Socialist Worker

Vote Labour on 3 May—but organise action too

Issue No. 2601

Activists in Bradford are fighting a Labour council thats implementing the cuts

Activists in Bradford are fighting a Labour council that's implementing the cuts (Pic: Neil Terry)

Local elections across much of England on 3 May are a chance to deliver a verdict on Theresa May’s regime of racism, austerity and war.

If the Conservatives suffer some humiliating losses, the government’s crisis could accelerate.

The elections are also an opportunity to back Jeremy Corbyn and left policies such as more money for services, opposition to privatisation and targeting the rich.

That’s why, except in a very few cases where there are credible candidates to the left of Labour, Socialist Worker supports a vote for Labour next Thursday.

But there are two very important points to add.

The first is that Labour councils have reacted to local government funding cuts in ways hardly distinguishable from the Tories.

Central government funding for local authorities fell in real terms by 49 percent between 2010-11 and 2017-18, according to the National Audit Office.

Instead of defying the Tories, Labour councils have slashed services, put up the council tax, and attacked their own workers.

They have done deals with outsourcers and privateers.

In Birmingham, for example, Labour tried to cut refuse workers’ wages and is now hitting homecare workers.

They ignore the words from Corbyn about tackling the Tories—and Corbyn doesn’t stop them.

People on the sharp end of such attacks won’t flock to the polls to vote for those doing the attacking. Others will do it grudgingly because they want to support Corbyn, not their local pro-cuts councillor.


So alongside any call to vote Labour must be a demand that Labour councils stop implementing the cuts and start fighting the government. Labour councillors should, as the very least, not approve or cooperate with the STP health plans that threaten £22 billion in cuts across England.

If “for the many, not the few” means anything, it means protecting people from the ravages of attacks on vital services.

The second point is that the election results are highly unlikely to bring down May, still less end the Tory government.

The storm of outrage and protests over the Windrush Generation had a much larger policy effect than any council election result.

Voting matters, but not nearly so much as building strikes, protests and campaigns.

So 3 May is not the key date. The key dates are 6 and 19 May, where there will be mobilisations against the far right in London and Manchester, and 12 May when unions will demonstrate in London.

Only a greatly escalated fight in the streets and workplaces can remove the government that threatens four more years of vile policies.

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