Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1158/33402
Building a political alternative to Tory and Labour cuts
Newham resists cuts
Newham Resists has agreed to campaign for a no-cuts, needs budget to show there is an alternative to the Labour council passing on Tory austerity. Newham Resists is a new coalition.
40 people came to the 27 November meeting from campaigns all over the borough, including Friends of Queens Market, Stop the Silvertown Tunnel, and Save Durning Hall. There were campaigners against the Sphere in Stratford, campaigners opposed to the parking fees, and disability rights activists.
Newham Socialist Labour - suspended members of the Labour Party in East Ham and West Ham - and the Green Party were also present.
27,000 people are on the housing waiting list in Newham. The borough has the highest number of people in temporary accommodation in London - 7,000 are children. The council's only 'solution' is 1,000 new council homes by 2022.
Newham child poverty levels are over 50%, yet youth services have been cut, including the closure of a vital arts centre, Stratford Circus. The council voted for £24.9 million more cuts, and a 4.99% council tax rise in its 2021-22 budget.
Newham has had a huge funding shortfall, so this budget would only be a start. We need to build the campaign to win the funding needed from central government.
At the Newham Resists meeting, Socialist Party members raised the need for a no-cuts electoral challenge in May. Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of transport union RMT, said: "We've been defeated time and time again in this borough because we haven't put up a challenge... we've got to think about putting people up against these people". Newham Resists agreed to continue discussing whether to support this strategy.
Save our services in Surrey
Save Our Services in Surrey has put out the call for anti-cuts candidates. On 22 November, we had our first in-person meeting for around two years.
We received a solidarity message from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Particularly pleasing was the good turnout of activists from public sector union Unison. A journalist from the local newspaper was also present.
We endorsed the decision for a 'People's Assembly' to be held in Surrey in the summer next year with the aim of developing a local People's Budget.
This would be a needs budget, based on input from trade unions and community groups. It will be an anti-austerity, anti-cuts, and anti-privatisation budget.
We will use the People's Budget as a manifesto to encourage trade unionists and community campaigners to consider standing as candidates in local elections.
Surrey County Unison has already passed a motion agreeing to circulate all its 5,000 members asking for volunteers to stand. As a first step, Save Our Services will hold a planning meeting in January to start the ball rolling.
In The Socialist 1 December 2021: