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Not elected to make cuts, but Swansea's Labour councillors press ahead anyway
Cowards flinching and traitors sneering a plenty but not a single principled Labour councillor willing to vote against £26 million of Con-Dem cuts in the coming year and £45 million in the next three years. That tells you everything worth knowing about the full-council budget meeting in Swansea last night.
Labour councillors adopted a number of strategies to hide their embarrassment at being lobbied before the meeting and being asked not to vote for the cuts. Some scurried past as quick as they could, others shouted abuse at us, while some pretended that the council isn't making cuts. By far the most common response was to claim that cuts are 'Con-Dem cuts'. But if Labour councillors vote for Con-Dem cuts then they become their cuts.
Voting for Con-Dem cuts is exactly what they did. Despite every protestation that they weren't elected to make cuts, every Labour councillor did just that.
My trade union, Unison, is calling for Labour councils to raise the council tax by the maximum. Well, Swansea's Labour councillors have done that, raising council tax by 5% and still making millions of pounds of cuts to our members' jobs and services.
In the last couple of weeks, in the face of a public outcry, the council has announced suspension of decisions or delay in implementation of some of the most unpopular decisions: scrapping school crossing patrols, closing residential care homes, etc.
However the Medium Term Financial Plan makes it clear that all these measures are still on the agenda. This was spelt out when the finance officer made it clear that if three residential care homes were not shut down then the savings projected would have to be found from elsewhere, even though Labour councillors have been holding up the delay to shutting these homes as an example of how they listened to the people of Swansea.
Nobody in Swansea should be under any illusions; at best, some services have received a limited stay of execution but the overall amount of cuts to jobs and services remains unaltered.
The council budget is peppered with variations on the phrase "alternative delivery model". Behind this seemingly innocuous phrase is hidden the realities of outsourcing. Outsourcing invariably means less job security, poorer pay, harsher terms, and worse working conditions for staff. This inevitably leads to poorer services for those that rely on them.
Swansea's Labour council is also making a liar of Wales' Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, who was applauded for pledging at the Wales TUC, last May, that "..there is no room for outsourcing of public services in Wales".
In 2012, people in Swansea elected a majority Labour council because they didn't want Con-Dem cuts. Less than two years later, they're getting Con-Dem cuts and outsourcing at the hands of the same Labour councillors.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 February 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.