Friday, 21 October 2011

Liverpool City Council and the second wave of cuts

On Thursday 27th October, Liverpool City Council are holding a "Budget Question Time." They are "facing some tough decisions as we put together our budget for 2012-13" and so want "residents and business owners" to "quiz leaders about how the council can save £50 million next year." Liverpool Against The Cuts have agreed to call a protest at the event.

We already know that the Labour Council's concern for the city amounts to crocodile tears. Leader Joe Anderson is proud to say "we aren't deficit deniers," and when he led the "fair deal for Liverpool" march, it wasn't to oppose cuts but to demand they be fairer in relation to what other cities were having to make. Fortunately, most people have seen through his facade, and the visceral anger that greeted the budget meeting in March has hopefully scared him off from trying again to claim an anti-cuts mantle ever again.

Since then, the fight has continued and Sure Start Centres have been a key battleground. Anderson falsely tried to claim a win again when he granted a 12-month reprieve to four centres. However, given that he flipped his lid at the Liberal Democrats when they tabled an amendment to the budget that would have saved the same four centres, and that anyone attending Liverpool Against The Cuts Meetings will have heard Lisa Dempster describing her antipathy for and clashes with Anderson, I know this to be a crock of shit. Especially after Augusts announcement that three of the centres will close in November.

As such, when the council tells us that they "want to make sure you have a say in these important decisions" for next year's budget, it inspires only anger. We may be "invited to quiz leaders," but I fail to see how anything less than stomping their heads into the ground until they are a bloody puddle will be helpful. Mostly, that's hyperbole, but the very sight of that fat-headed scum fuck Joe Anderson now fills me with murderous rage.

So what do we do? There are limited spaces at this consultation meeting, which have already been taken. No doubt the event will be steered in such a way that the council don't have to face anything too difficult - as when Anderson ejected the public gallery during the budget meetings. Likewise, whilst a protest outside may serve as a rallying point for people and certainly has value in challenging the Liverpool Labour propaganda, it will not change the city's course over the next few years. That course being £50m of cuts in 2012/13, £18.5m in 2013-14 and £33.3m in 2014-15.

What we do need, as we saw at the March budget meeting, is disruption. That attempt to storm the council building failed because it happened too late, but this time it needn't. We know that the council will not listen to those who oppose the cuts, as the different ways to make savings are the extent of the dissent they are prepared to tolerate. But they cannot ignore disruption.

In Wisconsin, this tactic ultimately failed because reformist political methods such as the recall vote took precedence. There is the risk of that too in Liverpool, as certain groups peddle illusions about "what a real Labour council would do," or voting for "anti-cuts candidates." But as we head towards November 30, and as the Occupy movement - for all its limitations - sweeps the world, it will be so much harder to dismiss direct action as secondary to electoral politics.

Disrupting the Budget Question Time is only a first step. Following from that, we need strikes and economic blockades. Occupations based on anti-capitalist mass action rather than liberal adventure activism. As much disruption and economic damage as we can inflict by exercising our power as a class. In short, to stop the cuts, we must make Liverpool ungovernable.

5.30pm Thurs 27th October
Liverpool Town Hall
Dale Street