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Campaigning against all cuts and privatisation
In 1921 Poplar councillors, led by George Lansbury, electrified British politics by refusing to make working class East Londoners pay unaffordable rates. They did this while still spending money in the borough to improve the lives of the poor.
By contrast 90 years later, on 8 March, Tower Hamlets council passed through cuts of £72 million over the next three years.
Outrageously, only 50 out of 100 residents who queued for the public gallery were allowed into the chamber.
Each group in the council put forward a cuts budget. Independents, Labour, Lib Dems and Respect all meekly blamed central government despite the council having £91 million in reserves.
Socialists argue that councillors should instead set 'needs' budgets based on jobs, housing and services, rather than lining the pockets of the rich.
As the Poplar councillors said: "It is better to break the law than break the poor!"
Vik Chechi, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party
Stoke-on-Trent city council, run by a coalition of Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and independents, has voted to slash jobs and services across the city by £36 million, despite having reserves of £61.5 million!
Stoke Socialist Party has said that councillors can use council reserves and borrowing powers to avoid passing on cuts, which is completely within a council's legal powers. This could buy time to build a massive campaign in opposition to all cuts, and to win the needed money from central government.
The council should follow the example of the 47 1983-87 Liverpool Labour councillors who refused to make cuts and instead won £60 million of extra funding from the then Conservative government. The campaign included a march of 50,000 people.
Stoke Socialist Party members, trade unionists and community campaigners will be standing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in the 5 May local elections. Any TUSC candidates elected will vote 'no' to cuts and propose a 'needs budget' instead.
- Come along to the TUSC public meeting to find out more:
Monday 21 March, 7.30pm, The White Star, upstairs, 63 Kingsway, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 1JB
When the Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union led 100 protesters on 8 March on a lively 'pavement walk' from Walthamstow town square to the London borough's town hall, we were met with barricades around the town hall steps.
Despite the barriers, elderly and disabled people, children who use the music service, and council workers challenged councillors as they tried to sneak in.
Most of the protesters were then refused entry to the public gallery, despite there being spare places. Councillors had attempted to fill the seats with friends and family!
The Labour council's budget proposed £29.5 million of 'savings' this year out of a total of £65 million in four years.
There was no real debate in the chamber, but there was lively and sharp debate between the public gallery and the council chamber!
Labour councillors kept saying that they were protecting the most vulnerable, yet a whole tranche of youth services - Connexions, the behaviour support team, the educational welfare service, the youth offending team - are being cut or axed completely.
Kevin Parslow, secretary, Unite Waltham Forest LE1228 branch
Ignoring a 500-strong anti-cuts demonstration in January, the Labour-Tory coalition leading Cumbria county council has now passed a budget that will mean 611 workers lose their jobs.
Half of these jobs losses are in children's services. 49 out of 60 special needs teachers will be sacked and 25 posts in education welfare services cut. 19 firefighter jobs will also go.
Cumbria is a county of stark contrasts. Visitors see the Lake District, home to the retired wealthy and empty holiday homes, or the well-off landowners of the Eden Valley.
But de-industrialised West Cumberland is a low-wage, high unemployment area. In the deprived wards of Carlisle and the west, babies are 50% more likely to die in their first year than in the better-off areas, where life expectancy is ten years longer.
The Cumbria cuts show the need for a fightback including standing TUSC anti-cuts candidates in the May local elections.
- Wirral and Cheshire Socialist Party members raised £135 fighting fund in Birkenhead when campaigning against cuts in jobs and services.