Friday, March 08, 2013

Furious Liverpool Demonstration Scares Axe-Wielding Mayor

The scene outside the town hall before the arrest provoked resistance
On Wednesday, around three hundred gathered at Liverpool town hall, to demonstrate against the brutal cuts being pushed through by the ruling Labour council, and mayor Joe Anderson.

Under Labour's newest budget plans:
  • More than half of the city's libraries will close
  • Funding for housing "socially excluded" people at risk of homelessness will be withdrawn
  • Youth and play services will likely be turned over to volunteers
  • School uniform grants will be cut
  • Four nurseries will be sold
  • The council centre providing short breaks for disabled children will be sold off
  • Rubbish collections will be halved in many areas
  • Two municipal golf courses will be closed
  • At the same time, council tax charges will rise, and exemptions for many of the poorest will be abolished
The local anti-cuts movement has tapped into popular anger against the national government's impending bedroom tax, and pledged bedroom tax resisters marched from the Dingle area of the city to the town hall to express their anger, following a van used in the explosive Bootle protest last week. There is a real sense that a mass opposition movement is starting to build on Merseyside.

Pro-cuts councillors were on the receiving end of much well-earned rage from many protesters. At one point, Liberal councillor Steve Radford responded by calling one campaigner "a peasant". As the peasant in the famous Monty Python scene replied to the king, "Oh what a give away!"

We soon saw the violence inherent in the system. When a barrier protecting the blood-soaked axe-wielders was pushed, several cops pounced, and arrested one man. Having taken him to the van, police must have expected they'd make a quick getaway, but a breakaway group of demonstrators surrounded the vehicle. Its path was blocked for over an hour, and the heavily outnumbered cops seemed reluctant to make any further arrests, perhaps on orders from the politicians. Horses were dispatched however, and two activists were hospitalised.

The feeder march from Dingle arrives at the town hall
Eventually, people drifted away, the police drove away, and the protests ended. But if the latest round of cuts are to be stopped, this Wednesday must only be the opening shots of a battle. No political party - and no trade union hierarchy - will come to our aid. Affected workers and service users must form rank and file committees to defend jobs and vital services.

Joe Anderson must be fearing we will do exactly that. Last night he tweeted that: "People demonstrating outside Liverpool Town Hall have every right to be angry so am I. I salute them and support them nothing wrong with it." He followed this with: "The country has a proud tradition of peaceful civil disobedience to make a point especially when no one is listening long may it continue."

This was yet another salvo in Anderson's ongoing attempt to shift the blame for his cuts onto David Cameron, the man he gladhanded at the Museum of Liverpool only ten weeks ago. But judging by the widespread loathing for Labour and the whole political class displayed at the town hall this week, and indeed in the comments section of the Liverpool Echo article about it, many people in Liverpool hold him personally responsible for the misery he is inflicting whilst taking a large pay packet and receiving an OBE for his trouble.
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