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Leicester mayoral husting: only two choices - stop the cuts or make the cuts
Heather Rawling , NEU member (personal capacity)
It's a daily struggle to make ends meet for working-class people in Leicester, made worse by the cuts that the Labour council is making.
Yet at a recent mayoral hustings meeting, Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby (a 'left' in the 1970s), had the audacity to criticise the record of Liverpool's socialist Labour council in the 1980s - which was led by supporters of Militant, the forerunner of the Socialist Party.
Socialist Party member Steve Score, standing as the Socialist Alternative mayoral candidate, pointed out that Liverpool's record on building council homes back then (5,000 new homes) was without equal. The council built more houses than the rest of the country put together during its time in office, creating hundreds of jobs for local people.
Moreover, Leicester City Council in the 1980s, where Soulsby played a leading role, was one of the Labour councils that abandoned the struggle against Tory government cuts and left Liverpool to fight on its own.
Recently, Leicester City Council closed homeless shelters while giving £10 million to Travelodge to build another hotel. And yet he felt able to give a lecture on the complex needs of homeless people. I know, I have worked with some of them!
Tracy Woolman of the Socialist Party, in response to Conservative mayoral candidate Baroness Verma's patronising statement that she had "been to these estates and met some of the people there", said, angrily, "well I live on one of 'those estates'!"
Tracy went on to point out the problems of people living in Leicester's council estates, where life is a battle to pay the rent and bills, to clothe and feed the children, and to get doctors' appointments.
Mags Lewis of the Green Party seemed more concerned about getting a woman mayor.
But Socialist Party members pointed out that it was the policies and programme that mattered, not the gender of the politician. Who wants another Margaret Thatcher?
Lewis raised the lack of public transport in the city meant people used their cars more, contributing to pollution. But she had no solution to the current total of £150 million cuts that the Tory government has made to the council budget. A lack of public transport means that people, particularly women, are left stranded on the estates, especially at night time.
Steve called for the buses to be run by the council and for it to subsidise non-profitable bus routes. He pointed out that the council had £166 million in reserves of which only £34 million was earmarked. Some of the remainder could be used to prevent cuts, while organising a mass campaign to force this weak Tory government to reverse the cuts in spending.
There were only two options: either stop the cuts and fight for more funding or make the cuts. Only the Socialist Party clearly stood against the cuts. No other candidate had a programme to deliver on their promises.
In The Socialist 24 April 2019:
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