Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/771/16995
Cuts until 2020? We need councils that fight for us!
Dave Nellist, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition national chair
As the Socialist went to press, Tory Chancellor George Osborne was due to announce more deep cuts to public services.
An estimated £11 billion in cuts will average about 8% in the departments affected on top of over 20% since the coalition came to power in 2010.
In local government, for example, cuts mean annual spending in 2015/16 is due to be one third less than 2010/11.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government say public spending cuts are set to last until 2020.
The Resolution Foundation has predicted, under the Coalition's current plans, there will have to be a further £26 billion cut from spending by 2018. This will be unbearable.
Councils can choose not to make these misery-enforcing cuts. They could take the side of the people who elected them and put up a stand against austerity.
By using their reserves and borrowing powers to avoid making cuts, councils could gain time to link up with trade unions and anti-cuts groups to build a mass movement in their support. But all three parties have shown they won't.
Tories and the Lib Dems are happy to see state spending reduced and a growing role for the private sector!
Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has promised to be "ruthless". Unfortunately, that's not ruthless with the bankers who triggered the economic crisis six years ago - he means us, its victims.
Miliband told his party's National Policy Forum in Birmingham on 22 June: "our starting point for 2015/16 is that we won't be able to reverse the cuts."
He is seeking to reassure big business that Labour can be 'trusted' to carry on cutting.
Shadow(y) benefits minister, Liam Byrne, has said Labour will not promise to repeal the government's hated bedroom tax.
Labour has already boasted that state benefits would rise by less than inflation each year under its watch. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has promised not to reverse cuts to child benefit.
Such austerity isn't necessary. Britain is still an extremely wealthy country, with top companies holding an estimated £850 billion in accumulated profits which they are refusing to invest.
The only 'balancing of the books' that's needed is to transfer such wealth to meet the needs of ordinary people.
Labour councils are at the front line of delivering the services Osborne threatens. With a few honourable, and individual, exceptions among Labour councillors, the councils themselves have meekly voted for cuts, closing youth centres, libraries, community centres and axing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
That's why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was set up in 2010, to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to mount an electoral challenge to all pro-austerity parties.
Next May will see elections in all major towns and cities for over 4,000 councillors. TUSC is campaigning for the biggest anti-austerity electoral challenge ever seen, to elect real fighting councillors who will use their position in the council chamber to appeal to those outside to take real action against austerity.
Why not come on board? If we don't fight to change things, nothing will change.
"This government is proving that 'if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile'! The refusal of councillors across the country to make a stand against the Con-Dems' funding cuts has simply given them the green light to make even bigger cuts.
"Councillors must now recognise that their appeasement hasn't worked, but that there is still time to organise a united campaign of resistance by local authorities which would stop this government in its tracks."
"It is vital we have people putting themselves forward to become councillors who would reveal an alternative to the 'we have no choice but to cut' nonsense, and put an end to Labour councillors collaborating with the Con-Dems in the dismantling of our public services."
Southampton councillors Keith and Don were both expelled from the Labour Party for voting against cuts
In The Socialist 26 June 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review