Dawn Butler MP defends controversial Militant slogan that it’s ‘better to break the law than break the poor’

PUBLISHED: 17:42 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:14 24 September 2018

Dawn Butler MP. Picture : David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Dawn Butler MP. Picture : David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

PA Archive/PA Images

Brent Central’s MP has defended a controversial speech she made at the Labour Party conference where she said it’s “better to break the law than break the poor” when facing government cuts.

Dawn Butler used the slogan made by Liverpool’s Labour council 30 years ago which set an illegal budget which resulted in redundancy notices for its workforce.

The shadow women and equalities minister was speaking to the party’s women’s conference yesterday in Liverpool.

In 1985, Liverpool’s Labour Council, which was run by the party’s far-left Militant wing, passed an illegal budget, in which spending exceeded income, demanding the deficit be made up by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

As a “tactic” the council issued redundancy notices to its 30,000 strong workforce, condemned by the Labour leadership at the time.

In her speech, Ms Butler said: “Local councils, have seen nearly 50 per cent of their funding cut – I want to give a shout out to all the councillors fighting everyday against these Tory cuts.

“Conference, we are in Liverpool where over 30 years ago the council stood up to Thatcher and said-better to break the law than break the poor.”

Glenys Thornton, shadow Lord’s health minister tweeted: “Great to be at Women’s conference, but am surprised that @DawnButlerBrent has just praised a Liverpool Council in the past that of Derek Hatton who issued redundancy notices to their own public sector employees, and failed to protect services too!”

She added: “Derek Hatton’s Militant colleagues were misogynistic bullies. We should not be praising them at @UKLabour Women’s Conference.”

Former trade union secretary John Hannett tweeted: “I was there in Liverpool and witnessed the damage Millitant caused. Dawn Butler’s comment tells me she has no understanding of what went on in my city.”

However, some charities supported her speech. Homeless charity Streets Kitchen tweeted: “We agree @DawnButlerBrent”

She told the Brent & Kilburn Times: “The point I was making was that, like the Thatcher government of the 1980s, this Tory Government has prioritised tax cuts for the rich while cutting services like women’s refuges that save lives and keep women safe.

“This Tory Government is calling for Brent Council to find £40 million worth of additional cuts over the next four years and the most vulnerable in our community will bear the brunt of this.

“Labour instead will invest in our communities to rebuild Britain for the many not the few.”

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