“Unapologetic attack on austerity” at Southampton Corbyn rally
A call for an end to austerity, from Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Southampton on 25 August, was met with a standing ovation and cheers from a near 1,000-strong audience. They were enthused by his unapologetic attack on austerity.
From the chair, Unite national political officer Jenny Formby welcomed everyone “to a meeting of socialists.”
Once again the huge turnout nailed the lie that there is no support for an alternative to austerity or a willingness to fight back. Corbyn’s calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage, affordable council housing and an end to cuts to local government were met with cheers.
In a limited discussion he gave backing to calls from the floor for opposition to fracking and support for council care homes and free national childcare.
The demand to defend local government and provide funding and borrowing powers for councils to tackle the housing crisis raises questions of what Labour councils and especially councillors who are backing Corbyn’s campaign, should do to stop the cuts.
Southampton Labour councillor Cathy McEwing, speaking from the platform, said the fightback had to start now. This is in the face of further cuts to council services in Southampton of £40 million in next year’s budget.
What should councillors do to build this fight back?
Does this mean that councillor McEwing and others supporting Corbyn will now refuse to vote for further cuts? Opposition to cuts must include mobilising support in the trade unions and community to set needs-based budgets. If they do, Socialist Party members will give our full support, to build on the successful stand and re-election of Southampton Councillors Against Cuts, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas.
However last week, councillor McEwing and the Southampton Labour cabinet voted through £9 million of cuts, including cutting funding to five libraries. If this continues, Labour will continue to lose support and open the possibility of a return of the Tory council which was defeated by the strike action of council workers in 2011.
This support for Corbyn must be translated into a call for Labour councils to refuse to implement further cuts. However, those councillors who continue to say there is nothing they can do, who continue to vote for cuts, will need to be challenged again by anti-cuts candidates standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.