Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1077/30398
From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020
Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?
End austerity now, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland
In Scotland, both Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour councillors continue to be complicit in implementing cuts.
In a welcome change of approach, three Labour councillors affiliated with the Campaign for Socialism, have this year refused to vote for cuts budgets for the first time. All three broke Labour group discipline, having previously voted for cuts budgets.
Gordon Munro in Edinburgh abstained on the SNP/Labour cuts budget. In North Lanarkshire, Angela Feeney "with a heavy heart" refused to support her party's proposals.
Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr walked out of the council chamber in opposition to the various cuts budgets on offer, including Labour's alternative budget. He said: "I refuse to be an administrator for any more cuts".
Socialist Party Scotland welcomes political opposition to cuts budgets from councillors and we would oppose any witch-hunt of councillors who refuse to vote for cuts. But we would go further and call on these councillors to advocate an alternative no-cuts budget for their councils.
So far this has not happened. Individual protests by councillors are not a substitute for a strategy of building a mass campaign against cuts.
Unions and campaigns
Why did these left councillors not link up with council workers and communities and put forward the alternative, legal, no-cuts budget strategy that has been demanded consistently and for several years by the joint trade unions in Glasgow for example?
This is also the official position of the UK local government committees of Unison, Unite and GMB unions, and Unison Scotland. Councils could stop cuts and council tax rises by utilising financial mechanisms such as borrowing, debt management, reserves and cancellation of PFI privatisation.
They then could launch mass campaigns uniting with trade unions and communities to demand more funding from Holyrood. The Scottish government should do the same and use its income tax powers on the wealthy to fund public services.
Historically, the socialist Liverpool council in the 1980s was able to win more funding from the Thatcher government by refusing to implement cuts. Why not follow this road if enough is really enough?
Many trade unionists, workers and community activists in Glasgow are also pointing out that despite this recent protest, Matt Kerr was part of the previous Labour administration that carried out several hundred million in cuts. He was also on the wrong side of bitter strikes in social work and over the privatisation of ICT services in Glasgow.
Angela Feeney voted to increase council tax - in reality another austerity attack on the working class - something the Socialist Party opposes.
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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.
- 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 Fighting Fund.
In The Socialist 11 March 2020:
Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now
Coronavirus infects the world economy
Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn
Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition
Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits
For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets
Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it
Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic
South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus
Coronavirus news in brief
Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services
News in brief
Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot
Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay
Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse
Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining
Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management
Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"
Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network
East London uni and bin worker strikes
How can Trump be ousted from the White House?
Campaigns and party news
Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises
Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts
Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?
Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests
Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson
Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story
Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'
Student occupation in support of striking workers
Selling the Socialist
Socialist Party executive committee positions
Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis
Women's and trans rights
Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement
Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom
Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work
Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
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