Poplarism

When will Labour councillors fight the cuts?

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Over the next few weeks councils across the country will meet to vote on budgets that, if passed, will instigate the most savage cuts to services in living memory.

Budgets will be cut by an average of four percent (not the 1.7 percent that Eric Pickles, the Tory minister in charge of councils, suggested when he announced this year's local government budget in the minutes before his office closed down for Christmas on 21 December).

The announced settlement will also mean vicious cuts in 2014-15. An additional average cut of nine percent will kick in for the financial year 2014-15.

There is an alternative

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With massive cuts looming debates are beginning about the best way to respond. Should Labour councils refuse to implement Tory cuts?

A debate is opening up about how best to respond to the attacks on the welfare state. I was invited to speak at an anti-cuts meeting in Lambeth recently and a lively argument broke out between members of the Labour Party which took me back to the 1980s - what should a Labour council do when faced with budget cuts?

The best democracy money can buy?

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As workers lose their jobs and homes because of the recession, MPs from all the main parties have been caught on a spending spree with taxpayers' money. Michael Lavalette, a socialist councillor in Preston, makes the case for political representation with principles

The revelations about MPs' expenses have shocked and angered people across Britain and caused a political crisis that threatens the whole legitimacy of parliamentary democracy. The range of items they have claimed for on "expenses" is truly astonishing, from duck houses to moat cleaning, from mortgage payments to loo seats, from "hired help" to food bills, from council tax fiddles to claims for incidentals like light bulbs, bath plugs, scatter cushions, mirrors and Asda pizzas!

Poplar 1921: Guilty and Proud of It

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Keith Flett explains how the Poplar councillors in the 1920s took on the government.

We know Old Labour as being a bit more principled and usually a bit more to the left than Blair's New Labour. We don't think of Old Labour as a party that organises street theatre and film and sees women as activists rather than 'wives'. Yet this is exactly what happened in Poplar in the East End of London in the 1920s, and the example still speaks down the years to those who voted in Respect in East London on 5 May.

Democracy: Getting Respect into our Councils

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Michael Lavalette tells of his puzzlement when first elected as a Respect councillor in Preston.

Just over 18 months ago I was elected to Preston council. Winning was great. But it presented me with a very immediate problem: 'What do I do as a councillor?'

My previous experience of councils was a bit one-sided. I had been on plenty of lobbies of council meetings. I also knew many of the councillors and had spoken with them on numerous occasions at protest rallies. But what did these people do?

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