What Ken said about Labour council cuts


2:50 pm - March 1st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Ken Livingstone, addressing the debate on local council cuts and Labour said this at Progressive London recently:

Are Councillors who make these cuts – Labour Councillors – complicit? Thirty years ago, Councillors who made cuts, as Thatcher pushed them down, arguably were complicit because there was an alternative – to increase the rates…the rating system itself was fairly re-distributive, with the richest homes paying very much more than the poorest.

It was crude, but the best strategy was to increase the rates to preserve services. Labour Councils had great debates about that, but largely that’s what they did. The worst of the cuts were blunted and that is why the Tories abolished the rates and took away the business rate and created first the poll tax and then the Council Tax, which is not redistributive, leaving Councillors with the choice [of saying] “do we cut services or do we bang up the Council Tax, which would actually hurt poor people more?”

There they [Labour Councillors] don’t have the choice that we had a generation ago for fighting those cuts. What is important is that those Councils have to carry their communities with them.

They have to engage the communities and their trade unions in how they manage the devastating cut in the grant that they’ve got and to do it in a way that preserves the most of our services and protects the most vulnerable. It will not be easy, it will not be pleasant, but you don’t have the option of walking away.

via Dave Hill.

Here’s the video of the speech (via @BenSoffa)

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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