Local battles

Song for today, lifted straight from a Facebook post by The Coalition of Resistance (http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/) who have been putting up some wonderful music (facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Coalition-of-Resistance-Cant-Pay-Wont-Pay/137748819598933 if you want to sign up).

Tracy Chapman – Revolution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTyAZTvLfAM

And so, from not two-and-a-half years ago when I would barely even pause as I turned past the politics pages in the newspaper I find myself reading most if not all, almost every day and wanting to talk to Oz Girl when I get home, about whatever it is that I’ve read, heard or done that day. Politics shows on Sundays and Radio 4. It’s fascinating, I love it.

And local politics, I’m learning as fast as I can, from Green Party meetings and now the battle to influence the Council in the area where I work. Writing letters, lobbying, trying to get others involved, emailing information, distributing flyers, meetings after meetings after meetings, it could be a full time job and more.

Now we want the Council to do “what’s right”. But what the hell is that? They’ve been told to set a budget and will only be given a certain amount of money to spend, which will effectively force them to make spending cuts. In turn, redundancies will be made, colleagues who I like and respect very much will lose their jobs and the vulnerable young people who we work with will lose some very supportive and dedicated professionals. It’s depressing.

For me, I want the Council to refuse to set the budget with the money being put on the table. I agree with the Union line that they should set a “needs” budget in partnership with the Unions and local community. The Council would risk being booted out, but a stand against the ConDem Coalition government must be made somehow. The ConDems have already started blaming local Councils for closing libraries, as if they have nothing to do with it! Liverpool City Council withdrew from the “Big Society” pilot and over 90 Lib Dem councillors, including 18 leaders of local authorities wrote a letter to The Times criticising the scale and pace of the cuts. These actions made a big noise, however they want to do it other councils and councillors must make that big noise into a din that will ring in the ears of the ConDems when their head hits the pillow every night.

However the onus is on us. Local Councillors are accessible, they have open door surgeories and their contact details are generally very easy to find on your local authority website. Go and see them, drop them an email, give them a call, send them a text, communicate your displeasure through the medium of music, dance or smoke signals. If we don’t make a noise now, we have no right to complain when our communities get hit, hard, by these public spending cuts. I’ll be lobbying the local council when they meet to set the budget next week, standing with my friends and colleagues from a Youth Offending Team set to lose £1.1 million in funding.

The spending cuts are coming
They’ll make them with impunity
We have to ask the question
Do they care about this community? 

Massive savings in Youth Services
In Social Care and Safeguarding too
They’ll tell us with faces pleading
It’s what they “have to do”

But we know something different
We know there’s those with cash
The rich are getting richer
Even so soon after markets crashed

The mistakes of the rich and powerful
Brought us financial woe
And if we dare to tax them
They say abroad they’ll go 

So march on the town hall
And make your voices loud
Stand up and tell them boldly
We won’t take this lying down

When they come with “savings”
And tell us they have no choice
We’ll meet them with our protest
One unrelenting voice

This is the voice of the people
Not millionaire’s row
Do they think we’ll give up this fight?
Do they think we’ll ever go?
No!
We’re not going anywhere
No!
They’ll always feel our steely glare
No!
They won’t catch us unaware
No!
We won’t leave until what’s done is fair.

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