Last month the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) challenged the Labour City Council to behave like principled socialists by refusing to continue to carry through Tory austerity in our city.
Sad as it may be, it should come as little surprise that our Labour councillors aren’t really in the mood for rocking the Blairite consensus that continues to dominate the leadership of their Party.
Our councillors are far from removed from seasoned class fighters like their Party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn. Not one of Leicester’s 52 Labour councillors was even brave enough to publicly support Corbyn’s leadership campaign.
Moreover when TUSC helped organise a lobby of the very Labour meeting which planned to announce their (reluctant) plans to carry through Tory cuts, Sir Peter Soulsby felt obliged to resort to lies in a vain attempt to besmirch the legitimate idea of setting an anti-austerity, no-cuts budget here in Leicester.
First, he deliberately ignored the well-advertised fact that the lobby had called upon the Council to set a legal no-cuts budget. “Sir Peter said [to the Leicester Mercury] that it was illegal for the council to set a deficit budget” (February 22). He conveniently ignored the fact that no-one was lobbying for a deficit budget to be set.
Sir Peter then accused TUSC of having “lost touch with reality.” He continued: “Do they not remember what happened when Liverpool council said they would not make cuts? It ended up with redundancy notices being ferried out in taxis.”
But this disingenuous statement is merely a well-worn lie that has always been promoted assiduously by the corporate media and the right-wing of the Labour movement.
This lie was firmly rebutted during a BBC interview with Derek Hatton last year. Mr Hatton had been the Deputy leader of the Liverpool council during the mass uprising against the Tories during the 1980s, and during the interview he patiently explained, for the umpteenth time:
“The reality was that not one single one of those redundancy notices was carried out, whereas since then most Labour authorities in the country have shed whole numbers of jobs without anything much being said. Not only did we not shed any jobs, we actually created jobs, and that was the reality.”
As we should remember, Hatton was expelled from the Labour Party in the 1980s precisely because the Liverpool council that he helped lead chose to firmly reject the New Labour policies being promoted by Neil Kinnock and his more notorious successor Tony Bliar.
But even now, despite Hatton’s transparent disengagement from organised politics for the past 30 years, the Labour Party still refuse to allow him to rejoin.
Clearly much grassroots pressure needs to be brought to bear upon the Labour Party’s internal structures in the coming months.
New formations like Momentum can therefore play a vital role in exerting the necessary grassroots pressure within the Labour Party to help eventually transform it once again into a democratic organisation that is fit to serve the needs of the British working class.