cuts

Winning the argument, or winning the fight?

There’s been a lot of talk in the anti-cuts movement about the importance of ‘winning the argument’. This strategy holds that the best way to go about fighting attacks on wages, living conditions and services is to point out the flaws in the pro-cuts arguments and suggest alternative policies which would avoid the need for cuts.

Some even seem to think that if the argument is won, the government will see the error of its ways, stop the planned cuts and everyone can go home happy.

It isn’t hard to see where this strategy falls down. It certainly isn’t the weakness of the anti-cuts arguments; it’s been convincingly shown that these cuts aren’t ‘necessary’ at all.

Radical Workers' Bloc on the March For the Alternative

On Saturday 26th March the Trades Union Congress has called for a march against the cuts, and there is going to be a South London feeder march starting at Kennington Park which we will be joining. South London is one of the areas to be hardest hit by the cuts and has seen some of the most inspiring resistance to their implementation with the storming and occupying of town halls, the occupying of libraries and university buildings along with large demonstrations and regular small actions.

Protests and disruption at Liverpool Town Hall

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were amongst the crowd of 300 people who gathered outside Liverpool Town Hall to protest as the council set its austerity budget. With £91m of cuts on the table, local people and community campaigns - including the Park View Project to rehabilitate alcoholics and the Whitechapel Centre for the homeless as well as more than a few nurseries and SureStart centres - joined activists and campaigners to make the council hear their message.

At first, people huddled on the pavement on both sides of the road. Spirits were high and there was a lot of shouting and chanting, but it wasn't until one woman walked into the road with a banner and everybody else joined in that things really kicked off. This buoyed everybody's spirits even further and there was a mood of defiance in the air.

Drumming on the doors at Hackney cuts protest

After a slow start, protesters at a March 2nd demonstration in Hackney against Labour council budget cuts made their voices heard with a drive for the doors which temporarily saw panic in police lines amid chants of "let us in" and "it's your jobs next."

The night had started off slowly, with barely 50 people hitting the pavement outside the council's Mare Street headquarters as the cuts discussion and vote, widely seen as a rubber-stamping of government funding plans, went through.

But numbers grew as the evening got colder until around 200 people were stood outside the heavily-fortified building. Police picketed every door with at least three full riot vans on standby and barriers adorned the main entrance in a nod to events which saw Camden and Lewisham councils browbeaten by their subjects late last month.

Victory in campaign to save Levenshulme Baths

On 8 February Labour-run Manchester City Council was the first to announce its budget cuts - £109 million worth. Among community amenities being axed were several libraries, some advice centres and half a dozen fitness and leisure centres. The south Manchester neighbourhood of Levenshulme – ethnically and economically mixed with some pockets of severe deprivation was the worst affected – facing the loss of its leisure centre, Sure Start scheme and its historic swimming pools.

The baths were a contentious choice to cut by the council, which had spent more than £200,000 in 2010 upgrading the facilities  but was insisting full refurbishment was too expensive at more than £300,000 and the only viable option was to close it.

Protest in Newham

Members of NLSF from east London took part in the march against cuts in Newham being imposed by a Labour-run council.

Around 150 people marched on the last day of February in the cold and rain to voice their opposition to local cuts, of which £100million were voted through at the council meeting.[1] This means the loss of thousands of public sector jobs, community centre closures, cuts in the voluntary sector and care for the elderly.

Newham against the cuts is an independent anti-cuts group, but many of the leftists present seemed hopelessly stuck in the 1980s, shouting against the 'Tory Cuts!' and maintaining a stifling and defeatist attitude, even sticking to the pavements so as not to disrupt the traffic.

"This is the last thing we want to do" Really?

According to a headline in the Chronicle and Echo, "THE LARGEST cuts faced by Northamptonshire County Council in years have been approved by the Conservative leaders of the authority, despite the politicians admitting it was the last thing they wanted to do."

The last thing they wanted to do?

I can think of at least one option they could have taken.  Any councillor whose conscience was against the cuts could have taken the decision to resign their position.  But they didn't.

There are two conclusions:

1.  They actually did want to vote for the cuts, or

Red and Black Flags Fly in Northampton

Members of Northampton Solidarity Federation joined the protest outside the county offices this afternoon to oppose the cuts being decided upon inside.

In honour of the event the red and black flags of anarcho-syndicalism were waved causing a few people to come and ask us who we were and what we stood for.  A good chance to discuss our position in relation not only to the cuts, but to government and capitalist economy in general.

As a perk, many happy punters went home with a copy of Catalyst under their arm.

As for the event itself, it was a fairly mild affair, with a few speakers and a few chants.  All in all, less noise was made than at the picket in the morning, when a bunch of kids turned up in green t-shirts and enlivened the event.  Radical at 5 years old...

The next official anti cuts demonstration in the town is set for 12th March.

Anti Cuts Picket in Northampton

On the day that Northampton County Council meets to discuss and vote on local cuts, members of Northampton Solidarity Federation joined in the morning's picket of the county council offices.

Our poster and leaflet for the morning was a simple statement:

 

NO CUTS!
NO TORY CUTS!
NO LABOUR CUTS!
NO LIBDEM CUTS!
NO CUTS!

 

Highlighting the fact that these cuts come straight from the heart of our economic and political system, and not just from the whims of one party.  Labour were already engaging in cuts, and conditions for ordinary people were being attacked before the crisis: all that has changed is the pace.

NLSF Statement on Struggle in Wisconsin

The North London Local of the Solidarity Federation would like to show our deepest solidarity with the Wisconsin working class.  While we, like the IWW to whom this statement is directly addressed, share a critique of the trade unions we also recognize that the attack on public sector collective bargaining is much larger than the AFL-CIO.  It is full frontal assault on all workers in Wisconsin and will reverberate not only in that state but across the entire country.  Such a move will put downward pressure on the wages of private sector workers, organized and unorganized alike, will embolden employers to demand concessions, and, if successful, will likely be copied by state and local governments across the US.