2,000 rallied for Jeremy Corbyn in Bristol, 8.8.16, photo Matthew Carey

2,000 rallied for Jeremy Corbyn in Bristol, 8.8.16, photo Matthew Carey   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Mike Luff, Unison member (personal capacity)

Bristol is facing massive attacks on its jobs and services, under a rapidly capitulating newly elected Labour mayor, Marvin Rees. The mayor, when challenged on television that he was elected on an anti-austerity platform, surprised the interviewer by saying “no”.

The cuts being proposed include the removal of bus subsidies, charges for users of dementia services, fees for disabled parking bays, library closures – the list goes on. It amounts to £27 million cuts for 2017-2018, and then there is a further £65 million cuts by 2020. Even the mayor describes his proposed cuts as “horrifically unpalatable”.

This is in addition to 1,000 full-time equivalent posts being cut, one sixth of the workforce over the next few months. This will inevitably lead to hundreds of compulsory redundancies. As a regional Unison officer said: “the cuts in jobs are not sustainable at such thin levels”. Services will easily collapse.

The day before these announcements, the local anti-cuts alliance met with the mayor. We put forward a way to build a mass campaign of trade unions, communities and campaigns across the city, which would strengthen the demand for the return of our money from this weak Tory government. By using reserves and prudential borrowing, cuts can be frozen legally for a period, during which such a campaign can be built.

The excuse given for not trying to build such a campaign was that it would weaken negotiations with the government! The fact that such an approach has been used and failed over the previous years is conveniently forgotten.

Jeremy Corbyn visited Bristol supporting Rees on a number of occasions during the election campaign stating: “the message of opposition to austerity”. Jeremy has to face up to the undermining of Labour’s anti-austerity leadership by those carrying out the Tory cuts.