Socialist Worker

Cuts fight demands a coalition of resistance

by Mark L Thomas
Issue No. 2210

People protested in Manchester on budget day

People protested in Manchester on budget day


This is the week that the Tory cuts really started to bite.

The decision to cancel urgently needed new school buildings (see front page) has become a lightning rod for the rising anger at government attacks.

And resistance to the Tory cuts has also begun to stir. One example of this was in Blackburn on Thursday of last week.

More than 500 people filled the town square to protest against the threat to the funding of vital local facilities.

Swimming pools, leisure centres and local community centres are all at risk.

Users of the centres, including many young people from youth, karate and dance clubs that are also threatened, joined local Labour councillors, trade unions and the trades council in a vociferous protest.

Much of the anger was directed at Trevor Maxfield, former BNP member, now part of the “For Darwen” coalition. Maxfield had drawn up the £4 million cuts programme along with the Tories and the Liberals that run the council with a wafer thin majority.

This is the kind of protest we need.

While a few Labour-run councils are pushing through equally vicious cuts, elsewhere Labour councils have expressed opposition to implementing at least some cuts.

There is a real and important opportunity for campaigners and trade unionists outside Labour to work in active unity with Labour Party members against the cuts.

In north London, Labour-run Islington council has said it will continue with the free schools meal programme that the government has destroyed.

Catherine West, the leader of the council, spoke out against the cuts at a Right to Work meeting.

In Camden this week Labour Party and local trades council activists came together at a meeting in the council chamber to discuss fighting cuts.

Many Labour councillors, as well as local Labour MP Frank Dobson, came to the 100-strong meeting.

Dobson told the meeting, “We won’t be able to fend off everything but if we stick together we can fend off a lot, and I promise you my support.”

Power

Angela Mason, a newly-elected councillor and deputy leader of the Labour group on the council, said, “What can or should a Labour council do? Everything in our power to protect those most in need.

“One of the dangers is that we turn against each other. I expect we will make some unpopular decisions—but if the council becomes the enemy and not the national government then I don’t think we will be able to create a movement of sufficient size.”

Raj Chada, chair of Holborn constituency Labour Party, said, “We may well fall out—but think about what’s at stake. Isn’t it worth trying to build a coalition and fight together?”

Local trade unionists said the council could be an ally—but not if it made cuts itself.

Candy Udwin of Camden Right to Work said, “We need unity. But that means the council must not pass the cuts on.”

Where Labour councils are prepared to resist cuts we should fight alongside them. At the same time we must oppose all cuts—and expose them as an attempt to make ordinary people pay for the bankers’ crisis.

The bigger the resistance, the easier that argument will be to win.

A big, angry protest outside the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on Sunday 3 October is one key way to encourage the biggest possible fightback.

It is a very positive sign that the Labour Representation Committee, a left wing grouping in the Labour Party, has added its name to those backing the protest.

The demonstration should be raised at every protest and meeting called to oppose the cuts.

We need to bring everyone facing attacks and every campaign against cuts together on 3 October.

We need to join as a powerful movement that can smash the Tory cuts.

Hundreds protested in Blackburn on Thursday of last week against plans to end funding to a swathe of council facilities in the town. Swimming pools, leisure centres and community centres are all under threat. The two-and-a-half hour protest was so vocifer

Hundreds protested in Blackburn on Thursday of last week against plans to end funding to a swathe of council facilities in the town. Swimming pools, leisure centres and community centres are all under threat. The two-and-a-half hour protest was so vocifer



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News
Tue 13 Jul 2010, 17:56 BST
Issue No. 2210
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