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

Meeting the Cabinet

Wednesday, November 25th saw the Tory Chancellor George Osborne deliver his Autumn Statement on the Spending Review. There was no surprise that he announced more cuts as part of his permanent austerity programme - including more cuts to local democracy.

Darlington Borough Council has had majority Labour representation through the austerity programme implemented by the Tory Chancellor. And this has meant eye-watering cuts to the income the council gets from central government.

There have been 550 job cuts by Darlington Borough Council in the last five years - and thus a loss in the services the council provided for the town. The scale of cuts to Labour councils poses a political challenge. How to respond?

After May's terrible general election results for Labour in the UK parliamentary elections - losing all but one MP in Scotland, failing to advance in England - the party now has gained momentum in terms of membership.

Hopefully, this can be used to rebuild across the state, starting in workplaces and communities, so that greater electoral representation for the workers' movement can be won in the coming weeks and months.

In Darlington, this has meant Jenny Chapman, the Labour MP for the town, encouraging new members to meet with long-standing members and get involved in supporting campaigns on tax credits and voter registration.

And by organising a "Meet the Cabinet" meeting at the Forum Music Centre, it is clear that the Labour Party locally is seeking to encourage the active participation of new members.

From the base of strength Labour has in terms of representation and organisation in Darlington, the party can renew itself across the country with campaigns on issues like tax credits.

After the death of Michael Meacher, a long-serving MP, there will be a by-election in the Oldham constituency he represented for the Labour movement. The candidate is Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon, who is also a member of Labour's sister the Co-operative Party.

Everyone in the workers' movement who can, should get along to support Jim McMahon defeat what is thought to be the big challenger, UKIP. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, UKIP is seeking to trade on fear and insecurity.

But it has been Labour which has challenged the Tory government on its plans to cut working tax credits, forcing a partial u-turn in the Spending Review. And it will be Labour that campaigns for a real living wage for all workers in the coming months.

So, if you can get to Oldham - do get along and be sure to say #IBackJim. And if you can't there's always phone-banking. So here's the link: http://www.labourforoldhamwest.co.uk/get_involved

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