Letters published in Inverclyde’s local paper often contain complaints about New Labour, and in particular about the behaviour of Council Leader Stephen McCabe. I was therefore disappointed, although not surprised, to find that Cllr McCabe was again embarrassing the people of Inverclyde through his online behaviour, this time taking to Twitter to boast about cutting local jobs and services. In common with many other people, I found out about his behaviour on Twitter from concerned locals as he has long since blocked those of us whose opinions don’t match his own, in an attempt to disguise the true extent of opposition to his decisions.
Let me just put his latest vile outburst in context. On the demands of the Tories in London, Cllr McCabe’s New Labour council had been planning to inflict almost £15 million of cuts to local jobs and services. The Inverclyde branch of the Scottish Socialist Party, in response, put in motion a “No Cuts” campaign where we demanded that the council refuse to take part in the Tory’s austerity agenda. Austerity is of course just the political term for “trickle up” economics, where money for public jobs and services is cut from the public purse and instead finds its way into the pockets of the wealthy.
The SSP campaign was well received by the people of Inverclyde. This is not surprising; every single opinion poll has shown that the public are overwhelmingly opposed to austerity. It has no place in a progressive society. Under pressure from the public, McCabe was forced to back down and only got to implement a fraction of the cuts that he was hoping to inflict on Inverclyde. The battle is not over; Cllr McCabe has made it clear that he intends to continue with the Tory austerity agenda in future budgets.
The only way to ensure he doesn’t get his wish is for all of us to make sure his party is utterly defeated, not only in May but also in the 2016 and 2017 elections as well. There is simply no place in Scotland for New Labour’s brand of Tory elitism masquerading as the party of the working class.
Certainly the polls are promising, and we appear to be at the end of a one-party state in Scotland, where New Labour has dominated for almost 50 years. In that time New Labour has become socially conservative, economically reactionary, corrupt and dishonest. In other words completely out of sync with the people of Scotland.
Their record in Inverclyde is hardly any different. In Inverclyde we have to suffer a New Labour controlled council, a New Labour MSP and a New Labour MP. They like to pretend they represent working class people, but their record in Inverclyde shows this isn’t true. Under New Labour there are at least 3,600 unemployed in Inverclyde, 20% of those who do have a job in Inverclyde earn less than £7 per hour, 10 thousand children in Inverclyde live in households that are dependent on out of work benefits or Child Tax Credits, 28% of primary school children in Inverclyde are eligible for free school meals, in Inverclyde schools there is a 16% gap in attainment levels between the poorest pupils and their classmates, 15% of the poorest young people in Inverclyde become unemployed immediately after leaving school and only 19% of Inverclyde’s poorest young people go onto university compared to a national average of 37%. Despite these appalling figures, New Labour is hell bent on cutting even more of the support and services to our working class communities.
With these appalling figures in mind it is worth asking them to explain what New Labour has done for Inverclyde, and apart from some non-specific waffle the thing every New Labour type always mentions is that they built and refurbished the local schools. There has obviously been a memo gone out about it because they have all been bringing it up (MP, MSP, councillors, spokespeople, and even party members writing to the Tele). There appears to be literally no other positive thing they can say about their record in Inverclyde.
Do they really have a right to boast about this? Certainly the schools are impressive. What is far from impressive is New Labour’s incompetence in funding these schools. Rather than pay for these in a responsible manner, New Labour instead opted to recklessly burden Inverclyde with a massive debt via PPI loans. It’s worth remembering here that Goldman Sachs, who are no friends of the anti-capitalists, have criticised these public-private schemes for costing twice as much as regular government borrowing. New Labour decided to go down this road any way, and are now cutting local jobs and services in Inverclyde in order to pay back this unnecessarily large debt. More to the point, they are paying it off at about £14 million per year, a number suspiciously close to how much Cllr McCabe is determined to cut from the local budget to balance his books! £14 million cut from the public purse each year to pay to wealthy people in the form of debt repayments and interest on that debt. Trickle up economics.
To fund their trickle up economics, they will likely in the future try to cut spending on education. I believe that schools should not just be impressive buildings to keep the youth in during the week. They should also be properly funded to ensure a suitable level of teachers and resources, and that is exactly what New Labour will be cutting to pay for their irresponsible borrowing. We can of course stop this, and it is as easy as voting New Labour out of Scotland in all upcoming elections.