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Why Liverpool needs a needs budget
On 14 May 2011 Derek Hatton, deputy leader of the 47 Liverpool councillors in their battle against the Tory government's cuts from 1983 to 1987, pronounced in the Liverpool Echo newspaper that refusing to implement the cuts would be political suicide for present-day Labour leader Joe Anderson. Socialist Party member Tony Mulhearn, a leading Liverpool 47 councillor and president of Liverpool district Labour Party at the time, wrote this letter refuting this idea.
The mantra 'not going illegal' seems to be the catch-all excuse for implementing the most savage cuts in Liverpool's history. We [the Liverpool 47 group and the Socialist Party - Eds.] have argued for a needs budget not an illegal budget. This means using every legal device to defend jobs and services - using council reserves, taking privatised services back in-house.
Such action would need to be linked to a mass anti-cuts campaign involving trade unions, community organisations and council workers on a clear policy of compelling the Con-Dem government to abandon its punitive policies, with an appeal to other local authorities to do the same.
Jobs, wages and services are being cut while the income of CEOs increased hugely last year; the culprits for the crisis, the bankers, continue to gorge themselves on obscene bonuses; Cameron's advisers say the NHS should be up for grabs to the private health companies.
This outrageous situation cries out for courageous leadership committed to defending workers and those least able to defend themselves.
As for the argument that the conditions for mass struggle don't exist: history shows that, where leadership is given, support will be forthcoming as the Liverpool 47 showed in the 80s, as did Tom Mann in 1911.
Derek's stance may bring comfort to the Con-Dems and the Labour council, but it will do nothing to mitigate the attacks on the workers of Liverpool who, unless resistance is organised, will suffer further from the next round of cuts.
As for Joe's 'political suicide' if he made a stand, I don't believe that would necessarily follow. If it did, the defence of working families is of infinitely greater importance than Joe Anderson's political career.
In The Socialist 25 May 2011:
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