The following is an open letter from Oxford Socialist Party members to the nine Oxford councillors who have resigned from the Labour Party:
We are writing to you to request an in-person meeting in light of the resignation of nine councillors from the Oxford City Council Labour group over the stance of the Labour Party leadership towards the war on Gaza and its support of the Israeli state.
We send solidarity and support to anyone who is willing to take a principled stand against war and oppression. Clearly the horrific events in Gaza over the last weeks have shocked a huge number of people in Britain and internationally; the callous stance of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party therefore – of supporting the siege of Gaza and the persecution of its population by the Israeli state – has rightly alienated a huge number of workers and youth from the party.
Unfortunately, this is only one in a long line of betrayals and U-turns by the current Labour Party, with all of the key manifesto pledges from the time of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership being scrapped and Corbyn himself now blocked from standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election.
The Socialist Party and supporters of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), of which the Socialist Party is a member, have a proud history of campaigning against all forms of oppression and have been active participants and leaders in the anti-war movement, stretching all the way back to the campaigns against the Vietnam War, Blair’s illegal war in Iraq, the war in Ukraine, and now this latest episode of the conflict in Gaza.
We believe a mass movement will be necessary to bring about a decisive change in the situation, not just in Israel and Palestine, but here in Britain as well. We therefore appeal to any sincere anti-war campaigners, trade unionists, and socialists to join with us in helping to build such a movement, starting with planning a campaign in Oxford to offer a socialist, internationalist alternative to the pro-capitalist politics of the establishment parties.
The issues with the Labour Party are not limited to its stance on the conflict in Gaza however. Like many others around the country, the Labour-controlled Oxford City Council has overseen years of austerity and cuts to public services with little-to -no fightback against the budget cuts imposed by the central government.
Councils must fight
We believe that all councils should use their existing financial reserves and borrowing powers to fund the services that people need and then launch a mass campaign against the Conservative government for more funding, linking up with local trade unionists and community activists and with other councils around the country that take the same stand.
TUSC has campaigned for this since its foundation in 2010, but a proposal for a no-cuts, needs-based budget presented at a council meeting by local TUSC supporters was rejected by Oxford City Council in 2022. Unfortunately, Labour councils have proven again and again that they are unwilling to take the steps necessary to lead the fight against austerity.
May 2024 will be the next date for elections to Oxford City Council and Socialist Party members along with other local campaigners will be standing as part of TUSC as widely as possible in the city in order to offer a genuine socialist, anti-austerity, anti-war choice at the ballot box to the people of Oxford. We encourage all who agree with the core TUSC programme (see: www.tusc.org.uk/policies/) to consider standing under this banner as well, but we are open to working alongside any left-wing candidates who are in agreement with our key policies.
If you agree, or want to discuss further on concrete steps that we can take in Oxford then please contact us as soon as possible.