Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/763/16615
Doncaster: For a mayor that would really stop the bedroom tax!
Mary Jackson speaking at the excellent pre-election rally attended by 55 people, many at their first TUSc meeting, 29 April 2013, photo Mary4Mayor
On Saturday 27 April, 18 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters were out campaigning for 'Mary4Mayor' in Doncaster town centre on a successful day despite the distractions of rain, security guards and the racist English Defence League (EDL).
Frenchgate shopping centre security tried to move us from under the centre's overhang, claiming private property.
We stood our ground and an hour later the Town Centre manager explained to the security that we were on a public footpath. TUSC 1, security 0.
The Grimsby EDL were out 'on tour' in Doncaster, handing out leaflets attacking TUSC. We must be doing something right if in this election, out of the ten candidates, the EDL feel they have to single out TUSC to attack. TUSC 1, far right 0.
And we even beat the rain, selling 60 socialist newspapers and raising over £50 in public donations.
Earlier in the week, a dozen people attended the Thorne Against the Bedroom Tax public meeting called by the Mary4Mayor campaign.
Spontaneous applause interrupted Mary's speech three times as she explained why she was standing for mayor and her policies, especially her commitment to scrap the bedroom tax in Doncaster.
TUSC has been campaigning for Mary4Mayor out on the streets of Doncaster for over five weeks now, but on 26 April we saw the Labour Party out for the first time! Around a dozen Labour people with balloons and leaflets were near the markets.
'What's going on,' we thought, 'have they realised that the mayoral election is next Thursday?' Then we saw the regional ITV news interviewing Labour candidate Ross Jones. So they'd turned up just for the cameras. Half an hour later they had gone.
Meanwhile, people queued at our TUSC stall campaigning against the bedroom tax, which Labour leader Ed Miliband won't even commit to repealing! There was lots of support for Mary with several supporters taking posters.
The campaigning is having an influence. On 28 April, Doncaster council announced a £1 million hardship fund for residents affected by the bedroom tax.
But as Mary said: "If Doncaster council and mayor really want to help, then they should reclassify properties as not having 'spare' bedrooms and refuse to evict any tenants for bedroom tax rent arrears."
One person at the bedroom tax meeting said that she would not have been able to eat this week after paying her bedroom tax if a friend hadn't lent her some money.
This shows why we have to organise to beat the bedroom tax, kick out the Tory government and elect a working class mayor on a worker's wage.
Building TUSC in Newcastle byelections
Paul Phillips, TUSC South Heaton candidate
In the 25 May South Heaton ward byelection in Newcastle, TUSC polled 69 votes - 5.3% - increasing our vote by 1% from last year, finishing in fourth place out of seven candidates. TUSC beat the Tories, Newcastle First - 'Ukip in disguise' - and another independent
During the election campaign there was sheer anger at the bedroom tax.
The local Newcastle Labour council have been trying their hardest to justify a £100 million cuts budget where we will see the closures of ten libraries and all youth services! Labour won the byelection, but with 1,100 less votes than in the 2011 poll.
Though the Greens - with a national media profile and an MP in Brighton - finished second, they were not offering any alternative to the cuts. The Lib Dems finished third.
This election has allowed us to set a foundation down for future polls and TUSC will be campaigning from now until next year so residents of Newcastle have a clear anti-cuts socialist alternative to vote for.
TUSC also stood Rory Jobe in the Castle ward byelection, getting 47 votes (1.8%).
Leicester: hostel beds cut as homelessness rises
Tessa Warrington, Leicester TUSC byelection candidate
Michael is homeless. I spoke to him at a three-night sleep-out, the latest protest organised by homeless action group Streetlife.
The Labour-controlled Leicester city council cuts of £2.2 million - a third of the homelessness budget - include plans to close two hostels and turn a third into an 'assessment' centre - a loss of over 200 beds.
At the same time, council tax benefit cuts of 20% and the bedroom tax, will increase homelessness. But the council claims that hostel beds are not being filled.
Michael was born in Leicester. After serving in the armed forces as a medic in Bazrah, he developed Gulf War syndrome - which was not yet recognised in the UK as a medical condition. So Michael settled in Germany and had a family.
When he separated from his wife he moved to Spain with a further deterioration of his health. However, recently the status of his condition was changed, disqualifying him from disability benefits.
This has forced him to return to the UK to work in order to continue receiving benefits.
When he came back, Michael had nowhere to live. His mother is disabled and living in a one-bed bungalow.
However, the council's Housing Options Centre said he did not 'fit the criteria' to qualify for a bed.
He was unable to get a place in any of Leicester's hostels and had no choice but to sleep rough for an entire week.
Physically and mentally exhausted, he sat through the night on the steps of Leicester's most central hostel.
When an outreach volunteer arranged for provision of a bed, Michael found that in a dorm of ten, seven beds were empty.
People are denied a bed by the Housing Options for not 'fitting the criteria'. No wonder the hostels aren't 'full'! Sadly, Leicester's street corners are.
Tessa is the Abbey ward TUSC candidate in the 9 May Leicester city council byelection
TUSC against cuts
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing 121 candidates, in 20 of the 35 councils with elections this year.
TUSC involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, and socialist groups including the Socialist Party.
In The Socialist 1 May 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns