from the steps of Jarrow Town Hall. The same Jarrow town hall which housed the original Jarrow Crusade banner for so many years. Then they were told they would have to foot the £2,500 road closure bill. South Tyneside Council (in other words us the taxpayer) already pays for Rememberance Day and Good Friday marches. If South Tyneside Council withdrew support from these their would be an outcry.
But apparently the council is ‘cash-strapped’.
This is the very same cash-strapped council that had no difficulty in finding thousands of pounds to lavish on publicity material and events to support the X-Factor ‘Vote Joe’ campaign. The same cash-strapped council that is funding the private legal adventures of councillors and staff allegedly libelled by the Monkey blog.
Local Labour councillors and MPs have never been shy in basking in the warm working class glow of the Jarrow Crusade, often referring to it to buff their credibility to court the tribal Labour vote. But so far, despite an empty Early Day Motion, they’ve been silent on the issue.
However, whilst Labour like to play on this link to workers, back in 1936, Labour didn’t support the original Jarrow March either. So really it shouldn’t be a surprise, particularly as it’s been a long time since Labour actually cared about the working class. Ed Miliband’s reluctance to support the unions planning to strike in November is evidence of a Labour party leadership detached from the realities of people losing their jobs or seeing their pensions and working conditions eroded by a government enacting the most vicious attack on the public sector in 30 years.
The sad truth is that Labour in the 21st Century appear as contemptuous about the working class as they always have been. If South Tyneside Council is unable to waive the fee, will there be a local MP willing to put down his/her money to back their working class principles with cash and save this march?
South Tyneside Council has now reconsidered it’s position and has now found the funds to pay for the road closure order.
It’s not unexpected but the Boundary Commission has decided to reduce the seven Parliamentary constituencies of Gateshead, South Tyneside, and Sunderland to six constituencies. The news, leaked on the Guido Fawkes blog, shows that in the North East region, Jarrow and Hebburn merge with East Gateshead. This means that one Labour safe seat will go, and a possible battle between Gateshead’s Ian Mearns and Jarrow’s Stephen Hepburn.
South Shields constituency will gain two wards:
…the wards of Boldon Colliery, and Cleadon and East Boldon of the Borough of South Tyneside, which are in the existing Jarrow constituency, in our proposed South Shields constituency.
Despite the gain of these areas, in a stallwart Labour town like South Shields they’ll make little difference to the seat outcome.
The proposed new Jarrow and Gateshead East constituency will take the remaining Jarrow and Hebburn wards, including four ward from Gateshead.
It’s sure to create some concern in the constituency. As is regularly seen in the letter page of the Shields Gazette, many people in Jarrow and Hebburn already feel their constituency comes second to South Shields in the South Tyneside recognition stakes, and I think this may be interpreted as a worse alternative; being part of a constituency that isn’t part of the South Tyneside ward system.
In a Labour heartland, many will also see this as a cynical attempt to whittle down Labour safe seats in Parliament. Looking at it objectively though, it’s down to cold hard numbers, although you could challenge the seemingly arbitrary limits used by the Boundary Commission.
These are the initial proposals so it’s not yet a done deal. The changes are out for consultation from tomorrow, up until the 15th December. So you have a say – use it. Follow the link above for more details.