Thursday, November 19, 2009

Defend Public Services – make the councillors pay at the ballot box!

Up and down the country, in every town and city, local politicians from the 3 establishment parties – Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrats – are cutting services and preparing to axe hundreds and thousands of jobs. From street cleansing to social services, from meals on wheels to books in libraries, most councils are planning bigger cuts over the next 2 to 3 years than ever before. Every council seems to have the same aim: to deliver fewer services with less employees, sharply shrinking the local council along the way. Not a single local family will be unaffected by their plans.

And there's little serious political challenge from the big 3 parties – apart from some synthetic indignation to embarrass local opponents – as nationally all 3 establishment parties agree that 'deep', 'fundamental', even 'savage' cuts should be made to pay back the billions used to subsidise the bankers, their bonuses and their system. Of course it isn’t the £76 billion cost of Trident that they want to cut, or the billions being spent on occupying Afghanistan; it is our public services. And it could get worse.......

Whoever wins the next general election, Tories or Labour, there will be a sustained attack on public services, and the jobs, wages and pensions of those we all employ to look after our communities, as the next government, of whatever hue, seeks to make our families pay for their economic crisis. Both big parties have a target of £90 billion to be slashed – that's equivalent to the entire year's spending on the NHS, And in spite of past promises, this will extend to all services, including health, education and social care, where in addition to direct cuts privatisation will be extended and speeded up. If the establishment parties get their way, more and more public services will be replaced with charity hand outs in a return to the 1930s.

We can’t accept this. Council workers will have to fight to save their jobs, wages, pensions and conditions – but they shouldn't have to fight alone. We all rely on essential public services; all trades unions have to be prepared to fight alongside the public sector unions to save the services we need.

Under Threat:

- 350,000+ public sector jobs;

- Services sold off to private profiteers;

- More closures and outsourcing – and the biggest winners will be the 'consultants';

- Welfare benefits frozen or cut;

- More young people denied a job – or, if in university education, facing a lifetime of debt.

Build the Fightback:

- For a joint campaign of public sector workers, other trades unionists and community activists, including local TUCs and community groups such as pensioners' oganisations;

- Lobby every Council or Primary Care Trust meeting threatening cuts or privatisation;

- Support direct action, including occupations and sit-ins.

The Campaign for a New Workers’ Party (CNWP) was set up four years ago. We believe that the political opposition to the common agenda of the big 3 parties must now be stepped up. Already a new, national, electoral coalition is being developed, seeking to challenge Cabinet Ministers and dozens of other MPs at the next general election, involving the RMT and other trades unionists, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, IWA, AGS and others.

But we believe every working class community threatened with cuts and privatisation should stand trade union, socialist or community activist candidates against the big parties at next May's council elections. Make the cutters pay at the ballot box!

At the moment the only pressure on the big 3 parties comes from the bankers and big business – that's why Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats are almost indistinguishable when it come to support for cuts. People are rightly angry at MPs and their lifestyles and expenses, but we can't leave it to a few TV stars to challenge the status quo – we need hundreds and hundreds of anti-cuts candidates – drawn from ordinary people, from our communities – challenging at the next elections. We've prepared a pack on 'How to stand as a councillor' – write to us if you'd like a copy. Let's really break the mould of British politics!

If you'd like to help in our work to build the CNWP in every community, to campaign to break the trade unions from New Labour, and to step up the fight to create a new workers' party, join us – it could be the best way to defend the Welfare State and out Public Services.


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