Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/665/11714
Labour 'campaigning' - casework style
Around 50 elderly residents of sheltered accommodation, some support staff and relatives were protesting at Waltham Forest Labour council's decision to implement Tory cuts by picking on the old and vulnerable.
Wardens were to be axed, telephone calls substituted for knocks on the door, and a host of other trimmings of the service. One lady said she'd lived in her block for 17 years and once had everything. 'Now look what it's come to'.
Two local Labour MPs sat at the top table. These two worthies came hoping to head up a campaign but they headed it off! The only real issue for them was getting the best way of implementing cuts and making sure every resident had their say in a sham consultation exercise. It was only fair!
They promised to find out answers to the many queries and had three personal assistants collecting names and addresses so all could have a personal response. It was opposition by casework not campaign.
Both were at pains to make clear they really hated the Tories, and denounced Nick Clegg for having two faces! They said they "wished and wished" these cuts did not have to be made. They wanted to make the best of a bad job... and no more.
They distanced themselves from Labour councillors saying they had no remit to influence them. What kind of party lets the old and frail suffer?
Many of the old folk were clearly afraid of being alone. No wonder. Already three residents had been discovered dead on the floor. But never a word passed the councillors' lips about stopping the cuts through a serious campaign.
At a recent council lobby the GMB union revealed that £40.1 million is in this council's reserves. Even the council leader grudgingly agreed there was £10 million. A Socialist Party member and Anti-Cuts Union activist asked why couldn't some of this money be used to maintain these vitally needed services, and was given a huge round of applause. The question was ignored even when a resident demanded the question be answered.
At the end of the meeting, after saying that every matter raised would be duly investigated and replies communicated, one MP said: "...and to the lady at the back, I will find out the answer and get back to you"! No doubt on House of Commons notepaper. And that will be the end of that.
In The Socialist 6 April 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students