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Hull: build an unstoppable force
Mike Whale, Hull Socialist Party
A walk down Holderness Road, east Hull, tells the story. Instead of traditional shops and businesses, there are charity shops, pay-day loan sharks, money lenders, pawn shops and betting shops. Even Hull City football team is now sponsored by "Cash Converters".
Poverty is everywhere in Hull, even before the bedroom tax comes in. Youth unemployment in East Hull is around 50%.
Hull's workers need defiant action from the council to force money from this government to safeguard jobs and services.
The private sector has failed dismally; BAE keeps shedding jobs and Comet has closed. Those with a private sector job face attacks on their pay and terms and conditions.
Skilled Greencore workers who were on strike recently are paid just 24p an hour above the minimum wage. Their bosses claim it makes them competitive. Yet Greencore made millions in profits.
Workers in Hull's private sector are just starting to fight back. A mass joint campaign involving public and private sector workers and the wider community would be an unstoppable force capable of driving out this government as a first step to resolving the problems we face.
Socialist Party members and the Labour Representation Committee are trying to establish community-based anti-cuts committees to coordinate resistance to the cuts (see article left).
East Hull residents enthusiastically signed letters to the city's Labour group (and council) leader Steve Brady demanding that he make a stand.
Brady correctly blames the cuts on the Con-Dem government but Labour must show it has an alternative.
All we hear from Miliband and Balls is that if Labour were in office it would be more of the same but perhaps a bit slower. This is not an alternative!
Many Labour activists in Hull don't support the position of Labour's leaders. Three Labour councillors, Gary Wareing, Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk publicly pledged not to vote for cuts and signed the founding statement of 'Councillors against the Cuts'.
They have the support of council trade unions and some Labour Party activists who long for the pre-Blair days of 'Old Labour'.
But clearly fighting the cuts has no place in Miliband's Labour Party. Gary Wareing and Gill Kennett went before Labour Party disciplinary committees.
Both were reprimanded: Gary's punishment was a "suspended suspension!" They face further sanctions if they vote against the cuts.
Labour will probably try to implement a cuts budget, leading to the loss of 600 jobs in the first instance.
But some Labour councillors are genuinely weighing up the situation and trying to balance loyalty to Labour with loyalty to Hull's working class.
Maybe more than three councillors will vote against the cuts. The increasing pressure that the unions and local people put on councillors could be decisive.
In The Socialist 27 February 2013:
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