The Socialist 18 April 2012 |
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Shake up politics and fight all cuts!
Shake up politics and fight all cuts, graphic by The Socialist (Click to enlarge)
This is a government of the rich for the rich. That is the inescapable message of the Lib-Con coalition's ultra anti-working class budget and the whole cuts agenda. The claim that 'we are all in it together' lies in tatters.
But the working class is left without a political voice to challenge this onslaught because Labour puts up no serious opposition. Its leaders, Eds Miliband and Balls, have basically backed up the Tories, claiming they would maintain their cuts and can't even commit a future Labour government to reviving the 50p tax rate on the super-rich. Labour cannot effectively challenge the destruction and privatisation of the NHS because it had similar policies in government.
That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was set up by leading trade unionists and socialists, including the Socialist Party, to provide a political voice to the millions who oppose the cuts.
Where we're standing
TUSC is standing 133 candidates in 39 councils. In addition there is the TUSC list of 17 candidates for the Greater London Assembly, and the TUSC candidate for the mayor of Liverpool, Tony Mulhearn.
In Coventry the 17 candidates, including TUSC national chair and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist (standing for re-election), have endorsed the TUSC local elections policy platform (below) but are appearing on the ballot paper under their established electoral name, Socialist Alternative.
The London list is headed up by Alex Gordon, president of the RMT transport workers' union. The full list includes leaders of the fire fighters' union, the teachers and lecturers' unions, the prison officers' union and many other prominent activists.
The full list is on the TUSC website: http://www.tusc.org.uk/press110412.php and includes many leading trade union activists.
In England TUSC is standing 118 candidates (5% of the seats) in 34 of the local authorities where there are elections (27%).
In Wales there are 14 TUSC candidates standing in four of the 22 Welsh councils with elections.
In Scotland, all 32 councils are up for election, with councillors elected by a proportional representation system in multi-member wards. There are 38 candidates standing in nine Scottish councils as the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition (SACC) - a name registered by TUSC and made available to candidates in Scotland.
This is in accordance with the TUSC mandate to enable trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to contest elections without having to appear on the ballot paper as 'Independent' or with no 'party description'. See www.scottishanticutscoalition.org.uk
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition policy platform for the 2012 local elections in England and Wales:
- Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services.
- Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
- Vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.
- Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government policies which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
- When 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 prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing them on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.
News from the campaign coalface
Liverpool: 'Tony's a legend!'
Tony Mulhearn (Click to enlarge)
"I hope Tony wins, he's the only one who is honest and will stand up for us". This is just one of the many messages of support we have been getting in the Tony4Mayor campaign in Liverpool.
We have been speaking to people all day, every day at workplaces, in the city centre and even those queuing at 5am for trains to the Liverpool vs Everton semi-final. The attitude among the majority of people is the same: the three main parties represent the rich, it's time we had someone who represented us!
One example is the overwhelming support from a group of street cleaners who are being outsourced by the current Labour council under Joe Anderson. After a few came to the Tony4Mayor launch meeting, they invited us to a mass meeting they were holding. There they reported what Tony stood for and one said: "If you vote for Anderson [leader of the Labour council and mayoral candidate], you want your heads checking! Tony's the only one that will defend our jobs." They are making donations to the campaign and aim to raise £500.
Tony has been speaking on the megaphone at our campaigning stalls, explaining to people what he will do if elected. Various people, young and old, have been coming up to shake his hand and offer support. One woman said the last time she met him was when she made him a cup of tea while he was serving as an apprentice!
Many people remember Tony from the 1980s and the fight the 47 Labour councillors led. The difference between them and the current Labour councillors couldn't be clearer. One woman, when she found out Tony was standing for mayor, remarked "We need a fightback. That's what we used to do in the 1980s, but no one's doing that now".
There has been a lot of enthusiasm, with people wanting to get behind the campaign and help by leafleting their own areas. One man who is involved went on demonstrations in the 1980s with his dad, who was a shop steward at the time. He said: "I remember Tony from when I was a kid, he's a legend!"
Tony is the only anti-cuts candidate standing in the mayoral election and is the only one who has a proven track record of standing up for working class people.
Wales: austerity hits women
A TUSC supporter got in touch: "Just talking to one of my neighbours, who has lost a lot of her income as a result of tax credit changes. She works as a school 'dinner lady' and kitchen assistant, term-time only (Unison member). In a small village, very limited public transport and no car, how's she supposed to find those extra hours? If she could have found more paid work she'd have done so before!"
As councils lay off staff around the country, passing on Tory cuts, it's clear that while cuts are a disaster for working class communities as a whole, they are ruinous for some sections.
A GMB union report shows that 62% of those being sacked by councils in Wales are women.
This is the reality of austerity Britain. If you want real change vote and campaign for TUSC candidates.
Lincoln: Racists offer no alternative
Thanks to the tireless work of anti-racist activists in Lincoln, including Lincolnshire Socialist Party members, the far-right racist British National Party (BNP) has seen its electoral basis undermined. In 2007, they stood 12 candidates for election. In 2011 they failed to stand any candidates, and could only put forward one candidate this year.
Votes for the BNP in previous elections in Lincoln were largely a protest against the identikit politics of the three main capitalist parties, rather than a positive vote for a racist organisation.
Voters in 2012 will be able to give their support for a positive alternative to the three main parties and vote for TUSC candidates in five wards. Lincolnshire Socialist Party members will continue to argue for a programme which opposes racist division and unites working people from all sections of the community to fight for investment in jobs, homes and public services for all.
Lincolnshire Socialist Party has a proud record of fighting against racism and the BNP locally. Our members initiated Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism in 2006 and organised, with other activists and trade unions, several public meetings, two mass demonstrations and three Rock Against Racism gigs, as well as giving out tens of thousands of leaflets countering the lies of the far right.
Nationally far-right and racist parties are clearly not confident they can get big support in these elections. According to Hope Not Hate there are currently only 138 BNP candidates, 35 for the National Front and 91 for the English Democrats. Nonetheless TUSC candidates will continue to challenge racism as has been done in Lincoln.
Rugby: enthusiastic response
The Rugby TUSC election campaign got off to a flying start this week with leafleting in three out of the eight wards we are contesting.
We had just the sort of problem we don't mind having - too many TUSC candidates and activists turning up for a Friday evening campaign stall in the town centre! So, as well as handing out over 300 leaflets to shoppers, we were able to send a team to deliver another 600+ leaflets in the Newbold & Brownsover ward where postal worker and CWU union member Bill Smith is standing.
Afterwards we went for a drink - so we could discuss election campaign plans. And just to round off a great evening of fighting the cuts it was announced that Warwickshire FBU have agreed to donate £250 to our campaign fund.
'Main parties are rubbish!'
Three wheelie bins were placed outside Sheffield town hall. This illustrated how Tory, Lib Dem and Labour are all full of rubbish! They are committed to the austerity cuts agenda and making ordinary working class people pay for the economic crisis caused by the greed of the bankers and speculators.
Instead of this rubbish, TUSC candidates, if elected, will support trade union and community campaigns against cuts in jobs and services, as part of building a mass campaign to force more funding for councils from central government.
Radio Sheffield and the Sheffield Star newspaper covered the protest.
TUSC is standing five candidates across Sheffield. Alan Munro, TUSC candidate for Gleadless Valley, said: "The real opposition in my eyes comes from the protesters such as the Occupy movement, strikers and all those standing up to the government. We stand with them".
Chaz Lockett, TUSC candidate in Walkley, one of three young TUSC candidates, added: "Young people will not be another lost generation and are looking for a radical anti-capitalist alternative - TUSC has young candidates that have been involved in the Jarrow March for Jobs 2011 and the student protests against tuition fee rises and to restore EMA."
Coventry: 'Only the socialists support us' - Vote Dave Nellist
"Only Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist has supported us... He's the only one we can trust". This is how William Bromwich, campaign organiser for 'Save Foleshill Leisure Centre' summed up the choice facing voters in Coventry's St Michael's ward.
Dave and Socialist Party members had been on a demo with the local campaigners who are fighting the closure of their local sports centre by Coventry's Labour council who meanwhile boast of the city's Olympic status.
Since Christmas not a week has gone by without Dave organising or speaking at a protest, demo or debate.
At local community events, from a football tournament to the Rwandan Association's genocide memorial, Dave provides a fighting strategy against cuts for ordinary working people and socialist ideas.
On Sunday 15 April supporters of Dave's re-election campaign from across the country joined a fantastic mass canvass across St Michael's ward.
This provided a great boost for Coventry members who are out knocking on doors every day.
Across the ward our dayglo posters are shooting up. A local senior union shop steward stopped one canvasser to make sure he was recorded as a voter for Dave and took three posters for his house and his local pub.
Until polls close on 3 May Coventry Socialist Party will be out fighting to secure Dave's seat.
To help on the last mass canvass on 29 April and on election day contact Lenny on 07530429441
London: Who do you want to represent you?
Labour has eleven candidates for the London-wide Greater London Assembly (GLA) list. But, as Sean Figg explains, the term 'Labour' is a brand for these people rather than any description of their background or outlook.
TUSC candidates: have pledged to vote 'no' to cuts, and campaign inside and outside the London Assembly to build a mass movement against austerity.
Labour candidates: Three of Labour's candidates are councillors in Labour-controlled London boroughs.
In 2011, Councillor Nosegbe voted for £79 million of cuts over three years in Lambeth; Councillor Desai voted for £100 million of cuts in Newham; and Councillor Ali from Waltham Forest voted for £65 million of cuts.
TUSC candidates: believe big business should pay for their crisis. Labour candidates: Candidate Kevin McGrath is a senior advisor and executive committee member of F&C Reit Asset Management. F&C Reit manages a global property portfolio worth £7.4 billion.
TUSC candidates: are elected trade unionists that have led struggles of workers and believe the way for working class people to improve their living standards is organising and mobilising in mass movements. Between them they represent hundreds of thousands of workers.
Adding one more Labour Assembly member - whether they are a cutting councillor or a business person - will do nothing to prepare the working class for the battle against cuts and austerity.
But even one TUSC assembly member would be a fighting voice for millions of ordinary Londoners, campaigning inside and outside of the assembly, to mobilise the working class in a fightback.
TUSC list for the London Assembly elections:
Alex Gordon, president of transport union RMT;Nick Wrack, TUSC national committee; April Ashley, Unison executive, representing black women members; Sian Griffiths, Fire Brigades Union chair of women's committee; Steve Hedley, RMT London organiser;Ian Leahair, FBU national executive committee member for London;Gary McFarlane, Black activist and journalist;Martin Powell-Davies, executive member for Inner London of the teachers' union NUT;Merlin Reader postal worker and CWU London committee;Joe Simpson, assistant general secretary of the POA prison officers' union;Jenny Sutton, lecturers' union UCU executive;Nancy Taaffe, library worker made redundant, former chair Waltham Forest Unison;Jackie Turner, doctor;Lee Vernon, Young Members convenor for London of the civil service union PCS;Lesley Woodburn, Unite rep on southeast regional TUC LGBTQ committee;Mick Dooley, Construction industry activist;Mark Benjamin, Black disabled PCS union activist. Candidates are in a personal capacity
The London challenge for the GLA is supported by three trade union general secretaries:
At the launch of the London campaign Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: "Political parties represent classes of people, that's what it boils down to.
"And we've got a situation where the three main political parties, even though there might be small details which are different, all support privatisation, all support keeping the anti-trade union laws and all support illegal wars throughout the length and breadth of the world.
"That's the real reality and there is an under-representation of working people, unemployed people who want to have work and pensioners and it's about time people started recognising the fact in the trade union movement.
When Matt Wrack, general secretary of the firefighters' FBU union donated £2,000 from his personal campaign fund, he said: "I am delighted to be able to support two members of the Fire Brigades Union who are standing for election to the London Assembly as part of the TUSC list.
"As a union we are facing huge cuts to our service. We are also seeing creeping privatisation of the London Fire Brigade - a policy which has already been a disaster.
"I know Ian Leahair and Sian Griffiths will fight to defend good quality public services for the people of London".
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA prison officers' union, speaking in a personal capacity, said: "I support the Trade Union and Socialist Candidates in the forthcoming GLA elections.
"TUSC gives workers in London a viable political option to fight the cuts, redundancies and privatisation in the capital.
"I would urge all workers in London to put their cross next to the TUSC list on 3 May."
Five ways to help the fightback:
1. Aim to give out 100 cards/leaflets a day until 3 May. This can be done, for example, by giving them out at your bus stop/ station on the way to work; giving some out at the cafe at lunch time; leafleting a street on your way home
2. In addition, get involved in planned activity, leafleting shopping centres, stations, colleges and workplaces
3. Ask your friends, family and workmates to do the same
4. Make a donation to TUSC and ask everyone you know to give a 'tenner to TUSC': http://www.tusc.org.uk/donate.php
5. Spread the word by twitter, Facebook and local social media
The TUSC election campaigns are receiving financial support from working class people across the country - both as individuals and, importantly, through their trade unions.
Trade union donations received include: London Region Fire Brigades Union (FBU) £500; RMT London Transport Regional Council £1,000; POA prison officers' union Political Fund £500; RMT Transport for London No.1 Branch £100; RMT Camden No.3 Branch £100; RMT London Underground Engineering Branch £800; RMT Hammersmith & City Branch £50; Plymouth RMT £200; Worcester RMT £300; FBU general secretary Matt Wrack £2,000