Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/652/10865
A real strategy to fight the cuts
The following open letter has been sent to Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, by members of the 1983-87 group of 47 surcharged councillors.
We note in your declarations that you claim there is nothing the council can do other than implement the Con-Dem cuts more humanely than government commissioners.
Workers and their families will not notice the difference between you and Tory commissioners, the effect will be the same.
We would suggest that there are several steps you could take as part of a strategy to fight the cuts.
You claim that, in addition to the projected shortfall of £120 million, the government proposes to cut up to a billion pounds over the next four years.
We reject the notion that cuts of such magnitude can be managed without savaging the incomes, employment and living standards of workers.
The alternative strategy we propose is a bold campaigning one, which the city council of 1983-1987 pursued.
The first step should be to use the council's budget reserve, reported in the Echo as £80 million, to maintain current funding levels in areas which the Con-Dem alliance is cutting.
This would buy time for more decisive measures to defeat the cuts. We understand that your figures for reserves may differ, if so then please explain the situation according to council figures.
In addition you could take Liverpool Direct back in-house thus saving a reported £29 million a year.
Then, as we did in 1983-87, you should work out how much is required to fund the existing council services in 2011 and pass a budget in line with inflation.
This would no doubt produce a short-fall in the council's income. The amount of the shortfall could be identified, say £50 million.
A campaign could then be launched to oppose the cuts with the specific demand that £50 million be restored to the Liverpool City Council as a means of defending jobs and services.
You could issue a call for all local authorities to embrace the same strategy, and call for support from the local authority trade unions and the wider labour movement, in concert with community organisations which are planning to resist any cuts in their own localities.
If Liverpool makes a courageous stand, this could act as a beacon to other local authorities and campaigning organisations to join the campaign.
If a number of the main local authorities adopted this strategy of refusing to cut jobs and services to compensate for Tory cuts, backed up by a campaign of mass demonstrations and industrial action, the Tories would be compelled to retreat.
Already the magnificent action of the students has created chaos in the ranks of the Lib Dem wing of the government which, let us remember, is ruling without a popular mandate.
We call on the Labour group to totally reject the cuts and to join, not with the Lib Dems, but with the trade union and labour movement in defending the mass of Liverpool's working people.
It was such a campaigning strategy which resulted in the Thatcher government releasing funds to the city worth some £60 million which allowed us to carry out our electoral promises.
The alternative is a programme of cuts which will devastate the jobs and services which thousands of working families rely on, and signal a return to the dark days which we inherited in 1983.
Those dark days resulted from a catastrophic 65% collapse in the Liverpool economy between the mid-seventies and 1983, made worse by the £30 million which the Tory government cut from Liverpool's rate support grant.
If the Con-Dem cuts are implemented in Liverpool we will see a return of those dark days which we should all campaign to avoid.
Signed: Paul Astbury, Harry Smith, Tony Mulhearn, Alan Fogg, Felicity Dowling, Frank Mills, Tony Rimmer
In The Socialist 5 January 2011:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party review