Waltham Forest Labour’s jargon can’t hide brutal cuts

by Roy Wills, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Nowadays, Waltham Forest Labour calls its council cuts “tactical management actions”. When Labour councillors voted for £18 million worth of cuts, Waltham Forest trades council called a protest and, naturally, our local Socialist Party branch was there.

Those areas suffering include: care and support for the elderly; services for the disabled; and temporary housing for homeless families.

The council will also sell off public properties, or as it puts it: “Asset-led service transformation”.

The typical Labour councillor claims that there is simply no alternative, and that the fault lies with the tight-fisted Tory government. But another option exists, with the well-documented historic efforts of Liverpool’s socialist council of the 1980s that beat Thatcher’s cuts (see ‘Lessons from Liverpool’s socialist council 1983-87: Councils can resist cuts’ at socialistparty.org.uk).

Our members engaged the councillors as they arrived for the budget meeting. Many responded with a resigned shrug of the shoulders, referring to “unprecedented levels of demand”. But why are they implementing Tory cuts in what is highly likely to be the last few months of their administration?

The council is also reviewing its library service. Local volunteers arrived to plead their case.

They have seen the service deteriorate from its original incarnation to a woefully underfunded option, run only through the goodwill of concerned locals.

The clear message emerging from local government is: what you had last year, you will probably not get next year. At this rate, local councils will provide the statutory requirements, and nothing else.

Local towns will be just shops and unaffordable housing. The pleasant provisions for the community that were once fixtures will be regarded as optional extras. If it doesn’t make a profit, then why would it need to exist?

It sounds like an awful caricature, but decisions like the ones being taken by councils all around the country make it seem like a reality. Only a socialist programme can ensure a proper provision for local people. There is money in this country, it just needs to be redistributed properly.

Local resident and Socialist Party member, Nancy Taaffe, assistant secretary of the trades council, helped organise this protest. She’s planning to stand for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the North East London Assembly seat. She’s standing to put this fighting programme on the ballot.