Home Secretary Amber Rudd finally resigned this week, but her agenda didn’t go anywhere. The architect of the entire ‘hostile environment’ to migrants policy - Theresa May – is still Prime Minister, years after her notorious ‘Go Home’ vans. There will still be deportation targets in reality (whether they're official or unofficial), and her replacement has long supported the government's policies - including consistently voting for each aspect of the "hostile environment" agenda that led to the Windrush generation scandal.
We shouldn’t be fooled by this reshuffle, the government remains as committed as ever to its failed scapegoating agenda, which aims to distract from the growing cost of living crisis and problems facing our public services.
And just as this reactionary policy on immigration is here to stay as long as the Tories are, so is austerity, despite the government’s regular spin that suggests austerity could be eased in the year ahead.
As Jeremy Corbyn recently put it, “More and more people are finding it hard to make ends meet, bills are going up, and many young people can’t afford to move out of home or put enough by each month to save for a deposit.” But all the government wants to do is blame migrants for problems of the Tories’ creating.
Not only has austerity economically failed - Philip Hammond may have proclaimed “the light at the end of the tunnel”, yet the reality was exposed by the government’s own official forecasts predicting “weak growth in real earnings and even weaker growth in real disposable incomes” -but each week sees more reports of the devastating human impact of the Tories’ ideologically-driven austerity agenda.
The charge sheet against the Tories and austerity grows by the day. We have just had the worst NHS winter crisis on record. Poverty and inequality are spiralling. The housing crisis is deepening with shocking levels of homelessness.
Yet all the Tories propose is more of the same.
This Thursday those of us who want to see real change, and an end to failing and inhumane austerity have an opportunity to send a message to this reactionary government at the ballot box, and hold the Tories to account.
One reason for this is that when they choose to do things differently, councils can make a real difference.
To give a specific example, in Croydon, the Conservative council privatised the libraries and outsourced the workforce to Carillion. When Carillion collapsed it was the Labour council that saved the libraries and people’s jobs by bringing them back in-house.
The Tory Northamptonshire Council was said to be pioneering an “easy-council” model when they outsourced over 95% of 4,000 staff, who were transferred to four new service providers, run like private companies with the payment of dividends.
But despite the hype, earlier this years it was revealed that the council had run out of money and its leader had resigned blaming the Conservative government!
As Jeremy Corbyn put it, “That’s not efficient management, it’s reckless gambling with people’s lives and the public services they rely on.”
This Thursday we also need to send a message nationally to say to this government that enough is enough and austerity must end.
Everyone who has had their fill of cuts to vital services that hurt local communities; cuts to our schools, hospitals and local policing; enough of library and youth centres closures and enough of leaving millions of people without the care they need should vote Labour and to get the Tories out of their local area.
But we also need to do much more than maximise the Labour vote on Thursday – we need to build and link up all the movements against every aspect of the Tories’ agenda of reaction, starting with ensuring the biggest possible turnout at the TUC’s A New Deal for Working People demonstration on May 12. We need to force the Tories out and win a Jeremy-Corbyn led Labour government committed to investing in our future and building a better Britain for the many, not the few.
- Matt Willgress is the national organiser of the Labour Assembly Against Austerity. You can follow them on Twitter here and Facebook here. Their next event - Labour's Alternative to Tory Austerity: A New Deal for Working People - is on Wednesday May 9 at 7pm in the House of Commons. Don't miss out on a vital discussion after the local elections with Diane Abbott MP, Laura Pidcock MP, Cat Smith MP and more. You can register here.
Argue the issues with like minded people by leaving a comment below or joining the discussion here