The manager of a mental health charity which closed its doors and a police officer being forced to retire at 52 joined Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the Birmingham launch of the party’s local election campaign.
Mr Miliband was joined by deputy leader Harriet Harman, her husband, Erdington MP Jack Dromey, and a host of party faithful for the launch event at Perry Common Junior School in Kingstanding on Thursday.
The school’s linked Brambles Children’s Centre faces an uncertain future as staff try to implement cuts.
He took questions from an invited audience which included health service workers, community activists, trade unionists and charities.
And the theme for the day was cuts as the idea that the Government is cutting “too hard and too fast” was repeated.
Camille Ade-John, of the Cope Black Mental Health Foundation in Handsworth, which has seen its funding cut, said: “I have had to tell staff not to come back. It is a travesty. If these services are removed we are going to have a city at war with itself.”
Detective Constable Tim Kennedy of West Midlands Police, who at 52 is among an army of officers being forced to retire, said: “Today is my last day, after 36 years in frontline policing I am being compulsory retired along with 270 of my colleagues under the A19 scheme.”
Mr Miliband also fielded questions on the big society, schools, health service reform and court closures from a sympathetic audience.
He accused the Government of being high handed and arrogant in its approach and urged voters to send a message at the May 5 election.
He said: “Send a message about what is happening to our country. We have police officers forced out, forced to retire when all they want to do is carry on serving, people worried about changes to the NHS, worried about children’s centres, about schools and about social care.”
When asked if the election was a distraction from his May 27 wedding to long-term partner Justine Thornton, he said: “No not at all, the wedding planning carries on while we fight this local election campaign.”
Mr Miliband felt that the elected mayor was an issue for the people of Birmingham to decide, but he recognised that there is a battle going on in the city for the Labour candidacy, a year before the referendum is held.
He said that there were bound to be some rivalries. “Whenever there is an election people take different sides. The local Labour Party is in good shape and will choose their candidate when the time comes.”
And a day after Prime Minister David Cameron’s outburst in which he described Labour’s shadow Chancellor Ed Balls as the “most annoying man in British politics”, Mr Miliband was hesitant to submit his own suggestion, but under some pressure added: “Michael Gove would be high on the list.
"Seriously I think Mr Cameron needs to calm down, that wasn’t very prime ministerial.”