Why we should resist not implement Tory cuts


3:12 pm - February 25th 2011

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contribution by Andrew Fisher

The Tory-led coalition government is making massive and unnecessary cuts that threaten the future of the welfare state. On this much the left is united.

The divisions come about tactics of resistance. The main division among anti-cuts activists at the moment is how councils, particularly Labour councils, should respond to the cuts.

Some believe that Labour councils should be supported in making cuts, because they will make them more fairly than any other party. Don Paskini recently wrote: “I would be furious if our Labour councillors took the advice of the Labour Representation Committee and other lefties and refused to set a budget.”

He paints an impressive picture of his local patch. If this can be achieved by his Labour councillors then they’ve either got an excellent settlement, large reserves to be plundered or, and I’m taking a wild stab in the dark here, perhaps Don has airbrushed out any service cuts, redundancies or fee increases.

If they don’t have to make cuts, or can avoid passing them on, then the Labour Representation Committee is not advocating not setting a budget as a gesture.

The LRC’s policy, overwhelming voted for by members at our annual conference in January said:

Labour councillors have a clear political duty to resist these unprecedented attacks on working people. They cannot allow themselves to become the local agents of this anti-working class coalition government.

However, the scale of the cuts means most councils carrying through the cuts are having to cut jobs and front-line services.

Islington is a good example: the councillors have done some very good things since re-taking office in 2010. They have worked as hard as any that I can see in ameliorating the impact of colossal cuts, but they are still making 280 job cuts, service cuts, and concede that 700 jobs will go over the next few years.

And that’s the point, even if reserves or a bit of tinkering can ameliorate substantial cuts for this year, what about 2012, 2013 and 2014, when councils have to make further cuts? In neighbouring Hackney, six Labour councillors have realised this and signed a joint statement against the cuts. The ‘dented shield’ approach is just not sustainable.

But there’s an even more important point – and it’s that we have to bring this coalition government down. We cannot wait until the next scheduled general election in 2015. By then our NHS will be privatised, schools sold off to millionaire businessmen, welfare slashed, public sector pensions cut with mass unemployment causing misery and keeping down wages.

Councillors should not underplay their own significance in this area. They are the elected leaders of their communities – and should be a prominent local voice of resistance, reflecting and leading their communities in opposition to the cuts.

There is nothing that this coalition government would like more than to see Labour councillors taking responsibility for these cuts, and justifying them to their constituents. It is less ‘dented shield’ and more ‘coalition shield’.

Instead Labour councillors should be working with representatives of community groups, local authority workers and trade unions, trades councils, Labour Party members and other political activists to forge a local (and ultimately national) resistance movement to defeat the coalition government.

To be clear the LRC advocates voting Labour in May to send the clearest possible message to the coalition government that their policies are not welcome. We advocate working with Labour councillors and arguing for this position.

Our policy is based on the idea we want the labour movement’s representatives to represent us, not Treasury orthodoxy, legal responsibility or Eric Pickles. It’s an idea called ‘labour representation’, and the need for a committee to fight for it is sadly as necessary today as it was in 1900.

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Andrew Fisher is joint secretary of the Labour Representation Committee

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Reader comments


“To be clear the LRC advocates voting Labour in May to send the clearest possible message to the coalition government that their policies are not welcome.”

Ah yes, the old “trust us” gambit. You don’t have a bridge to sell too do you?

OK, you don’t like cuts to services – I doubt there are that many people who get pleasure from cutting services.

However, you then say to resist the cuts – presumably by still spending money on providing the services.

You have X amount of cash. That is all you can spend. You can argue that really you should be getting x+y, but the fact is you only got x.

How do you plan to spend x+y, when only x is available?

Will you spend the money, then when the end of the financial year gets closer simply refuse to pay the outstanding bills?

Get real.

Object to the cuts, find ways to minimise their impact etc – but don’t behave like the previous government, and spend spend spend what you don’t have.

I agree we must fight the cuts, problem is of course what will we have if labour returns, the same thing, but of course if it’s labour and they cut it’s fine.

Being a disabled person I see little difference between Labour or the Tories these days.

This article says a lot about why I don’t trust Labour with economics. Refusing to face up to reality.

”The main division among anti-cuts activists at the moment is how councils, particularly Labour councils, should respond to the cuts.”

No, it isn’t. That is the biggest division within a Labour party who want political capital for being opposition, but also know their own policies dictate that these cuts are made.

The ‘anti-cuts movement’- are fairly clear about the cuts they need to fight and are beginning to do so. It woul;d have been easier had we had at least one party supporting us, but Labour’s absence does not actually mean that much to those who are losing their services, those who are working in departments to fight them.

Of course the help of Labour activists and Labour politicians would be welcome- but the debate you talk about has very little to do with the anti cuts ‘movement’- it is more of an internal debate amongst the left and labour about whether they would like to fight alongside us. If they don;t want to- fair enough-we’ll survive. If they do, that would be great.

“There is nothing that this coalition government would like more than to see Labour councillors taking responsibility for these cuts, and justifying them to their constituents. It is less ‘dented shield’ and more ‘coalition shield’.”

…so why reinforce the impression that Labour councillors are responsible for these cuts, by suggesting that they’re *choosing* to cut spending (rather than dealing with the fallout from central government spending cuts over which they have no control)? Why not focus anger on the people actually making the spending cuts – the Coalition – rather than Labour councillors?

It’s the anti-cuts activist who says ‘Labour councillors don’t have to make these cuts’ who acts as a ‘coalition shield’ , not the Labour councillor who says ‘sorry, but we have to make these cuts’. The activist is the one suggesting the blame ultimately lies with Labour councillors rather than the coalition.

“Instead Labour councillors should be working with representatives of community groups, local authority workers and trade unions, trades councils, Labour Party members and other political activists to forge a local (and ultimately national) resistance movement to defeat the coalition government.”

How? When? What happens to public services meanwhile, if every Labour councillor is refusing to make any decisions about how the money that’s *actually available to them* should be spent? What makes you think the position of the Coalition will be weakened rather than strengthened if Labour gives up control of council budgets to finance officers and/or Eric Pickles?

Sorry, but the whole thing reeks of wishful thinking. ‘We don’t have to deal with the consequences of our funding being cut, because we can just bring down the government and then it won’t be cut any more’.

FFS. Get real.

Andrew

Thanks for this measured contribution.

It’s good that, after the initial furore the debate has settled down, as reflected in your (and before you Jon Snow’s) acknowedgement that ‘The divisions come about tactics of resistance’ rather than over whether Don and I etc. are baby-eating Tory apologists. We’re not.

You are absolutely right to ask what happens next year, and the year after that.

A key problem we have to face up to is that any proper attempts at resisting cuts began far too late this year, with too much time spent on anti-Tory rhetoric rather than on developing the kind of strategies that Don and some others did get on with, and which are now bearing some fruit for those his comrades in his patch think are the most vital services to defend (I’ll leave Don to defend whether or not he’s ‘airbrushing’).

The ‘call to strategy’ is one Sunny is for ever making, and rightly. In the aftermath of a trip to London in June last year, in which he tried to start that process, I wrote three posts on strategy, the last of which was called ‘Resisting the cuts (3): localism, legalities, loopholes, labour’ (http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/07/11/resisting-the-cuts-3-localism-legalities-loopholes-labour/) and which focused on exactly the same sutff as is now being debated in earnest. This was the same time as Don was starting to pull his stuff together in his area.

In early November, Phil at AVPS took up the issues and I responded with ‘Labour councillors and Tory cuts: realities and responsibilities’ (http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/11/05/labour-councillors-and-tory-cuts-realities-and-responsibilities/). In that I quoted Boffy (from Boffy’s blog):

“Those who want a weak Labour Movement to fall into the trap set them by the Liberal-Tories, by asking Labour Councils and Councillors to set illegal budgets and so on, are guilty of the same kind of Ultra-Left childishness that some Bolsheviks were guilty of in 1918. At that time, Lenin, argued that there was nothing revolutionary about such amateurish tactics. Nor was there anything wrong with recognising your weakness, and the need to compromise or retreat.

The crucial issue is whether Labour Councillors and Councils are prepared to wage a decisive struggle against the Cuts, and to be prepared to do what is necessary within the bounds of what is practically and tactically possible, which in turn is dependent upon the extent to which a powerful anti-cuts movement is built outside the Council Chamber.

Dividing the movement in advance by saying that Labour Councillors will be excluded unless they agree to act illegally is at this stage ridiculous. It would be like a handful of union members saying they will not work with a steward who has the more than reasonable position of saying they will not walk out on strike on their own!”

Boffy has a pretty good track record. In his comments on my post he says of himself:

“Some time ago I wrote a piece about my own experience in 1983. I was selected along with another revolutionary to fight in a City Council Election. The sitting right-wing Councillor left the LP and stood against me in particular, as a locally prominent Trotskyist…… The result was that not only did we both win, not only was the sitting Councillor anhihilated, but we received the biggest vote, on the highest turnover that there had been for decades. With that mandate we stuck to the platform we had stood on of “No Cuts, Nor rent or Rate Rises”. Within months we were expelled from the Labour Group for refusing to vote for a 50p Rent rise…..

I make this point in order to show that I have a good basis on which to make this argument. It was right to make that stand then, because we still had a strong Labour Movement. The Tories were still not solidified in power. A co-ordinated campaign by Labour Councils, supported by the Labour Party – remember Michael Foot had been leading marches of thousands against the tories in the previous years – and by the TUC to oppose the tories attacks on workes could have still succeeded. But, today none of that applies. It has to be rebuilt, and until it has such tactics would be pure adventurism, the kind of petit-bourgeois reaction that Lenin speaks of…… Where Labour is in the Majority….. it is not so simple.

Mass resignations throughout the country could be one means of building a campaign with a national election campaign based on defending local services. But, individually it would have the danger of appearing like a shop steward who stands down, simply because the workers he represents don’t currently have the strength or the bottle to take on the employer. As a worker I wouldn’t have much faith in such a steward. Rather the steward should do all they can to rebuild the confidence and strength of their members, and by basing themselves on them, referring all decisions back to them ensure that the members understand that any failure to fight is a reflection of their own weakness not of the steward. The steward should demonstrate that they are ready to fight as soon as the membership are up for it.”

I broadly agree with Boffy’s thrust here, though in places he approaches the same kind of pointless vitriol that the likes of Paul richards and Luke Akehurst display from the Labour right.

At the moment, I agree with Boffy that the labour movement simply isn’t in a position to win the whole war,, and shouldn’t, tacticallym, be engaging in such ‘petit-bourgeois reaction’ (though I’m not keen on the disparaging terminology, and am not a Leninist).

This links to my other key point, and I think perhaps a key root of our current disagreement over tactics. Specfically, I don’t agree with you that ‘Councillors should not underplay their own significance in this area. They are the elected leaders of their communities – and should be a prominent local voice of resistance, reflecting and leading their communities in opposition to the cuts.’

Whether we like it or not, the role of councillors as political leaders has been significantly diminished in the 30 years since Boffy was doing his thing. In some ways, I’d say this is a good thing, in that councillors should be taking instruction from the wider labour movement through properly constructed debate and decision-making, not leading as they see fit.

That’s a wider debate that’s well worth having, I suggest, but at the moment I honestly don’t see a wider labour movement, in conjunction with the anti-cuts movement, being in a position to provide an efffective mandate that will create the kind of Coalition-defeating resistance you want.

Of course this is related to a crisis of representation deep within the structures of the Labour party, on which I think we can agree, but agreeing that the crisis is a bad thing doesn’t make it any less real, and the consequences any less stark at the moment.

@ 8 Paul

I can see from your response that you are sincere and thoughtful, but I’m afraid that your analysis (however astute) isn’t going to achieve anything more substantive than Andrew’s; in fact it reminds me very much of the kind of “how many angels on the head of a pin” theology that doesn’t actually achieve much.

I’d quite like the coalition to fall, but I don’t think it is likely. the fact is of course, even if it did, any alternative government would be faced with the same problems, and isn’t going to have that much more wiggle room than the current one, absent some fairly seismic shift in our political system.

We all know that isn’t going to happen, particularly given the current state of the Labour party.

10. Mike Calvert

As a UNISON official in Islington I have to face everyday the impact of the so-called line advocated by those who believe that Labour have to make these cuts and blame the government.
I have members facing redundancy crying their eyes out but hey, guys, because this is a Labour cut it is much nicer than a Tory cut.

Their tears are the rantings of a lunatic raving Trot who denounces everyone as a traitor!

It really is the dented shield all over again.

I am not saying that Labour politicians are not distressed by these decisions but I do wonder how naive they were when elected!

Andrew says:

“The LRC’s policy, overwhelming voted for by members at our annual conference in January said:

Labour councillors have a clear political duty to resist these unprecedented attacks on working people. They cannot allow themselves to become the local agents of this anti-working class coalition government.

However, the scale of the cuts means most councils carrying through the cuts are having to cut jobs and front-line services.”

He is quite right.

Mikey

I disagree with this article somewhat, but some of the comments are so predictable and hilarious that I’m almost inclined to defend the points being made by the article.

To address some actually good points, by Paul above….

A key problem we have to face up to is that any proper attempts at resisting cuts began far too late this year, with too much time spent on anti-Tory rhetoric rather than on developing the kind of strategies that Don and some others did get on with

This is brutally spot on. I admit I’ve not focused enough on local cuts in the past editorially, as we focused on national issues, but it actually amazes me how many people have suddenly woken up to local council cuts, decided they’re going to head to their local council town hall for the protest, and tried to stop the meetings from going ahead.

Have they actually achieved anything? Any victories at all? Meanwhile, there are hardworking Cllrs out there who are trying to find innovative ways of reducing the impact of cuts. We’re going to publish more on that soon. But its too late now for this year.

I hate to state the obvious but the Left of Labour is weak within the party. The Left outside of Labour is even weaker and more incoherent.

As even Owen Jones has pointed out earlier, the Left won’t succeed unless it is able to organise and mobilise in mass numbers. The TUC is organising and mobilising and I hope 26th March is bigger than the Iraq protest, but the point is that the numbers still aren’t there. The govt is still trusted more on the economy than Labour is.

The point is, most of this is just brinkmanship. I’m not opposed to people resigning or taking strident action – I just don’t think it will work. But you know, different people have different methods and tactics to oppose this govt. Some want to oppose this govt but don’t even have any idea of what they would replace it with. Let them be incoherent.

What I don’t agree with is the circular firing squad approach where people spend all their time denouncing each other for being too radical or being too moderate.

As someone else points out, Labour are nowhere in the anti-cuts fight, by design of those at the top of the Labour party, who apparently have no interest in supporting the interests of ordinary people. The LRC strike me as well-meaning but highly misguided individuals. You’re in a right wing led party. What are you playing at?

Meanwhile those really fighting the cuts have understood that no party stands with them, no party can be trusted, no party is worth their time. It’s a good result – something people should have realised years ago.

To be fair Andrew, its now a bit late with many on notice or having been made redundant and services closed. To reverse at this point will cost more to do.

We haven’t had any meaningful organised national protests directly targeting the cuts, the closest thing to one isn’t until march 26th. Who the hell picked this date?

We’re now into 2012 budget battleground, the gov having won the 1st round.

The Labour party have become like the Democratic party in the US. They won’t take a stand for fear of upsetting their corporate masters. They are still sucking Murdoch off, so they have learned nothing.

The slow down is getting worse and the govt is taking more and more money out of the system for their own shock doctrine. Notice this being accompanied with mass privatisation.

I still think the Lie Dems are the ones who need to rise from their slumber at local level. there are many Lie Dems workers in the public sector who are about to face a hurricane of urine all over them. Maybe they might like to inform Clegg that they are not very happy.

Mike (et al)

I am trying to understand the LRC’s position, but the fact I keep coming back to is that the cuts to local government funding *have been made* by the Coalition. It’s not within Labour councillors’ power to undo those cuts.

Therefore their options are: 1 – make decisions about how to spend the money that’s available, or 2 – refrain from making such decisions (as a symbolic gesture that they do not accept the cuts). And I have yet to hear any plausible case that choosing option 2 is going to do anything at all to protect services, bring down the government, or anything else other than ensure that someone else does the dirty work of deciding where the axe falls on local services. It’s an option that seems to appeal to people who want to feel or appear unsullied by association with the coalition’s spending plans, rather than people who are concerned to do their best to protect services in the context of large cuts in central government funding.

I think the whole debate is being skewed by talking about Labour councillors ‘accepting’ or ‘implementing’ cuts if they agree to spend the money they receive from central government. I’m expecting my tax credits to be cut next year; no doubt I will ‘implement’ those cuts by spending less on clothes, food etc for my children. Does that mean I ‘accept’ those cuts and am collaborating with the Tories to drive down my childrens’ standard of living? Should I refuse to implement their cuts by continuing to spend as if they hadn’t been made? What about a head teacher whose budget is cut – is she ‘accepting’ those cuts if she refrains from spending money she doesn’t have? It’s a nonsense. If the funding of your household, school or council has been cut, the question of whether you ‘accept’ those cuts is just irrelevant to the question of how you spend the money you’ve got left.

17. Mike Calvert

Yet again I ask people here attacking both Andrew and me, what do you propose I tell my 300 members facing the dole?

Its okay because its a Labour cut?

Don’t worry we have a dented shield?

Mikey

2. IanVisits

Who is dictating that you only have £x to spend? A central government which, if was honest with itself, has access to unlimited funding.

Spend, spend, spend is exactly what is needed right now. Rightwing ” thrift” is sending the UK economy gurgling down the plughole.

“The Tory-led coalition government is making massive and unnecessary cuts that threaten the future of the welfare state”

The article seems to be about councillors, jobs, redundancies and pensions. In other words, supply-side – the state, not the customers and beneficiaries of the state.

I’d be more sympathetic if Andrew was arguing about demand – the people who may suffer from the cuts. As it stands, Andrew is putting the supplier cart in front of the demand horse.

20. Mike Calvert

I accept that the ConDems are to blame.
I also concede that very few especially in Islington wanted to make the £52 millions in cuts
But they HAD a choice
Not a good one
Not one like that Ted faced in Lambeth in 1986 of the choicess again in Lambeth under Joan Twelves or the situation faced by Degsy in Liverpool.
Neither Would they go down like Poplar or face the losses faced in Clay cross.

But the people in Islington will judge this Labour council very harshly in three years I believe.

Mikey

Mike

“what do you propose I tell my 300 members facing the dole?”

Tell them the truth – that thanks to the Coalition’s cuts to local government funding, the council can no longer afford to pay their wages.

22. Sunder Katwala

I don’t myself see where Andrew’s post really deals with or addresses Don and Paul’s arguments – very much rooted in the centre-left and left of the party – for setting a budget, given the alternatives.

But its interesting to see a dialogue in Paul’s comments in trying to find some common ground and narrow the differences.

23. Chaise Guevara

Um, false dichotomy in the headline, anyone? Yes, you should resist Tory cuts. They’re callous as hell. However, Labour (and all other) councillors have no choice but to implement them, because they’ve been given less money than they were before.

Seriously, some of the comments in the last few days seem to suggest that local politicians can get more money off the Tories if they just ask Osborne for cash in a defiant way, and now that bizarre attitude has spread to contributing writers.

The problem is that there are barely any LP cllrs prepared to take a no cuts position. Therefore it is presently hopeless for a few isolated cllrs to sacrifice themselves. Better they keep the whip and upset their opponents as far as possible with the arguments for resistance. I think in part it reflects that too many cllrs are themselves from the management class and ready to accomodate the orthodoxy of “painful but unavoidable” cuts and see it as a badge of honor to make “tough decisions”. This more broadly stems from the crisis of representation for working people: my local party in Hackney is dominated by middle class professionals [like myself]; working class people if active in the Party would be more militant and less encumbered by constitutional restraint. It is no accident in my view that. Ted Knight and the cllrs in Liverpool were working class people when they stood up to Thatcher in the 80s: the party has completely lost it’s radicalism. Where are the great public meetings, demos etc.. Led by Labour MPs and local leaders? A new cohort will have to emerge from the struggle to come in the next few years.

“They are the elected leaders of their communities – and should be a prominent local voice of resistance, reflecting and leading their communities in opposition to the cuts.”

Absolutely. Good article.

Madam Miaow

““They are the elected leaders of their communities – and should be a prominent local voice of resistance, reflecting and leading their communities in opposition to the cuts.”

Absolutely. Good article.”

How about “They are the elected leaders of their communities – and as such should accept responsibility for deciding how locally-collected revenue, together with such central government funding as is available, should be spent in the best interests of their communities (rather than washing their hands of the whole thing and leaving those decisions to someone else)”?

Actually, I think Labour councillors should *both* implement *and* oppose/resist/campaign against the Coalition’s spending cuts. I see no more contradiction there than I see in a disabled person opposing cuts to her benefits while also ‘implementing’ the cuts by spending less money, a local voluntary group opposing cuts to its funding while also ‘implementing’ them by moving to cheaper premises, a head teacher opposing cuts to his school’s funding while also ‘implementing’ them by cancelling a refurbishment project, etc etc. All of us are going to be ‘implementing’ all sorts of Coalition policies, from tax credit cuts to the VAT rise to the tax threshold rise; we don’t have a real choice. Doesn’t mean we can’t oppose those policies.

The real problem when people moan about cuts you have to accept as labour have done they will need to cut, so we all know the mess we are in after new labour, OK it was not labour it was the banks, sadly as the government you should have dam well see it, but of course labour did not see much at all.

Of course if I’m right the council tax is being held for a couple of years, in Wales we are seeing a rise in council tax of 3% to 4% .

But we are also seeing in my area 1000 people being made redundant of course not a single official will go and the chairman council leader call him who you like has just been given £16,000 pay rise, because according to him he is being head hunted, yes people are actually looking for his head, so £16,000 will make him do what stay here, go or go home headless.

Council workers except for teachers and Police officers will get no rise in wages.

This is bloody war

Of course the Labour Councils should implement the cuts. Unless I’ve slipped into a parallel universe the Labour party stood on a platform of £50 billion of cuts. That’s 60% of the Coaltion’s cuts.

Any idea that the LRC have got that the Labour Party is against cuts is totally delusional. They’re for slightly smaller cuts. But that’s all.

Beyond that, Labour councillors knew what the system was before they were elected. And they knew when elected it was their duty to set a budget with whatever money government gives them. Whether people like it or not the Coalition is a perfectly constitutionally legitimate government. You may not like what they’re doing, but tough. They’re the government.

Labour councillors should do their job, which is to do the best they can for their constituents with the resources they are given to use.

“But there’s an even more important point – and it’s that we have to bring this coalition government down. We cannot wait until the next scheduled general election in 2015.”

And now we’ve entered the land of total delusion. How the hell do you think you’re going to do that? They couldn’t lever Gordon Brown out of No10 early even when Labour were hitting 23% in the polls. How the hell are you going to get rid of the Coalition? Planning to stage a violent revolution comrades? Or just going with the power of wishful thinking and left-wing slogans?

.

Thanks for all the comments. I’ll try to reply to the points made. First batch below:
@1 – I don’t understand what you’re saying, sorry. Bad start.

@2 – No I don’t suggest spending money you don’t have. That sounds impossible to me. Of course, councils may have reserves, may have some borrowing powers, but that aside. The point of setting an ‘illegal budget’ i.e. implementing a budget based on the needs of the community or the manifesto the councillors stood on – is to challenge the government. If Labour councils did this en masse it would cause a crisis. The last government, which neither I nor the LRC was a great defender of did not spend what it didn’t have. It’s spending was less as a % of GDP than that of the Thatcher and Major governments. The biggest recession on record hit it at the end and it did an appalling deal for the taxpayer in bailing out the banks.

@3 – The LRC clearly doesn’t think Labour cuts are fine. No cuts are necessary.

@4 – Maybe the last government should have let the banks face up to reality?

@5 – The anti-cuts movement is made up of thousands of Labour Party members and trade unionists, they are no separate entities. But it’s actually a live debate among non-Labour Party members and groups. The RTW campaign and CoR are for working with Labour members and politicians who oppose the cuts, and engaging in dialogue with those sympathetic. The Socialist Party takes its usual purist line: Labour must be exposed and opposed. This is a major tactical question on the left. We need to build a mass movement – Labour and the trade unions will inevitably need to be part of that.

@6 – Some Labour councils clearly are choosing to. We must remember that Labour went into the last election (wrongly IMO) wanting 60% of the cuts we’re now getting. Darling advocated ‘deeper cuts than Thatcher’. Newham council is administering cuts in excess of the cut to its block grant.
Of course the main enemy is the Tories/Lib DEms. No dispute about that. The activist is simply asking the councillors to stand on the manifesto they were elected to deliver, and to fight against the coalition government with them!

@8 – Paul, thanks and I hope we can continue a comradely debate – sadly there will always be some on both sides who can’t, but if the two sides in WW1 could play football on xmas day, we should be able to maintain a comradely dialogue! 🙂
I agree that “any proper attempts at resisting cuts began far too late this year”, but i think that was inevitable. After years of atrophy a mass movement was never going to be built overnight. But some comrades have got on with it and got results, see Hackney: http://l-r-c.org.uk/news/story/all-behind-the-hackney-six/. Also I doubt if Islington councillors would have worked so hard in minimising the cuts if they had not been under such close local scrutiny and campaigning pressure.
While the Socialist Party is saying that Labour councillors should be excluded, neither the LRC nor RTW take this approach. We think councillors who work and engage with the anti-cuts movement should be involved, even if we disagree on tactics at this stage.
I’m not sure the situation in the UK today is comparable with Russia in 1917, and do have a visceral reaction to people who start ‘Lenin said . . .’ as if that settles an argument today. Arguments can usually stand or fall without resuscitating dead people for your cause.
Councillors are still the elected leaders of their communities (albeit with reduced powers – which we should fight to restore and expand, but that’s another debate) and stood on manifestos to do things locally. These cuts means Labour councillors now have to betray their manifesto to act as bailiff for Eric Pickles.
I’m actually quite optimistic about the anti-cuts movement. It is growing and it is building and we’re still in early days against an already unpopular coalition government. It took 5-6 years of Thatcher before local government fought back in the 80s, so the speed at which some quite sizeable groups have built up and local resistance has started is encouraging IMO.

Andrew

“No I don’t suggest spending money you don’t have. That sounds impossible to me… The point of setting an ‘illegal budget’ i.e. implementing a budget based on the needs of the community or the manifesto the councillors stood on – is to challenge the government. If Labour councils did this en masse it would cause a crisis.”

“The activist is simply asking the councillors to stand on the manifesto they were elected to deliver”

If anything I’m even more confused now. You accept that councils can’t actually spend money they don’t have, so as things stand they can’t honour manifesto promises made on the basis that more money would be available to them. They can’t ‘implement’ a budget based on community needs or manifesto promises in the sense of actually spending what they say they intend to spend. So you’re not asking them to make a choice between maintaining spending on services, and cutting spending on services; you’re asking them to make a choice between *announcing their intention* to maintain spending on services, and cutting spending on services. And all on the basis that if every Labour council defiantly announces that intention, the ensuing crisis might somehow bring the money rolling back in.

Basically it’s an all-or-nothing gamble; either Labour councils end up with an anti-cuts government firmly installed (and in a position to borrow and/or raise additional revenue as necessary), ensuring that they don’t have to cut services after all, or else they end up with the Coalition’s spending cuts still in place but without any say on which services should be prioritised.

…and basically I just don’t see how the odds could possibly favour the former outcome.

It’s the very epitome of wishful thinking. If everybody Labour council wishes out loud (“We wish we had £20 million to spend on service X, £10 million to spend on service Y…”), their wishes will come true.

“I’m taking a wild stab in the dark here, perhaps Don has airbrushed out any service cuts, redundancies or fee increases.”

Late to respond to this one, but you missed the bit in the article where I wrote, “The negotiations might still all collapse, and they still involve a 30% reduction in funding overall for local services over three years.”

*

“And that’s the point, even if reserves or a bit of tinkering can ameliorate substantial cuts for this year, what about 2012, 2013 and 2014, when councils have to make further cuts?”

This is an important point. We’re too late for 2011, but can consider needs budgets, co-ordinated action of non-implementation and so on for 2012 – if we start working together now and stop denouncing each other. But I wonder how many of the Labour councillors who got shouted down or slagged off by leftie campaigners will be interested in taking part in discussions about how they could be part of this?

One other thought on this debate is that I suspect that many of the cuts are illegal and would be overturned under Equalities legislation. The flipside of defending Labour councillors who obey the law and set a legal budget is that they should be strongly criticised for setting illegal budgets which fail to take into account legislation around equalities. This would be a fruitful area for anti-cuts campaigners to explore.


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  9. Owen Jones

    The LRC's Andrew Fisher on building a Labour resistance movement to Tory cuts: http://tinyurl.com/4c2odzr

  10. Belinda Webb

    RT @OwenJones84: The LRC's Andrew Fisher on building a Labour resistance movement to Tory cuts: http://tinyurl.com/4c2odzr

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  14. lesa

    RT @OwenJones84: The LRC's Andrew Fisher on building a Labour resistance movement to Tory cuts: http://tinyurl.com/4c2odzr

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  18. Chris Keegan

    "we have to bring this coalition government down". By 2015 it'll be too late, the NHS sold cheap to corporate raiders. http://t.co/cBDGhzd

  19. Rachel Hubbard

    Why we should resist not implement Tory cuts | Liberal Conspiracy http://goo.gl/SDYTL

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    […] boroughs of Hackney and Haringey have taken place. Liberal Conspiracy believes the left must stand united against […]

  21. Daniel Pitt

    Welfare cuts will cost more than they save http://bit.ly/fx9Hsq #ConDemNation

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  23. Carnival of Socialism « Harpymarx

    […] reasons, can councilsresist the cuts, what should councillors do, why we should resist not implement Tory cuts, though at the end of the day people should be working together. I found thisexperience of a LP […]





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