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Labour in coalition with the Tories in Cumbria
Just how far to the right can the Labour Party go in carrying out cuts? Well how about a coalition with the Tories? Last month the Labour-Tory coalition leading Cumbria County Council passed a budget which will throw 611 workers out of work.
Half of those will go from Children's Services. In other words, those who need the protection of the community the most will suffer the most.
Brent Kennedy, Carlisle Socialist Party
In moving the budget - ie in doing the Tories' dirty work - Labour leader Stewart Young claimed that the coalition was formed "in the interests of the people of Cumbria"! Now Sure Start centres and day care centres for the elderly risk closure.
19 firefighters' jobs will go, meaning some appliances can't be used simultaneously - it doesn't get more frontline than that. 49 of 60 special needs teachers will be sacked and 25 posts in education welfare services cut, so truancy will rise.
Bus routes will disappear. Funds for sport and the arts will be axed.
A whopping £1,186 million will be taken from Connexions, leaving more school leavers to stagnate on the dole. Cumbria is a county of stark contrasts.
Visitors see the Lake District, home to the retired wealthy and empty holiday homes, and the well-off landowners of the Eden Valley. But de-industrialised West Cumberland is a low-wage, high unemployment area now completely dependent on Sellafield and military production in Barrow.
In the deprived wards of Carlisle and the West, babies are 50% more likely to die in their first year than in the posh areas, where life expectancy is 10 years longer than for us.
Now the head of the newly-unelected Local Enterprise Partnership predicts 2,000 public sector job losses. In January the Public Sector Alliance held a marvellous demo of 4-500 in Carlisle.
Carlisle Socialist Party called on Labour to base itself on this movement, to break its coalition with the Tories and set a needs-based budget. But instead of mobilising the working class from Carlisle, West Cumberland and Barrow, Labour has sided with the most narrow minded, reactionary Tory backwoodsmen - and the Con-Dem government.
How can these Labour councillors now take part in anti-cuts demos? What credibility do they have left? How can the Labour Party nationally claim to be the "Opposition" if they don't condemn this collaboration?
Nationally, some participants in the anti-cuts movement urge us to be nice to Labour councillors and MPs who vote for cuts.
Could they please tell us how we can maintain our credibility with the working class of Cumbria by cosying up to these open collaborators? They voted against cuts on the Con-Dem Carlisle city council, but voted for cuts on the County council - some of them were the very same people on both councils, two weeks apart!
Carlisle Socialist Party made a call to every Labour councillor to break their coalition with the Tories, which got good coverage in the local press, but they didn't even reply.
It leaves us with no alternative than to put up genuine opponents of cuts as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in the coming local elections.