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:

triangleCouncils can fight cuts!

triangleNothing to declare? Dodgy councillors hide vested interests

triangleCarmarthenshire council: Unison demands no-cuts budget

triangleLabour councils should use 14bn reserves to fight all cuts

triangleGlasgow workers striking for equal pay

Cuts:

triangleWorkplace and union news in brief

triangleNewham: women's refuge funds halved - Labour must use the 500m reserves

triangleSouthampton: Labour plans 15m cuts - vote Socialist in Coxford by-election

triangleEnfield: striking against academisation - fighting for a no-cuts budget

Council:

triangleVictory to Birmingham bin workers

triangleTraffic wardens' strike is just the ticket

triangleWorcestershire: save the libraries, reverse all the cuts

The Socialist:

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The record of the Socialist Party

Socialist:

triangleYouth strike for the climate: "There's no planet B"

Labour:

triangle300 turn out for Corbyn in Nottingham marginal

Government:

triangleSweden: dock strikes test new government

Surrey:

triangleSurrey: save our children's centres

Austerity:

triangleStruggling unis account for bulk of unconditional offers - end education marketisation!

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleCorbyn must launch struggle to kick out Blairites and fight for socialist policies

Tories:

triangleUniversal Credit out - Tories out!

Councillors:

triangle'Corbyn council' must fight borough regeneration

Council tax:

triangleSocialist Party no-cuts stand finds support

John McDonnell:

triangleJoin the fight to defend women's lives

Budget:

triangleCoxford ward byelection: No to cuts - defend our vital services

Anti-austerity:

triangleAusterity out, Tories out

TUSC:

triangleNew twist in Derby TUSC election agent case

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

triangleTUSC suspends electoral activity

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

13/2/19

Lindsey Oil Refinery

Ten years since Lindsey strike: when militant action stopped the 'race to the bottom'

13/2/19

Environment

To end climate change we need to fight for socialist change!

13/2/19

Them & Us

Them & us

13/2/19

Marx

Marx memorial attack shows socialist ideas are on the rise

13/2/19

Tories

Universal Credit out - Tories out!

13/2/19

Labour

Corbyn must launch struggle to kick out Blairites and fight for socialist policies

6/2/19

General election

Corbyn must prepare for a general election

6/2/19

NHS

Cash-starved health service ripped off by big pharma - fund our NHS now!

6/2/19

Them & Us

Them & Us

6/2/19

Universities

Struggling unis account for bulk of unconditional offers - end education marketisation!

6/2/19

Brexit

Tory Brexit farce, Corbyn and unions: Call mass action now

6/2/19

Tax

Billionaires avoid paying and even talking about tax! Take the wealth off the 1%

30/1/19

Tories

Austerity out, Tories out

30/1/19

Liverpool

Liverpool Travelodge digger wrecking

30/1/19

Energy

Fresh inquest into killer air pollution: nationalise energy and public transport!

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


February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999