Thursday, 22 July 2010

Our fight against cuts begins

[From the Brighton Socialist - July/August edition]

Around 60-70 trade union members and campaigners, from Connexions workers to the Portslade anti-academy group, protested outside the Tory Cabinet meeting at Hove Town Hall today (Thursday 22 July) as our elected representatives rubberstamped cuts to children's services, youth and education budgets and welfare support, along with forcing through academy plans onto the next stage. Further meetings and protests are being planned so watch this space...

When low wage workers have their pay withheld and are kicked out of a job with no notice, at the same time four new council bosses are dished out salaries of £125,000 a year each, it must seem like the world is turned on its head.

But this is exactly the way capitalism puts greed and profits before the vast majority of people and society.

Our elected representatives are too busy handing over big money contracts, schools and hospitals to their big business friends, voting themselves more expense, cutting jobs, welfare, education, childcare and housing when they say they’ll defend the interests of ordinary people.

25 per cent cuts in government departments are being passed on to local council authorities right now and an initial £3.55 million is already being cut in Brighton and Hove this year.

Schools in Falmer and Portslade are being turned into academies, removing them from local democratic accountability with budgets and curriculums taken over by profiteers. An estimated 20,000 jobs are threatened as a result of closures, privatisations and “efficiency savings” across the city - £50 million cuts over four years.

Locally this will mean cuts of £1.5 million to education, youth and children's services, cuts to Aids/HIV support and stroke support. £120,000 will be cut from SureStart centres and the renovation of children's playgrounds. In addition to these measures, low paid local government workers are suffering a pay freeze, and the poorest will suffer the VAT rise to 20 per cent, cuts in housing benefit and tax credits from next year.

And this is just the start. This is an all-out war on the working class people of Brighton and Hove to make us pay for their capitalist crisis.

But why should we pay for mess caused by the rich? If we’ve bailed out the banks, then they owe us!

Our elected representatives are not on our side. They are attacking us and threatening to make our lives even more of a struggle letting the rich carry on as usual, raking in massive bonuses and tax breaks. But the Socialist Party and the trade union movement are organising support and unity with all workers, parents, unemployed, pensioners and youth who are fighting back.

Following the 600-strong March for Jobs demonstration earlier this year, Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council has also organised protests outside our two town halls. On 22 June, budget day, on 15 July, the day the council allowed the cuts through, and on 22 July when the Tories rumberstamped the first wave of cuts, 200 trade unionists, campaigners and socialists from different groups and workplaces across the city came together to demonstrate their anger.

These protests mark the shifting into gear of a potential mass community campaign to stop the cuts, and are aimed at our councillors as a wake up call to remind them that they are meant to be there to discuss with us and to represent the people of this city.

United pressure from the city’s trade unions and communities can force back the ConDem council and government, and their cuts agenda. The Tories were defeated by Liverpool city council in the 1980s and by the 15 million-strong “can’t pay won’t pay” campaign that brought down the hated Poll Tax and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher herself.

It will be actions that count when it comes to defending our communities, services and jobs. Public meetings, protests and petitions are needed to link up with local and national trade union demonstrations and strike action. As well as campaigning in communities and workplaces to help build for these events, we should make our voices heard in the council and stand our own working class, trade union-backed, community candidates in elections.

The Tories and LibDems are currently swinging the axe, Labour’s record in office is littered with betrayal after betrayal and the Green’s record, under pressure to resist cuts and privatisation, has been severely lacking.

The Socialist Party played a key role in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition that put down a marker when it stood in Brighton Kemptown at the general election. TUSC fights against the cuts agenda supported by all the main parties and stands for making the rich pay for the crisis they caused.

The longer these currently elected councillors continue to attack us on behalf of capitalism, the louder calls will grow of the need for a working class political voice to fight back.

United action, fighting in our workplaces, communities and at the elections will be what is required to put a stop to every cut.

The Socialist Party is part of a growing coalition of trade unions, workers, campaigners, pensioners, parents, students and unemployed that is coming together and fighting back in Brighton and Hove. Get in touch with us to find out what we can do next.

Fight for jobs! Stop the cuts!