Protesting against the cuts, photo by Senan

Protesting against the cuts, photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, along with local speakers, addressed a North Cambridgeshire Momentum meeting of over 100 in Peterborough on 21 January.

John spoke of the enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign and of plans to change Labour Party policy and to reverse Tory attacks after the 2020 general election.

From the floor Socialist Party member Joe raised the issue of Labour councillors refusing to make further Tory cuts by means of using councils’ reserve funds while preparing a national campaign of opposition.

Council officers

In his reply John gave a brief history of the former Greater London Council’s consideration of refusing to levy a rate in the 1980s under the Thatcher government.

John claimed that councils’ chief financial officers could stop what they thought might be unreasonable use of reserves and then take all financial decisions themselves.

However, as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition points out, local authorities can set legal, no-cuts balanced ‘people’s budgets’ using reserves and borrowing.

Joe had also made the point that if Labour councillors were to fight then councillors and communities might win, but if they didn’t fight would definitely face massive cuts. Indeed, by 2020 a further 40% government cut on top of existing cuts in councils’ budgets would mean there were little or no services left to defend!

A significant section of the meeting supported Joe and around three-quarters of the meeting took leaflets for the 27 January local Socialist Party meeting to develop the discussion. About one in eight at the meeting also bought a copy of the Socialist.

Socialist Party reporters