Countering the cuts myths




Greater Manchester Association of Trades Councils

Secretary: Stefan Cholewka

31 Spotland Road Rochdale OL12 6PE

T: 01706 642899 M: 07901-913-698 E:




Doctor George’s marvellous MHS medicine

– panacea or poison?

Leaked and announced this week was a surprise and unprecedented back-room deal to

fast-track (starting April 2015) and fundamentally change who decides what and how, for

“the entire health and social care system in Greater Manchester”, which includes

hospitals and A&E’s, GP’s, community services, mental health services, social care, public

health and health education.

Whilst there are some who have nervously welcomed the general principle of a large transfer

of health responsibilities to local decision makers, there are others who also fear that this

week’s revelation is an outrageous and monumental act of reckless folly.

It is all happening with the non-stop, savage mega-cuts to Council funding and vital services –

a blinkered and brutal austerity regime that hits people with disabilities nine times harder than

the rest of the population - and those with severe disabilities nineteen times harder.

What is not in any doubt is that those directly affected by the consequences of this week’s

announcement and of the larger ‘Devo Manc’ package have been completely excluded and

not consulted - and those who’ve concocted this back-room deal have no legitimate

democratic mandate, from the public’s point of view, to impose these massive changes.

There has been no public debate, no scrutiny, no carefully thought-through manifesto

pledges, no impact assessment – the public have had no voice and no vote.

Are we expected to accept that this is how decisions affecting millions of us are now made?

And are we really expected to take it on trust that George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt, Howard

Bernstein and Richard Leese, in their cosy back-room laboratory, have discovered a new

wonder-drug prescription for our health and that it absolutely must be immediately injected

into us for our own good, without our knowing exactly what it contains, how it’s supposed to

work, what the side effects are and whether we like it or not?

If a real doctor tried this approach they would, rightly, be stopped, struck off and jailed!

How can we be sure that Doctor George’s marvellous medicine is panacea not poison?

Already described as a “poison chalice” and producing a ”Swiss cheese NHS”, how do we

know this made-up MHS doesn’t also contain horse meat or worse?

Why exactly should such powers be in the hands of an appointed made-up-mayor and

‘cabinet’ of ten predominantly male, pale and stale Council leaders? Their attitudes and

behaviour so far is surely reason enough for us all to refuse to be bounced into their

fast-tracked, back-room deal and its consequences for millions of us in Greater Manchester

and beyond.

It is common-sense wisdom that “the devil is in the detail” and that “fools rush in where angels

fear to tread”. But this deal smells beyond dodgy and beyond folly – this deal is a dangerous

threat to our democratic future and a dangerous deal for the future health and wellbeing of

millions of us.

We encourage all concerned citizens to get involved and join the campaign demanding that

the PEOPLE of Greater Manchester must have a REFERENDUM on Devo Manc.

The time has come for real democracy and a real deal that puts people first





The time has come for real democracy and a real deal that puts people first.

Today, supporters of the Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign join with our fellow citizens of Manchester in publicly condemning the imposition of non-stop mega-cuts to Council funding and vital services.

Manchester Council leader Richard Leese is right to say, as he did on Twitter last week, that the savage cuts are “excessive and unfair” and “bad for Manchester”.

Also, with official auditors confirming that more than half of all Councils across the country are at risk of financial failure within a few years, it must be clear to most people, that we must change course urgently.

We welcome Richard Leese’s new passion for speaking out against cuts and austerity. We hope it grows and lasts beyond May. However, this new found passion would appear somewhat at odds with his and Manchester City Council’s enthusiastic support for the so-called Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement a.k.a. 'Devo Manc'.

Central to this agreement is not only a reformed local governance system and new powers, which will be imposed on all of us, without any of us having any say in it whatsoever, but the enshrining of further cuts, and privatisation of local public services, and a policy of continued austerity across the whole of Greater Manchester for years to come.

Together, we must reject outright such outrageously dodgy democracy and any dodgy deal cooked up behind closed doors, without any reference to the views of the people of Greater Manchester, that will effectively lock millions of us into further brutal austerity policies, never ending cuts and public asset-stripping, which will have consequences for decades.

We ask Sir Richard to now join our growing pro-referendum campaign and bring his passion with him.

Pro-referendum campaigners will soon be visiting his Crumpsall ward to ask if the 2,499 people who voted him into office in 2012 and the 77% of the Crumpsall electorate that didn’t vote for him, agree with what he has done and what he is doing on their behalf.

In our view, the time has come for real democracy and a real deal that puts people first. Let’s do it.

Sign our online petition at:…/people-must-have-right-to-vo…

Next meeting at the Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Wednesday 25th February 7.00pm start. Open to all Greater Manchester residents supporting the call for a referendum on Devo Manc.

See our facebook page for further information and details of meetings and other activities in your area. Greater Manchester Devolution Deal: Do nothing and simply accept it? Or, support the call, and back a campaign to secure a referendum?

We are asking you to support the call for a referendum on the Osborne-GMCA "Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement", or any other proposed plan for "devolution" for Greater Manchester, before it is implemented, or in this particular case imposed.

We are asking for support for a broad based Greater Manchester campaign to secure such a referendum; and for you to be happy to add your name to an initial appeal letter signed by 300 Greater Manchester trades unionists, well known residents, celebrities, faith and community leaders, academics, political activists and other campaigners, currently being put together by the officers of GMATUCs.

We we want to send to the MEN and wider media an appeal letter before a campaign for a referendum is officially launched at a press conference (and in order to help publicise its launch).

Please also state in which part of Greater Manchester you live, what you do for a living and/or any position you may hold in your community. If you also know anyone, whose name, you think might add strength and further political breadth to such an initial appeal letter and proposed referendum campaign, then why not ask them if they would be happy to sign it too?


The "Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement" and attached conditional financial settlement, will, as it currently stands, see Greater Manchester amongst other things, designated a new "City Region" with a directly elected Mayor, regardless of whether the people of Greater Manchester agree with the idea or not.

The central thrust of the campaign we are suggesting, would not be so much as to reject this or any other such proposal out of hand, but rather, would be to assert the basic democratic right of the people of Greater Manchester to be consulted, to be able to scrutinise, and to have a say, by means of a referendum, on this particular, or ANY OTHER so-called "devolution" deal for Greater Manchester or the North West region BEFORE it is implemented, and regardless of whatever the alleged merits, or otherwise, of any such a deal may be, according to its proponents.

Indeed, if the 'deal' agreed by George Osborne and Greater Manchester's ten council leaders (or any other arrangement) is as good for Greater Manchester as they say it is, and will make Manchester a "northern powerhouse" (according to the Chancellor) why is he and our Greater Manchester Council leaders, so fearful of putting the entire deal to Greater Manchester voters, and seeking their endorsement of it?

GMATUCs is to take the lead on behalf of grassroots trade unionists across Greater Manchester in seeking to establish a broad based campaign) the terms of the "Devolution Agreement" made last week are not a good deal for Greater Manchester either, and from the point of view of trades unionists, as well as the wider public, could be severely detrimental and financially damaging.

An extract from the motion to be discussed by Manchester TUC illustrates the point clearly: "We could see the breakup of national agreements affecting unions across the public sector. We could also see devolved city regions competing against each other in a race to the bottom in terms of business rates, planning laws and tax incentives in order to attract businesses, again to the detriment of workers."


In reality the Osborne-GMCA 'devolution' agreement, is nothing of the sort, as it does not devolve any real powers or decision making to the people of Greater Manchester in any way, but rather concentrates what little additional decision making powers are being handed over by central government as part of the deal, in the hands of a single supremo in the shape of a new directly elected city region Mayor. He or she will effectively be the person who will make all the decisions, advised/assisted by a cabinet made up of the leaders of all ten local Councils.

The new additional tier of Councillors, which will also be created under the deal, will additionally have few if any powers outside that of rubber stamping the new Mayor's decisions and actions, all of which, under the 'Greater Manchester Agreement', will be conditional on the Mayor acting within the financial constraints and political parameters imposed by the Chancellor and central Government.


It cannot be right for any new local/regional government arrangement, and financial settlement attached to it, to be just simply imposed without any kind of consultation with the people living in that area. That surely is little other than authoritarianism and the opposite of democracy?

The imposition of this or any other so-called 'devolution' package on Greater Manchester residents can and must be stopped. It will be stopped, and a proper public debate on what regional devolution might ideally like, allowed to take place, if the people of Greater Manchester are prepared to make their view on the issue known strongly enough and in sufficient numbers.

This would include by tens of thousands of them signing the proposed petition (currently being drafted with the help of staff at 38 Degrees and which will have exactly the same wording in printed form) and their getting behind a campaign for a referendum on the "Osborne-GMCA Devolution Agreement" in their own area.

Failing our doing that, we're all going to be simply bounced into the thing, and all that goes with it. Such an outcome, especially without a fight, would set a bad precedent for other areas, who, having seen Greater Manchester roll, or be rolled over, are all the more likely not going to fight themselves, and as consequence have similar so-called devolution deals foisted on them, without the ordinary people living there having any say in it either.

It would also be a blow to the fight against austerity, cuts and privatisation across Greater Manchester, the further continuation of which is enshrined in the Osborne-GMCA agreed deal.


Stephen Hall

President, Greater Manchester Assoc. of Trades Union Councils (GMATUC).

Stefan Cholewka

Secretary, Greater Manchester Assoc. of Trades Union Councils (GMATUC).