TUSC: 2014 local elections campaign launched

Clive Heemskerk, TUSC national election agent
TUSC protest outside Camden town hall, March 2013, photo Neil Cafferky

TUSC protest outside Camden town hall, March 2013, photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

As George Osborne announced a further 10% cut in council funding for 2015-16 in this summer’s public spending review, Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps mockingly praised councillors for the ‘good work’ they were doing in “cutting their cloth more intelligently”.

“When we said [in 2010] we would reduce their budgets by 26% over four years, we were told councils would be going bust by this stage,” but they haven’t, he said. “I think they can do another 10%”. (The Guardian, 26 June 2013)

There couldn’t be a clearer answer to the idea that councils should accept the cuts in the hope that things will get better soon.

The dismantling of local public services will continue in the age of austerity unless we have working class people as councillors who are prepared to fight back.

Shapps’ claim that council services aren’t really ‘cash-strapped’ is, of course, completely untrue. Recent research from the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity shows that six out of ten councils are now commissioning 15-minute maximum home care visits for elderly and disabled people, with the number of such visits rising by 15% since 2008.

Meanwhile the number of people who got any council-funded support in their own homes fell from 958,000 in 2009-10 to 802,000 in 2011-12.

Other services have been equally drastically affected. Of the 3,500 Sure Start centres open in 2010, 558 have been shut and of those remaining only 500 still offer any childcare after the obligation to do so was removed. One in 13 libraries – 347 – have closed in the past two years.

Councils, and councillors, have the power to make a difference – but only if they are prepared to fight.

That is the theme of the 2014 local elections campaign launched by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee at its meeting on 9 October.

Next May will see elections in 160 local councils in England, a total of 4,156 seats. Labour controls 77 of these councils – with 53 Tory-controlled, 22 under no overall control, and eight Lib Dem-led – which will all be attempting to push through a fourth round of austerity budgets.

The case for the widest possible challenge around TUSC’s ‘don’t implement the cuts’ anti-austerity platform couldn’t be clearer.

The steering committee agreed a 1 February national conference for TUSC candidates and campaign organisers.

Before then applications to be a TUSC local election candidate will be accepted as prospective candidates, to avoid triggering the period when, being formally declared, all election expenses have to be recorded.

This ‘pre-election period’ will end after the February conference but prospective candidates should be out there campaigning, with letters to the local press, public meetings, flyers, etc, without waiting for the ‘second stage’ of formal authorisation.

During March the BBC, on behalf of all broadcasting authorities, will be preparing its local elections coverage guidelines.

To guarantee receiving what they call ‘balanced media coverage’, parties need to contest 15% of the seats up for election – 624 in the 2014 local elections.

The TUSC steering committee agreed to publicise this threshold target with the aim of achieving a clear idea of candidate numbers by March so that TUSC can then enter into negotiations with the BBC.

In its three-year existence, over 100,000 votes have been cast for TUSC candidates. The 2014 local elections will be a chance to build on this still modest but not insignificant start to developing an alternative to the pro-austerity establishment parties.

To apply to be a TUSC local election candidate in 2014, go to the TUSC website at tusc.org.uk/candidates.php – To order copies of the A4-folded TUSC broadsheet appealing for candidates go to tusc.org.uk/16794/24-06-2013/new-tusc-broadsheet-available-appealing-for-2014-local-election-candidates

Hackney and Islington TUSC film showing: Riot from Wrong

Rio Cinema, Hackney, London, 9 November 2013, 1.30pm

‘Are riots inevitable under capitalism?’ – Discussion will follow the film

no2eu – yes to workers’ rights!

North West launch of the 2014 Euro Elections anti-austerity platform

Speakers include: Bob Crow, RMT general secretary; Roger Bannister, Unison NEC member (pc)

Saturday 26 October, 12-4pm

New Meadow Street Labour Club, 193-195 North Road, Preston PR1 1YQ

More info: 07795 218 409