TUSC Against Cuts
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition says:
No to Cuts and Privatisation!
Make the Bosses Pay!

Monday 27 January 2014

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Rebel councillors slam Southampton's 'sham consultation' on cuts budget

The 'rebel councillors' and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee members, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, have denounced Southampton's Labour-controlled council for holding a 'sham consultation' on this year's city council budget rather than organising a mass campaign to save public services.

The following statement was published in the 'In Our View' column in Southampton's local paper:

In Our View

City needs leadership, not sham consultations!

The Labour leaders of Southampton city council are being deceitful when they claim that by 'consulting' residents about their planned cuts in local services and jobs they are involving them in the democratic process. Regardless of the number of people who took part in the so-called 'consultation', the cuts will go ahead - services will be reduced and council workers put on the scrapheap.

Betrayal of election promises

When Labour campaigned to take control of the city council in 2012 they promised to protect services and jobs, but within weeks of winning, they had changed their tune. Announcing savage cuts in last year's budget, the current council leader was quoted as saying that "We've cut out the fat, cut into the flesh down to the bone. This is (now) removing limbs". And the butchery will go on, and on, into the future. The city council's Chief Financial Officer has warned councillors that the longer the cuts go on, the more difficult it will be to protect even vital services to the most vulnerable.

If not an alternative, what's the point of Labour?

Labour councillors say that because the Conservative and Lib Dem government has reduced the city's funding they have no choice but to cut local services and jobs. But Labour councillors were elected too, and have a responsibility to the people of Southampton who elected them. Labour campaigned to protect jobs and services, but if they simply wave a white flag of surrender and won't fight back against a Conservative government, in what way is this Labour council any different from the previous Conservative one?

Magnificent fight-back by city council employees

If Labour councillors need an example of how fighting back can pay off, they need look no farther back than to the months before they were elected to power, when the previous Conservative council cut the wages of city council employees. The workforce and their trades unions refused to agree to the cut, fought back and won the understanding, support and respect of people across the city. For months they fought the Conservatives and in so doing contributed to the election of this Labour council. Making a courageous stand works!

Southampton's lead would inspire others

There is still time for the Labour leadership of the city council to turn surrender into victory. Instead of inviting our citizens to take part in a sham consultation and choose for themselves 'which of their limbs they wish to cut off', the council should use the legal powers available to it to defend services and jobs and begin immediately the task of building support across the city for a campaign to force the government to adequately fund the city's needs. Such a stand would be an inspiration to, and draw in behind it, other local authorities across Britain and stop this government of the rich and powerful in its tracks.

Councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas
Putting People First!