At Stoke-on-Trent Labour's city-wide meeting on Friday evening, just shy of a hundred party members heard Council Leader Mohammed Pervez give a detailed presentation on the cuts that are coming this year, an outline of how the local authority is going to manage them, and the controversial regeneration strategy the council will be pursuing over the next few years.
During the meeting I was handed a leaflet from an organisation calling itself 'Councillors Against the Cuts'. It does not have any contact details but, as the leaflet notes, the network is sponsored by the Labour Representation Committee. I reproduce the text below for readers' information. As for the viability of its hard anti-cuts strategy, I have my doubts. It appears more a route to left martyrdom than anything else. More significantly, however, the Labour Group of the Local Government Association will be hosting a spring conference that aims to map out a coordinated response to the cuts. If I can, I plan on covering that gathering.
Councillors Against the Cuts
We are a new network of local councillors formed to support the fight against cuts. We Believe that instead of implementing the Coalition's cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so and help organise workers and communities in resistance.
We are pledged to vote against all cuts to services and jobs, increases in rents and charges, and increases in council tax.
We do not accept that cuts are "necessary": there is plenty of money in society, but it is in the wrong hands. Taxing the rich and business, taking the wealth of the banks and cutting Trident are all rich sources of funds.
We stand in solidarity with anti-cuts campaigns, with people defending their local services and with the broader community, residents, our children, pensioners etc. - in defence of the rights of the most vulnerable people in society as the Coalition government attacks them.
We are working with a network of local government workers and other trade unionists to fight for this policy to be adopted and campaigned for in the unions and the labour movement. We believe that close links are needed between Labour councillors and the unions in the public sector whether they are Labour-affiliated or not. We believe that, with the confidence that unions are behind them, many more councillors can be encouraged to refuse to implement cuts - and with the knowledge that councillors will support them unequivocally, many more trade unionists will be prepared to fight back against cuts.
Most of us are Labour councillors and our campaign is sponsored by the Labour Representation Committee, but we are open to all left and labour movement councillors willing to pledge to vote against/refuse to implement cuts.
Whether you are a councillor, local government worker, other trade unionist, anti-cuts campaigner or Labour Party activist - get involved!
Image source: HarpyMarx