Sleep-outs and Deadly Council Budgets

Here in Leicester Mothers Day descended upon us with sub-zero temperatures and a dusting of snow. For those who can afford to heat their homes such biting weather can be kept at bay, but for increasing numbers of people this is simply not possible.

Rent rises combined with the incoming brutal bedroom tax, heaped on top of cuts to public services, pay freezes, and a blizzard of attacks on the working class, now means that such icy weather is the harbinger of personal tragedy — with the cold providing the final straw to break many peoples backs.

Members of homeless action group Streetlife know better than most the personal devastation caused by the chilling winds of such political change. Providing a beacon of inspiration, they are standing firm in opposition to such attacks. This is why they spent last night enduring the cold to draw public attention to the Leicester City Council’s brutal onslaught on the entire working class and on homeless service provision in particular: with sickening proposals afoot that will see the homelessness budget slashed by a third over the next two years.

The night-long protest held on the steps of the Town Hall meant a sleepless night for many (something that the homeless are all too familiar with), but showed the raw grit and determination of the people of Leicester to oppose the Labour Council’s cowardly and totally unnecessary decision to implement the Con-Dem’s cuts. Vibrant discussions went on into the early hours of the morning, with hearts warmed by the knowledge that we were making a stand against a bankrupt Council whose policies are literally killing people.

The bustle and good humour of the sleep-out made it a night to remember, with new friendships forged amid vigorous discussions with passers-by, merry drunks, and supporters alike. But such protests are not going away any time soon, and the sleep-out has simply served to bolster Streetlife’s morale, and swelled their numbers for future actions.

People are dying because of a crisis caused by the rich. The Labour Party should stand with the working class and refuse to make the poorest and most vulnerable in society pay with their lives but of course this is not going to happen. So while the Labour Party may, at a push, make piecemeal ‘adjustments’ to their deadly budgets, they are clearly no longer a Party of the working class, and are quite intent on serving their ‘new’ ruling class masters well.

Individual Labour Councillors with any backbone would do well to publicly oppose their Party’s ridiculous kow-towing to political elites, but sadly they face expulsion from a Party that brooks no dissent. Yet as examples from Southampton, Hull, and now Warrington demonstrate, there are Labour Councillors who are willing to stand for what is right: and when expunged from Labour, they have quickly linked up to other groups opposing the cuts. The Socialist Party is aiming to build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to bring together all who are prepared to stand up to the main parties of cuts, including Labour.

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