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'Carrying out orders' is no defence for Labour councillors

Local councils in England will shortly get the news they’ve dreaded hearing ever since George Osborne announced his massive cuts package last month – details of the reduced funding they will get from Whitehall for 2011-12.

Osborne’s “spending review” is based, among other calculations, on slashing local government spending by a mammoth 27% over the next four years. To achieve that, central government grants could be cut by over half, according to independent analysis.

The Coalition has frozen council tax – the only other major source of council funding – so the net result has to be the axing of tens of thousands of jobs, the devastation of essential local services and a sharp rise in charges to local residents. Birmingham City Council is already planning to cut its workforce by 10,000 over the next four years.

Areas like the North-east, where public sector jobs are the mainstay, will be the hardest hit. The Association of North East Councils has written to ministers telling them that they are “undeliverable” unless the government wants to devastate the region, especially as the cuts are scheduled to be heaviest in the first of the four-year cycle in a process known as “frontloading”.

Some Labour-controlled councils are not waiting for the grant announcement. Earlier this week, Lewisham Council passed a £16 million cuts budget amid a stormy protest.

Others like Lambeth leader Steve Reed are making excuses in advance for carrying out government diktats. Writing on his blog, Reed admits that councils “across Britain [including his own] are working out how to implement funding cuts on a scale not seen since before the Second World War”. His main gripe is that the cuts are being “frontloaded” to force councils to close services down “rather than manage the cost reductions in a more sensible and measured way.”

But when all is said and done, Reed and his fellow Labour councillors intend to make the cuts as demanded while claiming that they are not their fault because they originate with the Coalition. That’s true of course – but someone has to carry them into practice and Reed and Labour councillors around the country may moan and groan but they will obey orders because to do otherwise would mean defiance and potentially put them outside the law. And we can’t have Labour councillors put in such a dangerous and difficult position!

If any of them had an ounce of political courage, Labour councillors who control most major authorities would resign their seats and fight bye-elections on the pledge of refusing to draw up and pass a cuts budget. They would mobilise their communities and council trade unions to fight the Coalition in the way Lambeth Council of the early 1980s fought the Thatcher government. But don’t hold your breath on this one. Instead, they intend to pass on the cuts and smash services.

In these circumstances, local communities and local authority trade unions have no other choice but to begin a struggle to oust the councillors from their cosy offices and council chambers. They should reject the argument that councillors are just “carrying out orders” because this not an acceptable defence. Let the Coalition send in their own people to do the dirty work.

The way the cuts are being made ready at town hall level prove once and for all that local government is a fiction. We are talking centralised, undemocratic Whitehall control. Local democracy died a long time ago and it’s time to move on. That’s one of the themes for discussion at the December 11 People’s Assemblies event in London. Register for it today.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
3 December 2010

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Jonathan says:

They don’t, it should be admitted, of course, originate with the Coalition but with the objectively true nature of the crisis and as implemented by the WHOLE ‘political class’ that was created by the ‘first phase’ of the tactic of entrenchment within capitalism. In the ‘UK’ as to Thatcherite attacks on communities and education, industrial workers, and most notable miners this lesson of ‘living with the enemy’, of cohabiting, was hammered home. ‘Us’ (re)created in a struggle against the states education policies, to save communities, but boiled down to a struggle against this sage lot now itself ensconced and ‘committed’ to the necessity of cuts.

Now they are ensconced in this or that elective office, in this or that lever of power, a towering cowardliness overtakes them: can I be the executioner?  From coat trailer to this; these, now, who are ‘entrenched’ in ‘town halls’ and wherever. As is said in “ their cosy offices and council chambers. These ‘individuals’ have now ‘come of age’; youthful inexperience replaced by the enthusiasm of the battle hardened. These people didn’t get, or receive, in the past, a ‘real opposition’ from the power groups or their media representatives, (from whom they did, though, get extensive coverage), because of some essential content, but as to their well worded presentation and pretensions which afforded them therefore coverage against the actual opposition, and of their truly heroic fight against it. I’ve personally being going over how they behaved on this or that issue through my political or active life. I thought to remember the struggles inside the NUS & USI. Their toadying attitude is now exposed, and confirms as to that past, by their entrenched opposition to those who would actually lead, and would have lead, a fight.  And, not least, their cringing fear as to the rising anger, towards which they make brave faces and pretend they, might, just might, do ‘something’: they brave it out. Not fight against the destruction imposed by the attacks on communities or for the defence of jobs or by  seeing off of Capitalist Policies: but of the fighting of us and misleading those surging forward, for us, that is those who were trained in the school of opposition towards any twist and turn of, and as  to, attack say on, Education, Mine closures, access to Museums, Ford’s new policies, and the one that taught me so much as to my planet, Steel Mills, and the one that taught me their ‘real nature’: third level education (also a little accountancy as to ‘actuaries’). This is the other source of the crisis that has been resurfaced and spawned: creeps and toadies. For it is the social relations of power. Whether it is ‘born again ‘ or ‘the second coming’ will come out, but certainly without their ‘essential fight’ against real opposition in the 60’s & 70’s they would not have been strutting their stuff and would not, now, being handed the axe. The initial stage heading toward this  Slumping not only created credit-swaps but now a new layer of ‘defence lawyers’, of ‘opposition’, of those who pretend to put up resistance but actually do plea-bargains: the Planet can no longer allow for Bargains because Mephistopheles has to have the hindmost, actually he has to have the soul. The human species can afford no longer, can allow no longer for living off its own far distant future, its own past essence, it can not eat itself for breakfast and live till tea; we are left to this by those now ensconced in this or that elective office . Let us not forget those that failed miserably to fight a real enemy, fought hard as those who did suggest a fight against one, and therefore would  lead a fight, when this or that expression of the end of capitalism, of Thatcherite (or wherever) dismantling of the open education system, of  Deregulation and when its associated affects started. Those failures Normally it would objectively be easier to excuse or put down as a failure as too their analysis; not this time! Normally the ‘personal’ failings to combat the intricacies of the complications of the development and decay of Capitalism could be cited as a reason to ‘let off’ this or that person, this or that group or layer. But this is neither ‘The Young Hegelians’ nor even the pressure brought to bare on members and followers of the Third International in those times existing, those seemingly distant times but imprinted firmly on the never ending now (it is not just Lithuania now is it?) of tactics: the one left to us ‘theoretically’ on the run up to war, or on the ‘other’ being as its own living corps.  And what it has above “And we can’t have Labour councillors put in such a dangerous and difficult position!” really captures it all. No, but we can; talk our parents into war; our grandparents, our children: but for fuck’s sake not breaking the law! Compliant with those under Thatcher and Co., Internationally, who started to unroll ‘Deregulation’, the toadies fighting within the NUS, and elsewhere, against the internal political forces that attempted to rally those who were under threat; they, toadies and etc, retained control; Ring a bell? All of this, as it was to them, was as if the real ‘enemy within’ were those who tried to turn ALL against the beginning of the ‘new direction’ of the schemes of the capitalist classes worldwide were actually hiding a real goal: oh yes we were, social being! AND WHAT IS DID NOT HAVE TO BE. Perhaps amongst the hardest concepts that have ever been to grasp.

The ‘enemy within’, who’s were analysing that which was the possible potential of unfolding reality (and the dangers of this worldwide seems to be close to the ‘nature of the beast’ we now have) set against those then ‘ensconced’ in the NUS; or wherever: I don’t know whether reformism follows a Universal Law? Those who saw that threat within for leadership as a threat to them as Office: ‘insanity’ a carrier choice! The creepy ‘political student class’ that ‘represented’ Imperialism in opposition to its own self became subject to a mounting critique by these ‘forces’ to which reformism was leant an armoury to hide behind. Exposed as carrion perched outside themselves as the Objective forces of decaying Capitalism, Mendelsson’s fix smile says it all. Each new wave of reality creates new pressure to oppose. So again they must find a way to strip bare and isolate and intensify against all those within Capitalism who fight back. Let us humiliate, lie, frame, silence; whatever: let us learn a trade.

I think it is complicated, but only in identifying those who stopped way back in, say, the NUS only because I think it captures the careerists. That other dedicated councillors who have been through this struggle of the last, well 25 years, now can roll it into a ball this opposition, well yes but they will have to deal internally (and democratically, being in Assemblies etc.) with the carrier choice advocate. The ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ is a self-realisation of collaboration but with the history of beheading the struggles; the fight now is more complicated. But hell, the response of those youth on the marches and the faces on interviews and ‘shows’ should loosen any stools impacted by to much laudanum. And that is where the history of the NUS is handy. But as to what?: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! This isn’t so difficult; the centrality of the issues is the same as the centrality of the problem: as this said it is with the wielders of the axe. Either get ride of them or take the axe off them. The solution is not within their system and hard luck, ‘opposition’ is not actually a carrier choice: it must destroy itself, but in the meantime ‘there is enough work to go round’.

I use in my comment to the above the All these entrenched were already ‘leading the fight’ lamely as to those who were exploiting the planet and the dribbling by them against the profit takers of all they could get to their coffers. Why wait for bye-elections for the same people, I see  a 15 year old who could represent me: do so. I know, political struggle is a school too, but these lame counsellors on the whole have had too much pressure brought to bare. I’m stuck in the sticks so I won’t stand by that as I have read some of those in opposition who are needed for their experiences from the ‘long winter’ and will be needed for their genuine experiences; yet what is coming hasn’t been experienced before.

But in these struggles (and I use the NUS only because these ‘leaders’ were upwardly mobile and are still there, not struggling with pensions) And these NUS members, these New Labour spawn of the struggle for a carrier as a struggler who acted as if (at least where I was – as a mature student) they really were in the Philippines or wherever and could cheat, lie, anything as to those they ‘put down’.  Yes ‘we’ had differences, yes ‘we’ ‘lent’ ourselves (actually an appearance stolen)  as if we could be laughed at (‘Citizen Smith’) mocked and isolated. But any science, any defence of a concrete area of need can be mocked. And I mean by this as to those we fought against those that politically and internationally represented all those Capitalist Relations with baited breath, a hesitance that looked as if it were about to oppose the real threat; that is for those  that needed to exploit to find a way to expand and intensify their dying Profit system, all this allowed these ‘moderate’ layers to cut through the theoretical cloth and; ( a book of ‘ridiculousness’ should be put out there as to memories of all this.) Ah ha, but oh no, and they knew it, with few exceptions, there was to be no fight, not externally anyway. And Capitalism was seen at that time and was clearly, and very clearly at that, seen to be exposed to the student, or other, forces; how to stop that clarity was the job given to these carriests. So given all that it is amazing the trick they all pulled to stop the student body, all the forces aligned, of bring out the ‘Block’. Of course I am saying that those that defended the position of opposition and were fighters more intuitively conscious than the exploiters and the political representatives of those that fought or knew the need to fight were more theoretically conscious, i.e. objective– the ruling class, and even their state machine, just understood the forces arrayed against them by the internal logic of the Objectivity of International Capitalism. And the students all over now coming out are not just intuitively conscious – as that young man said: a quick learning curve.  And it isn’t even as if for those that put forward ‘motions’ or ‘policies’ opposing the tactics of these toadies were hard to understand and grasp in their presentation. Not to mention the creating of confusion by the activities of Stalinist groups as if ideological differences superseded the common need to survive. These forces, which tried to get ALL to turn these student (and other) forces against these ‘new relations’, and towards a more secure future were continually seen internally as the main enemy. Indeed these Labour types now leaders here and there, etc, were the ones who created the impression of ‘gobbledygook’ which otherwise, (and mostly not so ‘otherwise’) continually tried to make these policies clear, the easily graspable policies, these toads of Toad Hall tried to make as if something obscure; and by all kinds of activities and manoeuvres making them impossible to be even put; well get me the book of ‘ridiculousness’. Gerry Healy’s insistence on the need to study Machiavelli; it ought to be a demand, I link that always with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’; the first being political and the second aspirational. These ‘toadies’ broke and humiliated many a friend and comrade, as I am sure, in fact I know, they did for others, who may not all now’ rest in peace’. Using a clear understanding of the sharpness of this political technique of Machiavelli while pretending the land of Twee these should ALL be revisited, especially when ‘having to implement cuts’. Chess rules must be obeyed. But now it is not ‘revenge’, just sweep them out of history, let them bask in their lounges. 

That these layers spring from the ‘soul’ of Labour, and would-be-democrats and others, saw the opposition inside student unions (and elsewhere) as the real enemy that these, ‘enemy within’ types, insightful groups and their allies who ANYLISED from out of history; arrayed against them these supporters of capitalism who said: they must be marginalised and silenced. These revisionist and ‘reformists’ and ‘upwardly mobile (Jack Straw and, even living off the legend, Mandelson) were not clear in analysis and diagnosis, just in their mean, sterile, isolationist and destructive approach.  In memory of friends turned to the-loss-of–hope and, most importantly, those they fought for: I see them now lined up behind the living.

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