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9 February 2015

Cuts anger in Gateshead spurs more to stand for TUSC

Around 200 marched on Saturday against Labour party proposals to axe services in Gateshead.

At the rally afterwards, Sidney, a pensioner who is fighting the closure of his local library, got the best round of applause when he commented: "A Labour controlled council shouldn't be entertaining any of these cuts". However, within seconds of saying this he was bundled off the stage by Unison bureaucrats!

In reality the platform at the rally outside the civic centre was more akin to a Labour love-in, with three Labour MPs speaking.

Blaydon MP, Dave Anderson, started his speech quipping: "There's more people out here than work in there now". Not funny when you consider that 1,600 jobs have already been cut by Gateshead's councillors.

There is simmering anger at this latest round of cuts. One campaigner said to us: "If they think they can run our library with volunteers they are mistaken. People from Felling aren't going to stand by and watch Beryl (the librarian) being put on the dole!"

Our new TUSC banner [Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition] had its first outing on the march and gained a lot of positive remarks. Also on the march, our chant went down well: "Labour council get off your knees. Set a budget for our needs. Save our libraries, save our books. We don't want Labour cuts".

Because TUSC was refused a speaker at the rally we decided to hold a fringe meeting afterwards. At the meeting an extra two people agreed to stand as TUSC candidates in the forthcoming local elections - result!

Elaine Brunskill

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 9 February 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.