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29 July 2010
Waltham Forest Labour councillors face opposition
On a lovely summer's evening a very dirty deed was done and probably only the first of many. At a full council meeting in Waltham Forest town hall, all 31 Labour councillors present slavishly raised their hands to vote through the first round of cuts brought on by the Tory/Liberal coalition government.
An overwhelming victory over the handful of Liberals and Tories in the council meeting, who, in what seemed like something from Alice-in-Wonderland, voted against!
Linda Taaffe, Walthamstow Socialist Party
An initial £2.6 million was lopped off, mainly from social services. A further £5 million in 'overspend' that has to be made up by next March was not even part of the decision.
And a note was made that in the following two years, £15 million a year would be chopped, a total of £37.2 million.
This means that social services will be further underfunded, giving rise to fears of more 'baby Ps'.
This was clearly highlighted by Nancy Taaffe (Socialist Party member and TUSC candidate) who was allowed to address the councillors.
She clearly appealed to Labour councillors to stand by workers and not to be the hench men and women for the millionaire government.
Socialist Party campaigners and others in the gallery looked on, disgusted at the cuts - and no wonder.
Library workers, with their jobs very much under threat, watched the proceedings, outraged at the arrogance of some councillors.
One young graduate unable to find work said he was almost embarrassed at the level of debate. It would have been sub-standard in a secondary school. A Tory councillor, one of the new breed of young Tory whizz-kids, declared that the rich would suffer the hardest, "like the people who buy Bentleys".
We had previously lobbied the councillors as they went in. Not one had a decent argument to defend their position. Most had absolutely nothing to say, apart from "blame the Tories and Liberals", even those from active trade union backgrounds.
On 6 May - election day - Labour councillors couldn't believe their luck. They were exuberant. They had unexpectedly benefited form the surge to keep out the Tories, and wrested back complete control of the council from the Liberals.
Workers who lined up to vote in the general election had some inkling that they would need protection at local level if a Tory government was to get in, so they chose to vote Labour in the council elections.
Now Labour councillors are turning into axe-carriers for the coalition government. But they haven't reckoned on us. We are now involved in launching an anti-cuts union in the area, and are determined not to let these cuts proceed without a fight.
We will be letting council workers know who voted for cuts. When it dawns on them who is doing the dirty deeds, it will not be a small group of socialists lobbying on the town hall steps but masses of irate workers.
What answer will they give then?
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