Gerald Kaufman and Gorton councillor condemn Devo Manc

Article published: Tuesday, September 29th 2015

From left: Emma Runswick (Save Our NHS), Caroline Martin (Gorton Against Poverty) (chair) and Sir Gerald Kaufman (MP for Manchester Gorton)

From left: Emma Runswick (Save Our NHS), Caroline Martin (Gorton Against Poverty) (chair) and Sir Gerald Kaufman (MP for Manchester Gorton)

Gerald Kaufman denounces the Devo Manc deal at a public meeting in Levenshulme. Gorton South Councillor Julie Reid warns of “privatisation by the back door” and possible mergers between Greater Manchester Colleges.

At a public meeting in Levenshulme Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Gorton, heavily criticised the way the Devolution Manchester (Devo Manc) deal had been forced on the people of Manchester, and warned of its potential adverse effects once the deal begins to bite. Julie Reid, Labour councillor for Gorton South, spoke at the meeting highlighting upcoming government reviews of Greater Manchester (GM) Colleges followed by other GM tertiary education establishments. Reid warned that the non-Ofsted reviewers would be considering possibilities for mergers between these institutions.

The audience at the meeting, held last Friday evening at the Inspire centre, was informed by Kaufman of the severe deficiencies of the Devo Manc deal and its lack of accountability which prevents those deficiencies being addressed.

Kaufman was particularly concerned with effects on the NHS, saying “the National Health Service is the most important service we have in this country. It’s vital and everybody needs it from time to time, and some people a lot of the time. It is under attack from this government right now’. He went on to say “we don’t know what the hell the structure [of the NHS] is going to be under devolution. What we also don’t know is how the money is going to be allocated and who will do it.”

An undergraduate student of medicine in Manchester and member of the Save our NHS campaign, Emma Runswick agreed with Kaufman’s criticisms, and was concerned about the cost of increasing privatisation to the NHS. “Operating in the market is costing us £9 billion a year. That is £9 billion that we are not spending on patients”. Runswick described how PFI debts were costing the NHS £2 billion per year, and that who was responsible for those debts is not made clear in the Devo Manc deal.

After Kaufman’s speech Reid spoke passionately from the floor against the Devo Manc Deal. “It’s privatisation by the backdoor, breaking the NHS down, breaking higher education down. I am telling you, I am going to be there fighting… if we don’t stop this in the north-west, then they will take it round the rest of the country. If we don’t stop them nobody will!”

The shocking news of possible mergers between GM higher education establishments was also revealed to the meeting by Reid, who told of reviews being carried out on Manchester and Bolton colleges this week. “Then they are going to work their way through the whole of GM’s college system. This is not Ofsted, these are reviewers from the government: they are going to review provision in GM and guess what? They are going to look at mergers”.

Kaufman also highlighted the inadequacies of the £300 million housing fund under the proposed deal. Another revelation was that the Greater Manchester Fire Service would be abolished and its functions transferred to the mayor. More details of Kaufman’s damning Devo Manc speech can be viewed in the video below.

Organiser of the meeting Evan Pritchard (Greater Manchester Unite Community Branch) was happy with the ground covered by the meeting. “The meeting brought out the reality that these changes are about a linked attack on democracy and on the living standards and working conditions of the majority through the furtherance of austerity and privatisation.” He went on to say “hopefully people attending the meeting will be using what they learned to educate their friends, neighbours and workmates as to what is being done behind our backs to change fundamentally the way that public services will be run locally.”

Pritchard was encouraged by the fact that locally elected representatives of the Labour party had taken a stand against Devo Manc during the meeting. “These representatives should be applauded for the stance they are taking, and encouragement should be given and pressure placed on other councillors and MPs in Manchester and in the wider area of Greater Manchester to take the same position.” He was hopeful that this meeting would act as a catalyst for a growing opposition to Devo Manc.


Conrad Bower

For more information see: Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign and Save Our NHS Greater Manchester Coalition


More: Local journalism, Manchester, News, QuickKick


  1. Kaufman was Blairite before Blair was born! If he says he is against devo-manc and privatisation he is either lying through his back teeth, or hes had a massive knock on the head!

    Manchester city council have been slashing tens of millions of pounds from the cities budget every year since the onslaught of austerity began after the financial collapse in 2008. They were entirely in favour of “devolving” power to an un-elected mayor that is directly responsible to a Tory cabinet minister and now retains almost universal control over spending across Manchester.

    Kaufman and his ilk, both on the city council and embedded in positions of power within the Labour party are careerists looking to encourage big-business investments in the city to make a buck on the side for themselves, at the expense of working class people.

    Comment by John on October 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm
  2. Most politicians today are careerists and the Labour Party is no exception, particularly not the elite running things in the region. But Kaufman is so far the only politician to come out against the Done Deal. His focus was mainly on the threat to democracy which, in the end, will be the most tragic consequence of the Done Deal. The elephant in the room was TTIP and CETA; the evening left me wondering if the Done Deal was meant to clear the path for them. After all, who needs democratic representation if decisions are taken in board-rooms of multinational companies.

    Comment by Brigitte Lechner on October 2, 2015 at 8:18 pm
  3. I don’t know why John should assume that because Kaufman is in the Labour Party he would have the same position as the Council on this issue.

    It wouldn’t be the first time that he had taken a different stance, for example over the transfer of council housing to Housing Associations such as Eastlands.

    Kaufman is not and has never been a Blairite. He is a traditional Old Labour right winger and there is a significant difference.

    By the way he is also one of the 6 Labour MPs in Greater Manchester and less than 50 in total to vote against the Labour whip and oppose the “Work and Welfare” Bill.

    When I was a member of the Labour Party people like me were bitterly opposed to and by Kaufman. Now I find there are issues we can work with him on.

    The reality is that this deal was done behind the backs of the Labour Party, including the MPs and most of the councillors.

    The question is, will they make a stand now, particular given that their new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, came out against DevoManc in his campaign, describing it as a “cruel deception”?

    Comment by Evan Pritchard on October 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm
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