We went to an anti-cuts meeting on 22nd Sept

Following a well attended anti-cuts meeting in the New Mechanics last night we read the following report on the Nottingham & Notts Trades Council website, Thursday, September 23, 2010:  Packed meeting of Trades Council condemns cuts and calls for united resistance

Trade unionists and community campaigners from across Nottinghamshire met on Thursday night to plan united resistance to the coalition government’s cuts. More than 150 people attended the meeting. The meeting was addressed by local MPs Vernon Coaker and Lilian Greenwood, both of whom condemned the cuts and offered their support to trtade unionsists opposing them. Nottinghamshire councillor and leader spoke of the devastating cuts being imposed by the Conservative controlled council. The meeting endorsed a call for a mass demonstration at the Conservative conference in Birmingham on 3 October. Nottinghamshire Trades Council will be running a free coach to the demo.

Get involved by contacting us at nottstc@gmail.com. If you have pictures or stories from the meeting please get in touch.

Here is a comment from one of us:

It was a great meeting and appropriate for the Trades Council to be one of the main bodies starting the fight back. It feels like the best thing since the poll tax rebellion, and it was great to hear speakers referring to the significance of community action in that struggle, how there is no real difference between workers and service users, and that we all need to be in that campaign. Also, there were people representing the views of retired and disabled people, again because there is no difference between our interests. We need to be creating and supporting groups of unemployed people and others on benefits to defend themselves too though. Some some people are already starting something up in that area.

But the write up ignores cuts that Labour have and are making. It’s worded very carefully to make it appear that Coaker and Greenwood spoke in support of people fighting cuts generally, which they pointedly didn’t. What’s the point working with Labour party representatives who won’t condemn or even pass comment on how the City Council should respond to the cuts. It’s all very well calling for unity, but you can’t be united with people responsible for wilfully destroying the public sector/putting it up for sale. I understand where it is coming from in terms of the various agenda’s of socialists who want to influence the Labour party and those who want to set up alternative workers’ parties. But you should make your agendas clear, not obscure them with bogus calls for unity. It’s just rhetoric and doesn’t reflect our reality. People will wonder why on earth a campaign against cuts is’united’with people making the cuts. They might be put off by not understanding such a confused message and we might lose them.

Anyway we all agree that we need to start trying to set up groups in all aprts of the city and county. We might not attract thousands until the cuts really start to bite, but we should be able to attract hundreds if we get our message clear and our agenda transparent.

We handed out this leaflet at the meeting: AREN’T LABOUR AS MUCH TO BLAME AS THE TORIES?

http://www.afed.org.uk/nottingham/af_anti_cuts_leaflet_sept_2010.pdf

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “We went to an anti-cuts meeting on 22nd Sept

  1. “So you’re only against some cuts?”

    It was a mixed night last night. It was really pleasing to see the turn out, to hear from some of the community groups organising, to hear what is going on at a local level and to hear the rising anger against the cuts.

    Less pleasing was the willingness shown by certain people to suddenly forgive the past sins of the Labour Party.

    This manifested itself most obviously by the appearance on the platform of local labour MPs Vernon Coaker and Lilian Greenwood. In a thankfully short speech, Vernon reminded us of the blatantly manifest fact this will not be won by giving speeches in Parliament. It will apparently be won by voting for the labour party. Vernon seems to be forgetting that several months ago he was campaigning for massive cuts across the board, just at slightly more staggered rate to the Tories.

    At one point Lilian Greenwood pointedly refused to condemn the labour council cuts going on at the city council after being asked a direct question. Vernon looked suitably embarrassed throughout, as well he might, seeing how as a government minister he has never once voted against the Labour line. Their self serving agenda was obvious.

    This auto-labourism of some of the left is just short-termist lunacy. I can only liken it to an abusive relationship. These people refused to lift repressive trade union laws and introduced market mechanisms throughout the public sector. People are losing their jobs in Nottingham as a result of labour cuts implemented by the Labour City Council. Indeed myself and my work colleagues at Nottingham Citihealth are currently preparing for the miserable experience of being put out to tender as the private sector looks to come on and extract a profit from the service, ripping up our terms and conditions and pay in the process.

    This involvement is bound to have a real and in my opinion, negative, effect on the groups ability to satisfactorily fight back. I didn’t seem to be the only one and the general opinion in the room seemed about fifty/fifty on the matter. As one heckler succinctly summed it up when giving Vernon Coaker a hard time, “So you’re only against some cuts then?”

    There was also an elephant in the room. Capitalism in its neo-liberal form is based on the opening up of previously public owned services to private capital in order to extract a profit from it. The nearest we got to this was lazy swipes at “Greedy Bankers”. We need to work backwards a bit more and see the underlying motivations that drive this greed. It is the constant need to accumulate and grow. This is one of the cornerstones of capitalism. There was no mention of this.

    The biggest cheer of the night came from the CWU organiser who said he would instruct his workforce not to cross picket lines of any other dispute. An act that is technically illegal. This is the key; solidarity. We need to encourage the linking up of struggles across workplaces, across sectors and between workers, service users and the unemployed. And we need to encourage them where necessary to break free of the legalism and bureaucracy that confines their struggles and to fight with their greatest weapon, mass targeted direct action. I hope we can go on and do this.

    Points were made from the floor that the poll tax was defeated by community organising that led to a mass non payments against BOTH labour and conservative councils. We need to build these movements. Leaflet your local shops, hold a stall at lunchtime, talk to your colleagues. The working class may be lacking in confidence but if history has taught us anything, where there are mass across the board attacks on us all at the same time, we can win.

    There’s a steering committee meeting on Monday at the ICC. Not sure what time but if you’re interested leave a comment or mail us and I’ll find out for you (or someone else comment below me) I would encourage everyone to go, if only to try and dilute the influence of the vested interests who normally try and dominate these things. This campaign must be run by us for us, not for the labour party or the trade union bureaucracy.

  2. Ross

    It is clear that the SWP are up to their old trick of brown-nosing it with the Labour Party. No doubt the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader will further fuel their vain hopes that the Labour Party can be radicalised.

    After the meeting last Wednesday I called into the Lincolnshire Poacher where local Labour cabinet member Councillor David Trimble holds court. When asked about his attitude towards the cuts, Trimble made it clear that he would do nothing effective to oppose them. Also it was evident that he is very well-pleased with the well-paid position he holds and will do nothing to endanger his retention of it. The same is obviously true of the likes of Veron Croaker and Lillian Greenwood.

    Trimble is typical of Labour councillors and MPs. Yes, they are in it for the money, business opportunities and imagined status. If any effective campaign against the cuts is to develop then it is essential to exclude such people.

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