“Stand together to defend our communities”
Meeting reported in Chronicle and Echo
Hannah Phipps joined 150 others in Northampton’s historic Guildhall
“We don’t want anyone believing the cuts are necessary,” declared Mark Serwotka of the PCS. He was joined Tracy Morel of Autism Concern and Mick Kavanagh from the CWU’s National Executive Council.
Opening the meeting, Ron Mendel of Northampton Trades’ Council called for those present to oppose all cuts and privatisation; “forge unity between providers and users,” he urged. On top of county council cuts of £67m the borough council is to cut a £4.7m.
Tracy Morel warned of 1.3m jobs being lost across the public and private sector. There are 1,500 families in Northamptonshire affected by autism and they faced a loss of support if the cuts are implemented.
Mick Kavanagh advised the meeting that the government wanted to get its hands on the postworkers’ pension fund – worth £25b. This was a “government for the rich” and they were seeking to dismantle the Royal Mail. Postworkers had defeated previous attempts to privatise their service and would do so again.
The final platform speaker was comrade Serwotka. He congratulated the meeting for a “fantastic turn-out.” We need a discussion about “what we can do,” he continued. He went on to list some of the attacks planned by the ConDem coalition: a rise in VAT; reductions in Housing Benefit and pensions. What the government promised was not a couple of years of pain but “generations of misery.”
Turning to the coalition’s junior partner, comrade Serwotka told those assembled the Lib Dems had “lied to the people of Britain .” He recounted a post-election meeting he had with the governor of the Bank of England; “What did you say to Nick Clegg to make him change his mind?” he asked him. “Nothing I didn’t say publicly before the election,” came the reply.
It was the likes of Vodafone and Philip Green who were the ‘scroungers’, not the people on benefits – we must “fight under the banner of ‘No to all cuts’”, the comrade declared. There were no “deserving and undeserving” service-users and we must “stand together to defend our communities.”
Comrade Serwotka finished by calling for the TUC demonstration of 26 March to be the “biggest demonstration in British history.”
The meeting was opened to speakers from the floor: libraries threatened with closure; care homes closed; support services reduced or withdrawn altogether.
A recurring theme was the £120bn ‘tax gap’ – several speakers demanded action on tax evaders and the closure of tax loopholes, while highlighting the loss of 25,000 jobs in Revenue and Customs. Summing up, comrade Mendel called for persistence – we were “in it for the long haul.”
Northampton anti-cuts demonstration: Saturday 12 March. See http://www.againstthecuts.blogspot.com for details.