The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has announced that it is suspending its participation in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in England and Wales.
This follows the debate at the recent TUSC conference which expressed support for standing candidates, on a selective basis, in this May's council elections.
The resolution calling on the TUSC national steering committee to process candidate applications was agreed by the other two constituent organisations of TUSC - the RMT transport workers' union and the Socialist Party - and almost all independent TUSC members.
During the conference debate the SWP spokesperson Charlie Kimber made it clear that the SWP would "not be able to take political responsibility for candidates standing" in England and Wales if that was the decision taken. So suspending their membership is not unexpected.
The suspension does not apply to Scotland, however, where Scottish TUSC organises autonomously. The SWP is standing candidates in the council elections there. This is justified, according to the SWP, because Scottish Labour "is headed up by the anti-Corbyn Kezia Dugdale [and] the rise of the Scottish National Party has raised the question of alternatives to Labour" (Socialist Worker, 8 March).
The political context in Scotland is clearly different - but qualitatively so? Labour in Wales, for example, is led by the anti-Corbyn Welsh first minster Carwyn Jones, right-wing Blairite councillors dominate local government, and Plaid Cymru is able to pose as a radical alternative. Why does this not mean that TUSC should stand candidates in Wales?
The big majority of Labour's 7,000 local councillors oppose Jeremy Corbyn and, as the Socialist Worker article says, are "ruthlessly imposing Tory cuts". How would giving these councillors a free run at the ballot box in England and Wales help "Corbyn-supporting Labour members" in their fight against them?
Even more importantly, how would it convince working class voters disgusted at their local Labour council's 'ruthless cuts', not to turn to the Liberal Democrats, Greens or Ukip as an alternative to Labour?
The steering committee is meeting on 22 March and will discuss its response to the SWP's withdrawal.
It will also decide on the latest applications to be TUSC candidates, guided by the conference decision - not to have 'candidates everywhere' but to make sure they are part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services and will strengthen the battle against the right wing in Labour Party and the unions.
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