Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/760/16487
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
In local council elections on 2 May 5% of the seats will have a fighting anti-austerity alternative on the ballot paper.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing 121 candidates, in 20 of the 35 councils with elections this year.
Contrast this with when these seats were previously contested in the four-yearly local elections cycle.
In 2009 a year after the financial crisis broke and when Labour polled just 24% of the vote, there were literally just a handful of candidates presenting a working class alternative to the pro-austerity consensus.
It is mainly county councils up for election in May, overwhelmingly Tory-controlled - though Cumbria has been run by a Labour-Conservative coalition! But these councils administer a range of services - from education, adult social care and youth provision, to libraries, highways and emergency services - covering a population of 24 million, control combined budgets of £43 billion, and employ 750,000 workers (including school staff).
TUSC's platform for these elections (see below) offers a distinct alternative in elections where Labour candidates may try to present themselves as 'anti-cuts'.
TUSC candidates include national executive committee members of the RMT transport workers' union and the PCS civil servants' union and regional and branch officers from both.
There is a Unison health sector group executive member, a Communication Workers Union regional organiser, POA branch officers, and numerous Unite, Unison and National Union of Teachers local union reps.
College students are standing, and an 89-year old National Pensioners Convention activist.
In 2011 TUSC stood in 2% of the seats being contested, in 2012 in 4% of metropolitan council elections.
May's election challenge, in more seats in a different terrain, is another step in TUSC fulfilling its function of being a means for trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to present a common banner against the establishment parties.
See www.tusc.org.uk for the full list of candidates
All TUSC councillors will:
- Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services.
- Support all workers' struggles against cuts, privatisation and the government's policy of making ordinary people pay for the crisis caused by the bankers and the bosses.
- Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
- Defend the national collective bargaining arrangements for council workers.
- Vote against privatisation of council jobs and services, or transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.
- Oppose racism and fascism and stand up for equality for all.
- Use all the powers available to councils - to block cuts to local NHS services, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations - to oppose both cuts and government policies that centrally impose transfer of public services to private bodies.
- Campaign for the introduction of a Living Wage above the minimum wage for all council employees and those working for council contractors.
- Faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts.
We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and borrowing powers to avoid passing them on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the local community's needs. We demand that the government makes up the shortfall.
- Support action against climate change and for a future where sustainability comes before profit.
Third place for TUSC in Knowsley
TUSC candidate Steve Whatham won third place in a Knowsley council byelection on 4 April. Labour held Prescot West seat with 44% of the vote.
The Lib Dems kept their second place position from last May's contest. Steve got 8.5% of the poll, ahead of both Tories and Greens.
In the Merseyside borough of Knowsley all 63 councillors are Labour, but the byelection showed again that the TUSC banner can be picked up by anti-cuts campaigners to mount a credible working class challenge to the pro-austerity consensus.
Labour 441; Lib Dems 403; TUSC 86 (8.5%); Conservative 62; Green 14
'I'd rather stand as a TUSC candidate...'
"I was a Labour councillor on Wyre borough council from 1995-1999. I left Labour in 2002 because of its break with socialism and the trade unions.
Basically since then I have supported union campaigns against cuts as a union activist, a member of the GMB.
I was going to stand as an independent socialist against the cuts, as I have been attacking the cuts in the local paper...
As a trade unionist I fully endorse the platform your candidates are standing on, which is why I would much rather stand as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate. With that in mind I submit this application and ask for you to consider me."
Ray is now TUSC candidate for the Lancashire county council seat of Fleetwood East, with RMT executive member Kevin Morrison standing in nearby Thornton Cleveleys.
TUSC union forum
The TUSC trade union forum met for the first time on 6 April. National or sectional executive level trade unionists were present from the RMT, PCS, NUT, Unison, Unite and the UCU.
RMT executive members Daren Ireland and Sean Hoyle are preparing a report of the meeting. May's TUSC steering committee will discuss the proposals raised, including plans for a campaign on union rights in the run up to the general election.
In The Socialist 10 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The bedroom tax
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party review