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28 November 2018

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Southampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

Fighting school cuts in Southampton, photo Southampton Fair Funding for All Schools

Fighting school cuts in Southampton, photo Southampton Fair Funding for All Schools   (Click to enlarge)

Sue Atkins, Southampton Socialist Party

We've had a busy week in Southampton! 100 staff and others packed into Valentine Primary School hall for a National Education Union (NEU) meeting on 20 November.

Liz Filer, the headteacher, explained how hard it is to continue to meet the needs of her children while resisting the pressure to cut teaching assistants and other staff, and much more to balance the books.

Many pledged their support in refusing to cut any further and demanding fully funded education.


At the meeting, the Labour council cabinet member for education also pledged his support, although his 'support' was advising the school on how to make cuts, and that, oh yes, he has written strongly worded letters to the government.

NEU backing has helped maintain confidence and morale. A NEU representative said that strike action will be supported.

This meeting gave a glimpse of how working-class communities will respond in defence of their services when a lead is given.

The following day there was a full-council meeting. Council unions Unite and Unison protested the proposed closure of Southampton's last two remaining care homes outside.

In a very short time a petition of over 1,500 signatures triggered a debate in the council. But it was pitiful.

Labour rightly blamed the government for robbing the city of 136 million over the last seven years, but said they would cut services and jobs.

The council attempted to mollify anger with a 'consultation'. But we've seen these consultations before. The council will still press ahead with closure unless sufficient pressure is exerted by trade-union action linking up with an organised campaign to save the care homes.

The Socialist Party also made a deputation to the council, to argue for a legal, no-cuts budget instead of the further 15 million cuts by 2020-21. We explained that by doing the Tories' dirty work they are undermining the possibility of a Labour government being elected that could reinstate full funding to local councils.

The public gallery applauded, but the council predictably said that absolutely nothing can be done. But this is not the end. Trade unions and their allies will step up the campaign.

On 25 November the Socialist Party called a public meeting against the cuts. Mick Tosh, Southern regional secretary of the RMT transport union addressed the meeting and spoke about their members striking to keep guards on trains.

Local teachers, health workers, care-home campaigners and other trade unionists spoke in the meeting - a cross section of our communities. There was a seriousness to the discussion as we prepare for the big battles ahead, but optimism that win can beat the cuts and fight for a socialist alternative.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 28 November 2018:

What we think

End Tory misery - general election now!

For a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!

International socialist news and analysis

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Haringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

The Tories' letting fee ban is full of holes - we need rent controls and council homes!


PCS Left Unity election: All votes should count

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Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Islwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

Scrap the Tories' Universal Credit now!

Reclaim the Night marches condemn violence against women

King George A&E faces closure again

Southampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

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Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?


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Article dated 28 November 2018

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