George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, got his cuts budgets through yesterday. So that’s £35 million cuts. Translated it will mean cuts in services and cuts in jobs. The Greens were funny as one of them made this rousing speech about alternative to cuts such as scrapping Trident, tax evasion and avoidance and so on…. She got some cheers and clapping from the public gallery but she ended the speech with, “But I am still going to vote for this budget”… But the Labour councillors, after heated debates…apparently, decided to abstain. What use is that? You aren’t registering dissent. So either you support the cuts or you vote again. Mealy-mouthed arguments for abstentions is meaningless. So why couldn’t Labour have taken the initiative, shame the Greens and voted against….??!!
“Labour took the decision not to attempt to block the mayor’s budget – what we cannot do is endorse and support the cuts this Conservative/Lib Dem government is forcing upon our city,” said Ms Holland.
How ridiculous! Labour doesn’t want to block the budget but equally doesn’t want to endorse the cuts… What fresh hell is this? Rather than pushing this pathetic argument Labour should have just voted against.
There is demoralisation no doubt, an inevitably that cuts will happen. Local government workers will be facing the impact of these vicious cuts along attacks on public services. The knock-on effects will be immense. A quarter of all children in Bristol live in poverty. The Bedroom Tax will have an impact on over 4500 Bristol families and over 1000 in Bristol North West. Bristol cuts cabinet may argue that they are trying to protect the vulnerable but how long can that last? They may think they are juggling the cuts but in reality the most powerless will be hit. More cuts are expects over the next 3 years.
With the attacks on jobs and services, the unions should be balloting members on strike action, working with other trade unions across Bristol uniting against the cuts along with anti-cuts activists. Labour could/should put forward an alternative to cuts but instead played an appalling role in abstaining, like that’s going to win any respect.
But then the national Labour leadership is more about prestige and power (winning in 2015) by doing not much.
Furthermore, arguments that if “we don’t make the cuts then Pickles will do it for us”… Then why not? Why not test the political and legal water? Equally organising with workers and activists building up an alliance, fight-back and alternative would make more sense and give leadership. Rather than just sitting back and abstaining. There will be more and more and more cuts and councils need to take this head on.
As it moved towards its no-cuts budget, a Labour council genuinely representing the interests of the labour movement would mobilise council workers, council tenants, and local communities for a fight. Obviously councillors can have little credibility when calling on workers and tenants to fight unless they make a stand themselves.
The council and the local labour movement should work together towards a concerted act of local working-class defiance – councillors refusing to budget within central government limits, council workers striking, council tenants rent-striking, residents withholding council tax – with the demand that central government restores the money for local services.
The future is bleak, the only forward is to organise grass-roots resistance especially with the attacks on the benefits systems, which will further blight lives. A strategy of no cuts has to be implemented. Austerity doesn’t work. It’s unsustainable. Labour councillors have to bite the bullet, defy and stand up against the cuts, but this has to be part of a national strategy. It’s alright for Labour to wait in the wings for 2015 and hope that the electorate will be so immiserated by these vicious cuts and vote for them. But what will be left, a burnt empty shell of an economy?
The only way forward is an organised resistance.
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson will hold his first public question time event at City Hall on Monday March 4th at 6pm.
The event will be held in the Conference Hall and admittance will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis with doors open from 5.30pm.
The Mayor will respond to questions from the floor, taking as many as possible between 6-7pm so we ask members of the public to keep questions brief and to the point.
Following the formal question time, members of the public are invited to remain between 7-8pm for an informal opportunity where the Mayor will mingle and speak with as many people as possible.
George says: “I am hoping for a good turn-out for this first public question time event on 4th March and am sure I’ll be kept on my toes. I want to use these sessions to hear people’s concerns and ideas for how we can make this great city even better, what works and what needs improving. This forum is not for politicians or political pressure groups who have other opportunities to engage but for genuine individual citizens.”
As a “genuine individual citizen” I am opposed to cuts. And any other “genuine individual citizens” who are anti-cuts should turn up.