Thursday, 16 September 2010

Brighton Stop the Cuts launch success

Over 200 people packed into Friends Meeting House in Brighton on Thursday 9 September to launch a community-wide campaign against the neoliberal cuts.

Speaking from the trade union movement, Chris Baugh (PCS) and Andy Richards (Unison) dismantled the received wisdom of reducing government debt through cuts and highlighted the vast long-term costs of cutting key public services and forcing thousands into unemployment and below the poverty line.

Chris Baugh called for united action within the labour movement, citing the need for greater organisation and recruitment, and for unions to develop links across the public sector and with local communities.

Ümit Ozturk from the Mediterranean Resources Network delivered a cutting refutation of Cameron's "Big Society" double-speak, describing it as a new battle in the war between the hungry and the greedy.

He emphasised the need for community organisations not to be coerced into self-censorship by the tightening of the purse strings.

An academic analysis of the cuts was provided by Oxford economist, Andy Kilminster, who cited evidence from the last century of British history to convey exactly why the cuts are unnecessary, highly ideological, and if permitted to proceed would wreak further havoc in the economy.

Caroline Lucas MP arrived late from parliament and delivered a message of unity whilst describing the cuts as an attack on the 'living wage'.

This point was emphasised by Brighton Benefits campaigners who called for employed and unemployed workers to unite, describing how cuts to welfare are intended to 'soften up' the labour market by driving the unemployed into destitution and desperation.

Pete Offord from Brighton Socialist Party welcomed the huge turnout and argued for a strategy to pressure the local councillors not only to reject the cuts but to propose an alternative budget that reflects the needs of ordinary people, and to wage a campaign for the difference in funding to come from the government.

Drawing on the example of Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, he pointed out that if no Brighton councillors are willing to stand up for the people who elected them, Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition should consider standing its own candidates who will.

Angry Connexions workers described the appalling effects that planned cuts to their organisation would have for disadvantaged young people, whilst cuts to the meagre mental health budget were slammed by the NHS Support Foundation.

With the hall packed to bursting, activists lined the walls and aisles to participate in this launch event.

Organisations were welcomed to send delegates to plan for the European Day of Action against the cuts on 29 September.

Check out the Brighton Stop the Cuts Facebook page for more info and to get involved in the fightback.