Greg Marshall is standing as a Labour anti-cuts candidate in Broxtowe, Notts in the May council elections. He explained to Solidarity why had rejoined Labour after the May 2010 general election.
People understand that the cuts are not fair. The economic crisis was not caused by ordinary working people, and yet it is their libraries, swimming pools, schools and fire stations in the firing line.
It is crucial that Labour councillors work with representatives of community groups, local authority workers and trade unions, trades councils and other political activists so that a national movement can be forged to defeat the cuts.
I had no time for the politics of Blair and Brown. But Brown’s defeat and the Tory victory changed things and opened possibilities for the Labour Party to fight for workers’ interests.
I am standing because I want Broxtowe Council to continue to deliver good quality services for the community, which will not be possible if the Coalition spending cuts are allowed to happen. I want to stand with the community and campaigns to defend our services.
Our anti-cuts stance has been met with some wariness but many others have been reinvigorated. New life has been breathed into a number of local activists who now feel more confident to take a stand to reject proposed cuts.
Labour councils are being put in an invidious position by the government. They want councils to act as their bailiffs, carrying out part of their attack on welfare provision. This is not what most Labour councillors wanted to do when they stood for election.
There is a compelling argument for Labour councils to refuse to do the Coalition’s dirty work, as doing so brings them into conflict with their supporters. We are seeing the occupation of libraries, day centres etc. in protest against their closure.
Where do the councillors stand then? Do they call on the police and courts to evict the occupiers?
Trade unions will inevitably be taking industrial action against attacks on their members. Will councillors urge the breaking of strikes so they can continue to carry out the cuts? Yes, councillors should protest at the decisions the government is forcing them to make; and yes, we need to build a mass movement against the cuts.
But councillors could contribute massively to such a movement if they refused to do the government’s bidding. If we are to defeat this government we need our movement united in opposing the cuts, not hamstrung by feeling that they are obliged to administer them.