Originally written for the Socialism in RCT blog
|SP member of the ponty anti-cuts demo|
The fact that this Labour council has forced through these savage cuts to the pay and employment conditions of its 10,000 strong work force whilst maintaining a surplus of £2 million shows exactly how sincere the Labour Party is to opposing cut backs!
The revelation of this surplus highlights the betrayal of the Labour councillors, who shed crocodile tears over the cuts they voted for whilst all along leaving the council with an incredible surplus. In reality it just confirms what we already knew - Labour don't represent us anymore!
It is true that whilst there is a surplus currently of £2m but cuts in wages have 'saved' the council £5.6m leaving an obvious gap of £3.6m. This does not mean that cuts have to be made, rather on the contrary this presents a real alternative to fight and defeat the austerity measures driven by central government.
The council could use the current surplus as a temporary measure in order to avoid the cuts for now. This would make the council extremely popular amongst the workers and the community in general. (A far cry from the harsh reality of the feelings towards the council at the moment) The council could then use this popularity to build a mass campaign throughout the county to defend the council against any attack from the Assembly or Westminster and to demand the money necessary for all the jobs and services needed within the area.
If the council was willing to set a 'needs budget' - a budget based on the needs of the area, rather than based on the forced cuts budgets of central government, then they would easily gain mass support - and rightfully so from whole sections of working class people in the area. This is exactly what happened when the Liverpool council did this in the 1980s. If the council was to do this then the Socialist Party would through it full weight behind the councillors to defend them and the budget from attack.
Unfortunately, we feel that this scenario is extremely unlikely. We saw 13 years of a Labour government committed cuts and privatisation of public services and where they are still in power, in the Assembly and in councils they are willingly carrying out cuts today. In Cumbria the Labour councillors are even in a formal coalition with the tories! If that doesn't demonstrate whose side they are really on then nothing will. The Labour Party has shown itself to be a party fully committed to rolling back the welfare state.
This is why the Socialist Party will be standing in the Welsh Assembly elections and next years council elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, standing on a platform of opposition to ALL cuts and for a united fight back to defeat this government. If you are interested in getting involved with the election campaign in RCT then you can contact us here.