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Politics

Hull is the Liverpool of the 2010’s: Why the Labour Council Must Fight These Cuts.

In the early 1980’s the Thatcher Government realised that the best way to neuter popular resistance to her brutal anti working class Government policies was to try and destroy the Labour Party as an effective force in local government. 

Instead of the public being allowed to vote in Labour Councils who were committed to targeted raising of the rates in a way which protected services without making the poor bear the brunt of rises, the Tory Government slashed central Government support and legislated to reject local democratic decisions by restricting the amount councils could collect; so called “Rate Capping”. 

The Tories targeted Labour held councils by introducing a race to the bottom. They argued that Authorities such as poverty stricken Liverpool should spend per capita at the same level as areas in the UK of relative wealth such as Dorset. They deliberately ignored deprivation indicators and spun the lie that somehow rich areas were subsidising their poorer neighbours. Classic divide and rule tactics. They portrayed the people of cities such as Liverpool and indeed Hull, as spongers enjoying an easy life whilst people in work sweated and paid tax. These are exactly the same arguments we hear parroted ad nauseum at the Tory Conference year after year. 

Many Labour Councils found themselves in the firing line for cuts as Tory Environment Secretary Patrick Jenkin drew up the Local Government settlement for 1984/5. The reason that Liverpool became a cause celebre was that the Labour Councillors there refused to lie down and die whilst their communities were wrecked by cuts.

The Tories punished Liverpool heavily in comparison to other cities. In election after election the people had voted for a Council that invested in its communities with projects to build and modify social housing. The Council had investigated how to improve morale and reduce crime by building flower gardens and painting estates. The atmosphere of mutual respect created saw incidences of anti social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti fall, and community spirit start to be restored in the wake of the 1981 riots.   

There has been a lot written about what unfolded in Liverpool during this mid ‘eighties period, and the victory won by the Council over the Tory Government has been lost amid recriminations about what happened subsequently. 

Yes, mistakes were made. Yes, the way that the District Labour Party conducted itself doesn’t reflect well on certain groups including Militant. 

 But that’s the story the Tory dominated media want to tell. They don’t want to tell how Patrick Jenkin made a humiliating retreat and was forced to issue a rebate to the Council. Why? Because the solidarity engendered amongst the community on Merseyside truly terrified Thatcher and her cohorts. If this model of cooperation had been replicated across the country (as it later would be regarding the Poll Tax) then the so-called Iron Lady could have been forced from Office. 

Hull is the new Liverpool. The savage cuts visited upon this City are a crime against the community. You should judge a Government and a Society on how it treats its most vulnerable people. By this measure the UK fails that test. 

Children’s and Young People’s Services in Hull, the frontline in the fight against poverty and an investment in our future saw a monumental 20% cut in funding. This means there is 300 less staff to look after our young people. And it has just been announced a further  90 posts are set to go because of the deliberate targeting of young people by this Tory Government. 

It is not hard to forecast how this will ultimately impact. The Peter Connolly tragedy, and the Climbie case spring to mind. God knows we hope and pray because it is too upsetting to think about, but these cuts are playing politics with people’s lives. Literally. 

This Tory led Government has no mandate for what is unfolding. The Labour Council in Hull does have a clear mandate from the voters. They didn’t vote Labour for the Party to be mild and complicit in implementing cuts. They voted Labour precisely because they do not want to see their City cast aside and communities wrecked. 

The Public are ahead of the Party leadership, nationally and locally. There is a vast pool of talent in the Labour Group who hate what is happening and must yearn for the chance to make a stand. Every single street level campaigning activity this year has told us on the ground that the people are shocked and disgusted. They need leadership and only the Labour Party can deliver it. 

We have the talent, we have the will, and the public want it. Lets fight these cuts. 

LOBBY HULL CITY COUNCIL. THURSDAY 18th OCT 4PM GUILDHALL

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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