Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/533/4101
Opposing cutbacks in Lincolnshire
AFTER A hard-fought election campaign, Socialist Party members in Lincoln celebrated a first-time showing of 127 votes (6.2%) in the 1 May elections in Carholme ward.
Many traditional Labour voters expressed outrage at government policies, with the 10p tax rate a prominent issue. However this did not always translate into votes for our party, particularly as Carholme was a marginal seat, where some people saw us as a 'wasted vote'.
But the election campaign strengthened the Socialist Party's profile locally. We spoke to hundreds of people during it, using our opposition to a 10% increase in council tax to petition.
The evening before the election showed why we have to fight. I visited Woodhall Spa, a small Lincolnshire town which is having its library opening hours cut by one-third. Fielding questions from over 100 users and staff, arrogant Conservative councillor Eddy Poll told outraged residents that "they were lucky to have a library service at all".
Cuts of over 10% in opening hours for libraries across the county are the Conservatives' way of attracting more users. Ominously, the intention is to decimate it to a core level, then use the private and voluntary sectors to provide some services. This is a complete retreat from the idea of a universal library service towards one dependent on charity or profit motives.
Tory Eddy Poll also showed the complete bankruptcy of the mainstream parties, arguing that "all the parties support cuts in library services". That may be the case for parties with elected representatives in Lincoln and Lincolnshire now.
However, Poll's approach will fuel cynicism towards these parties even further, and can only be defeated by fighting for committed socialist councillors like we have in Lewisham and Coventry who will oppose huge council tax increases and cuts in services.
Three days before the election we got a letter into the local paper supporting the 24 April strike of teachers and others and pointing out that the three main parties were united in their attack on the strikers.
Our letter argued for stepping up strike action across the public sector and said we should use united action as a basis for building working-class political representation.
That need is becoming greater by the day.
In The Socialist 14 May 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party review