IRISH people across Birmingham do not believe that David Cameron nor his party colleagues “stand up for them” election hopeful Jack Dromey told The Irish Post this week.
The Labour politician, who was elected as MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010, claims he is finding people who feel increasingly marginalised by the politics of the Conservative government while pounding the election trail in his constituency.
“What do I hear from Irish people on doorsteps, on the high street, in the pubs, clubs or workplaces? That they don’t believe David Cameron or George Osborn stands up for them,” he said.
“They say ‘we are told that the economy is recovering, but what recovery?’ as they don’t feel it. What they do feel is the consequence of the biggest cuts in local government history on their services.”
The Irish community was one of the groups most severely affected by local government cuts which came into effect in Birmingham this month – which have seen £20,000 in funding pulled from the annual St Patrick’s Day Festival and threatens the future of a planned Irish archive project at the Library of Birmingham.
A number of Irish charities serving some of the most vulnerable members of the community have also been affected by the cuts – which have fallen across the city and its departments – losing thousands of pounds in support for their services due to Birmingham City Council’s recommissioning of its drugs and alcohol services.
“Birmingham has sustained the worst of cuts to the local authority spending of the most recent government’s austerity plan – far worse than any imposed on councils in the shire counties further down south,” Dromey claims.
“That has hit the city very hard and it will be the focus of a Labour government to ensure that we address that if successful come May 7.
“The negative impact these cuts have had on the Irish in Birmingham will also form part of that, if we get the opportunity to redress the balance, as the community has been heavily impacted by it.”
He added: “They, like the people of Birmingham as a whole, have been largely impacted by cuts to social care for the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable, but I also know of a whole number of cases, including a number of Irish people, where people have been badly caught by the bedroom tax.
“It all fuels this sense that Cameron’s government is one for rich people, not one for working people as a whole and not one for Irish people.”
Dromey, who was born in Kilburn to Irish parents who hailed from counties Cork and Tipperary, is confident that Labour will retain the traditional Irish vote in Birmingham in next month’s general election.
“Overwhelmingly the Irish are for labour, it’s in their blood,” he claims.
“Everywhere I go there is strong support for Labour and I believe the overwhelming majority of Irish people will be voting Labour in the general election.”
Regarding his expectations for personal success, he added: “I am a Labour man and I want to see a Labour government. I have served the people of Birmingham since 2010 and when polling comes around I fully expect to be judged on my record for the community to date.”
The former trade unionist – who is the proud son of an Irish navvy and husband of deputy Labour Party leader Harriet Harman – is also clear what the community can expect should the Tories be voted back into power next month.
“If there is no change in government next month, the most negative impact will be on the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable - and they are all Irish people,” he claims.
“It’s painful to see such consequences for people who have worked hard and through no fault of their own need - in the twilight of their years, or as a consequence of their disability – support, only to find it is increasingly very difficult to get the help you need at a time of need.”