Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance: Communiqué No.1

Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance launched 24th November

Over 350 people turned up to our launch meeting in Novotel to give massive thumbs up to setting up a Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance (see press release). This was way beyond our expectations and demonstrates what a huge potential there is to mobilise trade unionists, students, pensioners, tenants, community groups and indeed a wide range of individual citizens of Sheffield to oppose this ConDem Government’s vicious public spending cuts agenda.

Since that meeting volunteers from PCS union have been compiling an email list of over 175 names from the attendance sheets. Obviously we want this list to grow so please forward to us email contacts you wish to add to the list. In practice we do not have the resources to mail out to those who only left postal addresses. Please forward this communiqué to your contacts.

Steering Committee 14th Dec Trades & Labour Club 7pm

Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance Steering Committee will have its first meeting on Tuesday 14th December at 7pm at the Trades & Labour Club on Talbot Street (downstairs room). The Steering Committee should be representative of the many trade unions and other organisations which wish to be affiliated e.g. students, pensioners, tenants associations, community groups etc. Please contact your organisation to formally endorse its delegate(s). In order for the meeting to go ahead and not lose time we trust organisations can agree pro-tem delegates for this meeting. We also want the Steering Committee meetings to be as open as possible, so we are suggesting that others may attend in a non-voting capacity, as was the wish of the launch meeting.

The Steering Committee will need to agree the necessary officer positions to allow the Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance to function properly, the rights to representation and an appropriate affiliation fee, plus open up a bank account. We also need to consider a plan of future activities i.e. next public meeting, protest activities, stalls in city centre etc, press releases, communications etc.

Student protests in Sheffield

Mass protests by students across the country, not least here in Sheffield, have suddenly raised the temperature in the fight against the cuts. Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance has given a big message of support to the Sheffield University students sit-in at the Richard Roberts Building, and Martin Mayer was invited to speak to the occupation on Sunday 5th December. Whilst the main emphasis of their protest is the hike in tuition fees and the scrapping of EMA, it is clear the students wish to support a broad alliance with workers, trade unions and others against all the cuts. We expect to see a significant student presence within Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance from now on.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital faces dramatic cuts

Forget the ConDem Government’s claim that the NHS is ring fenced, and that the cuts won’t hit our hospitals. Trade Unions estimate the failure to increase spending just to maintain the current service is equivalent to a £20B spending cut over 4 years. And the first Sheffield hospital to be affected is the one most dear to Sheffielders’ hearts – the Children’s Hospital which will face a cut of nearly £300M this year. Contact is currently being made with the trade unions to see how best we can mobilise Sheffield to come to their aid and stop this cut.

£83B cuts over 4 years – yet UK finds £7B to help Ireland!

In an astonishing sleight of hand, the ConDem Government has had no trouble in finding £7B to lend to their Conservative Fine Fail friends in Ireland. If UK also contributes to IMF and EU funds in the bailout, this could be as much as £10B! Funny – we were supposed to be in such desperate straights here in the UK that £83B worth of cuts were necessary to save UK plc from bankruptcy! By the way we should take no lessons from the Irish Government. Massive spending cuts have already been implemented on their economy – with devastating results. The cuts have led to a severe economy slowdown as unemployment soared, the cost of benefits increased and tax receipts to the Government plummeted. Fine Fail’s response when the first tranch of cuts failed? Make MORE cuts. The Irish are now experiencing their fourth tranch of spending cuts and the picture for the economy looks even bleaker. Most pundits predict the Government will fall in the New Year.

LibDems in chaos as tuition fees vote looms

Will they vote for it? Will they abstain? The nation is on tenterhooks as an increasingly shambolic LibDem Party frets over its policy of spending cuts in education and the broken promises over tuition fees. A London LibDem Conference was abandoned over the weekend in response to massive student protests scheduled to take place. The vote in Parliament takes place this Thursday 9th December. Quite rightly the students have focused their anger on Nick Clegg and the LibDems for their broken promises in the election. Many thousands of students voted for the LibDems because of their stance on this issue. Remember their claim to represent a “new type of politics” unlike the stale old politics of Labour and Tory? Here in Sheffield the students are mobilising for a “recall” of Sheffield MP Nick Clegg and watch out for big protests when the National Lib Dem conference takes place in Sheffield in March 2011. With opinion polls showing LibDems support down to around 12%, we have every chance of voting out the LibDems in Sheffield Council elections in May.

Is there an alternative to the cuts?

Of course there is an alternative but you wouldn’t think so from reading the papers or watching the telly. Even if you believe the deficit must be cut quickly (and many experts say it is better to stage the deficit reduction over a period of time) there is an obvious alternative. Instead of cutting spending, increase the tax revenue! This can be done! Even on the Government’s own figures about £20B per year is “avoided” by big business. The Inland Revenue is notoriously under resourced and PCS members who work there know that billions of tax is uncollected each year for this reason alone.

What about closing tax loopholes and tax havens? Sir Philip Green, the ConDem Government’s special advisor on Government “waste” does not pay a penny in UK taxes on his massive business empire. Instead it is all registered in his wife’s name and she lives in Monaco! Many big businesses have found “tax efficiency savings” by registering their companies in tax havens like British Virgin Islands and so pay little or no tax on their UK operations. Even without increasing the official rate of tax on the rich and powerful we could easily replace this £83B of spending cuts with more than the equivalent in tax revenue.

Of course the one tax the ConDem Government are increasing is VAT to a staggering 20%! It is the most regressive tax of all and will hit working people disproportionately hard – and will probably lead to a downturn in sales and hit the economy further. Far better to introduce a Robin Hood tax – a tiny percentage on each share transaction in the city would bring in around £20B per year.

Martin Mayer UNITE; Marion Lloyd PCS; Ben Morris NUTSheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance

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