6 May elections
Fight to stop cuts
Fight for fully funded services
Adam Harmsworth, Coventry Socialist Party
In the run-up to the 6 May elections we have an opportunity to build the fight against austerity and the damage it has done to our lives.
The Johnson government is eager to pass on the cost of the pandemic to us. A big part of that is through cutting yet more funding to councils and allowing council tax to be raised by up to 5%. We have to oppose this.
We have lost so much over a decade of savage council cuts. Across the country, funding has been decimated for our schools, social care services, housing services, public transport, refuges, youth clubs, waste collection, cultural facilities and so much more. Every community has lost services that they hold dear.
Between 2010 and 2018, spending on housing was cut by 48%, transport and culture by over 40%. Those cuts have had a severe impact.
School funding cuts have left teachers overstretched, working with limited resources, and even resorting to buying school supplies themselves. Some schools have begged the community to help them buy essential equipment, including toilet rolls!
Refuge closures have left abused women incredibly vulnerable. Horrendously, 64% who apply to shelters are turned away, leaving many trapped in a violent home.
Coventry is the UK’s ‘City of Culture’ this year, yet most of its libraries have suffered cuts, while Sure Start centres and youth clubs have been lost. The famous Transport Museum now has entry fees, as does the Godiva Festival.
Thousands on thousands of council jobs have also been lost. The livelihoods and futures of a whole generation have been damaged to make us pay for the 2008-09 financial crash caused by the capitalist class and their system, and now by the Tories making us pay for the pandemic. We cannot lose any more.
The passing on of Tory central government cuts in spending has included all councils where Labour is in power. But council cuts aren’t automatic. Each closure, downsizing, restructuring that has torn our vital services apart is approved and carried out by elected councils.
Yet councils can make a stand and refuse to implement cuts. They can buy time, using their reserves and borrowing powers, and build a campaign mobilising working-class communities and the trade unions together to force the government to restore full funding. On its own, socialist-led Liverpool council in the mid-1980s secured significant additional funding from the Thatcher government by taking this fighting road.
Moreover, the money is there in the country for us to have good quality services. It’s more obvious than ever. Billionaires in the UK are now £44 billion richer than a year ago. Ineos’s tax-dodging billionaire boss Jim Ratcliffe alone increased his wealth by over £5 billion.
However, we can’t get that money without fighting for it. Part of that fight is in the local elections, where the Socialist Party as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing on a clear anti-cuts platform, unlike Labour or any major party. Let’s get socialists elected and begin to end this carnage.