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Building TUSC in Manchester
Paul Gerrard, North West Socialist Party
A parliamentary byelection in Manchester Central is expected in November when Tony Lloyd, the sitting Labour MP, resigns his seat to fight for the £90,000-£100,000 a year police commissioner post.
Labour has selected Lucy Powell to fight the seat. Oxford-educated and until recently Ed Miliband's senior adviser, she is yet another New Labour clone.
Manchester Central is an inner city, working class area with the second highest unemployment rate, and two of the most deprived wards, in the country. It deserves to have the chance to vote for a real alternative to the austerity policies of the three main parties.
Given this situation, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters in the city have been discussing whether to stand to present a genuine socialist platform.
On Thursday 30 August we held a meeting in Manchester to discuss the situation ahead of the TUSC national steering committee on 5 September.
Thirty attended to hear Clive Heemskerk, TUSC nominations officer, and Alex Davidson, previous TUSC council candidate for Manchester Central's Ancoats and Clayton ward and vice chair of PCS north west region, make the case for a TUSC campaign.
Steve Leadbeater from the electricians' rank and file, in an impassioned speech, reminded the audience of the huge battles which are looming and of the Tories' intentions to give us 'workhouses and soup kitchens'. He praised TUSC for its exemplary democracy.
Other speakers pointed to the lack of a revolt among Labour councils against the cuts, with only three councillors in the whole country prepared to break ranks, and to the popularity of the idea of a trade unionist candidate on PCS picket lines.
The mood of the meeting was clear: there is a need for an electoral challenge which comes directly from the trade union movement and which can both mobilise in the workplaces and become the voice of workers moving into struggle this autumn.
Potential for campaign
The city centre, which is at the heart of the constituency, contains railway stations, hospitals, sorting offices, and job centres which will be subject to waves of strike action in the months to come.
Socialist Party members believe that Alex Davidson, as a PCS activist, would make an ideal candidate, and he was endorsed as a potential candidate at Thursday's meeting.
We hope the TUSC steering committee can enthusiastically agree a TUSC candidate at their next meeting.
Respect candidate withdraws
It was previously announced that Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND, would be standing for Respect in the November Manchester Central parliamentary byelection.
However, on 4th September, Kate Hudson issued a statement referring to comments made my George Galloway MP, in which she said she was standing down as the Respect candidate, as she "cannot in all conscience, stand as candidate for a party whose only MP has made unacceptable and un-retracted statements about the nature of rape."
TUSC 2012 conference
Saturday 22 September
Room B34, Birkbeck College. Malet Street, London WC1E
- Building working class political representation against the austerity consensus
Speakers include John McInally, PCS union vice-president, and Kingsley Abrams, Unite executive member and Lambeth councillor (personal capacity)
- TUSC local elections challenge - for councillors who stand up to the Con-Dems
Speakers include Walsall councillor Pete Smith, Preston councillor Michael Lavalette, and former 'Liverpool 47' councillor Tony Mulhearn
- Reviewing TUSC's structures
Registration £5 waged/£2 unwaged, pooled fare capped at £10
See www.tusc.org.uk for more info
The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, an electoral alliance which stands anti-cuts candidates.
Find out more at www.tusc.org.uk
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 4 September 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.