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500 Words from Matt Wright


16 Apr 2011
Posted by Tony Walley

I can remember saying during my stint as a TUSC candidate in the general election last year that no matter which of the 3 main pro-capitalist, pro-big business parties won the election, we would be paying for the bail out of the banking system with our jobs, services and living standards.

Fast-forward 12 months and we have the spectacle of a Labour council- a Labour council (!) passing on Tory cuts with only token resistance. It's a scene that is being repeated across the country.

A week after Stoke council voted through £36m in cuts it came to light that the council had, in fact, over £60m stashed away in reserves. Instead of using some of this money to stop cuts in jobs and services they are using over £20m of it in redundancy pay outs to staff. It's true that Community Voice and the BNP voted against the cuts, but where was their alternative budget?

So what would I do?

I will be fighting cuts and privatisation tooth and nail. But opposition in words is not enough, neither is simply voting against cuts. What I will do is propose alternatives to cuts and privatisation.

I would propose that we -

* Set a 'needs budget' that would take in to account what we NEED as a city, not just what we can afford from the measly government handouts.

* Use a combination of council reserves and prudential borrowing powers to stop, and even reverse the spending cuts inflicted on the city.

* Launch a massive campaign across the city to demand more money from the government, that links up with trade unions, community groups and communities.

I will also be demanding that the council -

* Embarks on a huge program of building council houses to relieve our massive social housing waiting lists and create jobs.

* Call in any decision by local NHS trusts to make redundancies as a result of 'over spending' or funding cuts.

* Bring as many of the privatised council services back 'in house' to stop our council tax lining the pockets of big business.

Say it can't be done?

Take a look at the example of Liverpool city council in the 80's. They launched a similar campaign against Thatcher's government and won the equivalent of £60m back and built over 5000 houses, 5 leisure centres and created 2000 jobs in the process.

More information here-

http://www.liverpool47.org/legacy/legacy.htm

I've been involved in many campaigns over the last 6 years or so. I've been fighting back against the low wages, privatisations, cuts and wars imposed on us by the last Labour government. I have also been supporting and building support for workers across the city who were taking strike action against these attacks. I'm also organiser for North Staffs Against Cuts which has been instrumental in building the anti-cuts movement in north Staffs. Whether I'm elected or not I will continue to fight in the interests of working class people across the city.

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Potteye's picture

Its your choice and right but

Its your choice and right but can I ask why you have chosen to stand against me in Dresden and Florence when you live in Trent Vale??

Guest's picture

I'm from Dresden originally,

I'm from Dresden originally, spent about 25 years living there, and I'm moving back into Erskine street at the end of the month.

I'm still waiting for my account to be approved...

Matt Wright

Potteye's picture

Ok. Fair Enough. Sound.

Ok. Fair Enough. Sound.

Ian Norris's picture

Matt fully agree, the money

Matt fully agree, the money is/was there for an alternative budget.

An Alternative could easily have been put forward without the need for many of the unnecessary cuts Labour eagerly agreed, believing they could just Blame the National Coalition.

Good Luck

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Warren Lloyd's picture

Agreed, but we don't need a

Agreed, but we don't need a union person to tell us this, as for not presenting alternative costings, up to the BNP and the CV, it would have better but there you go. This smacks a bit of socialist clap trap. Some cuts needed to be made. You talk about needs mate, what are the needs of the city then, city farm, no, the golf things, not in the least, Shelton Pool, yes, Tunstell Pool, its debatable that we need that, Liberieys, yes, Pride in the City, yes, elderly care, god yes. The council would have to keep a fall back.

If the union movement got ant power at all on the council, I fear that the paid officers of the council would only gain more and more power. When the first thing I would do is cut the wages of them over £80,000 p/a by 10%.

Caring for the city and all within it.

Guest's picture

You might want to have a read

You might want to have a read of this: http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/tax-and-economy/no-alternative-to-cutting-... then have a little rethink about your 'no cuts' stance.

Ian Norris's picture

Guest your basing that on

Guest your basing that on real reduction in funding , not the councils increase of reserves and contingency funds.

These funds as well as other funds set aside like crc could formed basis for alternative budget

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Guest's picture

Where is this £60m figure

Where is this £60m figure from?

Guest's picture

While I have sympathy for any

While I have sympathy for any one proposing alternative to budgets it is not as simple as Matt has suggested.

Capital reserves do not last for ever and borrowing is not limitless and while I support the use of Reserves for capital programmes, it is woefully irresposnible to base your revenue spending on reserves which will eventually be depleted.

Once you have borrowed all you can and you have spent all you had - what do you do then?

I know that some may be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought they can shout this down be saying "that's what labour did natiobnally," but the comparison doesn't work.

Not to mention the fact that the arguement with Liverpool and the Thatcher government does not stand up. Thatcher was fighting the Miners and didn't want a fight with Liverpool as well and so yielded.

I also find it perverse that the hard-left are singing the same tune as Eric Pickles and the Tory governemnt.

Ian Norris's picture

Mitch in reserves they

Mitch in reserves they borrowing £25million from it to pay redunancies

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Guest's picture

And where do you get this

And where do you get this £25m figure, Ian? As far as I'm aware the redundancy bill is going to be £4m.

Ian Norris's picture

It's in the budget under

It's in the budget under 'invest to save' also have email to confirm from council to confirm, will copy and paste when home, budget you can easily check budget report

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Warren Lloyd's picture

It's no good going on about

It's no good going on about cuts and what's in reserve and all that lot, its been done, end of, set in stone. The council need to make massive savings next year to. I'v make a stand hear and now. If I'm on the council, no way on gods green earth will I vote for a budget that will see any cut in services used by children, disabled or not, disabled adults or the elderly. I mean that, you all have my word on that. I fact I have already gladly signed a pledge for the NDCS saying as much for deaf if I become a member of the council, witch gave me a hell of a rush.

Caring for the city and all within it.

Gary Elsby's picture

I've made a point in this

I've made a point in this election to target no individual and I make no exception to this plan.
However, I will question the parties that stand.

Matt needs to answer the following points:

1. Is the TUSC an offshoot of the Militant Tendency, outlawed by Labour?

2. Is this the reason why you are not a Labour member and fighting for change from within?

3.Have you ever been a member of Militant, or its name change, The Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP), or its name change Socialist Party(SP)?

4. Were you part of TUSC whom were removed from UHNS property during a campaign after complaints from UNISON members not long ago?

5. Is Dave Nellist, former Labour MP, a member of TUSC?

MattWright's picture

1. yes, the militant tendency

1. yes, the militant tendency is what became the socialist party, but TUSC is not an off shoot. It is a coalition of various parties and individual non-aligned trade unionists.

2. I see no point in joining the labour party, in my opinion it's nigh on impossible to change the labour party due to the removal of democratic structures. I'd argue it's only a shell of what it once was.

3. I've never heard of the The Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party Gary. But yes, it clearly states in my 500 words that I am a member of the socialist party.

4.I've never been removed from UHNS property Gary. Quite thankfully as I'm a student nurse there.
You may be referring to the NHS SOS campaign that was set up about 4/5 years ago in response to the massive redundancies at the hospital. The Socialist Party had several very successful campaign stalls there, but we received a letter from UHNS management who objected to us being there and asked us not to return. (maybe because the campaign was gaining so much momentum?)

5. Dave Nellist is now a socialist party councillor in Coventry. The socialist party is a component part of TUSC.

Nicky Davis's picture

"in my opinion it's nigh on

"in my opinion it's nigh on impossible to change the labour party due to the removal of democratic structures. I'd argue it's only a shell of what it once was."

Spot on!

What we really need to worry about though is labour removing democratic structures for the rest of us, as they have done in Stoke-on-Trent and I imagine they'd want to escalate if they win this election.

May 5th Local Elections - Vote Interested Independent - Not Tory Traitor or Labour Liar

Ian Norris's picture

Warren how can unallocated

Warren how can unallocated reserves be set on stone?

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Gary Elsby's picture

So the Socialist Party was

So the Socialist Party was once the Militant Tendency and the Militant Tendency was outlawed by Neil Kinnock, the Labour Leader for being an 'organisation within and organisation' and the Socialist party is a component part of the TUSC.

Dave Nellist (former Labour MP) was openly identified as being a part of the Militant Tendency but is now a Socialist Party Councillor of which is part of the TUSC structure.

Who asked the UHNS management to remove TUSC from the hospital grounds?
Was it UNISON members?
My belief is that it had nothing to do with how much you wanted to save UNISON jobs.

MattWright's picture

'So the Socialist Party was

'So the Socialist Party was once the Militant Tendency and the Militant Tendency was outlawed by Neil Kinnock, the Labour Leader for being an 'organisation within and organisation' and the Socialist party is a component part of the TUSC.'

yep, thats us.

'Dave Nellist (former Labour MP) was openly identified as being a part of the Militant Tendency but is now a Socialist Party Councillor of which is part of the TUSC structure.'

Correct

Who asked the UHNS management to remove TUSC from the hospital grounds?
Was it UNISON members?
My belief is that it had nothing to do with how much you wanted to save UNISON jobs.

The letter said that was a complaint that we were 'rattling collection tins'- something we have never done on any of the hundereds of stalls I've helped out on. I've no Idea who made the complaint, although I'd put money on there not being any complaint at all, it was just management making something up.

What is your belief then Gary?

We wanted to build a campaign that would force the hospital management to back down over the redundencies. we wanted to save every single job, not just UNISON ones.

MattWright's picture

'So the Socialist Party was

'So the Socialist Party was once the Militant Tendency and the Militant Tendency was outlawed by Neil Kinnock, the Labour Leader for being an 'organisation within and organisation' and the Socialist party is a component part of the TUSC.'

yep, thats us.

'Dave Nellist (former Labour MP) was openly identified as being a part of the Militant Tendency but is now a Socialist Party Councillor of which is part of the TUSC structure.'

Correct

Who asked the UHNS management to remove TUSC from the hospital grounds?
Was it UNISON members?
My belief is that it had nothing to do with how much you wanted to save UNISON jobs.

The letter said that was a complaint that we were 'rattling collection tins'- something we have never done on any of the hundereds of stalls I've helped out on. I've no Idea who made the complaint, although I'd put money on there not being any complaint at all, it was just management making something up.

What is your belief then Gary?

We wanted to build a campaign that would force the hospital management to back down over the redundencies. we wanted to save every single job, not just UNISON ones.

Guest's picture

I'd like to thank Matt for

I'd like to thank Matt for answering the questions put to him in a straight forward way.

My question for you Gary is how many anti-cuts campaigns have you been involved in these last five years?

Warren Lloyd's picture

Ian, without question, there

Ian, without question, there as to be a fall back, to run a council hand to mouth would be daft if not impossible. I agree it could be less then what they hold, but it has to be a good amount. Like most of us agree, its a question of needs and wants, and needs come first.

Caring for the city and all within it.

Guest's picture

Re: Council reserves. They

Re: Council reserves. They are not piggy banks that can be raided: http://labourlist.org/council-reserves-arent-a-secret-stash

Ian Norris's picture

so why are stoke labour doing

so why are stoke labour doing just that, borrowing £25m from reserves to be paid back £5m a year?

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Desiree Elliott's picture

We need new ways of raising

We need new ways of raising income whilst protecting the disadvantaged. Why not introduce a Land Value Tax, A tax on the value of all land based on the undeveloped value of the land. Get rid of Council Tax. Those with larger properties will automatically pay a higher amount. Landowners and speculators who sit on land (especially after it has been de-valued by regen North Staffs) would be more likely to invest in development as it would cost them to leave the land undeveloped. Derelict buildings would be brought back into use etc.etc.
The principal behind this is that land values rise due to location, services, and other benefits such as proximity to schools, greenspace, and other facilities. Therefore speculators and landowners increase the value of their property due to investment by the rest of society. i.e. Public Money.
LAndlords and homeowners would pay based on the value of their land but would not pay extra for improvements to their properties. This would encourage more householders to invest in their own homes, and landlords to improve their properties.
Good quality Public Services would need to be maintained to encourage development and land / house sales as this would be the means for adding value to the property.
More development, more businesses, more jobs,improved housing, no cuts in services. Simples!

Desiree Elliott

Guest's picture

Probably because a) It is

Probably because a) It is legally possible for them to do so without incurring fines, b) It makes better sense than borrowing at commercial rates, which is strangely advocated by the socialists, and c) It is necessary to do so.

Ian Norris's picture

So council reserves are not

So council reserves are not piggy banks to be raided, unless necessary

What about increasing reserves above that from previous years at time crisis

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Ian Norris's picture

So council reserves are not

So council reserves are not piggy banks to be raided, unless necessary

What about increasing reserves above that from previous years at time crisis

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Warren Lloyd's picture

I'd like to know why the

I'd like to know why the local Labour party feel the need to hold £25million of council money at these times of cuts. There subs not enough at the moment then.

Caring for the city and all within it.

Guest's picture

Warren, did you not read the

Warren, did you not read the link I posted above?

And Ian, stop being so duplicitous about this. Some money was borrowed from the reserves. To comply with legal obligations, that has to be *paid back*. Therefore monies going to reserves have to be increased to simultaneously pay the "loan" back AND meet statutory requirements demanded of the council by the government for reserves.

There is no conspiracy here. Just a council trying its best with what its got.

Since being on PnP I have yet to hear your alternative for tackling the shortfall. So come on, let's have it.

Ian Norris's picture

mitch you talking of one

mitch you talking of one reserve there tw0.

I would not have increase allocation to un-allocated reserves by £2million over next 2 years

I would not created £7million contingency fund

I would put the £1million set aside for CRC back into general fund.

I would not built £15m bus station opting for park n ride hubs around city.

Thats around £10million to kept services that are needed open

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Ian Norris's picture

the two reserves Allocated =

the two reserves

Allocated = £56million
General (un-allocated) = £5.3million

in Feb full council agreed to allow upto £25million to be borrowed from allocated reserves

Full Council also agreed to increase the amount added to General (un-allocated) upto £1.5million a year from £0.5million.

Full Council also agreed to added £3.3million this year and £3.6million next year to a contingency fund.

It is the last 2 I am questioning, Why did Labour coalition increase so much the aloocation to general reserves while cutting services?

The Auditor suggest a authority of out size has minimum General reserve of £4million so that not a reason.

See budget report http://iannorris.limewebs.com/wp-content/gallery/election/budget-report.png

I've not a problem with continuing to save £0.5million a year.

But Mitch why the £1million increase a year?

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Harry Ward's picture

Matt Wright claims to be the

Matt Wright claims to be the Organiser of North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC), and also claims that TUSC candidates are supported by NSAC.

These statements are lies.

The launch meeting of North Staffs Against Cuts on 26 January agreed a Statement of Aims. Nowhere on that Statement of Aims was there any mention of supporting TUSC candidates. Furthermore, the 26 January meeting was organised by North Staffordshire Trades Union Council, which is not allowed by its constitution to support organisations such as TUSC which stand candidates in elections.

The Draft Constitution of North Staffs Against Cuts, issued on 14 March 2011, specifically states: “NSAC cannot campaign for, affiliate to or back any political party or election candidate”.

NSAC’s aims are clear: to build the broadest possible campaign against cuts in jobs, services and benefits. But, in doing so, NSAC remains strictly non-party political. NSAC does not back or support specific candidates from any party, and certainly does not support TUSC.

Matt Wright is not the Organiser of NSAC. The only thing that he is organiser of is a splinter anti-cuts group run by the sectarians of the Socialist Party.

So please do not be misled: Matt Wright is nothing to do with North Staffs Against Cuts.

Harry Ward

MattWright's picture

Harry Ward:Matt Wright claims

Harry Ward:
Matt Wright claims to be the Organiser of North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC), and also claims that TUSC candidates are supported by NSAC.

These statements are lies.

The launch meeting of North Staffs Against Cuts on 26 January agreed a Statement of Aims. Nowhere on that Statement of Aims was there any mention of supporting TUSC candidates. Furthermore, the 26 January meeting was organised by North Staffordshire Trades Union Council, which is not allowed by its constitution to support organisations such as TUSC which stand candidates in elections.

The Draft Constitution of North Staffs Against Cuts, issued on 14 March 2011, specifically states: “NSAC cannot campaign for, affiliate to or back any political party or election candidate”.

NSAC’s aims are clear: to build the broadest possible campaign against cuts in jobs, services and benefits. But, in doing so, NSAC remains strictly non-party political. NSAC does not back or support specific candidates from any party, and certainly does not support TUSC.

Matt Wright is not the Organiser of NSAC. The only thing that he is organiser of is a splinter anti-cuts group run by the sectarians of the Socialist Party.

So please do not be misled: Matt Wright is nothing to do with North Staffs Against Cuts.

Harry, it is a matter of public record that there was a split within North Staffs Against Cuts. North Staffs Trades Union Council unfortunately took the decision to split away from North Staffs Against Cuts after our founding conference when it ceased to be a subcommittee of the Trades Council, and became an organisation in it's own right.

Also quoting from a DRAFT constitution is also pretty pointless, the point of a draft constitution is that it hasn't yet been agreed upon.

It's true that there are now 2 organisations who have claim to the name North Staffs Against Cuts, one organised by myself which is an independent organisation, and the other which is a subcommittee of north staffs trades council.

A full reply to North Staffs Trades Council's decision to attempt to dissolve the steering committee of North Staffs Against Cuts and their split away from the group was put up on the stoke socialist party website here
http://www.stokesocialistparty.org.uk/?p=796

andyb's picture

Most people who have

Most people who have responded to Matt's 500 words have commented on what he has actually written.

Unfortunately it appears that 'Harry Ward' only wants to attempt some sort of character assassination based on incorrect information.

For those who wish to read a more balanced and truthful account of why there is a disagreement over the existence of NSAC you can do so on the following link;

http://www.stokesocialistparty.org.uk/?p=796

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