Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/936/24624

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 February 2017

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 936

Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

photo Alison Hill

photo Alison Hill   (Click to enlarge)

During February many council budget-setting meetings are taking place across the country, slashing millions more pounds off vital services.

Birmingham council, the biggest in England, has already cut around 590 million from its annual budget since 2010 and is expecting to cut another 180 million by 2021. The chief executive of that presently Labour-run council warned: "We are fast reaching the point where there could be catastrophic consequences for some people." This is an understatement, as many of the most vulnerable people have already suffered terrible consequences. Far fewer elderly people are receiving needed help, the number of people sleeping on the city's streets has quadrupled and children's and youth services have been callously cut to the bone.

The same shattering picture is seen almost everywhere, following the 40% real-terms reduction in core funding to councils from government over the last five years. This year the knife isn't just slicing in but is being twisted, because the government is allowing councils the leeway to impose an extra 3% increase in council tax to cover for cuts in social care.

This brings the total possible increase in council tax without holding a local referendum to 4.99%. However, while squeezing household finances further, it would be nowhere near enough to adequately fund social care in most areas.

Surrey

How ironic it is that the only opposition to this scenario that has achieved media prominence in recent weeks has been from the Tory leader of Surrey county council, David Hodge. To put pressure on the government he announced a shock plan to hold a local referendum on a 15% council tax rise.

The referendum was later suddenly called off and Jeremy Corbyn managed to successfully draw attention to a secret deal that Hodge appeared to have reached with Theresa May's government. Corbyn wrong-footed May in parliament by questioning her about the content of text messages mistakenly sent by Hodge to the wrong person, which indicated that a 'sweetheart deal' had been struck.

Hodge had no doubt been using his weight as the leader of the Conservative group in the Local Government Association and the fact that two leading Tory government ministers are Surrey MPs: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Certainly Hodge impressed anti-Corbyn Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who wrote: "Over recent years I have admired David Hodge's fearless crescendo of complaint against his own government... That sets him apart from the craven mass of Tory council leaders obediently wielding the axe... Hodge might never have intended his referendum, but he has used every lever, including journalists like me, to rattle the government's cage: no harm in a bit of cage-rattling in a good cause."

But what about the 'craven mass' of Labour council leaders who are 'obediently wielding the axe'? Anyone who 'sets themselves apart' from them has only received Toynbee's disdain and criticism. And why can't Jeremy Corbyn draw on more than a mini rebellion by a Tory council leader to fuel his challenge in parliament to the cuts? Corbyn and John McDonnell have not yet supported the idea of Labour councillors conducting a much more meaningful and effective rebellion by refusing to pass on the Tory funding cuts. Instead, they didn't even oppose a rule change at Labour's conference that banned Labour councillors from voting against cuts budgets agreed by their Labour groups.

How to beat the Tories

However, there was a welcome crack recently in the mainstream media that usually choruses that Labour councillors 'have no choice' but to make cuts. The Independent's website carried an article by a contributor, Matthew Turner, titled: "Forget 'sweetheart deals' - this is how Labour councils can beat the Tories at their own game." Turner asked: "Why should Labour accept the cuts devolved to their local authorities?... It's time that Labour councils resisted a reckless and failing economic policy by refusing to implement cuts devolved to them from central government."

No cuts!, photo JB

No cuts!, photo JB

He proceeded to point out that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has explained that councils could set no-cuts budgets by using reserves and borrowing powers while they build up a campaign for more funding. Such a campaign - especially if it grows to draw from workforces and communities across the more than 110 Labour-controlled councils in Britain - could certainly develop the potential strength to force the Tory government into reverse gear on austerity.

In Surrey alone, after weeks of protests led by firefighters and campaigners in the group Save Our Services in Surrey, which includes Socialist Party members, the county council has reversed a decision to close Staines fire station, the busiest in the county. Successful campaigns like that show on a local scale how mass pressure brings results, a lesson that can be multiplied into coordinated mobilisations nationally.

With the Institute of Fiscal Studies having this month predicted that austerity will stretch into the 2020s if the government has its way, the building of a mass anti-austerity movement, with the full involvement of the trade unions, is urgent.

A widespread anti-austerity mood exists. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have a responsibility, along with the trade union leaders, to help to galvanise this mood and lead a mass movement that can defeat the Tory agenda of driving workers' living standards downwards at a rate of knots. Whether they do or not, struggles against the cuts onslaught will break out in any case, including spontaneous eruptions, as mass anger will spill over into action.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 15 February 2017:


What we think

Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels


Socialist Party news and analysis

March to save #OurNHS

Resist Trump and his rotten policies: why I'm walking out on 'Day X'

Socialist Students: growing, brimming with confidence

Thousands march to defend Glenfield heart centre

Save child refugees, fight the cuts

Prison deaths scandal

Super-rich subsidised


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: clear win for left at Podemos conference!

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria - towards unification

Izquierda Revolucionaria central committee meeting

French presidential election

France: police attack triggers protests

Yemen solidarity


Workplace news and analysis

United fightback needed as entire grade of rail worker is at stake

"Disgraceful" treatment of sacked EHRC workers

Vibrant Picturehouse pickets in continued living wage strike

Ultimatum as Deliveroo drivers down tools in Brighton

Solidarity with Tesco Ireland Valentine's Day strike

PCS union pledges to fight Jobcentre job losses

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Anti-trade union laws used against 'Trees Action' protesters

Support floods in for the Cardiff no-cuts three

The Socialist: 20 years old and more important than ever

Toxic fracking could start in England in 2017

May Day greetings in the Socialist

New Socialist Party press


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

No, Trumpism is nothing like Leninism

Foreign aid's not the problem - it's capitalist thieves

Vivid visual account of the Paris Commune

The Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 15 February 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Local government:

triangleReading council plans privatisation - set a no-cuts budget instead!

triangleBig victory for Wigan NHS strike against privatisation

triangleSocial care funding crisis: no to an age levy - make the super-rich pay

triangleUnison union conference: delegates can't be cowed

triangleEast London housing workers fight privatisation of pay

Cuts:

triangleSocialists and campaigners protest Leicester NHS cuts

triangle4m children in homes that can't afford fruit and veg

triangleExam factories, cuts and violence - Fight for our future!

triangleLeeds protest against NHS treatment cuts

Council:

triangleBirmingham home carers' protest demo

triangleLewisham: binning the rates rise

triangleMomentum's 'The World Transformed' blocks discussion on Liverpool council struggle

The Socialist:

triangleJoin our Socialist sales drive for issue 1011

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Socialist:

triangleHackney Socialist Party: Build a movement against racism

Labour:

triangleThe fog of Brexit

Government:

triangleCorbyn must lead in fight against the Blairites

Surrey:

triangleTaking the anti-austerity message to the chancellor's back yard

Austerity:

triangle10 years since the financial crash - the socialist answer to capitalist crisis

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Tories:

triangleTUC congress Brexit debate: unions must lead fight for a general election

Councillors:

triangleWaltham Forest Labour council votes to close library - campaign goes on

Council tax:

triangleBristol anti-cuts campaigners debate alternatives to the cuts

John McDonnell:

triangleThe case for socialist nationalisation

Budget:

triangleNorthants Council in total collapse: for a citizens' assembly to draw up a 'needs budget'

Anti-austerity:

triangleNSSN rally: militant trade unionists share ideas to win for workers

TUSC:

triangleLegal Costs Fund Appeal launched for former Derby TUSC election agent

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

triangle'Vote Leave' fined: For a workers' Brexit

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/9/18

Labour Party

Blairites must go

19/9/18

Student

Mobilise mass student fightback

19/9/18

Housing

250,000 families in "non-decent" homes

19/9/18

EU

The fog of Brexit

19/9/18

What we saw

What we saw

19/9/18

Rail

Rail rip-off reversal

19/9/18

Momentum

Momentum's 'The World Transformed' blocks discussion on Liverpool council struggle

19/9/18

Labour Party

The struggle to transform Labour

18/9/18

Drug companies

Big drugs companies dodge 3 billion pounds in tax

13/9/18

PCS

PCS: the real issues at stake - a reply to Socialist View

12/9/18

Labour Party

Corbyn must lead in fight against the Blairites

12/9/18

Capitalism

Fearful bosses call for 'fairer capitalism'...

12/9/18

Food

4m children in homes that can't afford fruit and veg

12/9/18

Them & Us

Them & Us

12/9/18

Academies

School students in solitary: for full funding, not exclusion!

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999