Austerity has hit Doncaster hard. When the 2008 crash hit Doncaster was already in a critical condition. Manufacturing jobs had largely disappeared and the Blair-Brown years had seen the imposition of a mayoral system to ‘fast-track change’. That ominous phrase had meant cuts and privatisations to such an extent that this solid Labour town voted for an English Democrat mayor. In 2008 Doncaster needed social investment, we got austerity.. Writes Mick Wattam from Doncaster People's Assembly
Since 2008 social justice activists have demonstrated against the austerity. We don’t blame the Labour administration for the austerity. Our fight is always against the Tories and the one per cent they serve. However, the council has failed to offer any resistance or alternative to austerity. The Labour administration sees their management of Tory cuts as preferable to a full Tory assault on Doncaster. However, by accepting the neoliberal logic that by making cuts and subsidising business Doncaster will somehow grow an economy which will then be able to fund the services that have been slashed is hopelessly flawed.
The fabric of our services is now largely privatised, with all the attendant problems. For example our schools are now virtually all run by private academy chains. Teachers are worked to death and school budgets fall well short of the demands made on them. Head teachers see their role as wiping the dirt off the corporate badge, placing institutional reputation above educational concerns.
There are jobs in Doncaster – largely warehouse jobs and call centres – although the new rail college and the proposed arrival of HS2 offer some new employment opportunities. Although more jobs are welcome the type of job we are being offered is still an issue. For example, a supporter of Doncaster Peoples’ Assembly currently has four jobs – and she is still entitled to benefits! Low pay and precarious employment are the evil twins spawned by austerity.
The cuts that Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council manage have only served to reduce government funding at each turn. Every evening homeless people, many with severe health and dependency needs, sit around the town centre. This has produced a backlash from right wing pressure groups who want to ‘clean up our town’. This pressure has seen homeless people pushed out of the town centre, only to cause the same problems in communities already wrecked by austerity. On top of that the council has had to pay for more community police officers to appease the right, and this is diverting money away from social need towards cosmetic change.
Economists are warning that another crash is on the way, fuelled by the same debt-crisis as in 2008. Austerity was supposed to solve the crisis last time but has led to another one, possibly more severe. Please add Doncaster’s voice to the list – End Austerity Now.
Doncaster will be part of the Nationwide Tour. We will release the tour dates very soon.