Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/662/11321
Lib Dem spring conference: Rage against all cuts!
A HOME-made placard on the 400-strong protest against Sheffield Liberal Democrat council budget cuts on 4 March read "Barnsley Central today, Sheffield in May" This referred to the Lib Dems' sixth place in the parliamentary by-election . Lib Dem candidate Dominic Carman has described being spat at as he canvassed support in Barnsley.
Last week Sheffield council announced that there will be an extra 25 polling stations for local elections this May. They aim to avoid a repeat of last year's fiasco when people, who were still queuing when polling officially stopped, were denied a vote.
Back then, people queued to vote for Nick Clegg believing that the Lib Dems were a radical alternative to Labour and the Tories. Today the Lib Dems are seen as a party to protest at, not a vehicle for protest votes.
Sheffield folk now feel betrayed by the Lib Dems' broken election pledges on tuition fees, on the VAT rise, and on spending cuts, and by Clegg putting the Tories in power. That's why there will be "Rage against the Lib Dems" when their spring conference comes to Sheffield on 11-13 March.
Costing up to £2 million, a "ring of steel", including a six-foot security fence, 1,000 police and late night court sittings, will be thrown around the City Hall to protect the Lib Dems from protesters.
Local anger at the Lib Dems has increased even more because they've just voted through £84 million cuts in Sheffield council's budget over the next year. 270 jobs are to be axed on top of 400 posts that have already gone. 8,500 council workers were issued with HR1 forms notifying them of possible redundancy last autumn to allow the council to cut increments and sick pay.
Three out of four mobile libraries will close and there will be cuts in opening hours at branch libraries. There's a 15% cut in funding to Sure Start children's centres, and a 15% cut in voluntary sector funding, threatening projects like the user-led Mental Health Action Project. Police community support officers are being cut - housing officers will wear the same uniforms so they look like PCSOs!
Since a Lib Dem councillor defected in autumn, Labour with the two Greens can outvote the Lib Dems. The Labour group attacked the cuts as "too deep, too fast" but then abstained on the vote!
Labour said they "will act as a responsible opposition in the best interests of local people, and will not play politics with people's jobs and services." But that's precisely what they are doing, not stopping job and service cuts when they could.
So workers, young people and service users need to bring the coalition down, but we need to build an alternative to Labour cuts as well. A start can be made in May's elections by anti-cuts candidates standing against ALL cuts, with as many as possible standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC - see www.tusc.org.uk)
In The Socialist 16 March 2011:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns