By Ted Knight
London Labour Briefing, No. 25, December 1982
At 12.30 pm on Friday November 12th Labour once more gained control of Lambeth Council when one of the SDP Councillors became an independent. I am once again the leader of the Council. The Council will now have 32 Labour members, 27 Tories, 3 SDP, and I Liberal. The Independent (Gordon Ley) has indicated that he will vote with Labour in full Council to give labour control. Thus ends Tory rule of Lambeth — the greatest prize that the Tories achieved in the May elections – and the end of the coalition with the SDP/Liberals.
The last few months have been a disaster for the people of Lambeth. The Social Services Department has been so decimated that it cannot fulfil its statutory obligations for children at risk or in care. Housing repairs are categorised by urgency; a 24 hour job now takes three weeks, a 72 hour job, takes six weeks. Local Unions have welcomed the new administration; the T&GWU, and UCATT issued press statements applauding our determination to reverse all Tory/SDP/Liberal cuts.
The effects of the change go further. Labour will now gain an extra seat on the London Provincial Council for manual workers’ wages. Labour will now control this and the Council workers Unions are looking for a real increase in earnings and not the 3.5% that Thatcher thinks they should have, and the consequent cut in living standard.
The absolute priority is to reverse all the cuts of the last six months and for Lambeth to take its place alongside other Labour Councils in the fight for inner city resources. I strongly support the London Labour Leaders Group and their determination to break the bi-partisan attitudes of the past in local government matters. I favour withdrawal from the London Boroughs Association; it has become a tool of the Tories and is a platform for them to attack the GLC
We are determined to push ahead with the manifesto on which we originally won the election before it was snatched away by the labour defector, Johnny Johnson. The needs of Lambeth are greater than when we were forced out of office. Unemployment is higher, deprivation is even more pronounced.
Therefore the Labour Councillors will be seeking both the resources and the support of the community to fight this Government. We must reverse the downward path of misery and deprivation that the Tories are forcing on the inner city area. Our aim must be to use our control in Lambeth to strengthen the fight back across London, as our contribution to the nationwide struggle to remove the Tories from office.