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Leicester Unison members rally against all cuts
Around 150 people attended a Unison-organised rally in Leicester on 2 February against council cuts.
Becci Heagney, Leicester Socialist Party
The protest included council workers and a large number of service users from the Douglas Bader Centre. This day centre cares for adults with disabilities and, along with nearly all other centres in Leicester, faces closure as part of the council's cuts.
The local authority plans to make massive attacks on adult social care. The home care and meals-on-wheels services will be reduced with a look to ending them completely.
Two elderly people's homes will be closed while services are to be cut back in others. There will be no new admissions to day care.
The council propose these attacks as an example of 'promoting choice and control'. They want to give service users 'personal budgets' so that they can choose which service to use from private companies or voluntary/charity organisations.
This is the same as the Tories' idea of the 'big society' where public services are cut back and the private and voluntary sector are relied on to take up the slack.
Rather than feeling empowered, service users feel that they are being doomed with the prospect of no care or support at all. It is clear that it is about saving money.
Tony Church, convenor of Leicestershire Against the Cuts (LAC) and Socialist Party member, spoke at the rally highlighting this point. LAC argues that there is an alternative and is opposed to all cuts - whoever makes them.
I spoke for Youth Fight for Jobs about the two demonstrations in Manchester and London on 29 January which showed that students and young people are not prepared to stop fighting back.
In Leicester it is a Labour council making these cuts but, as Pete Flack from the NUT pointed out, they were voted in to oppose cuts. The rally called on the council to stand up to the government and refuse to carry through the cuts.
Councillor Ross Wilmott, who was previously the leader of the council and who wants to be the city's Labour mayor, opportunistically spoke from the platform to say that he was opposed to the cuts.
However, when asked directly if he would vote against cuts his reply was: "hopefully". Workers in Leicester will remember that Wilmott was the city's chair of education in the late 1990s when six schools were closed.
In The Socialist 9 February 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party Marxist analysis