Council elections: Our Socialist Alternative to Labour

Council elections: Our Socialist Alternative to Labour

A BANNER on Saturday’s Rover demo said: “Tony Blair – if we lose our jobs, you’ll lose yours.” An effigy of Blair behind it showed a worker stabbing him in the back with a cardboard axe!

Many people feel stabbed in the back by Labour. This party – which working-class organisations like the unions formed a century ago – no longer in any way represents working people.

Tony Blair seems prepared for an electoral meltdown in next month’s local council elections. Even the weak, divided Tories could win back many rural and suburban councils which Labour won in 1996, when Major was still prime minister.

More worryingly for Labour, their policies favouring big business have lost the party support in its previous working-class heartlands. They fear massive abstentions.

Local councils are being told to sell off services. Mass privatisation would turn them into US-style authorities which merely decide which fat cats make a profit from providing sub-standard services.

Councils are told to sell off council housing, and cut services. Meanwhile, the average council tax bill is going up by 6.2%, three times the rate of inflation, as central government aid to councils is slashed even more.

Even Sir Jeremy Beecham, the normally compliant Labour leader of the Local Government Association, has complained about Labour abolishing local council democracy.

But as leader of Newcastle council, Beecham has announced a £1 million cut in the school meals service, which threatens the sack for 200 meals staff. He’s obviously got no alternative!

On election day, 4 May, though there will be some real opposition. In the London mayoral elections, where Ken Livingstone is standing against New Labour, socialists and other trade unionists will also be opposing Labour in the constituency and top-up lists.

This includes Socialist Party councillor Ian Page, who is Socialist Alliance candidate for Lewisham and Greenwich.

Around the country, dozens of Socialist Party members are standing on a programme against the cuts (details page 8).

  • No to council housing sell-offs. We want investment not privatisation.
  • Stop the threat of privatisation of council services such as schools and old people’s homes.
  • Fight all cuts in jobs and services.
  • No to the corruption and gravy train politics which now rules New Labour councils.

Fight for a real alternative – build a new mass workers’ party.