Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/766/16712
Southampton TUSC rally
Labour non-answers show why real anti-cuts councillors are needed
Nick Chaffey, Southern region Socialist Party secretary
"Can you guarantee that this time next year, Sure Start, libraries and Woolston youth centre will still be open?" Twice, Woolston Labour councillor, Carol Cunio, was challenged by Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Sue Atkins.
Chairing the TUSC Woolston byelection campaign launch meeting, anti-cuts councillor Keith Morrell invited the Labour councillor to answer. The meeting was met with silence. It revealed to everyone at the meeting why electing a third anti-cuts councillor in Southampton is an urgent task for those fighting to protect jobs and services from Con-Dem cuts.
The byelection, being held due to the Labour council leader's resignation, is on 13 June. The Labour leaflet says the party is: "On your side in tough times." But over 500 jobs have gone at the council since Labour took power last May, with further cuts of £40 million to come over the next two years.
"If we don't take a stand, what will be left? That's why I pledge if elected I will stand with Keith Morrell and Don Thomas and refuse to implement cuts. Councillors have a choice: I won't vote for cuts." This was the clear case put by Sue.
Sue Atkins, Southampton TUSC candidate, photo Southampton Socialist Party
Josh Asker, from the Save Southampton City Youth Services campaign, spoke about the threat to the local youth centre, which the campaign has helped to win a one-year reprieve for. "It shows campaigning can have an effect, but if things are going to change we need councillors who are prepared to challenge the Con-Dem cuts."
Hannah Sell from the Socialist Party gave the support of the TUSC national steering committee to Sue, Keith and Don. In her contribution, Hannah outlined how the money was there to provide jobs and public services. But, in the pockets of the rich 1% and big business, it was lying idle, uninvested.
"We would implement a levy on the £850 billion sitting in the bank vaults of big business and invest in building affordable housing to end the housing crisis and create jobs."
The discussion covered a variety of issues including the challenge for trade unionists to build fighting unions that can defeat the austerity agenda.
Over 30 attended the meeting; trade unionists, anti-cuts activists and new faces from the local community. £120 was donated to the campaign appeal, a very positive reflection of the mood at the meeting.
TUSC is also contesting a 6 June byelection for the Walkergate ward of Newcastle city council, whose Labour majority passed a £100 million three-year cuts programme back in March. TUSC candidate Bobbie Cranny was one of the participants in the 2011 Youth Fight For Jobs Jarrow March, backed by six national trade unions. Bobbie completed the whole route from the north east to London.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation. It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, and socialists including the Socialist Party.
Don't Vote for Cuts- Councillors have a choice
How Southampton fought back against Con-Dem cuts and built support for a socialist alternative to austerity; Just £2 including p&p; Available from Socialist Books; PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD; Ring 020 8988 8789 to pay by card
www.socialistbooks.org.uk Please make cheques payable to Socialist Books
In The Socialist 22 May 2013:
Fight the bedroom tax
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
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