Campaigning for Socialist Party member Nadia Ditta, standing as part of TUSC in Southampton. Photo: Nick Chaffey
Campaigning for Socialist Party member Nadia Ditta, standing as part of TUSC in Southampton. Photo: Nick Chaffey

Stand with us as part of TUSC

The question asked by hundreds of thousands on the Gaza protests, ‘but who can I vote for?’ is increasingly being supplanted by another question: ‘How can we challenge Sunak and Starmer at the ballot box?’

That is what dozens of Socialist Party branches have been discussing in public meetings up and down the country. The Workers’ Party victory in the Rochdale by-election, winning George Galloway a seat in parliament, by campaigning against the Israeli state’s onslaught on Gaza, has raised the sights of many of the prospect of a left-wing, working-class challenge winning seats in the next parliament.

Increasingly Socialist Party activists are meeting campaigners prepared to take the fight to the ballot box, many have attended our public meetings, some too have already begun exploring the idea of standing as independents themselves.

It is likely a whole number of deselected or suspended Labour lefts will stand, that could include Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, for example. A whole array of initiatives have sprung up promising to support anti-war candidates, or those calling for an immediate ceasefire. For example, now ex-Labour-supporting columnist Owen Jones has publicly resigned from Labour and launched a crowdfunding project, ‘We deserve better’, to back candidates deemed worthy, suggesting this could include independent and Green candidates.

We, the working class, do deserve better, and we need a new mass party of our own. A list of workers’ candidates for the general election would be an important step in the process of one developing. As Rochdale shows, a number could be elected as a left-wing bloc under a Starmer government, acting as a lightning rod for workers’ discontent that will inevitably develop.

Even in the relatively short period between now and when a general election is called, there is time to bring together the different forces looking to build a working-class socialist challenge. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) exists to do just that. It offers a common banner under which organisations and individuals can come together provided they agree to sign up to its minimum policies. All those participating are free to campaign with their own independent campaign material and political programme, as the Socialist Party will be doing.

Standing under one banner, the 100-candidate threshold for ‘fair media’ coverage could be met  – enabling a television election broadcast. Running as an anti-war, anti-cuts independent – and appearing as simply ‘independent’ on the ballot paper – risks not being distinguished from any number of other individuals, with any number of views on Gaza or otherwise.

The Socialist Party says: stand together with us as part of TUSC!

Trade unionists – join the stand!

The following model motion, distributed by the TUSC steering committee, is drafted to be amended to take account different trade union rules and relationships to the Labour Party.

  1. This [union branch] notes that 2024 is highly likely to be the year that we finally see the back of the Tories, after five Tory prime ministers and 14 years of devastation inflicted on our services, communities and living standards generally.
  2. Millions hope against hope that a government led by Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer will be different.  What is needed is money for council services, investment in our NHS, and a fully funded decent pay rise for public sector workers.
  3. But Starmer has promised none of that. His watchword is ‘fiscal discipline’ – cuts. The backing given by Starmer’s Labour Party to Israel’s barbarous war on the Palestinians, meekly following the Tory government’s lead, is another indication of what we can expect from them in office. If they won’t protest against the mass murder and the destruction of Gaza, what confidence can we have that they will fight to protect local services, jobs, wages and benefits here?
  4. We agree that we oppose Labour councils continuing to carry out Tory cuts and note that the council elections that will take place on 2 May will be the last round of local elections before the general election. The councillors elected will effectively be our communities’ negotiators with the new government – for the funding we need to protect, improve and expand our vital local public services. But this will be against the backdrop of a funding crisis for councils, and clear signalling from all the establishment parties in parliament that the austerity squeeze on public spending will continue.
  5. We acknowledge that our union [is affiliated to the Labour Party]/[does not currently have any political affiliation] and this frames what our branch can do within our union’s rules to ensure that workers’ interests find representation in the elections taking place this year.
  6. Nonetheless, and within those rules, this branch resolves that, where they are taking place, our members should be encouraged to consider standing themselves as anti-cuts candidates in the local elections scheduled for May, noting that there is nothing in the rules that prevents them standing as candidates, in a personal capacity, for any party which truly supports trade unionist and socialist principles.
  7. In addition, this branch resolves [as a branch to join]/[to support individual branch members acting in a personal capacity joining] with other local trade unionists, campaigners and socialists, where opportunities arise, to meet and discuss further what needs to be done to ensure there is a workers’ voice in the general election on the ballot paper, that defends the basic policies and principles of trade unionism and socialism.

Socialist Party public meetings

Hannah Sell speaking in West London. Photo: London SP
Hannah Sell speaking in West London. Photo: London SP


Socialist Party and PCS member

“At last, something that gives me some hope”, was the reaction of a woman who had just attended the launch of Cardiff Socialist Party’s campaign in anticipation of the general election at some point this year.

Nearly 40 were present, including striking Unite refuse workers in Cardiff, along with a victimised rep. There were also members of Unison, NEU and PCS unions, along with community activists prominent in the Ely area and further afield, as well as a number of young people.

The prospective candidate, Unite the Union hospitality campaigner and Socialist Party member John Williams, who will be applying to stand as part of TUSC, spoke in person. Alongside him, on Zoom due to ill health, was former Militant Labour MP and national chair of TUSC, Dave Nellist. A supporter from Cardiff Trades Union Council also spoke.

The speakers talked about the crisis facing British and world capitalism. Dave explained it is crucial to build an alternative – at the ballot box, through mass movements, and by taking steps towards a new mass workers’ party.

Many workers will likely hold their nose and vote Labour to get rid of the Tories at the general election. But Labour’s honeymoon period will be short, as it inherits all the systemic problems of capitalism that face the Tory party.

Labour will have no fresh answers to the crisis, because they essentially serve the same interests as a pro-big business party, like the Tories. Therefore, TUSC is offering a socialist platform for workers looking for an alternative to Labour.

The trades council member explained the importance of a political voice for workers fighting the cost-of-living crisis and austerity, as well as how we can get organised in the unions.

The enthusiastic buzz of the meeting, reflected in the contributions from the floor, was also shown in the response to the Socialist Party’s general election financial appeal, with nearly £1,200 pledged at the meeting. One Unite member attending his first meeting paid £100 there and then towards the Socialist Party’s £50,000 target.

South London

Mark Finucane, South West London Socialist Party

The south London branches of the Socialist Party had a public meeting in Brixton on 20 March, to discuss the current political environment, and what we should do in the coming elections. Hannah Sell, Socialist Party general secretary, led the discussion entitled: “What do we do at the ballot box: How can we achieve a political voice for the working class?”

Thanks to the hard work of members across south London, we had fantastic attendance for the meeting, with a mixture of current Socialist Party members, and members of the public, eager to learn more. Socialist Party members were out in the days and weeks leading up to the meeting, with the Socialist paper, talking to people about the meeting, and phoning people we met to invite them along.

With Greater London Authority elections on 2 May, and a general election before the end of January, this topic could not have come at a better time.

Labour is likely to form the next government. But Labour’s response to the anti-war demos, its refusal to support striking workers, and its commitment to “fiscal responsibility” – code for more austerity – as well as Labour politicians’ veneration of Margaret Thatcher and her Tory government, show that Labour will not govern in the interests of the working class.

The Socialist Party’s Hannah Sell outlined many ways we can help fight for a political voice for the working class – through strike action, demonstrations, and trade union organisation. And elections give another important opportunity too.

There is clear appetite and opportunity for a workers’ alternative in Britain, seen by George Galloway’s by-election victory. The Socialist Party is standing with other left-wing candidates under the TUSC banner, campaigning for socialist change, standing candidates who will push back against the capitalist policies of the Tories and Labour.

Labour’s polling success is because of the failures of the current Tory government, and will likely come to power on a wave of disillusionment. If ever there was a time to build for an alternative, one that will put the people first, and look out for the workers instead of the 1%, it is now.

West London

Dara Fitzgerald, West London Socialist Party

With the general election looming, and London mayoral and General London Assembly elections coming in May, and Labour’s shift to Tory-Lite, the interest in alternative candidates to the mainstream parties standing in elections has never been greater.

Hanwell, in West London, hosted one of many Socialist Party public meetings. Lyla’s coffeeshop was standing room only (and barely that).

Bill Reed, a local government trade unionist and Socialist Party member chaired the meeting. Hannah Sell, General Secretary of the Socialist Party raised the energy of the room with a speech about the need for socialists to help develop mass working-class political representation. She also outlined that this is one of many tasks to advance the interests of our class.

She gave an overview of TUSC as an umbrella organisation which has a multi-organisation steering committee, of which the Socialist Party is a member, and each has democratic rights.

Emma Dent Coad, the former Labour MP for Kensington, spoke vividly about her experiences within the Labour Party, as well as working on Kensington council, and how she is now running her own campaign, independent of Labour as a socialist candidate.

Bill then took contributions from the floor. Two potential people considering standing as independent candidates in Ealing gave details of their campaigns, how they have lost trust in the Labour Party, and why they are standing. We also had contributions from a member of Ealing Friends of Palestine, several TUSC candidates, an Ealing trades council member, and various members of the community. There were various opinions on method and formations, but the uniting factor was the need to stand left candidates outside of Labour. Socialist Party members made the case for candidates to come together under the TUSC umbrella.


Tom Gibson, Bradford Socialist Party

The Socialist Party decided to hold a meeting on George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election. It has even more relevance to Bradford with Galloway’s past as an MP in the city, and Bradford also having had big Gaza protests.

The discussion was very lively and productive, discussing what Galloway’s victory meant – a kick in the teeth to the Labour Party for becoming a right-wing party and backing the Israeli state’s war on Gaza.

It was a successful meeting. Our message of a new mass workers’ party resonated with the public attendees. We plan to hold another meeting in April before the May local elections.