Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/503/3154
Stoke's 'unpopular front' council coalition
Tales from the council chamber
NEW LABOUR and the Tories signed up to a coalition this May to run Stoke-on-Trent city council. This new stage in New Labour's betrayal of working-class people was approved by Labour's National Executive and Tory Party chairman Francis Maude. In August, this alliance was extended to include the Lib Dems.
Andy Bentley, Stoke-on-Trent
This 'unpopular front' confirms what the Socialist Party has argued for years – the three main political parties merely represent 'three wings of one party' that puts the interests of big business first.
New Labour Mayor, Mark Meredith and a coalition cabinet of six Labour, three Tories and one Lib Dem councillor run the city instead of just the Mayor and an unelected chief executive. Their stated aim is to stop recent years' infighting which, claims Tory leader Roger Ibbs, "slowed down the speed at which the city has regenerated."
Mayor Meredith boasts, "It will mean lower council tax rises and working together to make tough decisions and deliver value for money." But working-class people know exactly what these words mean!
In 2006 then Socialist Party councillors, Paul and Dave Sutton proposed an alternative budget to Stoke council which would have meant no increase in council tax. Not one New Labour or Tory councillor voted for this budget! In fact, the votes of New Labour and Tory councillors and others imposed council tax rises totalling 25% in recent years on the city's notoriously low paid workers.
"Tough decisions" come naturally to these careerists who think 'principles' is just a shop on the high street. They have already scrapped hundreds of council workers' jobs and are now trying to make the rest cover the same amount of work.
They announced months ago that six of 12 care homes will close or be privatised but didn't name which ones. So, elderly residents in all these care homes were living in fear of their home being closed or sold off.
Value for money is code for cuts in jobs and services for us whilst they prosper. No sooner was this coalition pact signed than they gave themselves a £7,000 a year pay rise on top of their current salary! Some councillors must have qualified as doctors as they aim to cut staff sickness by 25%!
New Labour leaders tell workers to vote for them because the alternative would be a Tory government or Tory control of councils. But the New Labour–Tory–Lib Dem 'unpopular front' on Stoke council blows this argument out of the water.
No longer can union leaders locally argue that they should use their members' money to finance New Labour so "we can have a say in their policies" or "prevent a return of the Tories".
Socialist Party members aim to build a new party to represent ordinary working class people. Over 160 people have already attended three public meetings in Stoke-on-Trent organised by local Campaign for a New Workers' Party activists.
In The Socialist 27 September 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news