Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Where are Birmingham's Labour MPs?

The Birmingham Post is this morning reporting that 400 firms went bust in Birmingham in the last quarter of 2008.

Understandably, media attention is often focused on the mass employers in the region. Yet scores of employees have lost their jobs, and continue to do so, in the SMEs that underpin the local economy.

So where are Birmingham's Labour MPs when this is going on?  I'll tell you where...hiding, or at least trying to distract our attention by talking about something else.

The most high profile of them is Liam Byrne, Cabinet Office Minister and MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, a constituency that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK.

The only time I ever see Byrne quoted these days is when he is taking pot shots at John Lines in the press.  Other than that, nothing.

Sion Simon is another MP who seems to have nothing to say about unemployment in his constituency.  He is easily being outflanked on the Jaguar issue by Erdington Conservative Councillor Robert Alden.

Gisela Stuart, the 'pretend Euro-Sceptic' MP for Edgbaston, has nothing to say about anything, now that her government has ignored her insincere pleas for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.  Although she did pop up recently attacking her nemesis and replacement, Councillor Deirdre Alden, in a ridiculous spat about tower blocks.

Khalid Mahmood is a 'rentaquote' merchant who can always be relied upon to stir the pot of racial intolerance, but has nothing to say about the appalling youth jobless figures in the inner city.

Steve "Lollipop Man" McCabe's only public appearance of note in recent months was moonlighting as a crossing warden, a poor taste stunt, campaigning for a crossing that was already being planned by the city council.

Lynne Jones and the rebellious ex-Labour Party MP Clare Short have been in the departure lounge for so long now, waiting for their pensions to kick in, that no one remembers them ever getting elected.  McCabe himself spent the early part of his current term of office trying to fight Roger Godsiff for the right to become the MP for Hall Green, a situation only resolved when Jones took the decision to stand down.

Then we have Richard 'Al' Burden, the MP for Northfield, a man who has always been too preoccupied with events in the Middle East, to have to worry about a major car plant going under in his constituency.  Of course, now that Longbridge is a desolate wasteland, waiting for the economy to pick up before it can regenerate itself, Burden can spend his time trying to compete with Salma Yaqoob for the 'I hate Israel more than you contest'.  Wait until Netanyahu is back in office later today, then we'll hear from him I am sure.

Birmingham needs a new start, with a new group of MPs who will address the unemployment issue head on.  

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