Leader of York Labour Group agrees to a no-cuts strategy

22-08-2019 \\ England and Wales

Nigel Smith

On 14th August, York Trades Union Council met with Danny Myers, the leader of York Labour Group, to discuss the setting of an alternative no cuts budget.

The Labour Group had been approached by York TUC prior to the council elections to commit to a no cuts budget as part of their council election strategy, but at that time failed to commit to such a course. They did however promise to meet with York TUC to discuss such a strategy once the May elections were over. Labour had mixed results in the May elections and at present we have a Lib Dem/Green coalition in power in York.

York has had Labour councils in the past and it was discussed that a pledge to a no cuts approach could have returned Labour to power in May. Presentations were made around the political, humanitarian and budget issues confronted when setting a no cuts budget. The fact that several unions support such a strategy and that setting such a budget would be part of an overall campaign, supported by trades unions and York TUC was discussed.

Uniting with Labour groups in other cities to set such budgets was also debated. There was also a presentation around the methods that could be used: use of reserves, prudential borrowing as well as building local and national anti-austerity campaigns to support the setting of an emergency no-cuts budget.

A long-term view around future funding was also covered. This would be impacted on by a future Labour government that should commit to increasing funding to local councils and the imperative of Labour adopting an unambiguous and unequivocal approach to ending austerity.

To his credit, Danny agreed that the setting of a no cuts budget was a priority for him. He also said that he had been exploring the setting of such a budget with the council’s finance team. He also said that the Labour group has demanded more access to the finance team for such discussions. He asked for support from York TUC in any campaign around this and from trade union

accountants. Comrades from the Trades Council agreed to approach their unions for expert support and were confident that that this would be received. They also agreed to back any anti-austerity campaign with a clear no-cuts message.

Danny agreed to continue his work on setting a no-cuts budget and to meet with York TUC in October to discuss the progress he has made. It was refreshing to hear a Labour leader speak so clearly about setting a no-cuts budget and York TUC looks forward to working with the Labour group in building an anti-austerity strategy. Socialist Alternative thinks the trade union movement must mobilise to maximise pressure on Labour locally and nationally to follow through with an effective anti-cuts strategy

Around the country Labour councils fighting back against austerity would increase the problems for a very weak Conservative government. Linked up as part of a coordinated campaign, councils could win back the resources for our communities that have been stolen by the Tories.