There are local elections in 32 London boroughs and 119 councils in England on 3 May. Also mayoral ballots in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets, as well as in Watford and the Sheffield city region.
International Socialist League
These elections provide a great opportunity to build local and national struggles against the Tory government! Will Labour seize this opportunity to lead a mass combative struggle with unions and communities against austerity and cuts? Or, will Labour councils continue implementing Tory austerity, cutting services and jobs and increasing council tax to above inflation levels?
Workers want to fight. That can be seen with the university teachers and workers strike over pensions; the new union’s victorious strikes for cleaners in London (see interview in this SV); the rail workers fighting to keep guards on trains; and the struggles against capitals domination of working class areas in London as in Grenfell and Haringey continue.
The government claims that the economy is growing, so why do millions of people continue to suffer? The most oppressed and poorest in Britain continue to pay the price for the 2007 banking crisis and face a further onslaught as Brexit looms with a government whose purpose is to protect the rich and big business.
The ISL support left anti-austerity and class struggle candidates who stand against the unrelenting Tory austerity and its local implementation by Labour-controlled councils.
What can Corbyn do?
Launching the Labour Party local election campaign in Manchester, 22 March, Corbyn gave the impression that Labour would restore all council jobs and privatised services to council control, “Take Croydon. The Conservative council privatised the libraries and outsourced the workforce to Carillion. When Carillion collapsed, it was the Labour council that saved people’s jobs and the library by bringing them back in house. Labour councils are clearing up the Tories’ mess, time and time again, and acting as a human shield against damaging Conservative cuts.”
Corbyn praised Croydon but said nothing of the many Labour councils who have done nothing. If Labour is serious about following Croydon’s example, all Labour-controlled councils such as Liverpool, Manchester, and Stockport should be directed to adopt the Croydon approach.
However, across the country, Labour councils continue to apply austerity and have not even tried to build any resistance or fight on a socialist programme and policies. “Left” Labour councillors have consistently voted for cuts and the very few who voted against were expelled. Labour councils have closed libraries, cut services, cut social care, and attacked homeless people. Labour councillors also vilified campaigners against the now discredited Private Finance Initiative, which left the public footing bills of hundreds of billions and involved companies like the infamous Carillion.
If the Labour leadership is serious about implementing socialist policies then Labour councillors must be instructed to vote against cuts and call instead for a needs budget.
We applaud Croydon’s taking services back in-house, and remind readers of events in working-class history such the Poplar campaign in 1921 when the Labour council refused to raise the rates to the slogan “better break the law than break the poor”.
Standing against Tory austerity and Labour cuts
The ISL will discuss and link with others who are trying to build a Left class alternative to the Labour Party in opposition to the implementation of cuts and austerity. Standing on a socialist programme in Liverpool (Martin Ralph, End Austerity Old Swan Against the Cuts) and Stockport (John Pearson, End Austerity) are standing.
The two groups and candidates have campaigned continuously:
- Campaigned against cuts, in defence of the NHS; in defence of the rights of the unemployed, immigrants and minority communities.
- Supported all workers in struggle like the Arriva bus drivers, the rail workers, and education workers in defence of education in universities and colleges.
- Raised solidarity and support for the lengthy strike of the Durham Teachers’ Assistants who faced massive cuts to their wages and conditions from Durham Labour council.
- Provided support and help the poorest and most vulnerable who have faced overwhelming attacks on benefits and services
- Will continue to oppose and fight to defeat these brutal attacks on the working class.
OSAC was formed in 2013. In the 2016 local election OSAC achieved 12 percent of the vote, reaching second place behind Labour from a total of six candidates. Over the last five years, OSAC played an important role including in the campaign to keep libraries open and in providing solidarity and support to build campaigns and mobilisations with the Syrian and Sudanese refugee communities, and against immigration controls.
International Socialist League
We support all workers fighting (and some are winning) to end casualisation and to establish in-house working conditions and wages in all councils and public bodies.
We will help build a joint national struggle of public and private sector workers to link with neighbourhoods and oppressed groups in the struggle for socialism.
The ISL support OSAC, End Austerity, and Left candidates standing against all cuts and austerity. But we aim to go beyond an anti-austerity programme because to defeat Tory austerity we have to defeat capitalism. Only socialism can establish a socialist welfare state by the expropriation of the capitalist multi-nationals and banks and placing them under workers’ control by a workers’ government.