progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

cutting across sectors

Darlington Borough Council is holding two events this month to gather feedback on the budget proposals for 2011 to 2015: Monday 8 November starting 5.30 in Central Hall at the Dolphin Centre, or Tuesday 16 November at the same time and place. Feeback will influence the detailed budget proposals that the Cabinet will announce in January.

Since a majority of the council's funding comes from central government, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition's decision to rush into large-scale spending cuts means the council expects that it will have to reduce spending by £22m by 2014. The actual amount will be known at the end of this year when the government informs the council of its settlement.

I've written several blog posts about the economic vandalism of the Tory/Liberal coalition. And I've always been clear about the interests they represent - that of the country's corporate and financial elite, the few not the many. So it comes as no surprise to learn that small businesses will be locked out of the Regional Growth Fund or that the government has abolished the Grant for Business Investment which has allowed firms to expand and create jobs. So much for Britain being open for business...

The most vocal backing to the coalition's rushed and far-reaching cuts has been given by a small number of big business leaders. But this political support is not an indication that the Age of Austerity is good for all businesses - in fact, the response from the small business and manufacturing lobby groups is more representative of the reality of the cuts on the private sector. The efforts of the coalition could have gone into reforming the banks so that they are lending to (rather than borrowing from) businesses which are able to expand.

Sadly, local representatives of the Tory/Liberal coalition don't seem to have learnt anything about economics in the last few months (what organisation on the verge of bankruptcy has a triple-A credit rating?) and are still blissfully ignorant of the impact the coalition's austerity agenda will have on the ability of the private sector to create jobs.

I try not to be cynical about politicians - I always assume that they are giving their honest opinion. But do the Tories and Liberals in Darlington really think that the government is going to secure the conditions for the private sector to take on those who lose their jobs in the public sector? Since the pace and scale of the cuts will weaken the voluntary sector, how on earth can there be a "big society" in our town?

Such is the level of agreement between Darlington's Tories and Liberals, though, I wouldn't be surprised to see a merger before next year's local elections. After all, why have two Tory parties in one borough...?


  1. Good post James. You should do it more often! I suspect that the Coalition, at a regional and national level, will ultimately do for the Lib Dems, it's just a matter of waiting.

    PS I have started to get a bit of profile on the blog finally with LabourList and others, so have finally got round to keeping a blog list and linked to your good self. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks Rob. It's good to see you're now a contributor to LabourList.