Five reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts


11:10 am - February 22nd 2011

by Paul Cotterill    


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We are in the midst of a three week period many when many Labour councils are setting their budgets. All of them will make cuts.

Labour councillors up and down the country will receive abuse for what many on the left will see as their betrayal and cowardice. This is the first part of an unashamedly detailed article on why such abuse is both unjustified and counterproductive.

Labour councils and the broad left should be coming together to bash out a better way forward than the Tory-pleasing acrimony currently developing.

Background
I am an individual member of the Labour Representation Committee, the leftist campaign and organizing body within the Labour party. I am also the leader of a Labour Group of Councillors on a Borough Council. Were I the leader of the Council and in power, I would be proposing a cuts package from a socialist position.

My job here is to set out the case for Labour cuts as clearly as I can, but to do so with the same level of understanding and respect that I would like the Left to show towards councillors taking difficult but necessary decisions on cuts.

Labour councillors need to make cuts, for the reasons I set out below, but they also need to explain why they need to more clearly than they have done to date.

1. Eric Pickles will cut if we don’t
I have set out the legal position previously. We can’t wish away this reality.

Although no-one knows precisely how the endgame would be played out if a Council did vote to set an illegal budget (and it’s not going to happen in 2011 at least), the reality is that the Chief Finance Officer (Section 151 Officer) of such a local authority would be legally bound to take charge.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that Pickles would be leaning over the shoulder of that same Chief Finance Officer tasked with setting a legal budget, ensuring that this process is as punitive as possible, and extracting every last column inch as to why the Labour Council is hurting its residents.

2. The removal of surcharging and the threat of prison does NOT make it easier to resist the cuts
A central argument used by Ted Knight at the LRC AGM, and widely repeated elsewhere, is that it is much easier now for councillors to resist the government’s cuts because there is no personal risk of surcharge or prison.

This is, frankly, an odd argument. We are effectively asked to believe that the Thatcher government decided, in the form of the Local Government Act 1988, to make it easier for Labour councillors to resist cuts, as a reward for Labour councillors in Lambeth and Liverpool showing such personal bravery.

What the 1986 Act actually did was to remove the possibility of Labour councillors becoming martyrs to the anti-cuts cause, while at the same time ensuring that the mechanics of local government finance were tightened up to make it physically impossible to spend, by enshrining in law the Section 151 officer’s duty to stop further expenditure.

3. Resigning as a councillor means you don’t get to be a councillor any more
Another common position taken is that Labour councillors who are not brave enough to resist cuts by voting against them should resign, and allow braver Labour candidates to stand instead.

This position fundamentally misunderstands what the job of a 21st century councillor is.

As such, most local councillors’ primary function has little to do with the cuts of 10-30%; they are concerned with ensuring that their local constituents get proper and equitable access to the 70-90% of resources that will remain, whether that be through ensuring that the potholes on an estate do get filled in, or helping someone argue their ‘borderline’ case over revised social care eligibility.

This is important stuff, and not something we should be abrogating for the sake of fifteen minutes of fame and defiance.

If I resigned today, I would be leaving behind at least a dozen local initiatives, whether that be work on road safety schemes or work to set up a Tenants’ Association for Sheltered Accommodation tenants as preparation against future Tory assaults on their tenancies. None of this stuff will ever be headline news, but they are important to my local constituents all.

That’s true for many councillors, and it’s important that leftwing activists recognize that this is the kind of stuff that motivates many modern councillors.

4. Prudential borrowing is not a viable option
Some on the left have also put forward the argument that Labour Councils can avoid cuts if they use the prudential borrowing facilities available to them.

If only it were so. The Local Government Act 2003 regulations on borrowing and the subsequent Prudential Code are clear enough about the duty on Councils to provide evidence of the ‘affordabilty’ of their borrowing, and of the powers of the Secretary of State to limit borrowing.

As with illegal budget setting, it falls to these Chief Finance Officers to take a view at local authority level on whether borrowing schemes are ‘affordable’ in repayment terms, and the reality is that borrowing for straight revenue is not going to be approved on that score.

That’s why no Councils have gone down this route to date.

5. Labour cuts should be different from Coalition Cuts
Luke Akehurst puts the legality argument (reason 1) and the ‘political priority’ argument for Labour cuts in one handy paragraph:

You can’t even get as far as setting an illegal budget and being surcharged. All that happens is that the council officers set a balanced budget for you, with no reference to your political priorities.

Mark Ferguson does the same:

A council that failed to pass a legal budget now would lose control over the finances of the local authority. Decision making would pass to unelected bureaucrats – or worse Eric Pickles – who wouldn’t be bound by the priorities and manifesto pledges of those who had been democratically elected. If you believe that cuts delivered by Eric Pickles would be less damaging – or equiavalent – to those which Labour councillors are forced to deal out, then you have clearly exited the realm of reality.

Both are right about political ‘priorities’, but on both occasions their argument is drowned in so much anti-Left vitriol that it’s unlikely anyone on the Left will be convinced.

More importantly, just saying that Labour Councils have different political priorities doesn’t prove they have. Luke and Mark may be laudably concise in their argument, but what they gain in brevity they lose through lack of evidence.

Take the difference between Liverpool Labour and Tory Lancashire, for example. Labour have put together a budget which reduces spending by £91m in 2011-12 but has been able to issue a press briefing which states that:

We have protected, as far as possible, services to children and vulnerable adults. Children’s care services have been protected and will experience a reduction of just 1%.

Spending on road maintenance, street cleansing, parks and open spaces will be reduced by £5.8m

30 miles up the road in Preston, HQ to Lancashire’s Tories, the opposite is happening.

There are cuts of £71.6m to be made in Lancashire 2011-12, but the Tories have responded by putting an additional £2.038m into highways maintenance while savaging services to the most vulnerable, through cuts to both adult and children’s care services.

The Tory strategy in Lancashire is clear enough ; reduce services to the most vulnerable as much as is needed, because they have a relatively small number of votes anyway, while maintaining ‘popular’ services which are less costly per user, and therefore act as better vote winners in the future.

The most vulnerable will, in general suffer more less under Labour cuts than they would under Tory administrations (or Pickles-driven budget setting).

This isn’t to say that Labour councils are getting it right everywhere. Such an assertion would be just a bit too much blind faith in Labour values at the heart of every Labour council.

But what is needed in these circumstances is proper engagement with Labour councils over what cuts are being proposed and why, rather than a blanket refusal to engage with any cuts at all.


An extended version of this article is here. A further five reasons are coming soon too.

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About the author
Paul Cotterill is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at Though Cowards Flinch, an established leftwing blog and emergent think-tank. He currently has fingers in more pies than he has fingers, including disability caselaw, childcare social enterprise, and cricket.
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Reader comments


The most vulnerable will suffer more under labour cuts? I presume you meant “less”…

Or, y’know, Labour could remember the reason for their existence and protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged of society without Conservative apologia like this. Support people’s campaigns against cuts, support legal challenges, support strikes if necessary. I know that would require having principles but hell it’d be a damn site better than this shoddy article which basically says “let’s roll over and let the Tories tickle our bellies”.
I’d elaborate more but frankly I’m fuming that this disgraceful article even crossed an alleged “socialist”‘s mind.

3. David Boothroyd

This is a good piece and worth reading closely by anyone who thinks there would be some advantage in Labour councils indulging in a blatantly illegal strategy. The fact is that very few people realise the immense reserve powers now held by the section 151 officer to make sure local authorities do not leave themselves in the position of Liverpool in September 1985.

Even when councils in 1985 tried not setting a rate, with the benefit of an ambiguous law, mass support from the left and twenty councils on board, the result was that the campaign fell apart, councils dropped out, and the Liverpool and Lambeth councillors ended up surcharged with a capped budget anyway. There is nothing to suggest anything has made the legal ground any more encouraging to this sort of game.

Coming soon: “Five reasons why the Left should support Cameron’s privatisation agenda.”

Typical Labour Party reformist bollocks. Don’t fight back compromise and wait for a future Labour Government which will not reverse anything the Tories do.

Look, I don’t like cuts either, but perhaps people could actually engage with the points in the article rather than attacking the author? Knee-jerk reactions don’t help just as knee-jerk reactions from Labour council leaders to those protesting against council cuts don’t help.

The points in this article do actually reflect reality. I think there may be potential for defiance, but it has to be strategic and undertaken in the full knowledge of what the legal position actually is, not what we’d like it to be.

Shameful piece. “Why the left should wave the white flag and surrender to the cuts”.

If councils were to resist, and the Tories had to send in the finance officers, it would strip away the veneer that the Tories seek to create, that the cuts are a “choice” by the councils.

If they choose to attacks the libraries and children’s services then it would be the Tories doing it, not proxies in local government.

We should support the Hackney 6 who have refused to set a cuts budget.

http://righttowork.org.uk/2011/02/six-hackney-councillors-sign-joint-statement-against-cuts/

It can be done.

[troll deleted]

[troll deleted]

10. alienfromzog

A really good and interesting article.

I wish I could say the same for some of the comments. This is why the Left infuriates me so much sometimes.

We all agree the cuts are wrong.
The legal position ties councils very tightly making it very difficult for councils to disobey central government.

Essentially councils have only two choices – one is to kick up as much fuss as possible, resign, set illegal budgets etc. The end point of this will be two things: a budget set by Mr Pickles which will be even worse and a big political win for the Tories.

The alternative is to take the responsible course and protect services and the vulnerable as much as possible.

The politics of it is really important – Cameron is trying desperately to paint the cuts in local services as local govenment’s fault. The comparisons between well-off (Conservative) councils and their minor cuts and the poorer (Labour) authorities and their big cuts are almost continuous at the moment. The argument he uses that the difference is that Conservative councils are somehow better run and more effecient does not stand up to any kind of analysis. This is key to the politics of this. Cameron is wrong – the problem is the way the local government settlement is being done is hugely unfair. And if he can be shown to be wrong he will lose out massively for not only being responsible for the cuts but for trying to shift the blame unfairly.

It’s time for the Left to remember that as well as principles we need strategy.

AFZ

11. marc dauncey

[troll deleted]

May I add a sixth reason?

That Labour cuts will remind everyone (as if we really needed it, but just in case) that there is little if any difference between Labour, Lib Dem and Tory.

Oh dear god, just saw this at the end of the article: “A further five reasons are coming soon too.”

Can be have some alternative to this Tory capitulation? Or should I go back to only reading Richard Seymour’s blog for decent left-wing arguments?

14. marc dauncey

[troll deleted]

@11 has it spot freakin’ on.

16. marc dauncey

[troll deleted]

I just wanted to reflect on what the strategy of setting an illegal budget would mean in my local area. My council has chosen to protect funding social care services for people with critical and substantial needs, which would not be protected under a budget set by the section 151 officer.

If the Labour councillors instead followed the strategy which some of you are advocating, then people with substantial social care needs will lose services.

Substantial needs covers situations where, without intervention, the result will be serious harm or injury to you or others. Examples include:

* an inability to protect yourself, maintain your own personal or others’ safety, to carry out self-care tasks resulting in significant risks to life or wellbeing
* the risk of becoming mentally ill
* the risk of requiring hospital or residential care
* a significant restriction of opportunity within the family, work and the wider community.

*

I cannot see any advantage in furiously denouncing people who have taken the decision that it is more principled to protect services for people who aren’t able to maintain their own safety, rather than allowing services for these people to be cut in order to show that the Tories are responsible for the cuts.

I would personally find it very hard to explain the merits of setting an illegal budget to someone who lost the care services which they rely on as a result of this political strategy.

Equally, I don’t think it is right to denounce any Labour councillor who didn’t feel able to vote for a particular budget of cuts – falling out with each other is exactly what the Tories want.

The idea from the Hackney councillors of producing a Needs Budget sounds to me like a good one, and I think that Labour councillors who vote for cuts do have a duty to show how the budget which they support is better than one which would be set by the section 151 officer.

tim f #6 above is right:

“Look, I don’t like cuts either, but perhaps people could actually engage with the points in the article rather than attacking the author?”

Personally I think both the “dented shield” and “don’t set a budget” strategies are full of problems – but those are the options we have unless someone can come up with a clever alternative. Which is why we ought to be debating this and not just slagging each other off.

PS Anyone who thinks Paul Cotterill is just another careerist has never read his excellent blog.

19. alienfromzog

@11, Marc

@alienfromzog yeah, thats what we should have done with the poll tax, too. oh and womens suffrage. and the chartist movement. the most important thing is to keep within the law, obviously.

I don’t think the issue is keeping within the law. And I am all for mass protest. The question is what happens if Councils set illegal budget? See Don’s post above. This is the point.

How is it more prinicpled to make a huge fuss, have a section 151 officer come in and then for the most vulnerable to have their services destroyed?

Furthermore, if a council did do this, do you really think we’ll win the political argument that these are all Tory cuts? Does it not seem more likely that with the help of the right-wing media the Tories will paint such a council – and by extension, the Labour party – as unfit to even govern at local level?

I would have no problem with councils setting illegal budget if I thought it would actually help. Everything thus far, makes me think it will makes things worse.

AFZ

“wake up. do you realise the sheer depth of anger out there about the current situation?”

Yes, opinion polls consistantly showingfthat people see local government as inefficient and bloaterd, and willing to support some cuts – although perhaps not on the scale as is being proposed. When you change the question around and mention specific services and specific cuts, then opinion moves closer to the anti-cuts position.

Generally public opinion isn’t as close to the militant position as you would like.

I was at the RtW People’s convention the other weekend, and there was an extremely interesting talk on how can councillors oppose the cuts?

There were two Labour Councillors, whose names I forget, one said they had to vote for cuts because it was their “duty for their constituents to set some budget”, the other said that there was not a clear enough message from people that they wanted them to vote against it!

The Labour Party have a golden oppurtunity to put itself in the heart of the fightback but is unwilling to do anything. As we saw in this article, the author is scared that he wont get to be a councillor anymore.

Well, if the cuts go ahead, the amount of access to thos 70-90% of resources goes down massively. What is the point of giving ok-crap services to a minute amount of your constituents?

Thank goodness for the grassroots anti-cuts campaigns springing up all over.

Simon H:

“Shameful piece. “Why the left should wave the white flag and surrender to the cuts”.

If councils were to resist, and the Tories had to send in the finance officers, it would strip away the veneer that the Tories seek to create, that the cuts are a “choice” by the councils.

If they choose to attacks the libraries and children’s services then it would be the Tories doing it, not proxies in local government.”

– in other words, rather than taking practical steps to protect services for the most vulnerable, Labour councillors should make a political gesture and then let the Tories swoop in and make whatever cuts they see fit. Any damage done to libraries, children’s services etc as a result is ‘a price worth paying’ to ensure that the shit over cuts sticks to the Tories and not Labour.

Now that really *is* shameful. These are real peoples’ services we’re talking about here; if there’s a way to stop them being cut at all, great, but if not councillors shouldn’t choose politically expedient grand gestures over their duty to do their best for the people they represent.

The most vulnerable will suffer more under labour cuts? I presume you meant “less”…

Ooops, sorry, have changed that typo.

Galen 10: Support people’s campaigns against cuts, support legal challenges, support strikes if necessary

So in other words you don’t have a reponse of a strategy that would work, you just want someone to insult.

We should support the Hackney 6 who have refused to set a cuts budget.

… they’ve done that in the full knowledge that the rest of the Labour lot will pass it. And if they didn’t, then the outcome would have been much worse.

A really good and interesting article.

I wish I could say the same for some of the comments. This is why the Left infuriates me so much sometimes.

You can say that again. Some people still live in the 80s.

If they choose to attacks the libraries and children’s services then it would be the Tories doing it, not proxies in local government.

Why not just spell it out? You’d like people to take a stand which will make the cuts to people’s services even worse.

Paul

This is an excellent article.

Most people don’t realise that local governments are facing a combined funding cut of almost £6.5 Billion – which is no joke.

All councils have to prioritise – in fact, even Tory, Lib Dem Councillors are upset about the cuts – but like Paul said they have no choice. In fact most councils are doing their best also not to lay off people – and trying to work out compromises as much as possible so that the most vulnerable are protected especially in the areas of social care, child care and some other key services – while trying not to raise council taxes.

Local Government is the most efficient part of the public sector and has been for a long time and they are years ahead on using ICT and other tools to make their services more effective.

Those who attack Labour councillors and councils for making cuts are either thick or just want to play “we must oppose cuts” no matter who it hurts. Paul and his fellow councillors should receive our support not brick bats – but I am sure that advice would be ignored and I would be called a Tory Troll.

Local government also delivers maximum number of public services and it is also the most responsive part of our government – whether you like it or not. And it is shameful, one labour council leader was personally attacked and when I spoke to him he said that he is considering requesting police protection for some of his colleagues. That is not democracy or activism – and if anyone thinks that is going to bring public support – you are sooo wrong.

In fact this activism is now becoming bullying and without considering how their actions might hurt the most vulnerable.

And I never thought I would say this – I am impressed with Ed Miliband’s maturity in handling the pressures from the activist crew –

Polly Toynbee and other commentators can be as glib and forceful as they want to be – but we all know they don’t have to face the ballot box. And neither would most of you who scream at the top of your lungs.

You want people on your side – act responsibly please.

And those who accuse Ed Miliband of keeping his mouth shut on the Prime MInister’s reforms – anyone who opens their mouth without seeing the white paper is making a mistake.

Dianne Abbott and those with similar approaches had opposed Clause 4 dropping and had opposed Academies. But the academies actually have made a big difference according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee and they have improved standards of education. Don’t forget it is one of Labour’s best legacies.

Whose side should the leader of the Labour party be on – the students whose lives can be transformed or those who oppose change for change’s sake.

Not all the reforms are bad – some are excellent some are not well thought through. And Labour should attack where the government imposes ideology without thinking about consequences but support where the reforms make sense.

For example, the biggest problem with the NHS reforms is not privatisation but reducing the role of the State to a mere spectator and not being able to intervene. In fact, the government is now slowly but surely changing that aspect.

*************************************

The Government is also playing it smart – appointing Bennett as Chair of Monitor and Sally Morgan as Chair of Ofsted (don’t forget she ran the NEC for a long time and life time labour activist) means they acknowledge the reforms under Labour were good.

27. Dick the Prick

As a Tory I kinda find this argument a bit upsetting really. I can’t speak for Lib Demmers – God alone knows what’s in it for them, never understood them, never thought there was a coherent message, never understood why people voted for them, campaigned for them, elected them etc.

But…but…if we defenestrate the leadership of any given party what you’re left with is the grassroots, the volunteers, the ejeets like me who wander into people’s garden’s delivering leaflets that no chump is ever gonna read and risking the oppribrium of rabid dogs, drunk youths, angey constituents etc – it’s a part of the game.

If I can’t rely on Labour to do Labour stuff then wtf is the point in being Labour? It’s our job to cut costs, to rationalize services, to prioritize need. It’s Labour’s job to go for utilitarianist, blanket social welfare, redistribute cash and to actively support and encourage the folks who Tories couldn’t give a flying fuck about.

This prescription gives rise to madness, madness I say, sheer lunacy. If I lose my enemy then i’m snookered. I love all my Labour Cllrs – they’re damn good people and the fact that we get on really well together and never agree on a God damned thing is the sport of politics. Let’s be civilized about this, please.

I don’t see a single one of the comments attacking this post actually stating a reason why the arguments it makes are incorrect, beyond the logical coup that is ‘I don’t like this very much’.

The Tories are in Government.

You’re not supposed to.

I’m from the left of the Labour Party. Until the more radical elements of the anti-cuts movement are able to come up with *actual arguments*, I don’t see how many of my colleagues, even from the hardest of Labour left, are going to be more persuaded to resign than to go with the Labour centrists and rights on their council groups.

Paul is not the only person saying this, even in the LRC.

You need to actually engage with what Paul is saying rather than imagining that shouting him down represents some kind of victory.

How do you actually respond to the arguments he makes?

Quite shocked and appalled at the lack of.public fight back at the councils making the cuts.

It’s as if we’ve all rolled over and accept them.

“How do you actually respond to the arguments he makes?”

I think there is essentially one thing he was incorrect over: “Labour councils and the broad left should be coming together”

The labour party and the anti-cuts movement are not the same thing, and there are some places where they should not come together. This is one of them.

Broadly speaking the 2 have different objectives: The labour party are interested in winning the next election, and their best option of doing this is to wait and let the tory party recontaminate its brand. Then push for a collapse in the coalition during 2013 when the full force of cuts has been unleashed, but before the tories get the peace dividend of being able to cut taxes.

The anti-cuts movement on the other hand want to prevent the cuts occuring in the first place, as the collateral damage is going to be so great.

So what this means is that the labour party need to be able to pass budgets forced on them, to demonstrate that they are still electable and ready for government. But they also need the anti-cuts movement to give them stick for it, and to keep the pressure up, as that makes the labour party even more a party of the centre ground – they get to say “see, we resisted the militant lot”.

@UK Uncuts –

Yesterday on pickled politics you said activists should go and challenge and attack local government and not the treasury and no. 10. Because you said it would filter upwards –

Newsflash – real world does not work that way. In fact the approach you suggest is going to get the backs up of local communities and you would undermine the message from local government that they have been hit with a £6.5 BILLION funding cut in England.

Newsflash 2: Funding for early intervention programmes have been cut by 11% but the government has cleverly removed ring fenced funding thus making it look like any funding cut is based on choices made by local authorities. And if you understand the difference you should not be commenting on this topic.

If you were a councillor where would you take the money out of:

a) preventing early pregnancies
b) tackling criminal behaviour by creating different opportunities
c) Sure Start Centres
d) tackling drug abuse.

Answer the question with reasons – if you can’t you have no clue and you have no right to criticise Paul and other dedicated councillors who do a very difficult job with very very very little money.

But they also need the anti-cuts movement to give them stick for it, and to keep the pressure up, as that makes the labour party even more a party of the centre ground – they get to say “see, we resisted the militant lot”.

As you can see above, the first response by the usual suspects in the ‘anti-cuts movement’ (and believe it or not I see myself as part of that!) is to shout betrayal at anyone who doesn’t take an absolutist line.

Secondly, Labour cllrs rightly argue that if they don’t pass the budget by keeping a priority on frontline cuts – then the alternative is worse. Many of the people trolling above aren’t interested in the above, but the fact is that local people lose out much more if Eric Pickles passes that budget.

So in other words some anti-cuts people will happily punish ordinary families more just so they can see Labour cllrs “take a stand”.

“The most vulnerable will suffer more under labour cuts? I presume you meant “less”…

Ooops, sorry, have changed that typo.”

Actually I think he was right first time. In my area a disproportionate amount of the cuts are being aimed at mental health service users.

I could possibly get on board with the “Labour cuts are a way to make sure the cuts don’t hit the most vulnerable” argument if Labour cuts weren’t actually being aimed at the most vulnerable…

Sunny – need an edit function here please.

I see the problem as this article trying to combine two separate conclusions but only making the case for the less controversial one.

1) Councillors should set the best budget possible given the cuts they are facing; there’s no point in refusing to set a budget and hoping for the best, because what you get won’t be.

2) The “Left” (whoever they are) should support them in doing this.

Point 1, the article makes a good case for being true. I don’t see any reason not to accept that.

But the article doesn’t make a case for point 2 beyond “it’s inevitable so make the best of it”, and it doesn’t really make a case for the cuts currently being proposed by Labour-controlled Councils being automatically the best possible balance of cuts. (because that’s clearly not true)

So there’s nothing here that says that the Left shouldn’t:
a) continue to strongly criticise Labour councils that are making cuts that would cause most harm than the best case, just as they’d criticise a council under any other party’s control that was doing that.
b) continue to strongly oppose the principle of cuts in general, using examples from across the country to highlight the problems they are causing, and to try to cause sufficient popular unrest that the national government changes its mind on the cuts. If this means using a Labour-controlled council as an example of a bad cut – even if it was the best cut they could make – well, so be it if it’s a good example.

(Not that it should need saying, but neither ‘a’ nor ‘b’ require or should involve violence, threats of violence, or dehumanisation.)

I don’t expect Labour councillors to participate much in part ‘a’ of that, since they presumably believe they’re already doing the best they can in getting the lowest-impact cuts. But they should definitely do as much of ‘b’ as they can, as should Labour more generally.

36. Black Guardian

I presume the writer of this article enjoys good health and is financially secure.

But look at where the cuts are going, in my area three major care homes are to be closed not sold closed, the two and only respite centers are to close, the dial a ride for the disabled has ended, meal for wheels, is to be given to a charity with a third of the costs.

Labour Tory, Tory labour, it really is hard to find the differences these days.

It’s a long time since I’ve come across such a blatantly disingenuous and dishonest piece of political argument. It’s of a piece with Tory propaganda about cuts not affecting frontline services.

The crux of the argument seems to be two fold – staying in power means that Labour Councillors can keep their eye on the ball and make sure available resources can still go where they ought to and not be cut as well by fellow local Tory/LD councillors and Labour Councils carrying out cuts means that there’s more wiggle room than if they got chucked out and the cuts done by Pickles or one of his axemen.

Both of these arguments may well be right. What they don’t mention is that it will mean that Labour Councillors will also be held directly responsible for carrying out cuts to services and jobs of the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the community, without any visible or tangible effort to actually fight the cuts. You will, in effect, be doing the tories dirty work and that is exactly how large numbers of people will see it. Where have been the attempts by Labour Councillors and Labour controlled councils to actually link up and co-ordinate a fightback, inside and outside the council chamber?

The problem is it isn’t the 1980s in the sense that there is no longer a mass working class membership in the Labour Party to apply pressure on their councillors and the vast majority of Labour councillors won’t fight the cuts and will take the line of least resistance in carrying them out, not through moral cowardice 9though no doubt a few are) but because they are not socialists and they go along with what the Labour leadership believes – that the cuts are actually necessary and only the timetable and some of the targets are wrong.

Unless, Labour councillors actually believe that allcuts are unnecessary they will no doubt fall into a version of Mr Cotterill’s backsliding justifications.

39. Chaise Guevara

“So there’s nothing here that says that the Left shouldn’t:
a) continue to strongly criticise Labour councils that are making cuts that would cause most harm than the best case, just as they’d criticise a council under any other party’s control that was doing that.
b) continue to strongly oppose the principle of cuts in general, using examples from across the country to highlight the problems they are causing, and to try to cause sufficient popular unrest that the national government changes its mind on the cuts. If this means using a Labour-controlled council as an example of a bad cut – even if it was the best cut they could make – well, so be it if it’s a good example.”

This.

So you recommend ‘proper engagement with Labour councils over what cuts are ebing proposed and why’. My council (Hackney, where Luke Akehurst quoted above is a councillor) is not releasing any information about its budget ahead of the actual Council meeting which will approve it. What opportunity for engagement does that allow? In Hackney we have been ‘reassured’ that there will be no cuts to front line services, but we have not been allowed to see and discuss the budget proposals. This makes an utter nonesense of the suggestion of ‘proper engagement’. We don’t want these cuts. Nobody voted for them. The country has ways of raising revenue which have been well-articualted. Labour councillors should not be colluding in making cuts. Let the blame fall where it lies – on the Tories.

It’s a pity that comments on this thread have resorted to calling Paul Cotterill a mere reformist or somehow masterminding the ConDem machine’s hand.

Mr S. Pill had this to say: “Can be have some alternative to this Tory capitulation? Or should I go back to only reading Richard Seymour’s blog for decent left-wing arguments?”

If by decent left-wing arguments you mean Motherhood and Apple Pie then perhaps you should limit yourself to the pure, but impotent, SWP blogs, but the Tories have manufactured the system in a way where dissent pays them; Paul has seen this and has bluntly offered the most sensible, if sobering, analysis of what a Labour council can do.

Comment no.7 here had this “If they choose to attacks [sic] the libraries and children’s services then it would be the Tories doing it, not proxies in local government”.

I’m sure Paul will explain more in his next supplement to this, esp. the part entitled “What are councillors for again?” so I won’t try and second-guess what he’s going to write, but what I can be certain of is that a councillor is not there to desist culpability and responsibility for the people s/he represents. For those calling Labour Cllrs cowards and being complicit in the ConDem ideological, anti-working class, cuts, are both missing the point (this is not the 1980s) and themselves guilty of forgetting what it is a councillor is for. After all, as Paul says, if he resigns then he leaves behind “dozens of initiatives … important to [his] local constituents all.”

Even this response by the Labour Representative Committee which can be found here [http://l-r-c.org.uk/news/story/winning-the-argument-on-councils-resisting-the-cuts/] can be summed up by saying Labour will be blamed for this. Councillors do at least talk to the people they serve and I’ve no doubt they will make it clear they are positioned between a rock and a hard place, because the Tories are ideologicaly inclined to build legal mechanisms limiting the extent to which a Councillor can rebel.

*

It has just been told to me that Labour Cllrs in Bristol have forced a U-turn over the exclusion of the public (which had been backed by senior Liberal Democrats) from budget meetings.

Cuts must be opposed by all of us, and we need to organise to show our dismay at where the axe is falling (6pm at Camden Town Hall, tomorrow night for example), but we ought to be sat in the real world why we’re doing it, not pointing our fingers at the wrong people.

Excellent points Carl.

is not releasing any information about its budget ahead of the actual Council meeting which will approve it. What opportunity for engagement does that allow?

This, I disagree with. It is my contention that any Labour council and all cllrs should be as open as possible and explain their situation. And even have debates where alternatives are discussed and debated.

But if the stock response is for people to simply scream betrayal, then no one is going to listen and things will just get worse.

“All that happens is that the council officers set a balanced budget for you, with no reference to your political priorities.”

A process I suspect that would terrify some labour councillors for all the wrong reasons.

Imagine their wailing and gnashing of teeth if a council officer shut down the council’s climate change department instead of a library? No juicy headline there.

pathetic, labour donkey, eeee awww eeee awwww

Ed Miliband and Labour are just as happy making cuts ..opening up public sector services to the private sector …etc …because they are signed up to the Globalist / Capitalist agenda … people will have to fight these cuts against the will of the 3 main parties ..course ..we could stop voting for the lying bastards …politicians …the bankers representatives here on earth ….

I think there are 2 things here.

The first is that it lumps all Labour budgets into one. Assuming people don’t set illegal budgets, there are some places where people are clearly being creative and doing their best to ensure cuts don’t hit those who will suffer most from them. In other places, this won’t be the case. The whole post is based on the assumption that we just trust Labour to do the best they can to find creative ways to raise revenue, and to avoid the worst of cuts. I just don’t have that faith. I’m not saying that some Labour concils won’t, but this piece isn’t saying ‘we should accept cuts where we genuinely believe that the council has tried everything it can short of an illegal budget’ – it is just saying ‘close your eyes and trust the Labour Party. And we all know where that has got us in the past.

The second is that it looks at the issue of setting illegal budgets from the perspective of an individual council, rather than the national political climate. I accept the argument that doing this would likely make cuts worse this year in the area that the budget was set. If there was only 1 place doing this, then I would probably accept that this was a bad idea and a waste of time. But the post doesn’t look at the potential impact of doing this properly. If councils are going to do it, then it needs to be nationally co-ordinated, and probably to be done alongside the council workers unions. It may lead to budgets this year that are worse for people, but if that contributes significantly to a national struggle which means that these councils don’t have to face another round of massive cuts next year, and the following year, then these people will be better off. The government is very vulnerable this year – food and fuel price inflation, cuts that haven’t yet worked through, and Lib Dem coalition partners increasingly wondering what the hell they are doing. A co-ordinated effort from councils to refuse to comply could well contribute to forcing the Lib Dems out of the coalition. If it did, then the people suffereing from Eric Pickles extra cuts would be much better off than if we see 5 years of consecutive butchery.

So, I agree that individual councils passing illegal budgets may be a waste of time. But a naitonally co-ordinated effort may be worth while.

Adam

47. Mike Killingworth

Let us be quite clear. Anyone who, like Paul Cotterill or David Boothroyd, is a Labour Councillor, has to be suspected of putting their own career before the wider interests of the movement, unless their behaviour demonstrates that such an allegation is absurd.

What they demonstrate here, however, is that they are more than willing to do the coalition’s dirty work for it, and in a sense they do indeed have no choice, since the Labour Party went into the last election promising a massacre of services itself to pay for the bankers’ bonuses, its various wars on Muslims and its utter inability to prevent the destruction of the British economic base north & west of Watford Gap. But they don’t mind any of those things, so long as they still have careers themselves.

The Labour Party is no longer fit for purpose and the sooner the TUs wind it up by disaffiliating from it, the better.

(OK, re-reading, there is a recognition at the end that some Labour councils will be less good. I agree that we should engage, always. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also kick them when they are being rubbish. Being Labour doesn’t buy you a pass.)

“If there was only 1 place doing this, then I would probably accept that this was a bad idea and a waste of time. But the post doesn’t look at the potential impact of doing this properly. If councils are going to do it, then it needs to be nationally co-ordinated, and probably to be done alongside the council workers unions.”

Some councils have already set their budgets, and all the rest have to do so in the next month. With the best will in the world, there isn’t going to be a nationally co-ordinated approach on this for the coming financial year (though worth exploring for future years).

Don – yes, indeed. We should have been having this debate months ago, though there are enough still to do it that it would theoretically be possible. In practice, I’d accept that next year is more likely…

In the worst scenario, there is logic in ensuring the new budget protect the poorest and most vulnerable – and lobby for a fairer cuts system in our council. But why should we already give up, when we haven’t even started to fight back?

There is an assumption in this piece that we should accept the law as it is in fear of Eric Pickles coming in and forcing scathing cuts on every council. Laws are not fixed in stone – women’s emancipation was won with a challenge to government, even if the consequences were not always positive. The same goes for labour rights and union rights. The point is that these laws can be changed, but if and only if, the challenge is great enough.

If numerous Labour councils (as there are some right-wing ones, I’m sure) did try and strategically refuse to pass a budget or pass what has been defined as a “illegal” budget, Pickles could be faced with a mass conundrum. It would be almost impossible for him to question each and every council. There would also a cost in law that could be outlined in relation to the actual cut in funding.

Furthermore, we’ve seen that the Forests lobby has managed to do in overturning privatisation. Is it too much to say that even council cuts could have the same impact?

There is space for a bigger debate, and I will be posting my suggestions in an blog post when I can. In the meanwhile, I sincerely don’t think that we should give up hope before we start.

Sunny/42: It is my contention that any Labour council and all cllrs should be as open as possible and explain their situation. And even have debates where alternatives are discussed and debated.

I think it’s the open-ness which is severely lacking here. The typical instinct of a politician, upon making a decision that will harm people, is to downplay the negative sides and emphasize the positive (even if that is simply “some other services are not being cut).

I think in this case that’s a political mistake – blunt honesty about the likely effect of the cuts, and why they are necessary (both in terms of the total funding cut and what other things are being saved) is likely to get far more respect, and increase public opposition to the cuts more quickly – which is what is needed to stop another round of cuts in next year’s budget.

(For instance, the local bus subsidy cut was described in terms of the proportion of passenger journeys affected, which since most journeys are obviously on unsubsidised journeys in the first place, is a very positive measure. Proportion of passengers affected is a much more negative measure, and I think they should have used it)

Paul cotteril, I agree with this article

Sometimes people have to stand up and be counted! The only freedom the coalition believe in is the economic one, i.e. if you have the ability to pay, you then have choices: if you don’t, you don’t. To help cut public services is to redistribute wealth to those greedy pigs who already have it. Labour councils have to say no to the cuts and engage in civil disobedience. It is not good enough to go along with the creation of economic apartheid and make excuses for doing so. Ghandi, Mandela and Martin Luther King could have done that but they showed the courage of thier convictions and broke laws that were patently against the needs of the majority of the population, the same as these cuts are against the nedds of our populace.

Rob123456789010

I always said New labour and the Tories should go into coalition this must be it.

Hmm, I wonder…

…What if Labour councils up and down the Country resigned en mass? If making these cuts are so easy, then let Lib Dems, Tories make them. Give it up for a couple of years and actually use the time to explore policy.

I think that for too long the ‘Left’ have spent their time fire fighting and not enough time on examining the policies for which they stand. Too many people think that ‘council could be any worse than it is now, but let the Lib Dems and Tories in for a couple of years and see how that takes them.

58. Dick the Prick

How’s it going lefties? Seriously, good luck with it all, enjoy your spirit.

@50 Thanks for the link to the proposed Hackney Budget.

It is 262 pages long and I will spend the rest of this evening reading it.

It has been released one week before the Council meeting approves it. This isn’t good enough. I feel that this budget is ‘being done to us’ and certainly I certainly do not feel that I have been given an opportunity to ‘engage’.

Maybe this is why I feel a distinct sense of being irrelevant. Maybe this is one reason why I think ukuncut has the right idea. We are being failed by our ‘representatives’. I’m sick of being told there is no option.

There IS another option – the tax-avoiding rich need to be made to pay up and Labour must be made to stop fiddling while Rome burns.

What it looks like is of course our labour councilors think labour did mess up big time, so do not rock the boat, let just get on with it and maybe in a few years the people will forget all about it.

But will the people forget who allowed these cuts to happen, it is looking more and more we will see a drift back to the Liberal before long as new labour sulks

61. Dick the Prick

@42 – Sunny, bud, ain’t ever worked a council have ya? Keep members quiet is the key – seriously. Bombard them with info and point them to the guy through assoc meetings. Cllrs are local leaders not politicians; we should not taint Mediaminister’s germs upon it. If the pretext of this utter shite is to drift away from Labour doing social services (really fucking badly) and taking their votes from people who need stuff to a pragmatic, emasculated, colonial and relatively pissed off sub primed, over sold, post war, media savvy dude? The Libya think with Gadaffi having loads of committees is interesting.

Dick mate what the hell are you talking about.

63. David Boothroyd

Dare I remind Mike Killingworth that while he was not elected in 1981 (and was in fact beaten by the mother of the council cabinet member who is now in charge of Westminster’s council housing), he was elected in 1978 by Hornsey Vale ward of the London Borough of Haringey? He should therefore remember that a local authority councillor does not have autonomous powers to act in the interests of their constituents, but instead only the powers given by statute and a requirement always to justify their use.

If I was truly a careerist I think some would question the sanity of furthering the goal by becoming a Labour councillor on notoriously Tory Westminster City Council.

Mike may remember my friend Sir Ashley Bramall. At Ashley’s memorial service in 1999 a former senior officer of ILEA looked back wistfully to the days when Ashley was in charge and ILEA didn’t see the need to have a foreign policy.

@31 shamit

Yesterday on pickled politics you said activists should go and challenge and attack local government and not the treasury and no. 10. Because you said it would filter upwards –

Newsflash – real world does not work that way. In fact the approach you suggest is going to get the backs up of local communities and you would undermine the message from local government that they have been hit with a £6.5 BILLION funding cut in England.

Local government is effectively still the government. They are simply the locally elected to deliver government policies and schemes.

It is therefore the most appropriate point to vent at. It also means people dont have to travel far to protests, as not everyone is local to London.

How will it get the backs up of communities? Its communities that are affected, so effectively you’re saying they shouldnt have a say?

Newsflash 2: Funding for early intervention programmes have been cut by 11% but the government has cleverly removed ring fenced funding thus making it look like any funding cut is based on choices made by local authorities. And if you understand the difference you should not be commenting on this topic.

I think everyone is savy enough to see that this is Camerons plan to deflect flack for the cuts from the gov and blame authorities.

If you were a councillor where would you take the money out of:

a) preventing early pregnancies
b) tackling criminal behaviour by creating different opportunities
c) Sure Start Centres
d) tackling drug abuse.

Answer the question with reasons – if you can’t you have no clue and you have no right to criticise Paul and other dedicated councillors who do a very difficult job with very very very little money.

At what point have I criticised Paul? Please do share.

I do not hold councils responsible at all. There is some overlap in gov & local schemes in some areas of the country though, but not much to trim from.

If you listened to some, they would tell you tax avoidance clamp downs will solve all our problems, and shutting your local Vodafone/Boots/etc is the only way.

Councils will, in the next 2 weeks, cement their cuts program and start shutting services and laying off staff. By then, certainly by March 26th (who the hell picked this date so far away from the CSR and authority cuts announcements?) it will be too late to stop most of the cuts.

In fact I’m still awaiting Sunny & Ellie to respond to points #9 & #19 in the following post. I really dont expect a reply at all
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/20/how-ukuncut-took-over-barclays-with-an-impromptu-comedy-club/#comment-238099
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/20/how-ukuncut-took-over-barclays-with-an-impromptu-comedy-club/#comment-238370

So far we have no fight back at all against the cuts, only protests against tax avoidance which equates to £40bn/year out of a deficit of some £160bn/year+

Valid fight at completely an inappropriate time.

I’m not going to be able to respond to everything here so I’ll try to respond on the main themes.

First, I should reiterate Sunny’s note that this is the first of a two parter, and a synopsis of the firs part. I didn’t actually know it had come over to LibCon in this form until late this afternoon, having published the first part late last night. I’m always happy for Sunny to edit, as he does a pretty good job, but I would ask that people seek this post in the context of it being a two parter; the first part is really about clearing the decks for a more strategically focused part 2.

I’ll not respond to too much of the personal vitriol put my way (which is actually a good deal less than it might have been given the nature of the debate). Any abuse I have had was expected, and is reflective of the acrimony that has developed. To try and make sense of that acrimony was partly the purpose of the post – to suggest that councillors and activists might be able to work together after these next 9 days, when most budgets will be set.

What I will just point out though is that I didn’t need to write this post and get abused for it I’m not in a Labour-run Council, so I don’t have to justify my own voting or budgeting actions.

I’ve been a councillor for four years (and as a Labour leader in opposition I get about seven grand a year in allowances, putting in quite a few hours), and I’ll be a councillor for another two months. I won’t be standing again, largely because I think my energies are better expended in activity beyond elected local government. I think I can with integrity say I’m not a Labour careerist; I’m just trying to set out where most councillors are coming from.

The real battleground is not going to be local government, and I think it’s a mistake to put local government, and local government resistance, too much at the heart of any left strategy for resistance. Putting councillors as the figureheads of resistance – or traitors when they fail to live up to that idea – is a mistake we made in the 1980s. Councillors should be regarded, and regard themselves, as only one cog in a wider labour movement, including but not restricted to public services (and most public services are delivered NOT via elected local government).

But that’s another post….

As I’ve said, the cuts will be decided in the next 9 days or so. That doesn’t mean to say there shouldn’t be resistance beyond that, in form of legal challenge or whatever (and I was writing about different possible sites of resistance back in July 2010, more of which in part 2), but my fear is the main impetus will be lost to any anti-cuts movement. What happens next in Labour areas if activists are so alienated from councillors that they can’t engage in next steps (of the type I suggest in part 2)?

As a mea culpa, I should add that even the fuller piece does not do enough to stress that Labour councils may not be getting this right, and that the real challenge for activists is to hold their feet in the fire over what they can do, not over what they can’t.

I don’t know if Sunny wants to do a synopsis of part 2 of this post. If he does, I’ll try to respond in more detail then.

Hmm..

I quite like you guys. Anyone seen Newsnight?

You are all just feeding stock for the better folk that are real journalists.

Maybe it was a bad dream. It’ll be up on i-Player soon enough…

Sunny Hundal …votes Lib Dem ..and is pro cuts …

Nishma makes the point that I would have made, really – that the real issue is that Labour ought to challenge Pickles’ rhetoric. It’s not about what the law says is possible. It’s about holding that law up to the light and challenging it at this time.

I know the rules on prudential borrowing. I know the rules on council tax increases and god knows that only in the last fortnight, Bob Neill has made very clear what will happen to councils that decide to overstep:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/counciltaxcapping201112

Pickles calls this clunking first approach an “incentive” to keep council tax down, or something to that effect. Actually, it’s not an incentive at all. It’s a threat. Councils that raise council tax past various tight thresholds will be punished.

None of that changes the fact that Labour needs to change its rhetoric on fair distribution and challenge Pickles’ approach. Bob Neill sent the letter above out about ten days ago. Labour HQ should have taken it to pieces. That’s what opposition is supposed to do. It is supposed to hold government policy up to the light and challenge it. It is supposed to say – look, this is what government policy is doing. This is the government’s idea of distribution. These are the people who will be worst affected by this policy, and so on.

Paul’s post is fair in the sense that it details the legal realities of council finance – it’s not news that councils have long been on a short leash when it comes to setting budgets.

What it doesn’t do, though, is suggest that Labour should challenge those rules, or try to cost out fairer alternatives, then sell them politically. It’s no secret that some of Labour’s own unions – Unison is one – have attempted to cost out cuts alternatives and have even presented them to relevant councils. They should have the public backing of Labour HQ. East Midlands Unison produce such an alternative recently – I think a news story will be published here about that shortly – and claim they have been able to find about the same amount in savings that (Tory) Notts county council wants to cut from its budget in its first year. The union thinks it could help the council realise the sort of savings that the government expects it to, without the loss of services or jobs. At the time of writing anyway, the council hadn’t responded, which rather leads one to conclude (certainly the union had concluded this) that the council wishes to pursue the cuts for ideological, rather than fiscal, reasons. That is an avenue Labour HQ could and should pursue.

One of the alternatives East Midlands offers (in a series of them) is a modest increase in council tax.

As I say, we all know the hurdles to that and that Pickles and Neill will come after those councils that defy. Point is – there is still some room in the legislation to defy the freeze – not much, but some. There is also plenty of room for left-leaning politicians to argue that the law is an ass. It’s important to do, because too many people are going to suffer as a result of these local government cuts. Someone above said that the cuts argument won’t be had at local government level – that local government was a relatively minor part of the picture. I think that is too swift a dismissal. Local government cuts will have a wretched effect on people who need the services it provides. An awful lot of people – elderly, disabled, people who rely on care – are in line to suffer horribly. They now will be charged for services, or find they fail to meet tightened eligibility criteria. They’re in a very bad place. Local government may be a minor player, but there’s an awful lot at stake in it. The argument against cuts in this sector must be had.

Harpymarx got it exactly write in her response on her blog to Paul’s post this evening:

“The problem with the sweet reasonableness position is you end up building no movement and just demoralising people. Movements are built by defiance not by collaborationist sabotaging of the welfare state and of people’s lives. Labour councillors are not facing “difficult choices” as though their councils have been badly run with no thought for balancing the books…quite the contrary. They are faced with a full-scale attack on the welfare state and on working class living standards. If you manage to cut less savagely the Tories will simply come back for more next year (if they wait that long) and more after that. The only way to defeat them is to fight now.”

In the comments, Madam Miaow was quite marvellous:

“I’ve been hearing the argument from the Labour side that they are ‘compelled’ to draw up a budget under the law, otherwise the Tories get to determine the budget and it would be even worse. I’ve said each time that this is what resignations are for. But, strangely enough, they won’t do that, pleading instead that the poor borough will be left defenceless if Labour isn’t around to protect them.

We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

Marzipan dildos come to mind, but maybe that’s because I seek diversion in the face of such utter wank.”

If we fold for Pickles, a lot of vulnerable people go down.

… here you go: punishing the vulnerable. These are the people at the butt-end of all this:

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/punishing_the_vulnerable

Services are big for them.

Kate @68/69:

Useful comments. What this synopsis stresses a bit less than the full article at TCF is that Labour councillors are not all getting it right. Some are undoubtedly a bit like Notts (Tory) County Council, and simply haven’t engaged enough with others over how to go about setting their budgets.

What I’m saying is that the anti-cuts movement might engage with Councils around what is possible rather than what those Councils recognise as impossible. I’ve suggested just such areas in my Reasons 6-8 piece.

I’m afraid we may simply have to disagree on the value of resignations. In the end, that comes back to what you think a councillor is for (see Reason 10 in my follow up). I think their value as statement of political principle, and as political figurehead, may be overvalued (and setting them as figureheads rather than representatives) is a problem the labour movement has created for itself, while their value as local service defenders, even in the context of cuts, is undervalued.

Yes, local services are vital to those who need them most, and we should be defending them. We disagree on how to do so most effectively, not on the need to do so. Even so, local government services remain only part of the picture and ….while Rome burns etc…..

Finally, I agree on the Labour HQ stance and the need to tackle Pickles on the overall rhetoric. I think Labour should be adopting a more straightforward ‘Cuts are not necessary line’ as that’s perfectly defendable from an economic point of view. But that’s not what this article is about. This article, and part 2, is about how resistance can be most effective, and that’s by not falling out long term over what’s inevitably going to be done and dusted, to a large extent, in the next 8 days.

Some people are going to laugh in my face when I suggest that what I’ve written in the two parter is about how anti-cuts resistance can be best developed, not about how you should all go home and leave it to the wise politicians. Heh ho. I had to try.

Kate:

“Harpymarx got it exactly write in her response on her blog to Paul’s post this evening:

“The problem with the sweet reasonableness position is you end up building no movement and just demoralising people. Movements are built by defiance not by collaborationist sabotaging of the welfare state and of people’s lives. Labour councillors are not facing “difficult choices” as though their councils have been badly run with no thought for balancing the books…quite the contrary. They are faced with a full-scale attack on the welfare state and on working class living standards. If you manage to cut less savagely the Tories will simply come back for more next year (if they wait that long) and more after that. The only way to defeat them is to fight now.””

– but *is* that a way to defeat them? Is any Labour council actually in a position to stop cuts happening by ‘fighting now’? If so, Harpy’s got it right. If not, she’s got it wrong. So this is not about principles (we can all oppose the cuts in principle), it’s about making a judgment as to what we can actually achieve. What use is it to build a movement of people ‘defiantly’ refusing to get their hands dirty and handing power back to Eric Pickles?

“In the comments, Madam Miaow was quite marvellous:

“I’ve been hearing the argument from the Labour side that they are ‘compelled’ to draw up a budget under the law, otherwise the Tories get to determine the budget and it would be even worse. I’ve said each time that this is what resignations are for. But, strangely enough, they won’t do that, pleading instead that the poor borough will be left defenceless if Labour isn’t around to protect them.””

Seriously? Every single Labour councillor in Labour-run councils up and down the country should resign rather than draw up and pass a budget that reflects the reality of the money they are receiving from central government? Again, to me this just seems like saying any cuts then made to services by the Tories and bureaucrats who fill the vacuum are ‘a price worth paying’ to keep Labour squeaky clean and looking all ‘principled’.

What next? Are we going to start condemning as ‘collaborators’ doctors, teachers, care workers etc who agree to provide reduced services rather than resigning?

Good article. Blame the Tories for thier ideological cuts.

I think it’s hypocrisy of the worst kind to spend months attacking the Lib Dems for trying to moderate Tory excesses, then when it comes to Labour councils somehow they should just give up.

“What next? Are we going to start condemning as ‘collaborators’ doctors, teachers, care workers etc who agree to provide reduced services rather than resigning?”

Yes, that is what happened in the 1980s so I expect the anti-cuts nuts to start doing it now.

G.O – can’t remember advocating the resignation alternative myself in a big way. Hadn’t really thought of that, yet, although have found references to that option of interest. Madam Miaow has and good luck to her. I liked her quote and her passion.

I do think Miliband could and should be much more adventurous with his rhetoric – really turning the debate to fair distribution. Instead, he has in my view turned his back on local government. NHS, libraries – can publicly fight for those (which is fine – so we should). Local government – too bad. Silence. In Lambeth, it seems local Labour has suspended a Labour councillor who voted against the cuts. That rather suggests to me the party line further up the line is clear on local government.

What I had thought of – and have done quite a lot of work on – is championing cuts alternatives. That’s why I’ve been highlighting alternative budgets that have been submitted by union regions etc. I have been greatly angered by Sunny’s implying that those of us who oppose cuts are just a bunch of anti-Labour wingnuts who, by definition, have nothing constructive to say. Granted – I am an anti-Labour wingnut, but I have also made real attempts to engage and to raise and discuss immediate revenue alternatives so that some of the people who desperately need these services get a lifeline. All we get back is more on the reasons why nothing can be done and total silence on suggestions that Miliband could say more to challenge rules around council finance.

I did like Madam Miaow’s comment, though, and who knows – perhaps by staging a mass-walkout, Labour councillors would inspire the troops to a major fightback. An awful lot of Labour councillors won seats and councils in 2010 (many more than expected). Tossing that sort of idea around certainly beats the alternative, which seems to be ‘well, this is all very sad, but our hands our tied.’

What are your suggestions?

Kate – I appreciate that I was commenting on Madam Miaow’s views, not your own. And as I said, if there are things we can *actually do* to protect services, great. (I’ll have to look into the sort of alternative budgets you’re talking about.) I just think the ‘wash-your-hands-of-it’ option isn’t as principled as it appears to some people. A councillor who agrees to spend the money he’s given by central government is no more ‘accepting Tory cuts’ than a head teacher who agrees to spend the money his school is given.

@G.O:

Fair enough. I’m not an advocate of the “wash your hands” of it approach, either – I think that dismisses service users as comprehensively as anything else.

Unfortunately, though, I think that is what some councils have done and just gone straight for cuts.

I’ve said time and time again that Steve Bullock at Lewisham, for example, delivered comprehensive cuts proposals far, far too soon in the picture (about the middle of last year) without examining other options – not a very good result for a borough that already has high unemployment. He then went on to publicly describe opponents as “fuckwits” and to witness a full-on riot outside his town hall (I was there and saw it myself) when he refused to allow protestors in to speak. That speaks of the railroading approach from politicians, not of a willingness to engage with service users and activists. It’s guys like that who screw things for Labour, not protestors.

We hear a lot about how the left focuses on the wrong target when it criticises Labour. I disagree with that. Only by pushing Labour to an anticuts dialogue at council level – and highlighting the areas of real injustice with these cuts, of which there are appalling examples with local government service cuts – will we begin to form a political alternative to the coalition government’s vicious programme. Sunny will say again that you “can’t just oppose all cuts.” Perhaps. What you can and should do, though, is attend some of these protests and start to get an understanding of the reasons why people are there and the reasons why they feel disaffected. You can start to understand the nuances of protest. And you can start to push your own party in the direction of a tub-thumping rhetoric about fair distribution.

I’ve said it to Sunny before and I’ll say it again – you can’t just oppose all protestors and call them morons – or fuckwits, if you’re Bullock. People are not wrong to want more from Labour, especially if Labour wants their votes. Some people at these protests are there pushing an alternative party, or anarchist line, etc, and fine. I recognise those people and they are entitled to be there. However – a lot of the other people at these protests (and by god, I’ve been to a few now) are just average punters who have a severely disabled child, or sibling, or parent and are starting to understand that they’re going to have to pay for care themselves because charging is being introduced, or that their child’s respite care home will be closed, or that the daycentre that their brother has used since he had a debilitating stroke at age 35 is going to close. That’s the reality. “Shut your face – the Tories are worse” isn’t much of a response to people in that situation. It’s a response, but it isn’t much of one.

I think it is also important to state for the record that Paul Cotterill is a very good local councillor and that his constituents speak very highly of him.

I’ve done a lot of interview work in West Lancs with local people (Skelmersdale in particular) and people rate him very highly as a committed local representative. His ward was a Tory stronghold which he won on the basis of his high standing the community and very good campaigning work and people have continued to speak well of him as he’s carried on in office. I can’t help thinking he’s been dropped in it here to an extent. He’s written a technical piece about the realities of local government finance which happens to dovetail nicely with the aims of those members of the Labour in-circle who want to give the anti-cuts lobby a slapping.

Paul Cotterill reads like Simon Hughes and Vince Cable look when doing the Tories dirty work. Across the middle-east people are risking their lives to fight despots and yet our Labour councillors can’t even engage in a bit of civil disobedience.

Labour — putting the ‘u’ in spine.

Kate @78: Thanks for reference. I’m stopping being a councillor so that, unencumbered by the (necessary) coventions of office, I can get stuck in.

I think a bit of the problem is that Reasons 6-10, in which I try to set out where effective disobedience/resistance might be built after the inevitability of short term defeats over budget setting, didn;t come in advance of Reasons 1-5. In retrospect, I might have written in the order of ‘this can be done, but only if we accept what is now happening’, rather than ‘We can’t do this, but look here, anyone who’s not already smashed the computer screen with their fist at my cowardly betrayal, we can do this, honest.

But hindsight’s a glorious thing, and Sunny did do this LibCon summary before I’d had chance to blink.

MM @79 Perhaps you’d like to read a story about me risking my life to save other people’s lives, or about my times on the front line at Dover and Wapping (I’m old now) and Tooting picket lines. http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/11/03/trade-unionists-public-safety-and-the-dale-myth/ and http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/04/05/what-a-drip/

Or perhaps that would interfere with your preconceptions about all Labour councillors as arse-licking cowardly careerists.

It’s about what’s effective, not what looks good. I may be wrong, but I’ve got a spine with an ‘i’.

Paul @ 80: Your backstory may have been impressive once but in the here and now terra firma of which I am an inhabitant, your actions are leading to misery for the weakest in society.

There was an illuminating ITV series you may remember called ‘Bill Brand’, about a firebrand Labour politician who starts brilliantly. But the series charts his veering off-centre degree by tiny degree until, at the end, he is unrecognisable.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Brand

It’s still supine with a ‘u’ but it’s not too late for you lot to find your spine, which is what I want you to do. Civil disobedience or stand aside.

“Your backstory may have been impressive once but in the here and now terra firma of which I am an inhabitant, your actions are leading to misery for the weakest in society.”

Here’s the problem with this kind of useless rhetoric.

By exactly the same logic that you are using, you could in turn be denounced for advocating a course of action which would mean greater cuts, people with substantial social care needs getting fewer services, and welfare rights advice charities being closed down.

I’m sure the people who suffer will be really impressed when “civil disobedience” means that people who are assessed as having “an inability to protect yourself, maintain your own personal or others’ safety, to carry out self-care tasks resulting in significant risks to life or wellbeing” lose vital services.

*

Or, instead of trading condemnathons and accusations of bad faith and selling out, we could have a proper discussion about how people who disagree about the best approach for setting council budgets can work together against the cuts.

Don @82: Fine. If councillors actually have no power to implement what their voters want, then expose the whole sham for what it is. But don’t make bureaucrat arguments.

It is beyond perverse to blame the people protesting against the cuts for losing vital services. ‘ … you could in turn be denounced for advocating a course of action which would mean greater cuts, people with substantial social care needs getting fewer services, and welfare rights advice charities being closed down.’ Blackmail, much?

Thankfully, Jon Stone puts this more eloquently than I.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/23/four-reasons-why-broader-opposition-to-the-cuts-matters/

Thanks Don #82 for the cool and calm

Bit embarrassed that I got carried away defending myself like I did. Only increases the rancour.

I do think Lab councillors need to stay aware that it’s our job to say why it’s best to conform to the law on this occasion, and not blame others for not understanding what may seem obvious from the inside.

My leaping to self-justification on another basis doesn’t help matters.

@Paul – my references come at the cost of 5 Coronas. Glad you liked it :)

“If councillors actually have no power to implement what their voters want, then expose the whole sham for what it is. But don’t make bureaucrat arguments.

It is beyond perverse to blame the people protesting against the cuts for losing vital services. ‘ … you could in turn be denounced for advocating a course of action which would mean greater cuts, people with substantial social care needs getting fewer services, and welfare rights advice charities being closed down.’ Blackmail, much?”

Not blackmail, no. Councillors don’t have the power to stop all the cuts, but they do have the power to try and minimise the damage that they cause (which is not to say that they always use that power). For example, my local Labour council has taken a political decision not to cut any services for adults with substantial social care needs. If they do what you are suggesting and resign, then these services will be cut.

This may be a “bureaucrat argument” to you, but the disabled people who campaigned for this pledge would be horrified if the councillors followed this course of action.

It is not “beyond perverse” for campaigners to consider what would happen if their demands were met.

Makes you wonder how the Poll Tax fight was won.

@MadamMiaow – should point out that I’m heavily involved in local anti-cuts campaigns. I genuinely believe that the strategy Paul outlines is important for the anti-cuts movement to consider and by recognising it we’ve achieved more than we would if we’d followed calls to demand civil disobedience.

People can reasonably disagree about the best tactics, but let’s not condemn each other in the way that you did to Paul.

For all those saying that councillors who vote for a cuts budget are evil traitors who have abandoned the people and should be shunned forever (etc etc):

Councillors have no power to set their total spending. They do not have the power to do it. None at all. The national legislation simply no longer gives them that power, any more than it gives them the power to set up independent courts or impose border controls. In order to do so they would have to declare that they don’t recognise the legitimacy of this government and its laws. Since the government is democratically elected, this would require refusing to recognise the legitimacy of our democratic system – which would be, in effect, declaring independence from the UK.

The article is entirely correct that if Councillors fail to approve any legal budget, what would happen is that national government would simply take control of the budget by force. We would end up with a de facto Tory-controlled council, and even worse cuts than before. They’d probably also do what Charnwood council is doing, and privatise the entire organisation, up to and including democratic services.

I do understand the frustration, and I think the huge street protests against the cuts are entirely justified (and I will be attending), but it seems to me people are attacking these councillors just because they’re closer and easier to kick. It’s rather like holding a train driver personally responsible for signal failures. He didn’t do it. He can’t do anything about it. Forcing him to drive through a red signal under threat of violence would be a big mistake.

MadamMiaow: “Paul Cotterill reads like Simon Hughes and Vince Cable look when doing the Tories dirty work. Across the middle-east people are risking their lives to fight despots and yet our Labour councillors can’t even engage in a bit of civil disobedience.”

They are fighting violent totalitarian despots who kill dissidents. We have a democratically elected government which allows freedom of speech.

If councillors refuse to follow the law, and issue illegal orders to their local council employees – then they are saying they’re hostile to the democratic system and starting/supporting a popular revolution against it. They are, of course, free to do that, although they would of course be overruled by national government.

Rejecting Westminster won’t keep Westminster’s courts and police out of the district, so council employees who chose to follow the rebel councillors’ orders rather than those given by central government could easily face prosecution.

The left can do what they like. they can accept Labour’s appalling record and policies if they like. Cuts don’t hit you because you are on the left, and the anti cuts movement is sod all to do with a Left/right spectrum.

The fight to protect Labour’s interest is not the fight against the cuts. Not for housing benefit claimaints, ESA claimants, those who worked in the local authorities that labour slashed funding to before the election, nor the students affected by the Labour commissioned Browne Review. Not for those working in teh voluntary organisations that are about to be lost. Nor those who would have had to fight for their jobs under Labour as hard as they will fight under the coalition. In fact, very few of the people affected by the cuts can view Labour as their opposition- mainly because Labour were always committed to the same course of action.

Labour’s attempts to co-opt the anti cuts movement for their own political gains, their strangling of opposition and the willingness of the websites fed by Labour press releases to help them in doing so really bring into sharp relief just how far Labour and the careerists who wanting to fight the cuts at all. Exploit people’s hardship for their own gain maybe.

No diss personally on Paul, Dan. All positive aspects acknowledged.

But right now there’s a fight on, partly because Labour allowed the Tory narrative to dominate and set like concrete. No wonder our side is on the back foot.

If you accept this round of cuts, what about the next? And the next? And the ones after that? At what point do you say, enough is enough and no further?

93. Chaise Guevara

@ 87 Madam Miaow

“Makes you wonder how the Poll Tax fight was won.”

Just a guess, but it probably WASN’T won by blaming the people who weren’t responsible for poll tax and didn’t have the power to repeal it.

I really don’t see why portions of the left want to turn their own councillers into some kind of suicide squad.

@92 exactly.

Some think the cuts announced are the end. Look at the MOD looking now at scrapping tornado because they didn’t do their sums right last time round.

Or was this by design?

http://sambogg.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/a-reply-to-labour-councillor-paul-cotterill-why-the-left-should-not-support-labour-council-cuts/

The end matter is this. Labour needs to see itself as part of the anti-cuts movement, if it wants to offer decent opposition, and wants to be an actual alternative in the coming elections. The people are crying out for labour to reject these ConDem cuts and redeem itself after the faults of New Labour.

What this article tells us is that Labour do not want to be an alternative.

“If you accept this round of cuts, what about the next? And the next? And the ones after that? At what point do you say, enough is enough and no further?”

I’ve drafted an article on this subject, going up on Friday. We definitely need to start preparing for the 2012 budgets now.

The people are crying out for labour to reject these ConDem cuts and redeem itself after the faults of New Labour.

I hate to point this out, but this is a fantasy viewpoint.

98. Chaise Guevara

95. Lentileatinglefty

That article you linked to has two major problems:

1) It seems to be written on the assumption that Labour councils can somehow spend as much money as before even though the Tories have cut their budgets. Presumably through alchemy or by hypnotising George Osborne.

2) It tries to deal with problems by rephrasing them in a more attractive way. For example: “We are not asking for Labour councillors to become martyrs for the Anti-cuts cause. We are asking them to join the side of the vast majority of people who do not feel that they should have to pay for a crisis they did not create.” Actually, I think you’ll find that you’re doing both.

In other words: it makes no sense.

@88 – Don P “People can reasonably disagree about the best tactics, but let’s not condemn each other in the way that you did to Paul”.

How did Madam Miaow exactly condemn Paul? Or maybe the truth hits home hence defensive comments. I know, you know, everyone knows…people are bloody angry and scared about these cuts. I was shocked by Paul’s post because it’s like we have accepted defeat and that’s why I wrote my own post on the issue as a LP member and also part of the LRC. People will be losing vital services. What the hell will be left? And frankly, I still don’t understand a “cuts budget from a socialist position”… There is no such thing! How do you work out what to cut and what not to cut? Where do you stop? If you can condemn one cut then you condemn the whole lot. And why can’t councillors take a principled stand that confronted with a cuts budget resign? Why not mass resignations, or show some creative activism by showing some defiance? Voting for a cuts budget just shows councillors are rolling over and admitting defeat.

How exactly do you build a resistance when confronted with Lab councillors voting for a cuts budget?

The thinking around this is wrong, what is a councillor’s job? At the moment councillors are faced with unprecedented cuts, huge attack on the working class and the welfare state. Job as a councillor at this moment in time is that’s there a huge full fontal attack and you are confronted with choices. Some which will be seen as unpalatable but it means building a resistance but what is being argued by Paul et al is undermining the struggle. You need to build a confident movement, how does voting for cuts budgets instil any confidence??

Sorry, but that’s what I think I may be barracked for this and before anyone says it I too have been involved and active in the labour movement, I too went to Wapping (I am that old) and other struggles.

@46 I agree with you here Adam, to use a heightened simile, it’s like telling Tunisians that their protests are hypocritical because some people are hurt during them. A valid concern, but not a reason to accept defeat. It’s a complicated moral issue, but I’d accuse some of the flat out Labour-supporting-lefty-hate in these comments of the same dogma they’re protesting about. It’s the worst kind of irony.

Even accepting some of the points in this article, particularly in the short term (we should have been having these debates months ago), Labour counsellors should be happy pressure is being mounted on them to resist cuts, and they should broadly support dissent. As Johann Hari said when Obama came into power, a governments is only as good as the pressure put on it by its people, and even Obama has called upon Americas pressure the government for change.

Occupations, for example, are not simply a ‘fuck you’ to the management of the building, but part of a culture of resistance that helps shift the balance of power out of the hands of bureaucrats and into those of the radicals. I use to term ‘radicals’ instead of ‘people’, because in both situations the building is only ever going to be run a strata of dedicated individuals with a fair amount of time and knowledge – not the masses. However, I do think that everyone can agree (Tories too) that there’s a hegemony of management at play in Britain, and I think that societies with more en masse lefty rebellion tend to be fairer, less bureaucratic, more meritocratic ect…

To use one example, though by no means perfect, Berlin’s politics. Berlin’s got far less of a gentrification issue than London, it’s not likely to suffer the same “Kosovo-style social cleansing” as over here. One major reason for that is that if you park a very fancy car in their equivalent of Hoxton, it’s fairly likely to be vandalised. If you want to open a chain supermarket in an area with many local shops, likely enough it’ll be set on fire. Whatever your position on arson, it’s quite palpably a factor in keeping local communities alive in Berlin.

A mathematical philosopher once said to me that the strength of a system is the amount of anarchy it can withstand. If direct actions against council cuts are likely ruin Labour, then they’ve already lost. Labour should at least attempt to co-opt dissent, or, depending on the way you look at it, dissent should try to co-opt labour – otherwise, given the systemic issues of today’s anaemic form of parliamentary democracy, there’s no doubt Labour will provide more of the same.

Unemployment today is 2.5 million, only as recently as 2000 it was 1.5 million . In our lifetimes in this country it could rise to far more than that, and say if it were to get to over five million, our society’s make up would fundamentally change. We would see the lives of the poor getting far worse, and the necessity for equality become more vital. The Labour councils in that same society will become increasingly polarised, and it is only with the intense pressure of the people today that they will be able to sit on the right side of the fence.

The Labour councils should not resist anger against cuts, nor should they just ‘accept’ resistance to them. They should embrace them with open arms, as Roman’s said – “expand or die”.

101. Mr S. Pill

I’d like to apologise for my comment @2. Having considered the issue in more depth and spoken with a few people on the frontline I reluctantly agree wit the position of the OP.

102. alienfromzog

@101, Mr S. Pill

I’d like to apologise for my comment @2. Having considered the issue in more depth and spoken with a few people on the frontline I reluctantly agree wit the position of the OP.

Thank you for that, I think that very impressive.

This is, for me the issue. There’s a lot of strong feeling on this, but when you get down to what the actual effects of various courses of action are, then I think the only choice for Labour councils is to protect services as best they can. And that, sadly means setting legal budgets and slashing services far more than is right – but a hell of a lot less than they might be. Furthermore, not setting a budget, being very bad politics (for the reasons I said before), would make it even harder for Labour to stand up for the vulnerable.

AFZ

So ordinary people have to suffer as much under Labour as under the Tories then?

To take your points one by one:

1. Eric Pickles will cut if we don’t.
– why not follow the example of Poplar and Liverpool and set needs budgets? They succeeded in winning concessions from the Tories. Launch a mass campaign and back it up with strike action. Would this weak Lib-Dem/Tory coalition stand by and watch a city go bankrupt? Would a Labour fightback not be hugely popular? If you are saying that the Tories would be just as bad, then what is the point of Labour at all?

2. It is not easier to make cuts than in the 1980s.
– the threat of legal action did not stop Poplar or Liverpool councillors from fighting back? “It is better to break the law than break the poor”.

3. It would mean resigning as a councillor.

So resign then. Stand as an independent or join the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. If the Labour Party is that rotten, then it is not worth staying in it anyway.

4. Prudential borrowing is not a viable option.

Use the council’s reserves to buy time. Launch a mass campaign of strike action, marches and put pressure on the government to give them the money they owe us. Meanwhile, borrow if necessary. Link up with other Labour councillors prepared to make a stand.

5. Labour should make nicer cuts than the Tories.

I do not think ANY cuts which put public sector workers are acceptable. Even under this capitalist system, they will not work – they will only put people on the dole, so that they are more of a burden on the state. We should draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. In fact, there is a case to say that we should invest more, not cut back. The debt is not historically at a high level. After 1945, the country was on its knees, yet a left-wing Labour government built the welfare state, nationalised industry and created the NHS. All this is being taken away from us. We must fight back!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  2. Bristle KRS

    RT @libcon: 5 reasons why Left shld support LabCouncil cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb « If only we'd known this we might've stopped Poll Tax :-|

  3. abolish wage labour

    Libcon have now uncritically hosted the 5 reasons we should support socialist cuts. Can we kill Sunny yet please? http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  4. Simon Bowkett

    @ExeterAntiCutsA http://tinyurl.com/5rlfkwc

  5. mark wright

    cant post a coment but what a silly piece RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  6. Paul Crowley

    RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  7. sunny hundal

    Must read: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord

  8. Hugo K Biedermann

    http://t.co/7ZQLg4J "We had to destroy the working-class in order to save it"

  9. Kevin Blowe

    RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb << just fuck off ('principled' LRC member too)

  10. Political Animal

    RT @sunny_hundal: Must read: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord

  11. Mick Clocherty

    RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  12. manishta sunnia

    Labour should get over the idea that politics is just between them and Tories.For pushing cuts, Labour > just as awful http://bit.ly/eeXklE

  13. OldTrot

    RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb < still the same sellouts that set the PollTax

  14. Edith S

    Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord – any comeback @lewishamnocuts?

  15. Maajid Nawaz

    RT @sunny_hundal: Must read: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord

  16. DeterritorialSupport

    http://t.co/8wngd7P Useful resource for Labour Councillors defending Labour Cuts re: http://t.co/PbijtT8

  17. liberalideals

    Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts …: Both are right about political 'priorities', b… http://bit.ly/fzj1LR

  18. thefoothiiis

    RT @DSG_DSG: http://t.co/8wngd7P Useful resource for Labour Councillors defending Labour Cuts re: http://t.co/PbijtT8

  19. wn hub

    RT @sunny_hundal: Must read: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord

  20. ally

    Five reasons not to take this blog seriously – http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  21. Matt Stanton

    RT @copwatcher: RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb << just fuck off ('p …

  22. Sean Court

    Five reasons why the Labour party is dead http://bit.ly/hMfWR1

  23. exeteranticutsa

    Lib Con: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts: http://tinyurl.com/5rlfkwc

  24. majsaleh

    RT @DSG_DSG: http://t.co/8wngd7P Useful resource for Labour Councillors defending Labour Cuts re: http://t.co/PbijtT8

  25. Michael Harris

    RT @wiilassie: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb by @BickerRecord – any comeback @lewish …

  26. thabet

    RT @justmckeat: The Thatcherite consensus continues… http://bit.ly/e9O8mO

  27. Alys

    RT @libcon: 5 reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb << Sadly, the first reason is a very strong one.

  28. Alys

    RT @libcon: 5 reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb << Sadly, the first reason is a very strong one.

  29. Kevin Peel

    “@libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb” < Strong arguments.

  30. Noelinho

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  31. Stephen Harman

    RT @kevpeel: “@libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb” < Strong arguments.

  32. Sarah Hayward

    RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  33. SE11

    Anyone planning to shout at Labour councillors at Lambeth Town Hall tomorrow should read this first: http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  34. Cllr Pete Robbins

    Solid, reasoned argument from @BickerRecord explaining why Labour councils can't just refuse to set a cuts budget http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  35. Countering Council Cuts: Local Alternatives to Austerity | Bright Green

    [...] post was first published 3 weeks ago, but we’ve decided to re-post as a response to this controversial piece on Liberal [...]

  36. Matthew Bennett

    RT @SE11: Anyone planning to shout at Labour councillors at Lambeth Town Hall tomorrow should read this first: http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  37. Chuka Umunna

    Well worth a read. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  38. John Hitchin

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  39. Martha Dalton

    RT @ChukaUmunna: Well worth a read. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  40. Wes Streeting

    Cracking stuff. Absolutely spot on. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  41. Suzanne Richards

    RT @ChukaUmunna: Well worth a read. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  42. Cllr Mark Bennett

    RT @ChukaUmunna: Well worth a read. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  43. Aaron Kiely

    @wesstreeting @libcon As horrible as the reality is – this article is right: http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  44. Owen Jones

    .@BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://tinyurl.com/6cnf7cp

  45. sunny hundal

    RT @OwenJones84: .@BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://tinyurl.com/6cnf7cp

  46. Sofie Buckland

    Don't read this. Just don't. Especially if the phrase 'most vulnerable' sets your teeth on edge – http://bit.ly/eeXklE

  47. Sofie Buckland

    Don't read this. Just don't. Especially if the phrase 'most vulnerable' sets your teeth on edge – http://bit.ly/eeXklE

  48. James Mills

    RT @OwenJones84: .@BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://tinyurl.com/6cnf7cp

  49. James Mills

    RT @OwenJones84: .@BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://tinyurl.com/6cnf7cp

  50. Paul Waddell

    RT @ChukaUmunna: Well worth a read. RT @libcon: Five reasons why the Left should support Labour Council cuts http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb

  51. Penelope Homer

    Agree esp point 5 RT @OwenJones84 @BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://t.co/tRdMCQX

  52. Josie S

    Five reasons why Liberal Conspiracy should stop pretending to be on the left: http://bit.ly/fkQ6nb #demo2010 #cuts #protest #solidarity

  53. liberalideals

    Five reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts …: It has just been told to me that Labour Cllrs i… http://bit.ly/f3lBLV

  54. If you can’t vote against a cuts budget then resign! « Harpymarx

    [...] Paul Cotterill’s Five reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts depressed me. Is this the stark reality that we have to accept? That Labour councillors are [...]

  55. Northern Voices

    RT @DSG_DSG: http://t.co/8wngd7P Useful resource for Labour Councillors defending Labour Cuts re: http://t.co/PbijtT8

  56. Kelvin John Edge

    RT @OwenJones84: .@BickerRecord's post on council cuts deserves a proper response, not cries of betrayal http://tinyurl.com/6cnf7cp

  57. Four reasons why the Left should oppose Labour council cuts « the red rock

    [...] at Liberal Conspiracy Paul Cotterill outlines five reasons why “the Left” should accept local public service cuts made by Labour councils. At the risk of everyone talking past each other, I won’t address the [...]

  58. 10 reasons the Left should support Labour Council Cuts (Reasons 6-10) « Though Cowards Flinch

    [...] I had time to draw breath from part 1, Sunny had posted on Liberal Conspiracy a synopsis of the first part of this two parter on Labour Councils and [...]

  59. Alf Oldman

    Five reasons why the Left should accept Labour council cuts | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WPE0KFB via @libcon

  60. Four reasons why broader opposition to the cuts matters | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] Paul Cotterill outlined five reasons why “the Left” should accept local public service cuts made by Labour [...]

  61. manishta sunnia

    In response to the regressive #labour option in @libcon http://bit.ly/eeXklE here's a #progressive one http://bit.ly/ePDDU5

  62. A reply to Labour Councillor Paul Cotterill- Why the left should not Support Labour Council Cuts « Lentil eating Lefty

    [...] A reply to Labour Councillor Paul Cotterill- Why the left should not Support Labour Council Cuts February 23, 2011 by Sam Bogg Link to his article here. [...]

  63. Demonstration against Cuts- Huddersfield « Everybody Hates a Tourist

    [...] arise again and again is that Labour voted for the budget.  Some Labour party members, even on the left, are arguing that we should only oppose Tories, not Labour councillors.  For me, that does suggest [...]

  64. Six lessons for campaigners fighting local council cuts | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] council cuts by Don Paskini     February 24, 2011 at 9:00 am I’ve been following the fractious discussions about what anti-cuts campaigners should do when Labour councils make [...]

  65. Reasons why we should oppose pretty much everything Labour ever does | Cautiously pessimistic

    [...] be a serious step backwards. So let’s be grateful for scum like Paul Cotterill, author of “Five reasons why the left should accept Labour council cuts”, for his sterling work in reminding us why the Labour Party are part of the problem. The [...]

  66. SOCIALIST UNITY » 10 reasons the Left should support Labour Council Cuts (Reasons 6-10)

    [...] I had time to draw breath from part 1, Sunny had posted on Liberal Conspiracy a synopsis of the first part of this two parter on Labour Councils and [...]

  67. A message to Labour councillors: There is an alternative! « Harpymarx

    [...] I still don’t get Paul’s, “cuts budget from a socialist position”… There is no such thing! How do you work out what to cut and what not to cut? Where do you stop? [...]

  68. Five more ways how the Left should engage with Labour council cuts | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] engage with Labour council cuts by Paul Cotterill     February 28, 2011 at 11:29 am The first part of my synopsis has drawn a hostile response, and that’s predictable enough. I didn’t enjoy [...]

  69. Not helpful « Though Cowards Flinch

    [...] post, 22 Feb 2011: Luke Akehurst puts the legality argument (reason 1) and the ‘political priority’ argument for [...]





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