Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/806/18452
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition progress update
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee met on Wednesday 2 April to discuss the latest progress report on the biggest left-of-Labour local elections challenge in generations.
A further 91 applications to stand under the TUSC umbrella were approved. Check the website for regular updates on candidates in your area www.tusc.org.uk
The number of leading trade unionists, at national, regional and branch level, who have come forward as TUSC candidates is impressive.
This includes many members of the RMT transport workers' union, which is officially represented on the TUSC steering committee. Fourteen members of the Finsbury Park RMT branch have agreed to stand.
Other trade union candidates include national executive members from the PCS civil servants union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Prison Officers Association (POA), and the Labour-affiliated Unison and Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) unions.
There are 109 Unite union members standing, 19 Communication Workers' Union (CWU) members, including four branch officers, a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) regional secretary, and five branch officers of the University and College Union (UCU).
Newham: TUSC offers hope
Newham's left-of-Labour election challenge was launched at an enthusiastic meeting on 5 April.
Chair Helen Pattison reported how a local Labour councillor had looked at a TUSC leaflet which listed policies including 'Cap rents not benefits - build council homes' and 'A minimum wage of £10 an hour across the borough'. A polar opposite to most people's responses, he said: "I don't stand for any of that!"
Mayoral candidate Lois Austin said: "Labour councillors say they can't oppose the cuts as it means breaking the law. But that's not true. We've seen £110 million of cuts in Newham, but they have £180 million in reserves while £111 million was spent on prestige council offices. We'd do all the things that working class people need, like restoring EMA.
"We'd set a needs budget. A third of families in Newham are deprived. We'd lift people out of poverty. We'd build a mass campaign, link up with other councils that agree with us, and take on the Tories - or Labour Party if they're in government - to get the needed money."
Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general secretary and a Newham TUSC council candidate, said: "Newham Labour say they're against cuts, but have no choice. It's like saying you're a vegetarian, and having pork pies for lunch! That's why I'm urging everyone here to get involved in TUSC campaigning."
Coventry: vote socialist 2014
Over 65 people packed into the venue for the successful launch of the Coventry TUSC 'Vote Socialist 2014' campaign. Speakers included former Militant Labour MP and socialist councillor Dave Nellist and speakers from a number of trade unions and community campaigns.
The meeting began with a minute's applause for the late Tony Benn and Bob Crow. Many speakers, including Paul Reilly, branch secretary of Nuneaton RMT trade union, highlighted Bob's belief in the need for a new mass workers' party.
Ellen White, a prospective TUSC candidate for Wainbody, spoke passionately about the lack of representation for young, working class women in politics, saying: "All the politicians are from the same class - but not our class. They all went to the same schools - but not our schools".
Jane Nellist, joint secretary of Coventry NUT, spoke (in a personal capacity) about the teachers' strike, pointing out that there is growing anger among teachers at the 'opposition' given by the Labour Party: supporting the attacks and privatisations of the Tories.
Nick Harrison from the Fire Brigades Union thanked the Socialist Party for support during the recent strikes against cuts to services and pensions. He pledged his support for the socialist election campaign.
Many people, including those enthused by the meeting, have signed up to the Socialist Campaign Team. Tens of thousands of leaflets have been delivered across Coventry by the Team.
The Team is also asking everyone to display a TUSC poster in their window, and if possible to make a donation to help pay for leaflets, posters and other material. Unlike the three main parties and Ukip, TUSC receives no donations from big businesses and millionaires. It relies on the pennies and pounds donated by working class people.
Can you make a donation? See www.tusc.org.uk/donate or call
Challenging the cuts parties
TUSC has contested two town council byelections in as many weeks which were marked mainly by the low voter turnout - but which also saw, in that context, decent TUSC scores.
Labour won the 27 March byelection in the South Yorkshire town of Maltby. With just 17% of the 1,800-strong electorate went to the polls. The TUSC candidate, Unison member Gavin Roberts, won a 13% share.
Only 9.6% voted in the Lydney West byelection on 2 April in the Forest of Dean. The seat was won there by the Tories with the TUSC candidate Claude Mickleson, a former treasurer of the National Pensioners Convention, picking up a 21% share of the 138 people who voted.
In 2014 TUSC has contested six byelections in which 7,500 people have voted, in Salford, Sheffield, Cardiff, Maltby, and the Forest of Dean. Around 6% of them were prepared to vote for TUSC's clear anti-austerity socialist message. By comparison the Green Party have contested 15 council seats in the same period. Yet, despite the profile given it by the mainstream media, its average mean vote in those contests is much the same, at 5.4%. It's easy to sit on the side-lines and dismiss the idea of standing against the establishment parties at the ballot box. But what alternative is that? Give them, and Ukip, a free run and a cuts candidate will be elected unchallenged. Who wins from that?
In The Socialist 9 April 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Reviews and readers' comments