Dave Nellist, chair, TUSC conference, 24.1.15, photo Neil Cafferky

Dave Nellist, chair, TUSC conference, 24.1.15, photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

A press release from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), 21.1.15

Ex-Coventry MP Dave Nellist, the chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and a former backbench colleague of Jeremy Corbyn, today appealed to the Labour leader to meet up and seriously discuss how to resist the new round of cuts being made by local councils.

The appeal was made after TUSC decided not to contest a forthcoming council byelection in Coventry’s Lower Stoke ward, even though socialist councillors have been elected in the city in the past, including Dave himself.

Dave explained:

“When the council byelection was announced early in the new year we were immediately approached by trade unionists and community activists in Lower Stoke asking us if we were going to stand.

The byelection is being rushed through by Coventry Labour Party for February 11th, just days before the council’s annual budget-making meeting where the controlling-majority Labour Group are proposing a new round of cuts to council services and council workers’ jobs.

‘Councillors must not vote for cuts’

People asking us to stand wanted to be able to vote for a candidate who would put Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity message into action, something which, unfortunately, Coventry Labour councillors have shown no sign of doing.

However TUSC hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy to discuss what he can do to encourage Labour councillors, in Coventry and elsewhere, to help lead a serious campaign against the Tories’ massive funding cuts to local government.

Jeremy Corbyn election rally 14 September 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn election rally 14 September 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

Part of this should be, in our opinion, assuring Labour councillors that they can legally defy the Tories by using reserves and borrowing powers to pass no-cuts budgets, while building the campaign to force the government to reverse all funding cuts.

We would also like to discuss with Jeremy what council service users, trade unionists, and community campaigners should do in elections if all the likely candidates on the ballot paper are going to carry out the cuts.

Can’t wait until 2020

We don’t believe it is an option to wait for the removal of the Tory government in a 2020 general election, because huge destruction of jobs and services is planned by the Tories between now and then.

On this occasion TUSC agreed not to stand a candidate, so that there is no artificial obstacle to having that discussion with Jeremy and his supporters.

But time is short. Standing aside in a council by-election is one thing. But in May there will be over 2,000 councillors up for election, including those in 58 councils under Labour control, and the nomination deadlines are just weeks away.

TUSC, co-founded by the late Bob Crow, is committed to opposing all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions, as explained in our local elections policy platform at http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy .

The policy platform includes a pledge to work with any Labour councillor who is prepared to fight the cuts, and local TUSC groups are contacting Labour candidates to that end.

But we are also clear that any politician who votes for cuts cannot expect to have a free run at the ballot box, no matter what party label they wear”.

See also a Coventry Telegraph report:

Dave Nellist seeks Jeremy Corbyn talks over Labour and Socialist Party alliance

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 22 January 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.