A Swansea Labour Coup
13th September 2014
Whatever the coup was about in Swansea Council's ruling Labour Group that saw David Phillips replaced by Rob Stewart, we can be sure that it wasn't about politics.
In his first public statement as council leader, Councillor Stewart pledged to continue the same course as his predecessor. He wasted no time in confirming the perspective of Swansea Socialist Party members that Labour cuts to services, all £70 million of them in the next 3 years, would continue.
Worryingly for council workers, not just cuts to services but outsourcing seems set to continue and perhaps even accelerate. Stewart says he wishes "to see the ethos of this council develop into one of an enabling authority." Surely he's aware that the phrase 'enabling authority' has become how a council that outsources services and sees its role limited to commissioning services from private providers is described. This was how the Tory leadership of Suffolk Council branded their proposals to reduce its workforce from around 27,000 to a few hundred.
Any council trade unionists who had hoped the change in leadership signified a friendlier approach to unions than the previous regime, with its 'sign or be sacked' approach to negotiations on single status and pay cuts, will be sorely disappointed, if this is what Stewart has in mind by an enabling authority.
In fact the first people Stewart is reaching out to appears not to be trade unions, who've seen hundreds of their members' jobs lost under Labour and still have hundreds employed on zero hours contracts by this Labour council. That number has dropped but that is because jobs have been outsourced rather than Labour councillors addressing this scandal. Instead it's the Con-Dems he seems more interested in working with. Calling on opposition parties in the Council to cooperate over planning cuts of "£70 million from services over the next 3 years", he said "I look to all political groups on this council to share that aim. I welcome contributions from all sides."
Council trade unionists and service users who want to protect jobs and services can have no confidence in Labour, regardless of this change of leadership - simply a rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic. Instead, Swansea Socialist Party calls on them to join with us in building the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition and send out a clear message that any Labour politician who votes for cuts or outsourcing is fair game for a socialist, no-cuts challenge.