As results were announced some relieved faces underlined the fear Labour councillors had of losing control in Southampton after four years of carrying out Tory cuts and their vote falling by over 6%. The results give a glimpse of different trends that the establishment and Blairites in the Labour Party would like to gloss over in their haste to bury Corbyn.
Notably it was the fall in Tory votes by 6% that saved Labour, underlining the unpopularity of endless austerity, even then they still managed to lose a ward to the Tories in Sholing.
Debate rages over whether the Corbyn factor was positive or negative. Indications are that it was positive in some areas with Labour winning in Portswood for the first time in 35 years despite no campaigning and not putting out a leaflet.
Questions will also be asked of the campaign waged by UNITE and UNISON local council branches. Having carried a one-page ad in the local paper asking questions of candidates as to how council jobs and services could be protected in fear of a Tory victory, activists were sent out to Coxford, where local anti-cuts candidates Keith Morrell and Don Thomas have been re-elected with big majorities in the last two years.
If fear of losing to the Tories was the priority why weren’t activists sent to more marginal wards like Sholing which was lost, or seats like Bitterne Park where the Tories narrowly won?
It seems to be the case that right wing Labour fear a challenge from the left and went out to prevent a further anti-cuts councillor getting elected. They are right to be fearful. Underlining the support Keith and Don have built in Coxford in opposing cuts and defending council services, anti-cuts candidate, Tammy Thomas was elected with 45% of the vote and Labour nearly 500 votes behind.
The demand will now be raised of what can be done to fight the next round of cuts Labour plan to implement? It on this anger that a fightback against further cuts that should be mobilised amongst Corbyn supporters and the council unions. Southampton TUSC candidates continued to raise that call in the elections and will do so in the months ahead. Thanks to all of you who gave your support. Come and join us!
“THE TORIES HAVE SLASHED FUNDING TO SOUTHAMPTON COUNCIL BUT LABOUR COUNCILLORS HAVE SIMPLY CARRIED OUT THE CUTS.
WE NEED COUNCILLORS LIKE ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS KEITH MORRELL, DON THOMAS & ANDREW POPE WHO VOTED AGAINST BUDGET CUTS IN FEBRUARY.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE COUNCIL JOBS & SERVICES.
A UNITED CAMPAIGN OF SOUTHAMPTON ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS, TRADE UNIONS AND THE COMMUNITY CAN FORCE THE RETURN OF FUNDING STOLEN SINCE 2010.” Sue Atkins, Southampton TUSC
SOUTHAMPTON TUSC COUNCIL CANDIDATES: 100% ANTI-CUTS!
BASSETT: DAVID RAWLINSON
BEVOIS: ANDREW HOWE
BITTERNE: DEE STRUTT
BITTERNE PARK: LINDA BOULTON
HAREFIELD: GRAHAM O’REILLY
HAREFIELD: BO FLETCHER
MILLBROOK: PETE WYATT
PEARTREE: MIKE MARX
PORTSWOOD: NICK CHAFFEY
SHOLING: DECLAN CLUNE
SWAYTHLING: KEV HAYES
WOOLSTON: SUE ATKINS
WOOLSTON: GRAHAM HENRY
SOUTHAMPTON TUSC SUPPORTS ANTI-CUTS CANDIDATES:
BARGATE: JOHN EASTON
COXFORD: TAMMY THOMAS
REDBRIDGE: DENISE WYATT
SHIRLEY: DAVE FLETCHER
SOUTHAMPTON TUSC WORKS ALONGSIDE ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS: KEITH MORRELL, DON THOMAS & ANDREW POPE
Southampton TUSC Council Elections May 2016
We are standing in May’s council elections in Southampton to offer a 100% anti-cuts alternative to Conservative austerity and Labour councillors who say there is nothing they can do. We need more councillors like Keith Morrell, Don Thomas and Andrew Pope who have been prepared to vote against further cuts in the city.
All the Tory promises to return the country to economic growth and prosperity have turned to dust as cuts continue to the NHS, education and council services. Shamefully 24% of children in Southampton live in poverty and rely on food banks. No wonder that anger found a voice in the shock election victory of anti-austerity Jeremy Corbyn to leader of the Labour Party.
But all those hoping to see a change at Southampton Labour Council must be sorely disappointed as a further round of cuts were voted through.
Why are we being asked to pay in cuts to our council services while the Tories hand out massive cuts to big business and the super-rich? Why is the fifth richest country in the world seeing library funding cut, Bitterne NHS Walk-In closed, elderly care at Woodside Lodge and Brownhill House closed and a housing crisis that sees 15 000 on the council waiting list?
TUSC candidates are standing across the city alongside anti-cuts campaigners in Coxford, Redbridge, Shirley and Bargate to give a voice to those who want an end to austerity. We reject the argument of Simon Letts that there is nothing Southampton Council can do. Why not mobilise the anger in Southampton of council workers, their trade unions and the local community and demand the Tory government restores the £90 million funding to Southampton, cut since 2010?
To do this would mean calling a halt to further cuts and using the council’s £40 million reserves and borrowing powers to protect jobs and services.
The council found an extra £2 million to furnish the Arts Quarter with fancy door knobs, why not find the money for the Bitterne Walk-In or Brownhill House? Why not fund the libraries and youth services we need?
Such a stand would receive an enthusiastic response and heap enormous pressure on a weak and divided government. The government has been forced to retreat on cuts to tax credits and PIP disability benefits. Why not on council cuts?
Election launch public meeting: NHS GP Crisis, re-open the Bitterne Walk-In
Saturday 26 March, 2pm Bitterne United Reform Church
Bitterne Precinct (Above Iceland), Southampton
For more information contact Nick Chaffey 07833 681910
SUPPORT SOUTHAMPTON PEOPLE’S BUDGET
A BUDGET TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE CITY. A BUDGET TO FIGHT FOR!
Saturday 9 January 2pm, Meon Suite, James Matthews Building, Guildhall Square, Southampton. All welcome, full access.
What is a people’s budget?
It is a budget that is set to meet the genuine needs of the people who live and work in the city. It bases itself on the belief that Sotonians as service users, local authority or private sector workers and their trade unions, community groups or individuals, know about how to maintain and improve jobs and services. It is an alternative to the austerity driven agenda of the Tory government.
Sounds interesting, how would it work?
As a first step we want people to come together to talk about the current state of services in the city and what we need. From this the council could set a budget based on those needs, not driven by austerity. Support across the city can then be built to demand the government restores funding to deliver the services we need. Cuts are hugely unpopular, a People’s Budget would gain enormous support. This would then be costed and presented as an alternative to the cuts being proposed by the other parties.
I don’t like services being cut but haven’t the council tried everything already?
Every year local politicians ram down our throats the idea that austerity and cuts are the only option. The election of Jeremy Corbyn in September shows that there is genuine interest and support for a different approach. He has said that cuts are unnecessary and do not need to be made. We agree and call upon Southampton Labour led city council to adopt this idea.
We can’t spend money we don’t have can we?
Local councils have financial reserves and specific borrowing powers to enable them to fund a budget that would improve lives instead of ruining them. Southampton Labour Council must use these powers to set a legal, balanced, no cuts budget. Such a stand would gain massive support and force the government to restore council funding to the city. Jeremy Corbyn must back such a stand and give a commitment that a future Labour government would restore any money borrowed to protect jobs and services.
The Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition opposes all cuts to jobs and services and calls on Labour councils and councillors to refuse to implement Tory cuts. TUSC was launched in 2010 by transport trade union leader Bob Crow. In Southampton we support Coxford Councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, Councillors Against Cuts.
For more information contact Nick Chaffey 07833 681910 or visit http://www.tusc.org.uk
Southampton council meets on 18 November in the next round of council budget consultations. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters will be lobbying the council to defend jobs and services and back Jeremy Corbyn’s call to stop cuts.
Services currently under threat include six libraries in the city. Just £250,000 would keep them open and protect librarians’ jobs. NHS walk-in services in Bitterne have recently closed, despite a five-year long TUSC campaign. Just £120,000 would fund the nursing staff to re-open services there.
While these essential services suffer, Southampton council has found £2 million to complete its corporate arts centre project, now home to a new Nandos restaurant.
The council actually held £19.9 million in its ‘General Fund reserves’ at the end of the 2014-2015 financial year. It also has £62.8 million in ‘earmarked GF reserves’ which, however, can still be used to support services. Councillors make choices – why can’t they find the money for the libraries and walk-in services?
Over £90 million cuts have been carried through since 2010 in Southampton, devastating jobs and services.
After winning a majority on the council in the 2012 local elections, Labour has continued voting though Tory cuts and losing council seats along the way, while anti-cuts councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell (a member of the TUSC national steering committee) have been re-elected with huge majorities.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn has boosted support for the anti-austerity movement. During the Labour leadership he spoke in Southampton to close to a thousand people who cheered his call to end council cuts.
To build support for such a stand TUSC is organising a Southampton People’s Budget conference to identify what the city needs and how we can fight for it.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national chairperson Dave Nellist has warmly welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s decisive victory in the Labour leadership contest.
Speaking shortly after the result was announced at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London, Dave Nellist, a former Labour MP who served in the Commons alongside Jeremy Corbyn in the 1980s, said:
“Jeremy’s clear victory will now give a voice to the depth of anti-austerity feeling in Britain. He has clearly inspired huge numbers, particularly young people, with his call for free education, public ownership of rail and energy, and for councils to stand together in opposition to government cuts.
“TUSC will host the first national left-wing meeting to discuss the new situation in two weeks’ time [on September 26th]. I’m sure that meeting will welcome Jeremy’s victory, but in reality it’s just the first step.
“The TUSC conference will be making plans to write to every Labour candidate standing in next May’s elections to ask for a meeting with them to see how much they are prepared to back their new leader’s anti-austerity stance. In particular we will be asking Labour candidates if they agree with us that Labour councils should now combine together and refuse to implement the Tories’ brutal austerity agenda.
“Where we get a positive answer from Labour councillors or candidates we look forward to the possibilities of joint action against austerity.
“Where, however, Labour councillors or candidates are not prepared to follow Jeremy’s stance in opposing George Osborne’s austerity agenda, then TUSC will stand widely in the May 2016 elections in England, Wales and Scotland”.
Text for a model letter agreed by the TUSC national steering committee, which local TUSC groups can use to approach Labour council candidates, is available athttp://www.tusc.org.uk/17116/12-09-2015/model-letter-to-labour-councillors .
The TUSC conference is taking place on Saturday 26th September at Student Central, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY, from 11am to 4-30pm. To register go tohttp://www.tusc.org.uk/conference.php
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.