Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/845/20173

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 February 2015

Editorial from the Socialist 845

Councils at breaking point: the strategy to fight back

Socialist-led Liverpool city council's struggle in 1983-87 led to mass demonstrations and thousands of new council houses built, photo Dave Sinclair

Socialist-led Liverpool city council's struggle in 1983-87 led to mass demonstrations and thousands of new council houses built, photo Dave Sinclair   (Click to enlarge)

Councils up and down the country are setting budgets, once again forcing through tens of millions - in some cases hundreds of millions - of pounds of cuts.

The headline figures, regularly exposed in the pages of the Socialist, are bad enough. They come on top of similarly savage cuts since 2011. Graeme McDonald, director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers has said that cuts "will push some authorities to breaking point".

These cuts have appalling human consequences. As well as the 'obvious' results - library closures, roads full of potholes, no one answering the phone at the council offices - there are devastating results behind the scenes.

For example, recent newspaper headlines have highlighted the numbers of young people being stabbed in some areas. What they don't mention is the complete stripping out of youth services, including the destruction of youth offending teams. When social work teams dealing with early intervention in families are expected to take on work with young people up to age 19 and troubled families, with no extra resources, it doesn't make the headlines.

Jobs

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, and those that remain have faced big pay cuts. The public sector pay freeze applies to council workers. Councils also administer the cuts to housing benefit and council tax rebate, and drag people through the courts to enforce payment of council tax.

Disgracefully, these cuts are the case no matter which capitalist party runs the council. The tragic case of the man in Newham, East London, who committed suicide because of cuts to his housing benefit and demands for impossible payments from the council, was the result of a Labour local authority carrying out the Tory/Lib Dem demands.

The first austerity cuts budgets under the Con-Dems in 2011 were met by big protests. Hundreds of people marched in each town and borough, and even invaded council chambers in the hope of persuading Labour councillors not to vote for cuts.

Scandalously every single Labour council pushed through the cuts.

Then, Labour councillors said they were opposed to cuts but it was the Con-Dems' fault. Now, the excuses have run out. At one recent anti-cuts meeting in Haringey, north London, a local trade unionist who is also a Labour Party member asked: "Why is this Labour council voting for a three-year cuts budget when they expect a Labour government in May?"

Why?

Why indeed. The Socialist Party has argued that councils should, instead of making cuts, use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers, in the first instance, to give them time to mount a mass campaign. Now, with the general election only two months away, why not use that stopgap and demand that an incoming Labour government underwrites any debt?

Fighting the cuts in Tower Hamlets, East London

Fighting the cuts in Tower Hamlets, East London

What this betrays is the reality of the new government in May - whoever wins. Labour councillors know full well that if Labour wins in May the cuts in local government will continue.

Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and shadow local government minister Hilary Benn, have all been explicit - there will be no more money for local government.

In May, at the same time as the general election, there will be council elections in the majority of England. While the main press attention is on who will form the next government, in fact councils will be one of the main battle grounds over services, jobs and pay.

Principles

But as austerity intensifies, and as British politics begins to break up, with more voters looking for alternatives, a few Labour councillors are starting to feel that they can stomach what is being demanded of them no longer, and that the possibility of changing Labour has gone.

The principled stand of the Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates, in arguing that councillors should not vote for cuts, has helped this process along.

The TUSC conference in January this year brought together rebel councillors from Leicester, Warrington, Hull, Southampton, Harrow and Walsall.

Councils should follow the road of Liverpool Labour council in the 1980s, led by supporters of the Militant, the forerunner of the Socialist Party.

Liverpool council refused to make the Tories' cuts, set a budget to meet the needs of the city, and mounted a massive trade union and community campaign to win the necessary funding.

Strike

The campaign involved thousands of local people in mass demonstrations, a city-wide strike, and real consultation on the services they needed. They attempted at all times to link up with other councils to fight against the government's cuts.

Even just one rebel council, acting in this way, could spearhead a national campaign. The number of rebel councillors could snowball.

This May, as well as 100 general election candidates, TUSC will be standing up to 1,000 council candidates arguing for this approach. Rebel councillors and councils, joining up with community campaigns and linking up with vital national coordinated trade union action, could defeat austerity policies - no matter who wins the general election in May.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 25 February 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Kick out corrupt politicians

End the housing crisis!

Councils at breaking point: the strategy to fight back

Put the bankers in the stocks!

Defend the right to protest

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

May Day greetings: Implacable resolve of lowest paid

Nine-fold growth for Grimsby Socialists

Campaign news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Greece: Syriza at a crossroad

Ireland: five anti-water charges protesters jailed


2015 elections

Bristol Greens back 'shocking' austerity policies

Warrington 'vanity project' youth service cuts

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Election appeal: Funded by you - not by big business


Socialist Party workplace news

Left scares Usdaw leadership in elections

Unison activists challenge New Labour

Socialists in Unison call for solidarity with PCS

How to strike against privatisation


Reviews and readers' comments

When women's solidarity won battle for trawlermen

Worse off than our parents

Fight tuition fees - support the TUSC alternative

TV football deal: Reclaim the game for the fans


Socialist history

50 years on: the assassination of Malcolm X


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 February 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Local government:

triangleTories u-turn on social housing benefit cap and borrowing to build

triangleFearful Tories mull borrowing to build

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleDemand for no-cuts budget grows

triangleBack the Brum bin strikers!

Cuts:

triangleIs cuts-making Preston 'beating Tory austerity'?

triangleWe're freezing: reverse cuts to boiler replacement schemes!

triangleSheffield trees campaigner sentenced to prison

trianglePay cap decisively rejected by PCS union members

Council:

triangleUSA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

triangleCorbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will

triangleStrike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

Labour:

triangleSocialism 2017: Organising to fight back

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Government:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Councillors:

triangleHousing campaigners ask Corbyn to instruct Labour council regeneration ballots

Socialist Party:

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: NHS in Meltdown - What can be done?

Pay:

triangleVirgin train workers vote for strike action over pay

Austerity:

triangleNo more excuses: fit sprinklers now!

Jobs:

trianglePlymouth PCS members fight relocation threat

TUSC:

triangleToo much to cross the Mersey

Liverpool:

triangleHuge support for strikes of bus drivers and train guards

Housing:

triangleAnger over plan to build housing on Yorkshire flood plain

Housing benefit:

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

Budget:

triangleTories on the brink - kick them out!

Council tax:

triangleBristol's Labour mayor calls anti-austerity march - now stop making cuts!

East London:

triangleEast London & Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: 2017 - From Trump to Paradise Papers; a year in review

Harrow:

triangleCollege cuts and funding chaos

Council workers:

triangleSurveying Labour councillors - will they fight cuts?

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

triangleLabour mayor needs to stop all cuts

Council elections:

triangleSurrey FBU pass no confidence motion

Walsall:

triangleLibrary cuts: working class kids suffer most

Warrington:

triangleWarrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

Newham:

triangleThem and us

Haringey:

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

15/11/17

Prisons

4,800 young people hurt after officers 'restrain' them

15/11/17

Preston

Is cuts-making Preston 'beating Tory austerity'?

15/11/17

Housing

No more excuses: fit sprinklers now!

15/11/17

What we saw

What we saw

15/11/17

Energy

We're freezing: reverse cuts to boiler replacement schemes!

15/11/17

Tories

Tories on the brink - kick them out!

14/11/17

Socialist

Socialism 2017: Organising to fight back

8/11/17

What we saw

What we saw

8/11/17

Child poverty

Child poverty set to hit 5.2m - unions and Corbyn must act now

8/11/17

Young people

We can win the vote at 16!

8/11/17

Women

Bosses say 217 years to close pay gap - workers' struggle can close it now!

8/11/17

Women

Westminster sexual harassment scandal

8/11/17

Students

Walk out against tuition fees on Budget Day!

8/11/17

Tax

PFI privateers dodge tax

7/11/17

Tax

'Paradise' for billionaires - austerity for us

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle15 Nov March for free education! We demand a future!

triangle15 Nov Tories on the brink - kick them out!

Socialism 2017

triangle14 Nov Socialism 2017: Organising to fight back

triangle13 Nov Strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

triangle10 Nov US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

triangle10 Nov Strikers picket the South Western Railway network

triangle10 Nov Europe in crisis, revolutionary winds in Catalonia

More ...

triangle20 Nov Birmingham Central Socialist Party: How can socialists support upcoming strikes?

triangle21 Nov Cardiff Socialist Students: Socialism and the struggle for LGBT rights

triangle21 Nov Birmingham South East Socialist Party: NHS in Meltdown - What can be done?

triangle21 Nov Sheffield North Socialist Party: The causes of capitalist crisis

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2