Birmingham voters delivered a strong message of opposition to the cuts last night, clearly rejecting the Tory-Lib Dem coalition that runs the city. Across the city, voters turned back to the Labour Party, which saw a massive gain of 14 seats.
Unfortunately one of those gains was in my own Sparkbrook ward. Mohammed Ishtiaq, who had held the seat for Respect since 2007, lost out to Labour.
We were well aware that there would be a big swing back to Labour once the Tories were in power, but it was still a very disappointing result.
That said, Ishtiaq’s vote still held up very strongly. With 3,413 votes he was only 100 short of the total that saw him elected in 2007. In the context of the national Labour landslide, he really should be proud of the support he received.
Labour will take back control of the council in a year’s time. In opposition, they would only abstain on Tory budget proposals, while Respect councillors were the only ones to vote against. Many thousands of people voted Labour because they want them to step up the fight against Tory cuts. I hope they rise to this challenge, and we will support them if they do.
It was a long night, and any more analysis will have to wait. This morning, all I want to do is pay tribute to Mohammed Ishtiaq. He was an excellent councillor, hardworking and genuinely respected in the area for his commitment. There will be many people in the ward who will be as sorry as we are that he was not re-elected.