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Posted on 1 November 2010 at 14:01 GMT

Hackney: One Labour councillor against cuts at successful lobby

With the full and horrific extent of the Con-Dem cuts becoming clearer by the day, Hackney residents have shown loud and clear that their communities, services and jobs will not pay the bill for the bankers' greed.

Dominic Mealy, Hackney Socialist Party

At the first council meeting since the release of the Comprehensive Spending Review, over 200 local residents and activists descended on Hackney town hall in a show of strength that made clear that councillors will not be allowed to vote through central government cuts without a fight.

Coordinated by the Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services, an organisation which brings the Socialist Party together with the NSSN, trade unions, community groups and a broad array of left-wing parties and other organisations, the lobby was strikingly diverse with a strong contingent of unaffiliated workers, families and youth.

In speeches from trade unionists and campaign groups the devastating impact of the cuts was clearly spelt out.

Paul Heron of the National Shop Stewards Network highlighted the outrageous nature of a government cutting 81 billion from public services, potentially forcing millions of workers onto the dole, while the collective wealth of the UK's 1,000 richest individuals swells by a record 29%.

The glaringly unequal nature of the government's "progressive" cuts was further highlighted by an Islington shop steward who brought attention to the covert privatisation of the NHS and the timebomb of social costs that will inevitably be incurred by slashing services.

These attacks will not only affect the broad swathe of the British public but also the most vulnerable people, exposing the lie propagated by the government and its right-wing media that "front-line services" are to be protected.

Added to this, the voice of Hackney's large immigrant communities, notably those of Turkish and Kurdish origin, was also felt at the lobby.

A call for a general strike by a speaker from the Refugee Workers Cultural Association was met with thunderous applause.

This lobby of Hackney council showed the resistance to the cuts amongst the people of Hackney, and included Hackney Labour councillor Ian Rathbone vowing to vote against any cuts to jobs and services.

Our struggle to protect the hard won freedoms and entitlements of working people is only just beginning.

As Hackney Alliance joint secretary Glyn Harries clearly spelt out, what is needed now is a massive expansion and deepening of organisation, with activists organising street by street and workplace by workplace to oppose the government everywhere.

It is clear to everyone that we have a mass struggle on our hands. The capitalist class have their coalition, the coalition of city bankers and corporate CEOs, of Lib Dem and Tory free-market ideologues; but we too have a coalition! A coalition of working class men and women, of workplaces and communities, of unions and associations, of young and old, and we can be as organised as those who are attacking us.

A speaker at the lobby put it right when he said: "We have a war on our hands - a class war". It is a war we can win.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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