Anti-cuts council candidates excluded from hustings

Sheffield Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates

TUSC stood in 27 out of 28 wards in the Sheffield council election with an anti-austerity, socialist programme. But you wouldn’t have known that from attending the University of Sheffield’s Students Union hustings on 27 April.

Only three councillors – from Labour, the Green Party, and the Lib Dems – took the hustings platform. It is unclear whether the Tories were invited.

TUSC was not invited. Despite our election agent reaching out to the organisers to rectify this ‘oversight’, we were met with silence.

Three TUSC candidates prepared speeches and attended the hustings, to try and present an anti-austerity alternative to the main parties in Sheffield. We were told by the organiser – an elected Labour councillor in Warrington – that she wasn’t aware TUSC was standing!

We were told the event was being delivered simply to encourage students to vote, despite it being advertised as a hustings. But how can you encourage students to vote if all that is on offer are parties which have passed on Tory cuts when in power?

We asked those allowed on the top table whether they condoned TUSC being excluded from the platform. Only Lewis Dagnall, the Labour candidate for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale ward, answered us:

“I think the point of the event is that the City Council is going to be run by Labour, Green, and Lib Dems.”

We answered that being politically suppressed will make it more unlikely for TUSC candidates to be on the council. And how would he like it if it was happening to his party?

He claimed that: “I made the decision to join a party with a constructive approach.”

Dagnall’s ‘constructive’ party is responsible, along with the Greens and Lib Dems, for cutting £48 million from Sheffield’s public services in 2023 – £43 million of which was in social care.

When challenged on the cuts to council services he told our candidates to “get some shoe leather” to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and then declared that our ‘working-class clothes’ were “not helping [our] case”!

From the audience we announced that we were being suppressed, and drew attention to the cuts passed by the candidates on the platform.

We were told to leave, with security guards being brought for back-up, despite us leaving peacefully with no need for force.

TUSC’s presence in Sheffield continues to grow. During the campaign we found support from former Labour and Green voters who recognised the establishment parties’ complicity in the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

These parties are clearly feeling threatened by the public’s desire for an anti-austerity, pro–working class alternative. Which Socialist Party members as part of TUSC will continue to fight for.