Two TUSC candidates standing against cuts on the Wirral

Hugh Caffrey

Anti-cuts TUSC candidates (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) are contesting two byelections this month on the Wirral, Merseyside.

Two young workers, Greg North in Heswall and Mark Halligan in ‘Leasowe and Moreton East’, have pledged to fight local service closures and oppose the council’s £109 million cuts plan.

Tory-Liberal cuts have been adopted wholesale by the Labour council, elected in May with strong support from the Unison union.

Since the election, Labour has begun a public smear campaign against Wirral council employees, while threatening massive job losses, cuts to redundancy terms, and other attacks. Services on the Wirral will be devastated and council tax benefit will be slashed.

Having agreed £109 million of cuts by 2016, the council intends to make £39 million of those in the next 14 months, and stash a total of over £20 million away in the bank in reserves!

The local authority unions have organised several hundreds-strong protests and mass meetings and are considering the question of industrial action.

Socialist Party members are urging Unison and Unite to lead from the front with industrial action in the fight to defend jobs, terms and conditions, and the services which their members provide.

Stop centre closures

TUSC candidates are standing in these early elections to provide an anti-cuts alternative. Mark Halligan is highlighting the threat to Leasowe and Moreton East children’s centre, Greg North is emphasising opposition to closure of Heswall’s day centre for people with learning and/or physical disabilities.

Both candidates will, if elected, use their council position to fight the local closures. Both will argue for an alternative council strategy using reserves and borrowing to safeguard services while mobilising a massive fight against the Tory-Liberal government. Both will demand that Labour councillors discard the axe and back this approach.

Mark, a shop steward in the Unite union, explains:

“I was born and have lived all my life on the Wirral. I work at a major factory within the Leasowe and Moreton East Ward.

“The election of the Con-Dem government made me realise I could no longer sit back and accept the endless cuts, so I joined the Socialist Party and became active in TUSC”.

Greg North adds:

“After attending university, I returned to the Wirral to find job opportunities rare, and have worked since then as a taxi driver.

“I have a real understanding of the difficulties facing people, young people particularly, in finding meaningful employment with decent pay.

“I am disgusted at Labour making Tory cuts. On the council I will demand our day centre is saved and help staff and the community fight to save it.

“I will oppose Labour’s cuts budget. I will argue that we should be demanding back the £109 million in funding which the Tory government have stolen from the Wirral”.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 7 January 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.