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Worried about fake news? Start with Labour councils' budget lies
Robin Clapp, Socialist Party South West region
'Fake news' is in the headlines - and while Trump is the most obvious purveyor of what used to simply be called 'lies', the method is alive and well among Bristol's Labour councillors and mayor.
The Labour-controlled council is poised to unveil a budget that cuts another £101 million from essential services, reducing front-line provision to a brittle-boned skeletal state.
Libraries will close, £1 million will be taken from the 'local crisis and prevention fund', subsidies will be slashed further for buses, all local 'citizen service points' for council services will be closed, charges will rise for dementia care, and all but the most essential road maintenance will be stopped.
Mayor Marvin Rees has taken to print bemoaning the scale of the cuts by blaming his independent predecessor for not chopping quickly enough during his four-year term. Rees complains that his foot dragging now necessitates Bristol playing catch-up with other local authorities.
So far, so predictable. But what's this? The Labour Party out on the streets distributing a leaflet headlined 'Fighting back - Labour opposing Tory cuts'!
Reading through this astonishingly brazen attempt to massage the facts, the leaflet finishes with a flourish by pinching the slogan of those who really fight back: "They say cut back. We say fight back."
If only this were true. In a corner of the leaflet, in tiny print, is the real position of our heroic mayor: "We have to balance our budget or we get taken over and the budget is balanced for us."
Not only factually untrue, but a capitulation to the idea that an effective fightback is impossible.
Several Green councillors have written to the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance professing their determination to vote against this budget, joining some Lib Dems who have opportunistically added their voices to the chorus of condemnation against such destructiveness.
But Labour councillors intend to line up behind the mayor, making a mockery of their professed anti-austerity stance. By your actions will you be judged, not by your glossy leaflets!
No doubt many Labour Party members feel deeply embarrassed by their council leaders' hypocrisy and double-speak. Several have spoken to us expressing their refusal to hand out this lying leaflet. And as the real battle against local government cuts hots up around the city, they no doubt will join with us in really fighting back.
The fake news peddlers who were responsible for writing such untruths about their real intentions will find the hot breath of Bristolians on their necks over the next stormy months. That we can say with truthful certainty.
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