Friday, 7 June 2013

Phil Clarke for Hanover and Elm Grove - 11th July 2013



The government is attacking public services to pay for the bankers’ crisis. These cuts affect everyone, but have hit the poorest harder with redundancies, wage freezes/cuts and cutbacks in benefits and public services. Meanwhile the profits, salaries and bonuses of the very richest soar. 

Mass campaigns are needed to oppose these attacks and genuinely anti-cuts councillors could help develop those campaigns. Unfortunately the Green administration is in disarray as it has failed to take a firm line and refuse to implement cuts. 

Staff at the bin depot face significant pay cuts, but why should they or any Brighton and Hove staff, service user or resident pay the price for the government’s cuts? 

Labour councillors voted with the Tories at the last budget meeting to increase the level of cuts! Across the country the handful of Labour councillors who vote against the cuts were expelled!

We need a genuine anti-cuts challenge in Brighton and Hove council not hand-wringing and crocodile tears. 

A single NO-CUTS councillor would be able to help build campaigns in our communities, workplaces and unions to defend our jobs and services.

•             No Council Tax Benefit Summonses

•             No to Academies and Free Schools – For Local Comprehensive Schools

•             Support the Campaign against outsourcing and privatisation at University of Sussex

•             Build mass campaigns locally to defend benefits, stop NHS privatisation

•             Build trade union strength and support the call for a 24 hour General Strike against austerity
·                     Oppose the development of National Park grade Downland at Toads Hole Valley

Monday, 8 October 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

TUSC Campaigning Locally


Across the country local authorities are facing significant cuts to their funding. In Brighton and Hove the first total of £35m will be slashed from the budget, with more to come. The government expects the council to 'find savings' - code for reducing and even closing local services – by attacking workers conditions, cutting jobs and exploring routes to privatisation. Across the country councils are refusing to wage a fightback, with only a handful of Labour councilors following their conscience and refusing to vote for cuts.

In Brighton the Greens won the election calling for no cuts, but completely failed to put forward (let alone carry out) a strategy to achieve that aim.

For TUSC this election is a campaign on a series of local issues, all linked to the need to wage a serious fightback against the government. Every campaign that is being fought for in Brighton and Hove must be linked to a campaign for a budget that opposes the government's cuts, that calls for the funding to be returned to our city, and appeals to other councils to do the same. We reject the divisive choices being asked of us, to prioritise one job or service above another. There is more than enough wealth within society to prevent any cuts taking place, but pointing that out is not enough, as trade unionists, campaigners, young people and others, we need to build a serious challenge to the cuts.

TUSC is a national coalition fighting to establish a real party of workers, the poor, of young people and so on. We feel let down by all the main political parties and believe it is about time a real alternative is built.

No to Council Tax Benefit Cuts

No return to Poll-Tax poverty! We call on Brighton and Hove Council to reject the demand from the Con-Dem government to cut council tax benefit. By proposing to cut the benefit paid to working-age people in Brighton, the council are passing the £2.5 million bill for tax cuts by a government of millionaires to the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of Brighton. We believe that this is a betrayal of the mandate for change and resistance to austerity that the Council were given in the 2011 elections.

The council’s proposals can only increase poverty poverty amongst the low-paid and wage-less citizens of Brighton, and continue attacks on our rights, such as the recent jailing of an 80 year old pensioner for a ten year old bill. Instead, our councillors should lead an active campaign by community groups, trade unions, student organisations and all those affected by the cuts in spending to demand that government return the £2.5 million cut to the benefit budget and the £35 million total stolen from our city by Cameron, Clegg and Osborne.


No Cuts to Disability Accommodation

The proposal to close some group homes for adults with learning disabilities must be rejected. These people are some of the most vulnerable living in our city and often have no voice of their own. They deserve the same rights as anyone else, and must be allowed to remain in their own home. to remove them from their own home for financial reasons is morally wrong and any move could have a detrimental effect on their health and well-being.


No Academy at Whitehawk Primary School

Th government plans to convert most schools into academies is an attack on democratically accountable local education, and a foot in the door towards privatisation. Academies are an attack on staff as well. A successful campaign against Varndean school becoming an academy was waged last year which saw an important alliance between staff and parents forged. While this issue once again highlights the need to campaign for a party to actually oppose academies (Labour introduced them while in government), local battles can be won against the academy agenda.

No to Outsourcing of University of Sussex services

This Summer the University of Sussex announced plans to “outsource” 235 jobs, in effect privatising large swathes of support staff from catering and facilities, and the services they provide, including health and safety, and security. This has been met so far by a furious reaction from staff and students on campus, with meetings and demonstrations of hundreds having taken place in the short time period since the plans were announced.

Universities often try to justify privatisation by arguing it reduces “waste” spending and improves efficiency. In reality however it is a clear move to cut university spending on what management may see as “waste”, but are actually essential services for staff and students

This is part of a trend that has been seen across the public sector as a whole over the last decade, and is being rapidly accelerated by the Con-Dems as part of their drive for austerity.  The private sector is salivating at the prospects of the selling off of hundreds of services, in local government, the NHS and education. The Olympic G4S scandal is just one in a long line of private sector failures due to cost-cutting and maximising profits.

The privatisation at Sussex is part of this agenda and must be resisted by workers and students as part of a united democratic struggle, carrying the message – education for public need, not private greed!

Trade Unions and October 20th

We encourage you to join the October 20th TUC demonstration in London, and contact brightontradescouncil@gmail.com for information on transport. This demonstration must be a springboard to a greater fight-back against the cuts including co-ordinating strike action for the same day for maximum impact, and it must become a campaign for a general strike in Britain against all the cuts. We also encourage you to join a trade union and get active in your workplace.

Why We Are Standing


The Con Dem government has subjected us to attacks on pensions, services, jobs, and welfare. However there is no alternative available to working and poor people; the Labour Party supports the cuts and offers no way to challenge them. The Green Party is administering cuts in Brighton, again with no strategy to fight back.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alternative supported by leading figures in the rail, teaching, civil service, prison officers and fire-fighters trade unions, along with many socialist parties and groups.

The U.K. is a polarised nation. The richest 1,000 individuals saw their personal wealth grow by 30% in 2009/10 alone; in 2012 their collected wealth came to £414billion, a sum which could wipe out the deficit nearly four times over! Unemployment, according to official sources, now exceeds 2.6 million. In Brighton & Hove there are 10,000 living in child poverty with health and educational implications.

Cuts are not necessary; the money is there in society not only to stop the cuts but to improve public services through investment. Tax avoidance and evasion by the rich costs the economy £120 billion a year.

Local councils and MPs need to fight-back against these cuts. They must use their powers to encourage campaigns against every outsourcing, against every academy and against every cut. The government mustn't be allowed to get away with anything without being challenged by the people whose lives they are affecting. As your TUSC councillor I will do everything I can to build a movement and campaign against every attack to the community and individuals, as well as do my utmost to represent you and campaign on your behalf.

Local councils led by councillors claiming to be anti-cuts must build a campaign to win back the funding that is currently being robbed from us. Liverpool Council in the mid 1980’s won £60 million from the Thatcher administration through a mass campaign, enabling mass house building and job creation. As a TUSC councillor I would fight every cut and use the role as a platform to build a mass campaign, not just talking about fighting back, but encouraging the community to fight back.

In Britain there is a desperate need for a party that stands up for ordinary working and poor people – we need party worth voting for, not just the lesser of two evils! TUSC is a big step towards such a party – if you agree, join us in building the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition!

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition fights for a genuine party of the working-class and poor. All of the mainstream parties are wedded to cuts, privatisation, protecting big business and the banks over the interests of everyone else. TUSC stood candidates in every Brighton and Hove election since 2010 and aims to build a new mass workers party. For more information please contact: tuscbrighton@gmail.com

For a full list of our policies and campaigning demands please visit: www.tusc.org.uk

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate chosen for East Brighton by-election




The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alternative supported by leading figures in the rail, teaching, civil service, prison officers and fire-fighters trade unions, along with many socialist parties and groups.

Jon Redford, South East Regional Secretary of the Socialist Party, will be standing in the East Brighton by-election. Jon was one of the principal organisers of the local demonstrations against the government's implementation of student fees in 2010.

I am standing on a platform of opposing ALL cuts. The Con Dem government has subjected us to attacks on pensions, services, jobs, and welfare. However there is no alternative available to working and poor people; the Labour Party supports the cuts and offers no way to challenge them. The Green Party is administering cuts in Brighton, again with no strategy to fight back.

Cuts are not necessary; the money is there in society not only to stop the cuts but to improve public services through investment. Tax avoidance and evasion by the rich costs the economy £120 billion a year.

The government must not be allowed to get away with anything without being challenged by the people whose lives they are affecting. As a TUSC councillor I will do everything I can to build a movement and campaign against every attack to the community and individuals.”

Contact:
jon_redford@hotmail.co.uk
07894716095
Facebook: Vote Jon Redford - T.U.S.C Against the Cuts - East Brighton 18th October
Local website: www.brightontusc.blogspot.co.uk
National Website: www.tusc.org.uk

Sunday, 23 September 2012

EAST BRIGHTON BY-ELECTION



Following the resignation of Labour Councillor Craig Turton, a by-election has been called in the East Brighton ward of Brighton and Hove City Council.  The election will take place on Thursday 18 October.

At a meeting last week, Brighton TUSC members unanimously decided to contest the vacant seat and to nominate Jon Redford as our candidate.

The Election Campaign

We will be canvassing regularly from next Tuesday. All offers of help welcome!

The first canvas will be on Tuesday 25th September. We will be meeting at 6.00 pm outside the main entrance to the Sussex County Hospital on Eastern Road (by the bus stops).

We hope to canvas two nights a week (normally on Tuesday and Thursday) and on Sunday afternoons. Leaflets are already being produced.

Regular weekly campaign meetings will be held after the Tuesday canvas. 

More information will be posted asap. 


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Greece: the elections of 17th June - Reform, Resistance & Revolution


An open public meeting following the Greek elections of 17 June 2012,  where Syriza, a socialist / left of social democrat / radical left coalition narrowly failed to become the largest party in Greece at the elections, having campaigned on a radical left anti-austerity programme. 

Now there is in power a pro-austerity coalition of the old neoliberal parties: New Democracy (conservatives), PASOK (the `New Labour type `ex-socialist' party, supporting the cuts) and Democratic Left (which isn't very left!)

This is a crucial time in the history and development of democratic socialism / Marxism in Europe, with intense anger, suffering, politicisation, class consciousness and the development of organs of class resistance.

Main speaker: Dimitris Tzanakopoulos (Syriza)

Dimitris is an experienced young comrade, who for some years was on the leadership of Synaspsismos, the main constituent of Syriza. He was Secretary of the Central Council of the Youth of Synsaspismos from 2005 to 2009 and a member of the Central Committee during the same years.

Second speaker: Sofia Hilari (Antarsya)

Sofia is a long-time activist in Antarsya

Chair: Dave Hill who works with OKDE-Spartakos and Antarsya Greek comrades in Greece, alongside Syriza comrades, and has just come back from the Greek elections in Athens, having taken part in political meetings and demonstrations/ strikes over the last 2 years in Greece. Dave will present the Antarsya perspective –critical support for Syriza- as part of the open debate.



Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hi, here are the TUSC results from the TUSC website at www.tusc.org.uk

outside London these are by far better than TUSC votes in previous years

3 candidates polled over 40% of the votes in their ward/ electoral area (two were elected as councillor)

13 TUSC candidates received more than 10% of the votes in their ward

a total of 48 TUSC candidates received more than 5% of the votes in their ward

50 more (making a total of 98) candidates received more than 3% of the votes

the other 34 TUSC candidates received between 1% and 3%

TUSC stood around 130 candidates

I haven't time to do the average vote for the c.130 TUSC candidates, but as an estimate it appears to be in excess of 6%. Is this the best performance in local elections for a long time for a far left/ socialist party?

(I've done this hastily, may be minor inaccuracies)

The full list of TUSC results is iat www.tusc.org.uk


Dave

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Brighton TUSC Resources

By-election Leaflet
Full colour versions of our leaflet and poster for the 22 December Westbourne by-election are now available online:

Print friendly layout (gateway fold)


Council budget blogs
TUSC members in the Socialist Party have been blogging about the Green Council in Brighton and the budget process:


Get in touch
Finally, if you'd like to learn more or get involved, please email brighton.tusc@gmail.com

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Are Green Councillors Hands Tied? Or Are They Tying Ours?

Green Cuts Budget Proposals
'Are Green Councillors Hands Tied? Or Are They Tying Ours?'
by Jon Redford, Brighton and Hove Socialist Party
(first published at http://brightonhovesocialistparty.blogspot.com)


The Green budget proposals were released on 1st December. In the face of a 33% reduction of funding from central government they are proposing that £35m of cuts are made over the next two years. Most departments are facing between 5-15% cuts in services. The main cuts over the year 2012/13 will be to adult social care (£3.2m), children's services (£2.78m), housing (£2.09m), communities (£1.1m), city regulation and infrastructure (£4.85m) and resources and finance (£1.85m). Up to 120 council jobs will be lost.

IMAGE: CHART OF CUTS IN BRIGHTON AND HOVE

There will be increased parking charges and charges for registering births, deaths and marriages, scrapping mobile libraries, reducing library opening times and closing public toilets. The cuts in areas such as adult social care and children's services will see day centres, meals on wheels and community care cut, as well as cuts to mental health services, childcare training schemes and children's centres. In particular school attendance budgets and assistance to young people not in education, training or employment will face cuts. Many more details of areas that will face cuts can be found in the budget itself, although not in the press releases so far issued by the Greens.

In addition the Greens are foregoing a one off grant from central government to prevent a one year council tax rise, instead implementing a 3.5% rise. Whilst the Greens are correct to point out that the government's offer is a poisoned chalice; it only lasts for a year and would result in lost funding in the long-term, it is not acceptable to offset cuts with tax rises that impact disproportionately on the working-class and poor. This council tax rise is not being used to invest in new services, it is being raised to mitigate the harmful effects of the overall reduction in government funding.

IMAGE: CHART OF FORMULA GRANT REDUCTION TO BRIGHTON AND HOVE

Can Councillors Fight the Cuts?

Brighton and Hove Socialist Party has consistently argued that genuinely anti-cuts councillors would build a mass movement to refuse to make the government cuts. In Q&A notes released at the same time as the budget the Greens take up this question:

Q: Why not defy the Government and refuse to set a budget - or set an uncut one?

A: These are not the defiant 1980s. Nowadays, if we set an illegal budget, an unbalanced budget (where spending exceeds income) or no budget, it will just be set for us by the Council's Chief Finance Officer or a central Government civil servant.”

This is an incredibly important question. They argue that their hands are tied, and a fight-back is simply not possible. If it was true that the council cannot fight this funding reduction then the question for us would be the same questions facing the Greens. However we are not just limited to the options the government present us. The aim of the workers and anti-cuts movements must be to make our own 'option' instead of shuffling along behind variations of a theme we disagree with. More importantly the position put forward above is false.

It is strange to hear them say “These are not the defiant 1980's” only a day after the biggest strike in Britain since 1926, and probably Brighton's largest ever demonstration! The announcements made in George Osborne's Autumn statement made it clear the pain was not yet over, and in fact it would continue for a further two years of austerity after 2015. Disposable income will remain below its 2002 levels as the government aims to reduce public spending to 1998 levels. It is hard to see how the defiance of the 1980's will not return or be surpassed in the coming period!

IMAGE: BRIGHTON PROTEST N30

Politics is not just (or particularly) a matter of council practices and procedures; a mass movement of the working-class can decide questions that politicians can only wistfully chew over for decades. However where is the campaign to demand the funding back from the government? Why have the Greens immediately set about making the cuts? They are silent on the fight-back, and have conducted a consultation which is as a result deeply divisive. That has done nothing to build a movement against the cuts, and everything to undermine it.

IMAGE: ONLINE BUDGET CALCULATOR

Not only have the Greens rejected the idea of using the budget setting process to fight for money to be returned to the city, they seem to have rejected the idea of any campaign at all. The Greens are looked to as an alternative to the main three parties (Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem) in the city, if Green MP Caroline Lucas (who has so far said nothing about the decisions of the council) announced a demonstration, backed by the anti-cuts and trade union movement it would no doubt be taken up by many thousands and signal even more that Brighton is willing to fight. Such a campaign does not in itself mean passing a needs budget, although we argue that is the necessary final step; otherwise the movement will be like a lion with no teeth or claws.

What is the Law?

If anti-cuts councillors took a stand and pushed for a budget that reflected local need instead of the government's directions for cuts, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) could issue a report to the council under s114(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which the council would have to respond to within 21 days.

The chief finance officer of a relevant authority shall make a report under this section if it appears to him that the expenditure of the authority incurred (including expenditure it proposes to incur) in a financial year is likely to exceed the resources (including sums borrowed) available to it to meet that expenditure.” s114 (3) LGFA1988

However the council can reject this guidance; it is false for the Greens to argue the CFO can force the budget through. According to the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy report on the role of the CFO in local government,

If the authority (or the executive) acts positively on the s114 (114A) report, well and good; if not, any further formal action is to be taken by the external auditor...”

There are then three courses of action available to the external auditor,section 6 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 or the issue of an ‘advisory notice’ under section 19A or an application to the Court for a declaration under section 17 of the 1998 Act. The first option allows the external auditor to require information to investigate, while the second allows the external auditor to issue a notice to the council explaining they are overspending. However the law is very clear:

“An advisory notice is a notice which...requires the body or officer before i) making or implementing the decision or ii) taking or continuing to take the course of action... to give the person who is for the time being the auditor of the accounts of the body not less than the specified number of days’ notice in writing of the intention of the body or officer to do that thing.” 19A(3)(d) ACA1998

In other words, the council can decide to proceed as long as they inform the external auditor within a set period of time of their intention to do so. The external auditor may then apply for a court order under section 17 which may result in an order to rectify the accounts but since 2002 and the passing of the Local Government Act 2000 it may no longer result in personal liability for the councillors.

Once the CFO has issued a notice to the council and it has been rejected the councillors could be referred to the Standards Board, a process which takes months and which we could use as a platform to gather support for refusing to make the cuts. While it may end in suspension it is not a short, rubber stamp procedure. We would make it as transparent a process as possible and call demonstrations to put focus on the fact that anti-cuts councillors attempting to resist government cuts are being hauled before the Standards Board! Anyone involved in the anti-poll tax campaign will know that court procedures can become a weapon in our hands, they can become a platform to express our ideas or a way to create a massive backlog.

Impact on Councillors

The impact on individual councillors will not be a personal fine as with the Liverpool councillors, after the law changed in 2000, but (at worst) a suspension. Green councillors need to ask themselves whether fighting the cuts is more important than their council seats? But if a movement was built to refuse the cuts, if the councillors used the standards board procedure as a platform to further build the campaign and deepen the mass following they had built, and still the government suspended them, nothing would stop us restarting the process and running in the by-election on the same program of refusing to make the cuts!

Imagine the uproar if they, after all that, imposed commissioners! What difference is there in principle between the Greens (or any other party) being forced to carry out the government cuts, or the government itself directly imposing them? The question is whether we are going to fight or not – and councillors need to decide which side they are on. The Greens may argue there is not difference in principle, but in practice they are able to protect the most vulnerable. However as the details of this budget emerge it is clear there is very little option available to them but to cut services. As the Greens themselves said 'there is no fat left'. If they do not fight for the extra funding they will be cutting into meat and bone.

Ultimately whatever action the government may or may not eventually take depends on the campaign waged to oppose the cuts outside the council chamber. The most recent example of a campaign to resist local government cuts was in Liverpool in the 1980's. The threat of imposing an unelected government commissioner was made by the Thatcher government but they did not take this step, instead they waited for then leader of the Labour party Neil Kinnock to attack the council before picking off the councillors Had they imposed commissioners it would have sparked an even bigger fight-back as a result, especially against the backdrop of the miners strike in 1984-85.

IMAGE: LIVERPOOL DEMONSTRATION

The Greens plead with the movement while they are making the cuts 'our hands are tied, we are doing our best to oppose the cuts by directing the axe'. However the law looks very different. If they cannot demonstrate that their hands are tied by the law, then we have to conclude it is the Greens themselves that are tying the hands of service users, local authority staff and trade union members in Brighton and Hove!

The conclusion that we draw is that the Greens should be waging a campaign but they are not. So we have to build a political force that will do all of this, that is rooted in and depends on a mass movement of the working-class to achieve its aims. That is why we are proud of the role we have played at the core of the strike movement and the rebuilding of the trade union movement in Brighton and Hove; confidence and democratic organisation is needed to oppose this government's unjust pension reforms. We are proud to be part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, standing in the Westbourne by-election. We are proudest of our call for a strategy to win the fight against the cuts, to end the capitalist system which breeds them and replace it with a democratic socialist society!