Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/661/11320
We can stop cuts!
Join the 26 March demo
THE THREE main establishment parties - Tories, New Labour, Lib Dems - have so far succeeded in limiting political debate on the cuts in public services. Whether enthusiastically or regretfully, they all say 'cuts are inevitable' and 'there is no alternative'.
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor and acting chair, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
On 26 March that cosy consensus will be severely challenged. That's when hundreds of thousands of workers and their families march through London in the biggest protest for years on the Trades Union Congress 'March for the Alternative'.
We'll protest against over 162,000 council jobs disappearing from April, according to the GMB union, and against service cuts that will leave few families unaffected. We'll march against wage freezes whilst inflation rockets. We'll demonstrate against rising pension contributions, delayed and reduced pension entitlements, education and health cutbacks, benefit reductions and other service cuts.
On these issues, individual union industrial battles are inevitable. The Socialist Party believes 26 March should put a central demand on the TUC, that all the public sector unions should set the same date for industrial action, in a one-day general strike.
231 senior 'code staff' at Barclays bank received £554 million in 2010 in pay and bonuses, averaging £2.4 million each! How many care assistants, social workers, teachers and refuse collectors could that employ?
What sort of society values bonuses for a few thousand market traders, the people who first got us into this mess, above jobs and services relied on by millions? It's a society ripe for change in a more rational direction; a socialist direction!
The TUC leaders just want to blame everything on the Con-Dem government and avoid blaming Labour councils for implementing the cuts. The next few months will challenge that.
In the 1980s, when Tory prime minister Thatcher slashed jobs and services, 20 Labour councils coordinated resistance by (initially) refusing to implement government demands.
Today, unfortunately, not even 20 individual Labour councillors on Labour authorities are prepared to vote directly against cuts. That lack of 'official' political resistance gives the bosses' class confidence, accelerating their calls for more privatisation and fewer trade union rights.
But it's one thing to pass a budget. As Thatcher found with her hated poll tax, it's another to implement that decision. In the months ahead, library by library, swimming pool by swimming pool, youth club by youth club, working class communities will fight back. This will shatter the big three parties' complacency.
Labour councils and councillors have a choice. They can help the Con-Dem government impose its cuts agenda on the working class communities Labour councillors are supposed to protect.
Or, instead of fighting those communities to impose the cuts, they could stand with them. They could refuse to do the Tories' dirty work. They could follow the road of Poplar, Clay Cross, Lambeth and Liverpool councils, and help shatter the lie that cuts are just and inevitable.
But if they don't, we will politically challenge the three main parties' cuts agenda. TUSC will help coordinate a challenge by hundreds of socialists, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners in the May council elections.
Come to the 26 March protest! On that day, thousands will want the march to be the launch pad for more action and thousands will ask where next? TUSC and the National Shop Stewards Network, through political and industrial struggle, will help point the way forward. Join us!
See the anti-cuts websites:
TUC March for the alternative
Saturday 26 March, 11am
Victoria Embankment, London WC2
March to Hyde Park, W1
In The Socialist 9 March 2011:
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature