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Posted on 27 April 2012 at 18:14 GMT

Video: Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition applauded on BBC's Question Time

Watch the Socialist Party's London regional organiser Paula Mitchell on BBC's Question Time win applause as she condemned both the Tory/Liberal government "of the rich for the rich" and the Labour Party, who refuse to say they will reverse the cuts.

Paula announced that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing in the May elections "against cuts, against privatisation" because "the Labour Party has given up on fighting for working class people."

Click here for the full BBC Question Time programme. Paula asks her question at 15 minutes.

Fighting a way into a BBC debate

The almost complete press blackout for the London TUSC assembly election campaign was finally broken - albeit briefly - last night on Question Time.

Prior to this, we had an insulting two second flash on a London news item about the list candidates - a completely unbalanced piece which gave interview time to the racist candidates of the BNP and the English Democrats, and lumped TUSC in with the also-rans.

This is despite the fact that, in a historical step forward, the TUSC list in London is backed by the trade unions RMT and London FBU and has the backing of three trade union general secretaries.

It is standing a powerful list of 17 leading trade union figures and campaigners, with the rail union RMT president Alex Gordon at the top of the list, all of whom in their trade union positions represent thousands of people.

The contribution I made from the Question Time audience on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), sparked a huge Twitter debate - with some even tweeting "anti-austerity TUSC lady for PM"! We were able to expose the government "of the rich for the rich", the 750 billion that big business has stashed away and the 120 billion that goes unpaid in tax, and the fact that the Labour Party will not pledge to reverse the cuts.

That is why Labour cannot take its votes for granted, that is why trade unionists are standing their own candidates.

We won a lot of support from the studio audience, most of whom took away TUSC postcards.

It is a shame that the home audience doesn't see all the bits that happen before the broadcast, when some of the real cut and thrust took place.

No anti-cuts voices

In the reception, David Dimbleby emerges to tell us all that Question Time is 'our show' and that we can say what we like.

But TUSC candidate Ian Leahair was able to show that in reality the programme carves out working class anti-cuts voices, when he asked why they hardly ever have working class representatives on the panel; and why don't they have trade unionists who are standing in the elections? We were able to return to this in the informal bits with Dimbleby in the studio - why didn't they ask Ian, who sits on the FBU firefighters' union national executive, to sit on the panel? I asked if they edit any of the audiences' points - Dimbleby says no, but that was not the experience of Socialist Party members in previous Question Time audiences (

In the unbroadcast warm-ups, I managed to get on the trial panel to engage in debate, and also in the warm-up question with the real panel.

The warm-up question was about Labour peers telling voters to vote for Ken Livingstone through gritted teeth, and we were able to get in and make the point that, with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and services, if Ken Livingstone had a programme of standing up against the cuts he would romp home.

We hope our brief appearance will help give confidence to all those watching that fighting back is worthwhile.

But it is outrageous that we have to fight our way into the debate like this - trade unionists standing in the elections, fighting for a political voice for the millions against the parties of the millionaires ought to be headline news.

But of course for the parties of the rich and their cronies in the media, stamping out the working class anti-cuts voice is an essential part of their job.

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

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