Search This Blog

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Councillors against austerity

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has led to new speculation about a wave of councils and councillors leading a resistance campaign against government cuts by refusing to vote through balanced budgets.  Some Green Party members have, indeed, criticised the minority Green administration in Brighton for failing to be the vanguard of such a wave, in the past.

In Liverpool, the Green council group has, previously, rejected such a path as not being in the interests of the people of Liverpool and having a vanishingly small chance of a successful outcome.

What would Jeremy do?

But some people are expecting or hoping for Jeremy Corbyn to back such a strategy.  As far as I can find out, Jeremy Corbyn as a local MP for Islington has held back from criticising his local Labour council when they have voted through balanced budgets which take account of cuts to the money that central government has taken from the council's bank account. 
I would expect him to be consistent with that and to agree that it is central government - and only central government - that is responsible for the vicious austerity regime from which we are all suffering.

At the AGM of Liverpool Green Party on 23rd September, we debated this issue and passed the following resolution which, for the time being, informs our campaigning up to the mayoral and council elections in May.  The door remains open to further debate, however.
Liverpool Green Party needs to decide on its position on how to campaign against cuts to council services.

Up till now, we have taken the position that the responsibility for cuts to services lies with the national government which is cutting the funding to the city council.  Each year, the Green group on the council has proposed budget amendments which have sought to mitigate the cuts to services, for example by proposing council tax increases, and to argue for some different spending priorities.

Because we have not seen any way in which the council can force government to restore the money it has taken away from the council's bank account, we have not proposed any budget amendment which would spend money which the council does not have.  If our amendments had been accepted, the budget would still have balanced.

Also, we have moderated our criticism of the local Labour administration.  To be fair to them - even though this fairness is seldom reciprocated - we have not blamed them for trying to manage with depleted resources and making cuts.  Our campaign against cuts has been targeted on central government.

There is an alternative position, advocated by parties such as TUSC, which does place blame on local councils for passing on the spending cuts that follow from cuts to government funding.

This meeting requests the Green Party council group to continue to hold the position of mitigating cuts locally and resolves to continue to campaign against national government cuts to local authorities.


No comments:

Post a Comment