On the same day that shadow chancellor John McDonnell outlined his alternative to the budget, which included among other things the reinstatement of local authority funding, Southampton Labour Party held its annual general meeting (AGM) on 16 November.
The question was asked of the council leader Simon Letts: "Will you therefore use some of your £80 million in reserves to save schools from cutbacks?" Simon said he would spend money only when McDonnell's 'cheque has cleared'. While Letts is waiting for the cheque to clear, teaching assistants are losing their jobs, parents are being asked to subsidise their children's education and subjects are being stripped from the curriculum!
In his report the council leader gave an overview of his time in office and recounted the £120 million worth of cuts that Labour has made on behalf of the Tories in Southampton.
He then proceeded to appeal to the meeting to "trust me" on the planned closure of Kentish Road respite centre. I prefer to trust the service users and their families who have been heroically campaigning to save their vital service from closure.
Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto needs to be made a material reality to save us from the onslaught of austerity. Every service closure and every job loss delivered by Labour councils makes that less likely to happen.
The Corbynistas won an overwhelming majority at the AGM. But it will all be for nothing unless they can force the council to be anti-austerity in actions and not just words. That is the only way to give working class people trust in Labour.
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