Walsall’s sham democracy

CONSERVATIVE PARTY chairman Brian Mawhinney’s search for Labour’s ‘loony left’ took him to Walsall. But it is neither loony nor left - just useless to the working class.

Walsall Labour proposes 50 local council areas staffed by a new tier of 500 locally elected councillors with power to spend council funds. They are carrying out central government policy to the letter, remaining within spending limits and putting out council services to competitive tendering.

These changes are all about pushing up the rate of exploitation of the workers. They also create a body of local politicians whose loyalty can be relied on since they control sizable government funds to use as they choose. A recipe for political skulduggery, not democracy.

In fact the dispute has only served to highlight the similarities between Labour and Tory policies to cut staff, reduce expenditure and control local government.

We do not need services that vary from ward to ward. We need a uniform high level of community services throughout the country. We lack control over local amenities principally because we have so little democratic control over central government. Local democracy needs to be developed as a means of extending working class power to demand the services we need at the expense of the bourgeoisie.

Unison is leading a campaign of one-day strikes locally against compulsory redundancy and the tendering out of council services. Paul Macmanomy, secretary of Walsall Unison No 1 branch, told us, “The logic of the council’s policies is the destruction of jobs and services.”

Potentially it could result in all 13,000 council workers being sacked and having to reapply for their jobs from the new neighbourhood centres.

The same policies are being pursued by all local councils to one degree or another. They need to be combated by a nationally coordinated campaign.

Phil Kent