The local government election campaign has now started. On 3 May there will be elections in 150 councils, with 45 of these being all out. Corbyn’s Labour is expected to do well, particularly in big cities.
After May there will be more left-wing, Corbyn supporting councillors. There continue to be many stitch ups in Labour and plenty of right-wingers managed to be reselected however, including notable cases like Haringey, there has been an upsurge in newer and returned activists being selected. They will at least want to shake up the way that Labour has run local government since 2010.
Since 2010 there has been little resistance from Labour run councils to central government cuts. Cuts may not be the first choice of Labour councillors, but there has been little attempt from Labour build a fight to stop or reverse them.
In many areas Labour councillors boast about the money they have saved, how they have gone further than required to “improve efficiency.” But what is actually happening is the shutting down of libraries, of children’s centres and care provision for the elderly.
There have been some victories against cuts to local services or unpopular schemes like the Haringey Development Vehicle, but now left-wing councillors will have to provide alternatives.
In Haringey local parties came together for a day-long conference to discuss the manifesto but the decisions could not be binding. In places where such discussions have not happened, local manifestos are likely to be uninspiring.
A single vote or even a handful of votes against a Labour group budget proposals is will be ineffective. Campaigning against the cuts, starting a fight against the government, and supporting strike action against job losses and cuts to service provision is central. All of this would be tremendously inspiring, and if it happened across the country could give the labour movement some confidence in defeating the government.
The leadership of the Labour Party have been unclear on what councillors should do. When Corbyn launched the local election campaign in Trafford, (where Labour needs to gain only one seat to take control from the Tories) his speech contained little strategy for Labour councils.
A key promise missing from Corbyn’s speech was what Labour would do about the spending cuts that have happened since 2010.
The obvious popular measure would be to call for these cuts to be reversed and for money to be returned to local councils so they can provide the services we need.