Grassroots Labour Party activists have taken a vital step forward in the fight against Tory austerity. Enfield North Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has passed a motion, published below in full, calling on Labour councillors in Enfield and across the country to resist any further cuts to council budgets, and to build for a national campaign of resistance in conjunction with the trade unions.
The importance of such a motion at this time cannot be underestimated. As the motion states, in the London Borough of Enfield alone “the council has already cut £178m” from its budget since 2010. Across England, local authorities have faced a 26% reduction in their budgets under the Tories, with the most deprived in society bearing the brunt of the cuts. Now, another £1.3bn is due to be cut. At the same time poverty and homelessness are rising dramatically.
We spoke to one local Labour member in Enfield North CLP, who commented on the significance of this motion:
“This ‘no-cuts budget' motion passed at my CLP meeting last week shows the people in Enfield that the Labour Party is serious about fighting to protect local services. After years of austerity policies we cannot have any more cuts to services without it having dire consequences for the most vulnerable people in our community.
"Labour Councillors were not elected to cut local services that people need. The Labour Party was formed by the trade unions to fight for the interests of working people. Labour councillors must now carry on this fight and say we will not cut services that people need. We support a no-cuts budget.”
As the Enfield comrade states, having been elected to represent the working class and the poor, Labour councillors must be prepared to make a stand against the government’s austerity programme - not only by voting against cuts in opposition, but by refusing to carry out any cuts on behalf of the Tories.
One Enfield councillor has already promised not to vote for further cuts. Supporters of the motion have contacted other local councillors to urge them to carry out the instructions of the local party.
A rally will also take place on 27 February outside the building where the councillors are due to vote on the budget. This is absolutely right and must be followed up with the utmost pressure from the local labour movement.
Any councillors in Enfield North who refuse to abide by the decision of the local party will have clearly renounced their role as workers’ representatives and should be deselected.
But this movement cannot be restricted to just one constituency. Enfield North’s call for Labour councillors to oppose the cuts should be a reference point for Labour activists in Enfield’s other two constituencies and across the entire country.
We urge all our supporters to raise similar motions in CLPs everywhere, and to help build a national movement to end austerity, bring down the Tories, and reverse the criminal cuts inflicted on the working class since 2010.
This CLP notes that local authority services are facing catastrophic funding cuts all across the country, as part of the Tory government’s policy of economic austerity.
In the London Borough of Enfield, the ruling Labour administration is preparing to comply with the latest round of Tory cuts, even though the council has already cut £178m since 2010. For the 2019/20 financial year it is planning to implement a further £18m of cuts. Vital services are under threat and the impact will fall most heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community.
Apart from being opposed to Tory austerity in principle, this CLP believes that if the Labour Party in Enfield implements a programme of Tory cuts it will risk bringing the Labour Party into disrepute and thus damage Labour’s electoral prospects.
However, this CLP also believes that our Labour councillors do have a choice about whether to comply with the Tories. The current Conservative government is the weakest in living memory. Austerity is not inevitable and the Tories can be defeated on this issue.
This CLP urges the Labour controlled administration in LB Enfield together with the three CLP’s with their roughly combined memberships of 3,000, and the borough’s three Labour MP’s to publicly commit to resisting the cuts using all legal means at their disposal.
This CLP therefore urges our Labour councillors to adopt a brave and principled position opposing the cuts and demanding that central government immediately grants funding back to pre-austerity 2010 levels.This CLP believes that a campaign, involving the council workforce through their trades unions, the CLP memberships and the wider working class communities from across Enfield can be built through a series of large anti-cuts public meetings, rallies and demonstrations, thus mobilising a huge groundswell of public support for the Labour councillors.
This CLP therefore urges the labour controlled council to start the campaign by:
Firstly setting a ‘No cuts budget’ involving the use of the council’s access to financial reserves and borrowing powers to avoid the implementation of cuts for this coming financial year (2019/20) and;
Secondly by using the valuable time gained during this financial year to build and mobilise a grassroots mass campaign of support for the councillors in time for the next financial year (2020/21).
An Enfield borough-wide conference should be convened, inviting all interested organisations (trade unions, anti-cuts campaign groups, tenants associations and community organisations etc) to come and discuss and then agree on the practical measures needed to support the councillors and resist austerity.
Above all this should be a national campaign. We are all facing the same enemy, the Tory government. Enfield Council should therefore reach out to Labour councils throughout London and the rest of the country so that a national conference of Labour councillors who are willing to stand up to the Tories can be convened.