Mark Best, Socialist Party National Committee
The campaign for a socialist mayor of Liverpool had a busy weekend on 24-25 April, bringing its programme for a no-cuts alternative to workers and young people.
Over the last decade, Labour-run Liverpool council has implemented £420 million of cuts and lost 3,600 jobs directly. This year is more of the same – £15 million lost from the budget and a 4.99% rise in council tax.
It was clear from the BBC North West mayoral hustings, broadcast on Sunday 25 April, that all but one of the candidates are united in their acceptance of more cuts, more austerity and more misery for Liverpool.
It is only Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates and TUSC mayoral candidate Roger Bannister who have put forward a programme and strategy to fight: to use the reserves and borrowing powers at the disposal of the council to set a no-cuts budget. This would give us the opportunity to build a mass campaign of the trade unions, community groups and the working class to win back the resources Liverpool needs from the Tory government.
It happened in Liverpool before when the socialist Labour council in the 80s, led by Militant (now the Socialist Party) took on Thatcher. It was able to build council homes, parks, sport centres and more.
We need a fight like that today. But it won’t come from the right-wing Labour machine in the city. Not only have they passed on a decade of Tory cuts, but after previous Labour mayor Joe Anderson was arrested on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation, Keir Starmer’s Labour wouldn’t even allow its members to freely choose their own candidate.
On the back of the arrests and chaos of the Joe Anderson regime in the council, Robert Jenrick, the Tory secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, has announced that commissioners will be sent in with the power to run parts of the council. This has been done ostensibly to deal with transparency and corruption in the city. But how can you trust the Tories who are mired every day in new stories and accusations of cronyism? Roger Bannister is the only candidate who has said he will fight tooth and nail to get rid of Tory commissioners in this city.
We need a city that is run by and for workers, not run for greed and profit. A workers’ mayor on a workers’ wage could be a massive platform to aid and mobilise for workers’ and young people’s struggles against the further attacks to come.
We had teams out over the weekend in the city centre, Garston, Cressington and Kirkdale. We met many people enthused by what we have been saying – that there is an alternative to more Labour-implemented cuts and sleaze. Many had voted for Corbyn, seeing his pro-working class policies as something different but disgusted at the actions of the Labour Party in power in the council.
A vote for Roger Bannister for mayor of Liverpool sends a message, that we have had enough of right-wing Labour politicians, enough of Tory austerity, and that we want a fighting socialist alternative, both here in Liverpool and across the country.
- BBC North West mayoral hustings can be view on BBC iPlayer