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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 February 2020

Lobby of parliament. 19.12.19

Lobby of parliament. 19.12.19   (Click to enlarge)

How to resist Tory attacks on local communities

Alistair Tice, Socialist Party national committee

One of the reasons why Labour lost seats in the North and Midlands in the general election was because Labour councils have carried out ten years of Tory government cuts. People's experience of Labour council cuts gave them no confidence that a Labour government would actually carry out its anti-austerity manifesto.

Now those same Labour council leaders are lining up to blame Jeremy Corbyn and the manifesto for the election defeat (see 'Cuts councillors are the real problem'). Julie Dore, Sheffield council leader, who has presided over 480 million cuts, said "I do not want a Corbyn-continuity candidate". 30 out of 33 council leaders have said that the party would be "finished" in their areas if Rebecca Long-Bailey became leader.

So it's welcome that Long-Bailey, writing for Labour List, stated "As Labour leader, I will work with Labour councillors to fight the Tories every step of the way" and "hold the government to account and resist their attacks on our communities." But, unfortunately, she doesn't say how that can be done.

She says "I want to use community organising and campaigning in partnership with our local councillors." To achieve what? To "get more Labour councillors elected." But to do what? Get even more Labour councillors to just carry out the Tory cuts for the next five years?

Because for all Boris Johnson's populist rhetoric about 'levelling up' and the 'end of austerity' it's clear that the savage cuts in government funding of local authorities will continue. In fact, it's going to get worse.

The Tories' (un) Fair Funding review proposes that a further 320 million a year could be shifted out of councils in England's most deprived areas while Tory-controlled shire councils will gain 300 million. Former Labour constituencies that the Tories won in the so-called 'Red Wall' such as Workington, Sedgefield, Stoke, Redcar, West Bromwich, Bishop Auckland, Grimsby and Leigh all stand to lose millions on top of the funding already slashed by the Tories.

Bradford council Unite members striking against cuts, photo Iain Dalton

Bradford council Unite members striking against cuts, October 2019, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

This 'unfairness' has even caused Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, who has presided over 436 million cuts over the last ten years, to finally say "enough is enough". He says, "I will refuse to make any more cuts to our budget" (apart from the 30 million already planned for the 2020-21 financial year!). But when questioned whether he would be "doing a Derek Hatton" meaning defying the government like the Militant-led Liverpool council did in the 1980s, he said he wouldn't.

But the 1980s Liverpool road, as advocated by the Socialist Party, of Labour councils setting no-cuts budgets while building a mass campaign among council workers and local communities to fight for 'fair funding', is the only way that the Tory cuts can be defeated.

The policies that the Socialist Party has campaigned for, using reserves and borrowing powers to legally 'balance' a no-cuts budget, are now being used by Labour councils - not to fight the cuts and demand more money from the Tory government but to balance budgets that actually carry out cuts!

In this year's annual State of Local Government Finance report, 57% of council leaders said they will be using reserves, 75% will be increasing their borrowing.

If Rebecca Long-Bailey is serious about leading councils' resistance to Tory cuts, she must herald the achievements of the 1983-87 Liverpool council - 2,000 new jobs, 5,000 new council houses, six new nurseries, five new sports centres and three new parks, to name just some of them.

She must instruct Labour councils to adopt a fighting strategy of building mass support for a needs-based budget and demanding the government pays back the millions it has robbed from local councils - the strategy that won those gains in Liverpool

Otherwise, all her talk will be just that, while Blairite council leaders continue to carry out the Tories' cuts.


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In The Socialist 12 February 2020:


News

Tackling climate change: Johnson emits huge quantities of hot air!

Windrush deportations: end the hostile environment

Streatham attack: Johnson's bill can't stop terror

Them & Us

What We Heard


NHS

NHS: Fight for full funding!

Unnecessary surgery scandal shows need for democratic control of NHS

NHS debt so high it can't be repaid - so don't pay it!

Callous Tory cuts to children's speech therapy in Nottinghamshire


Trade unions

Trade unions - new decade, new challenges


Workplace news

Big Unison south east regional meeting votes for anti-cuts position

PCS union: Uniting the left around a leadership that can win for members

Westex workers win increased pay offer in 11th week of strike

University strikers walk out for better pay and pensions

East London school strikes against academisation continue

Foreign Office workers' strike

Solidarity with Turkish workers

Lambeth Unison letter

London NSSN meeting

Solidarity with victimised bus rep Moe

Support Clive Walder


Cuts

How to resist tory attacks on local communities

Cuts councillors are the real problem

Council houses - not private property developers


International

Sinn Fein harnesses working-class anger to top poll

Lebanon - mass protests cut across sectarian division


Campaigns

Build independent workers' media with May Day greetings

Building a working-class movement for Tamil rights

Hackney: We don't want homes and retail units working-class people can't afford

20 years of housing failure

Socialist Sellers


Universal Credit

New BBC series - Insight or whitewash?

Nottingham: death of vulnerable claimant

UC stopped without warning


 

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