Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/634/10054
Waltham Forest's Labour council faces opposition
On a lovely summer's evening a very dirty deed was done, and probably only the first of many. At a full council meeting in Waltham Forest town hall, all 31 Labour councillors present slavishly raised their hands to vote through the first round of cuts.
Unbelievably this was an overwhelming victory over the handful of Liberals and Tories in the council meeting who voted 'no'.
An initial £2.6 million was lopped off, mainly from social services. But a total of £37.2 million is likely to be cut over the next 2.5 years. Social services will be further underfunded, giving rise to fears of more 'baby P' tragedies. This was highlighted by Nancy Taaffe, Socialist Party member and trade unionist, who was allowed to address the councillors.
She appealed to Labour councillors to stand by workers and not to be the henchmen and women for the millionaire government.
Library workers watched the proceedings, outraged at the arrogance of some councillors. One young graduate, unable to find work, said he was almost embarrassed at the level of debate. It would have been sub-standard in a secondary school.
On election day Labour councillors couldn't believe their luck. Workers who lined up to vote in the general election had some inkling that they would need protection at local level if a Tory government was to get in, so they chose to vote Labour in the council elections.
Now Labour councillors are turning into axe-carriers for the coalition government. We lobbied these councillors as they went in. Not one had a decent argument to defend their position.
Most had absolutely nothing to say, apart from "blame the Tories and Liberals", even those from active trade union backgrounds.
But they haven't reckoned on us. Over 40 campaigners and leading local trade unionists have since met to found Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union as an inclusive network of activists.
We are determined not to let these cuts proceed without a fight.
In The Socialist 4 August 2010:
War and occupation
Workplace news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party LGBT
Socialist Party events
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Review & Comment