HOW CAN CROYDON FIGHT BACK?
An important article in The Croydon Citizen has drawn attention to the continuation of service cuts that Croydon’s right-wing Labour Council is planning - cuts amounting to around £11 million so far.
If agreed, this will pile on more misery for Croydon residents.
We wait to see whether any Labour councillors will vote against - in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s stated strategy that Labour councils should fight back, not meekly pass on Tory policies!
Following Corbyn’s excellent campaign, there are now large numbers of people, both within and beyond the Labour Party, pressing for pro-worker policies and action.
Corbyn’s new Momentum organisation (see previous post) is a very positive development. Corbyn supporters within Labour have a major task to re-democratise the party and help turn it into a champion of the interests of working people.
The Croydon Assembly, meeting on 7th November, similarly has the chance now to help draw Croydon’s trade union movement into the No Cuts battle. Croydon desperately needs a united campaign not only to oppose service cuts, but also to put forward socialist policies that will turn the tide against the government’s pro-rich agenda.
Not unexpectedly, Croydon’s “Opportunity and Fairness Commission”, set up by Croydon Labour, is falling far short of what’s needed. Its interim report, just issued, highlights some of the dreadful conditions faced by so many Croydon residents; but it’s proposals fail to address any of the underlying causes of poverty, homelessness, unemployment.
Instead it offers a mishmash of volunteering and charity-based activity - with much Blair-style talk of “reaching out” and “working together”.
Behind every suggestion, between every line, is an impotent acceptance that, “there is no alternative” to austerity. That, “there is no money”, that, “cuts are unavoidable, and so on. It’s plain to see who sponsored the commission. Its approach overlaps substantially with Croydon Labour’s election manifesto.
Opportunity missed; fairness forsaken.
But in the new year, the council will be setting its new budget.
A Labour council COULD (and should!) be a people’s tribune. It could stand fast against austerity. It could lift spirits and hope by standing firm against service cuts.
At the budget session Labour councillors could announce, “NO! We are setting a budget designed to meet the needs of Croydon’s citizens - not a budget designed to meet Tory austerity!"
The budgeting period next year will offer an opportunity for a united, Croydon-wide campaign to influence councillors - some of whom may be feeling the sharp gusts of Corbyn's wind of change, and who in its wake may be willing to take a stand.
Many new Labour Party members, supporters of Corbyn, will be part of that fightback. We hope so.