Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/954/25739

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 June 2017

Liverpool's 1983-87 socialist council - power to the people!

Lobby of the Labour Party NEC in support of the socialist Liverpool councillors, photo Dave Sinclair

Lobby of the Labour Party NEC in support of the socialist Liverpool councillors, photo Dave Sinclair   (Click to enlarge)

Following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, columnist Simon Jenkins in the Guardian attacked the policy of building residential tower blocks. In the article he says: "When in the 1980s Liverpool's Militant movement asked Everton's inhabitants what should be done with their towers, the reply was pull them down and give us back the streets. It was done."

This acknowledgement of the then Militant-led socialist council - democratically responding to the needs of the city's working class - hints at what was achieved in the teeth of opposition from the Thatcher-led Tory government and right-wing in the Labour Party.

Former Liverpool city councillor and Socialist Party member Tony Mulhearn, in an earlier interview with the Socialist, explains those achievements, how they were won and the lessons for today's anti-austerity movement.

What were the biggest achievements of the council?

We built 5,000 houses and flats - gardens back and front in many cases. We demolished some of the worst housing in Western Europe. We then cancelled all monetary cuts and redundancies planned by the outgoing council. We built six new nursery schools. We expanded council services.

We had apprenticeships for council jobs. At one stage we had something like 16,000 workers engaged in council projects. So in effect we translated socialism into the language of jobs, the language of houses, the language of nursery schools.

When the council was elected big cuts were being made to council budgets by the Tory government. How did you avoid making them?

Between 1979 and 1983 the Tories had slashed 120 million from Liverpool City Council's budget. In addition to that the outgoing local Tory-Liberal administration had left unallocated cuts of 10 million and was making 2,000 redundancies.

We had the choice of either saying there's nothing we can do and implementing the cuts or to fight back. We chose not to implement the cuts and instead to set a 'needs budget', and we launched a fighting campaign.

So, we were in the position that councillors are in today, but we took an entirely different stance.

Militant supporters were not actually a majority on the council - how did your ideas get carried through?

In those days the local Labour party determined policy. Militant and its predecessors had conducted a campaign over decades inside Liverpool Labour Party for the adoption of socialist policies. And that's what the District Labour Party (DLP) did, it adopted socialist policies.

And in those days when the party had determined the policy, the councillors had to carry it out. So the DLP concretised what was contained in Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution (its socialist commitment - scrapped by Blair in 1995) in relation to housing, jobs and services - all of which the council then implemented.

How did the councillors link up with trade unions and working class people in the city?

The DLP was a fine, democratic organisation. It was made up of trade unions, women's committees, the Young Socialists, party branches and constituency parties, the Co-ops - all had delegates to the DLP. And that was the spring board we used to reach out to wider sections of the working class.

On that basis we were able to mobilise tens of thousands at the demonstrations. And on three occasions 30,000 council workers took strike action to defend the policies of the council.

So this notion peddled by the right wing in the Labour Party, like former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, and supported by the capitalist press, that it was some kind of tiny group which had captured control of the council, was nonsense.

We couldn't have achieved what we did without mass support from the labour movement and wider working class communities.

How did the right wing respond to your success?

They generated a campaign of hysteria in the capitalist press.

Thatcher's minister Norman Tebbit used his position in parliament to demand of Kinnock - 'what was Labour going to do about the Liverpool extremists?' Bowing to this pressure Kinnock launched a savage attack on Liverpool at the 1985 Labour Party conference.

Shortly after, Labour's right wing suspended the DLP, this was preceded by the unelected District Auditor's decision to fine and remove the 47 fighting Labour councillors from office.

Kinnock then proceeded to conduct the most horrendous witch-hunt against not only Militant supporters but also any lefts who supported building houses and creating jobs.

Nonetheless the socialist legacy of that movement continues in Liverpool to this day.

Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) speaking from the Socialist Party's 'open mic' on the 16th April national anti-austerity demonstration in London, photo Paula Mitchell

Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) speaking from the Socialist Party's 'open mic' on the 16th April national anti-austerity demonstration in London, photo Paula Mitchell

Liverpool - A city that dared to fight

by Peter Taaffe and Tony Mulhearn

11.99 + 10% postage (payable to Socialist Books)

leftbooks.co.uk

020 8988 8789

Left Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD

Donate to the Socialist Party

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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 28 June 2017:


What we think

Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites


Grenfell Tower

After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

Camden evacuation - residents expose risks - Blairites duck responsibility

Grenfell fire compounded by overcrowding: build more council homes now

Reports: organising to fight for safe homes after Grenfell

Council union responds to Grenfell


Socialist Party news and analysis

Police accused of killing cover-up

NHS secret cuts plans exposed

Barclays finally charged for having hands in till

Students 'skirt' school uniform issue!

Homelessness - Corbyn offers housing revolution

Benefit cap defeat for government

Tories may have broken election laws... again

What We Saw


Socialist history

Liverpool's 1983-87 socialist council


International socialist news and analysis

Trump and the fossil fuel corporations - a lethal combination for the planet

Jobstown Not Guilty - verdict imminent


Workplace news and analysis

Trade unions must organise to kick out the Tories

Unison conference: confident delegates take control, give Corbyn 'rapturous' welcome

Refuse workers strike against bullying bosses

"What do we want? Pay parity.


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Organise the 'youthquake'! Young Socialists - Generation Socialist

Cardiff: unity in solidarity with Grenfell

Corbyn inspires thousands at Glastonbury

To join the struggle to save the NHS

From Militant to the Socialist Party - what you thought

Pentrich Rebellion 200 years on


 

Home   |   The Socialist 28 June 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Liverpool:

triangleLiverpool & District Socialist Party: The danger of the far right

triangleLiverpool & District Socialist Party: Justice for victims of police violence

triangleLiverpool & District Socialist Party: BAME coronavirus deaths and capitalist inequality

triangleLiverpool & District Socialist Party: After Corbyn - What do socialists do next?

triangleLiverpool & District Socialist Party: 30 years ago - How the poll tax was defeated

Socialist:

triangleNHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!

triangleYoung Socialists and Socialist Students day of action

triangleNorth London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

triangleUnite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts

Council:

triangleEngage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleLuton Council sunk by airport investment: fight for funding, not speculation!

Labour:

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

Labour Party:

triangleWorkers need a new mass party to defend their interests

Cuts:

triangleCaerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: How to fight the cuts

Militant:

triangleMick Cotter

Councillors:

triangleCumbria: Teachers, parents and socialists fight reckless school reopening

Anti-austerity:

triangleLabour Party leadership contest: Fight for a mass anti-austerity, workers' party with a socialist programme

Historic events

Historic events

22/7/20

Britain

100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

15/7/20

Bosnia

How capitalist restoration led to war and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Balkans

1/7/20

Labour

75th anniversary of the Attlee Labour government

24/6/20

Civil rights

Lessons from the Black Panthers

17/6/20

Slave trade

Reform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?

10/6/20

US

Roosevelt's New Deal programme - reforms to save capitalism

27/5/20

Britain

1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

27/5/20

Lucas Aerospace

The 'Lucas Plan'

13/5/20

War

A new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

13/5/20

War

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"

13/5/20

Europe

'Victory in Europe' 75th anniversary: A resurgent workers' movement and the fight for socialism

6/5/20

Obituary

Peter Hadden remembered

6/5/20

Tyneside

The Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

29/4/20

May Day

130 Years of May Day in Britain: Fight for workers' rights more relevant than ever

29/4/20

War

No return to the 1930s: World War Two and 'a land fit for heroes'

triangleMore Historic events 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: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999