Leah Byatt, Sheffield Socialist Party
Sheffield TUSC candidates stood on an anti-austerity, socialist programme in 27 of the 28 seats up for election this year. We received 2,852 votes across the city as the only anti-austerity option.
Fulwood candidate John Bunn participated in a successful hustings. Those in attendance were receptive to our ideas and welcomed responses that indicated TUSC would be the only party that could be trusted to stand against council cuts.
Three of our candidates, myself included, also attended the ‘sham’ hustings hosted by Sheffield Students Unions where we were excluded from speaking by the organiser – who it later transpired is a Labour councillor in Warrington. (See ‘Anti-cuts council candidates excluded from hustings’)
We addressed the room anyway, challenging the Labour-Lib Dem-Green coalition on the £43 million cuts to public services that they passed, and were then removed by security.
The ‘sham’ hustings in particular gained TUSC a lot of support from my own colleagues who were outraged to hear about the political censorship we have to battle against to get our ideas out.
We campaigned to bring public transport back into public ownership and to protect public spaces from further commercialisation and privatisation.
This included our efforts to protect Hillsborough Park’s multi-use games area from the council’s plans to replace the current free-to-use facilities with a privately owned leisure centre.
Dave Nellist, TUSC chair and former Militant Labour MP, commended this campaign in his speech at our election-eve rally, which attracted 70 attendees and gained positive feedback from new supporters in attendance, who stated that the event offered “credible solutions to the current issues faced” and provided “hope for a new way forward”.
The hard work our supporters put into the campaigning meant we more than doubled our vote from last year!
We’ve attracted a new layer of people ready to organise and build a working-class fightback – a huge achievement all round that we should all be proud of, and which we will continue to build on.