Anti-cuts, public services

Questions and answers on the cuts

Q. The Lib/Tory coalition says that the government just has to make social cuts, in the same way as anyone who has "maxed out" their credit cards needs to cut back. Is that true? A. No. In the first place, there is nothing impossible about the government continuing with a large budget deficit for a while. Governments can't "run out of money" in the same way that households or businesses can. In the last analysis the question "where can the government get the money from?" can be answered simply: from the Bank of England printworks. There are limits on printing more cash, but the government is...

"Public ownership is just as necessary for banking as for health and education"

Marxist economist Michael Roberts (thenextrecession.wordpress.com) has long argued and campaigned to take the banking and financial system into public ownership. He spoke to us about why. Why is public ownership of banking and finance an important demand for the working class and labour movement? What are the key arguments? Banking is an important service for ordinary workers, households and businesses, particularly small businesses. When we get our wage packets, they’re normally paid into bank accounts, and when we conduct most of our transactions they’re conducted with bank cards or credit...

Vale Peter Simpson, 1963-2020

A tribute to Peter Simpson, lifelong activist with the Electrical Trades Union and Queensland state secretary 2009-2016

Fighting council cuts in Nottingham

Labour-run Nottingham City Council have voted to make £15.6m cuts this year, leading to 272 job cuts, 5% of the workforce. They also want to raise council tax by nearly 5%, and are dipping into reserves to balance their budget. But they face resistance from council unions and determined pockets of the community to the proposed cuts, particularly their proposal to close John Carroll Leisure Centre in Radford, one of the most deprived parts of the city. Before the vote was taken, Nottingham City Unison set the proposals in the context of recent history: "£271m in budget savings since 2010 has...

Further cuts in SEND provision

Many councils across the country — the National Audit Office estimates over two dozen — are negotiating with the government for bailouts to make it possible to balance their 2021-22 budgets. Cuts in school special needs and disabilities (SEND) spending are among those demanded “in return” by at least five councils. Details for Bury, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond-upon Thames and Stoke on Trent have been published on the Department for Education website and reported by Schools Week. Some councils now promise to meet special needs in a “more cost-effective way within...

“Zero Covid” and “Build back fairer” – two motions, two approaches

Workers’ Liberty recently held a public debate with a comrade from the Zero Covid campaign. You can read Martin Thomas’ speech at the meeting here. We have criticised Zero Covid's focus on demanding - and having unrealistically high hopes from - police measures like lockdowns, and vagueness on promoting workers' struggles for measures of social solidarity in and against the pandemic. At the same we have proposed working together on building such struggles. It must be said we were disappointed to read Zero Covid’s motion in Labour left organisation Momentum’s “policy primary” to decide what...

Democracy in the labour movement: Arguments on cuts

Campaigning has started for the local elections on 6 May, which in one form or another cover almost every area, since they combine polls due in 2021 with those postponed from May 2020. Official rules already allow canvassing as long as we abide by the 2-metre distancing rule. From 29 March, when people will be allowed to gather socially in groups of six or two households outdoors, the same rules will apply to political campaigning. Campaign literature must be collected or dropped off, however, without people meeting indoors, and planning meetings must be virtual. Workers’ Liberty people will...

Linking up against council cuts

A Zoom meeting on 23 February, “Fighting Local Government Cuts”, hosted by Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison, brought together activists across local government unions, community campaigns and the Labour Party. Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Labour councillor James McAsh spoke on the national context for cuts. There was a speaker from each of the major unions in local government and schools, Unison, Unite, GMB, and the NEU. Shona Jemphrey, a member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group and chair of Momentum’s Local Government Working Group, announced a relaunch of the...

Women of the Poplar rebellion

Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow). It was an impoverished and exclusively working-class area, which had suffered greatly during the ‘Great War’. Working-class women juggled low-waged work with domestic chores, contending with overcrowded housing, unsanitary conditions, fatherless children and war-wounded husbands and sons. They had fought against profiteering companies, government stinginess and for the vote...

12 councils to follow Croydon

According to the Financial Times of 9 February, quoting local government finance expert Bob Whiteman, at least 12 further local authorities are on the brink as budget-making for 2021-22 approaches. In November, Croydon’s Labour council issued a “section 114” notice, an emergency freeze on spending because it couldn’t balance its budget. Whiteman says the 12 are “the tip of the iceberg”. Six may avoid “section 114” by doing deals with the government to shift spending into capital accounts. The Tories have cut some £15 billion from central government funding to councils since 2010. In 2020-1...

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