Nearly 200 people crammed into a meeting called by Communities Against the Cuts, an anti-cuts group based in South Birmingham. The meeting was very open and people from a wide variety of political organisations as well as the unaffiliated were able to make contributions.
Four Socialist Party members made contributions; we strongly emphasised the need for a ‘needs budget’ to be set by the council and for links to be built with the council trade unions and communities affected by cuts.
It was encouraging that there were many new faces present. Many came from the universities and were primarily mobilised by Facebook and Twitter. The younger people present may not remember big class battles such as that of Liverpool City Council, and the mighty campaign against the poll tax. This is why socialists must reiterate that trade union based struggles and the development of mass movements are the vital elements for the campaign to be a success.
It was agreed to mount a strong electoral challenge in 2014 and this is to be welcomed (there are no elections in Birmingham in 2013).
In addition several working groups will be set up to coordinate the work of the campaign in different areas such as building links with trade unionists, planning ‘direct action’ and building the campaign amongst with benefit claimants and others affected by the cuts.
The size of the meeting means that there is a solid platform for building a generalised movement against the cuts in Birmingham. The key remains to build a mass movement based on trade union struggle allied to a strong movement in the communities affected by cuts.