Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tory cuts - what Labour Councils should do

Yesterday I wondered aloud what Labour Councils should do in the face of Tory cuts (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2010/11/tory-cuts-what-should-labour-do.html).

Today the snow held me back in London after work and gave me the opportunity to speak with experienced comrades both from UNISON and the LRC.

From these discussions I think that, as well as exploring and seeking to understand the full range of options open to Labour Councils - including refusing to set a lawful budget if to do so would be a breach of trust with local people - we need clearly to articulate two simple, lawful and achievable things which every ruling Labour Group can do and every opposition Labour Group can advocate.

First, as well as proposing (if in office and feeling this necessary) a "lawful" budget making cuts, each Labour Group (in office or opposition) should also publicise a "needs budget" setting out the spending they would wish to make, were reasonable resources available to meet social need.

Secondly, in order to campaign for the Government to provide additional resources in order to enable their authority to implement the "needs budget", Labour Groups should call for and seek to lead anti-cuts mobilisations.

For London boroughs, for example, it would be a simple matter to organise a march from the Town Hall to Westminster for a lobby of local MPs in support of provision of the resources needed for the provision of local services.

Labour Councils can make the sad, foolish and anachronistic choice of Lewisham's Steve Bullock and set their face against anti-cuts protests (http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/30/lewisham-anti-cuts-protesters?cat=commentisfree&type=article).

Or Labour Councillors can prioritise their role as leaders of their local community and set out both the needs of local people and their plans to fight for the resources needed to meet those needs.

Trade unions need to put pressure on our Labour comrades to come out on the side of the people and to make the right decision.

Update on Wednesday morning - thanks to the anonymous commentator who referred me to what UNISON Scotland are doing.

Their model motion for local authorities is well worth looking at.


Mike said...

We're already doing both those things in Oxford, and members of Labour Group led the Oxford Anti-Cuts alliance march last Saturday with representatives of local unions.

As for the other options that might be open, I'd be interested in hearing comrades' opinions and strategies. Of course what must be avoided is a position where the government or some unaccountable body are able to impose a budget.

Cllr Mike Rowley (Oxford)

Anonymous said...

This might be of interest .. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/240GettingCouncilstoSupportServicesJobs.pdf

it's the approach UNISON Scotland are making to Scottish LA's (all councils, there are only two labour majority councils in Scotland).. a contemporary resolution based on the statement was passed at Labour's Scottish Conference a couple of weeks ago