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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/11312

Posted on 7 March 2011 at 14:33 GMT

Labour and Green councillors in Brighton fail to stop Tory budget

"In the early 1980s there were 20 Labour councils that started a battle against Thatcher's public spending cuts. Two stuck it out to the end - Lambeth and Liverpool.

"Now we can't even find 20 Labour councillors prepared to seriously fight the Tories". These were the words of Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist on the night (Thursday 3 March) Labour disgracefully backstabbed a red-ribboned Tory knife into the working class of Brighton and Hove, condemning the city to 26 million of cuts with hundreds of preventable job losses.

Peter Knight, Brighton Socialist Party

Socialist Party members and others in the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition witnessed a horrendous farce of a council budget meeting inside Brighton Town Hall that agonisingly swung an axe down upon our jobs, communities and services - its handle covered in the bloodied fingerprints of all the parties represented in the chamber.

At the last moment the 13 Labour councillors cowardly abstained from the final vote, allowing the 24 Tories to vote through their Labour and Green amended cuts budget.

The 13 Greens all voted against, thinking it could provide Labour with an opportunity to join them in out-voting the Tories and stopping the budget from being passed.

But it was a sham to think that this Labour Party, long-time bedfellows with the Tories in loyalty to the commands of bankers and the City, would attempt to prevent its own 'slightly less nasty' attack on our living conditions from taking place.

Labour leader Gill Mitchell tried to deny that Labour's previous administration had attempted to flog off all of Brighton's council homes. A magnificent 78% vote of tenants had defeated Labour's costly privatisation plans and many of those Defend Council Housing campaigners were present on Thursday evening in the council public gallery.

Labour's abandonment of working people could not be made any clearer after callously wasting this opportunity to prevent cuts. Labour-affiliated trade union members must be asking what there is to gain by clinging onto the dinner jacket coat tails of capitalism's 'second eleven' that attacks council members' jobs and conditions.

The amended cuts budget was drafted with Green Party assistance, hoping it was the best it could get. However this joint Labour and Green amendment to the Tory budget meant only a pitiful 2 million difference in cuts.

It signalled the Greens' willingness to work with Labour in an unholy alliance as an attempt at a united opposition. But in defeat, betrayed by Labour as though witnessing a Shakespeare tragedy, the Greens' vote against its own cuts budget melted into a mere gesture of opposition.

One pro-capitalist councillor after another lied and jeered at the public and their colleagues for most of the meeting. Tory councillor Linda Caulfield gestured in smug joy at protesters who had just witnessed losing their jobs in the backstabbing vote.

Police were earlier dragooned into clearing the public gallery at the Tories' behest when members of the public demanded an apology after being insulted by Caulfield.

A group of 20 campaigners refused to leave and sent out a call for others to join the protest. Trade union reps were threatened with arrest for no reason and members of the public were denied entry to the public gallery.

In one moment of ludicrousness, Tory council leader Mary Mears forced a security guard to remove a placard from the public gallery she had deemed threatening, which simply stated the word "Hope".

And no wonder she and her Tory and Labour cronies are scared. A hundreds-strong Unison, GMB and Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition-led march had come to the door of Brighton council chamber, calling for an end to being punished for a crisis caused by the rich.

Protesters chanted "shame on you" at the guilty Labour and Tory councillors scurrying home after the vote. Socialist Party member Shona McCulloch, proclaimed to the crowds outside: "We must reiterate that blunting the edge of the harshest cuts this country has seen for 80 years is not good enough".

Socialist Party members alongside other 'stop the cuts' campaigners are preparing to stand under the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) banner in May's council elections to give working class communities the chance to defend themselves and build an alternative voice in the council chamber.

TUSC is calling for people to stand and sign up to its socialist 'no cuts' platform, to offer the opportunity to elect working class representatives - councillors who will follow in the footsteps of the Liverpool fighters of the 1980s, councillors who will vote no to all cuts, and for a socialist alternative that will make the rich pay.

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