Sunday, February 06, 2011

New Cross library occupied

As a former Lewisham resident (and Lewisham Labour Party activist) I'm pleased to learn of the occupation of New Cross Library (http://bit.ly/hqvCHV) (Hat tip Nick). This is a sensible response to the threat of closure.



It will clearly be necessary for the defence of our public services to step beyond the narrow confines of an exclusive focus on strictly lawful protest.



Libraries (or any other public service) don't belong to the Council as much as to local people, who clearly have the right to seize our collective assets to protect them from harm.



As I was observing this morning in the previous post on this blog, Labour Councils facing such action face an immediate challenge and a choice which is different from - and cannot be reduced to - the choice they made when they decided to set a lawful budget.



Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock (whom I remember as less worse than another previous Labour Leader) now has to decide what to say. If his priority is to denounce local opponents of his budget he will be lining up with Cameron and Clegg.



If, as I hope, he can remember to express outrage not at those who oppose his cuts but at the Ministers whose decisions to reduce grants have driven his actions - and if he ensures that no hostile action is taken against the occupiers or those supporting them by anyone under his authority - then he will, as he should, be moving in the direction of opposition to the Tory Government.



The same choice which faces the elected Mayor of Lewisham faces every member of a ruling Labour Group.



The trade unions need to mobilise pressure on politicians so that the best of them find the confidence to argue against cuts.





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