When the Labour administration took control in Liverpool last May people voted against the previous Lib Dem policies. Now we have a Labour led council savagely slashing services and jobs.
In order to carry out the cuts the Labour group have cobbled together a coalition of Lib Dems, Liberals and Greens but have not held a single meeting with the people of Liverpool, who they should represent, to discuss a strategy on how to fight back against the ConDem coalition government’s policies which will devastate the lives of millions in this country. The reason for the cuts is that their system is in decay, capitalism is in a deep crisis and that is why capitalists need to maintain their profits at our expense. It is their crisis not ours.
The message of consolation they give is, “There is no alternative!” and unfortunately most councillors in Liverpool are singing the same tune, Sarah Jennings of the Green Party says, ‘We realise the cuts are necessary’.
A fair deal or a white flag?
A rally held on 20 February was organised by the council leadership and the majority that day were marching in opposition to the cuts. However the council leaders merely begged the government for a “fair deal”. Council leader Joe Anderson gave a fiery speech roaring, “The fight back starts now!”, to enthusiastic support. But what followed was less fiery; he has asked people to sign a petition! Is this the fight back? Like the Grande old Duke of York, he marched us up to the top of the hill, and he marched us down again!! In reality Anderson’s ‘fair deal’ means asking the government to, “… reduce Liverpool’s cuts from the biggest cuts in the country to the average cuts … And we’re calling on the Government to give us four years, and not two years … ” So that means a little less spread over a little longer time, they are flying the white instead of the red flag.
Today the plan is being agreed to proceed with cuts of £90 million in Liverpool this year, which will be followed by a further £50 in cuts next year. Fair deal? They are supinely bowing down to the rich as they proceed to decimate and privatise our services.
Councillors are wringing their hands and shedding crocodile tears as they prepare to take Liverpool back to a pre-war situation. But never mind wringing their hands, they should be calling meetings across Liverpool to organise the fight back against all cuts.
When Anderson announced the 1,500 job cuts, he promised that there’d be no compulsory redundancies, but that is a lie because jobs in the voluntary sector have already been cut. Many organisations lost 100% of their funding and compulsory redundancy notices have already been issued.
Fightback has begun
Workers throughout Britain are expressing their anger against councils. In Lambeth Town Hall before the vote to implement the cuts took place, hundreds occupied the building. The Lambeth Save Our Services campaign group joined union members and service users to denounce the planned £37.5 million reduction to Lambeth services, and they are organising independent marches against the Lambeth Labour led council plans to devastate services.
Similar actions have taken place against Oxfordshire County Council, Haringey, Leeds, York and many other councils as front-line services are slashed. Youth centres, adventure playgrounds, care homes are amongst the hundreds of services that will be decimated and it is the most vulnerable and poorest in society who are going to suffer the most.
Workers across Merseyside must fight together. As services are threatened with closure we must occupy them. Defence committees should be built in every community. And across the country workers must link and come together in struggle with students and the unions.
Workers win better conditions
The working class have fought for everything we have. It was not a generous Labour government that gave us health, education and other services after World War II; it was fear of the strength of the working class that forced through those gains. Workers were determined not to return to the inequality and despair of the 1930s with mass unemployment, the hated means test, work houses and very few public health services.
Unless we fight today and have confidence in our strength we face losing those hard won gains in the post-war period.
We are being told “There is no alternative … We have no choice”, but the Arabs and our history tells us differently.
The Arab people show us there is always an alternative that can win. They are overthrowing dictators fighting for jobs, food and independence. We must learn from them and support them. The US and Europe threaten to invade Libya. In defending our services we also say defend the Arab and Libyan uprising.
No to foreign intervention! For our victory and the victory of their revolution!
Learn from history
The working class of this country has a proud tradition of fighting for services and we must not forget it.
Poplar, in the East End of London, was one of the poorest areas in London in the 1920s. This was a time when poor relief was paid out of a borough’s rates, no matter how rich or poor that borough was. So rich boroughs such as Westminster, one of the richest, paid nothing towards the relief of the poor and unemployed just a few miles away.
In 1921, 30 Labour councillors stood up to central government, without the backing of the national Labour Party, and refused to impose the unfair and unjust rate system. They fought every inch of the way and as a consequence they were sent to prison. But the struggle intensified rapidly and working class people gave massive support to the councillors. The pressure from the workers and fear of it spreading to other areas resulted in a huge victory and the rates system changed.
1970s rent strikes
In 1972 the Tory government led by Ted Heath forced through the Housing Finance Act – ‘fair (increased) rents’ on council tenants. This resulted in a national fight by council tenants because rents were planned to rise by £1. Some council leaders, such as those in Clay Cross, fought back and a rent strike in Kirkby Liverpool was organised by women which resulted in many tenants being imprisoned. But there was a mobilisation of massive support including a one-day strike by dockworkers.
This Anderson led coalition ‘pleads’ with the government as they slash services but this is a council without an ounce of fight in them.
They bemoan lack of support from the national Labour party and say, ‘there is nothing we can do’, when they should defend the interests of those who voted for them, not bow to the interests of the rich.
Fight for services
Liverpool has some of the poorest areas in this country with some of the lowest life expectancies and some of the highest rates of unemployment. We must pressure this council to set a Needs budget and withdraw their support for government plans to cut and intensify the privatisation of services
We demand that the Labour led council assist the organisation of our communities with unions and students in a fight against all cuts.
We call on the unions to lead the fight with communities and students to save services and jobs. Do not negotiate cuts and job losses, to do so undermines and betrays the fight to save jobs and services.
We have to build a national movement uniting everyone against the cuts. We refuse to pay for the bankers’ crisis – force them to pay for it.
March in London on 26 March. Build the Fightback Now.
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