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Posted on 18 March 2011 at 14:35 GMT

'Dented shield' proposed in Horsforth anti-cuts meeting

On Wednesday 16 March there was standing room only at the launch meeting of Horsforth Against Cuts (in Leeds) as over 30 people crammed into the upstairs room of Bar 166.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Joel Smith, a local GMB rep introduced the main speaker, Hugo Radice, a retired economics fellow at Leeds university, who spelt out the devastating impact the Con-Dem cuts package will have.

He exposed the economic nonsense of the rhetoric that the cuts are necessary, particularly pointing out that the way to the mass privatisations they are carrying out under the auspices of the 'big society' was opened up by New Labour's academies and PFI programmes.

Most there wished to discuss how the cuts are impacting on the Horsforth area. Socialist Party member Andy Smith explained about the campaigns of students at Leeds Trinity university and said that they had decided to stand himself as an anti-cuts candidate in the May local elections.

Others raised about cuts to the health service in Leeds and the threat to a mental health drop-in centre on Clarence Road. However, Labour councillor for Bramley, Ted Hanley, whilst initially correctly blaming the casino-capitalism of the banks for the debt, was to defend the 90 million+ cuts that the council is making.

He also defended the previous Labour government's policies, including academies, much to the outrage of several teachers in the room. I explained what is wrong with academies, for instance that they hand control over to private sponsors and can attack staff conditions, and that PFI projects cost several times more than publicly funded schemes.

While I agreed that the banks were in large part responsible for the crisis, I pointed out that it was the very government that he was defending that bailed them out.

I also said that it wasn't good enough for people who are going to be the victims of the cuts to hear him cry crocodile tears while cutting jobs and services.

It's not enough for councillors to say they oppose the cuts; they should be voting against them and using their position to organise a mass campaign of resistance to the government as was done by Liverpool council in the 1980s.

Unfortunately, in his closing remarks, Hugo Radice advocated the same dented shield approach of councillor Hanley, arguing that all the Liverpool councillors achieved was to let the Liberals back in.

Actually, as a result of the house building, job creation programme etc of the Liverpool councillors, Labour's vote went up in 1987 after Thatcher had removed them with the complicity of the Labour right-wing around Neil Kinnock.

The real lessons of the Liverpool struggle will need to be discussed and dissected by anti-cuts campaigners up and down the country, and undoubtedly will be in Horsforth in the near future.

The meeting discussed what campaigners in Horsforth should do next, including assisting people to get to the TUC's anti-cuts demonstration in London on 26 March, which led to one woman recounting her experiences of the 1990 poll tax demonstration.

Also discussed was the possibility of calling a 'UK-uncut style' protest outside one of the banks in Horsforth and it was agreed to keep in touch and organise a further meeting in the next month.

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