After Corbyn: TUSC and the fight for working-class political representation

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee has condemned the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, and pledged to fight Keir Starmer’s ‘resurgent Blairism’ – including at the ballot box next May.
At the same time, it welcomed new members to the coalition steering committee from the national executives of five different trade unions and the former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was himself suspended in 2019 and prevented from defending his Derby North seat as a Labour candidate in last year’s general election.

TUSC national chairperson Dave Nellist, also a parliamentary colleague of Jeremy Corbyn when he was an MP from 1983-1992, said: “The ruthless decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn is the clearest signal yet that under Keir Starmer’s Labour, the interests of Britain’s capitalist establishment will be in safe hands, if and when they decide to move on from Boris Johnson’s inept premiership.

“TUSC wholeheartedly supported Jeremy’s leadership of the Labour Party as an opportunity to achieve working-class socialist political representation on a mass basis. We adjusted our electoral activity in response, not standing candidates in either the 2017 or 2019 general elections.

Resumption of TUSC

“But our decision in September that we would resume contesting elections because of the new situation created by Starmer’s leadership has been completely vindicated by subsequent events.

“Labour candidates standing in the elections next May – in Scotland, Wales, London and the English councils – who endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension while agreeing to implement austerity measures directed from the Tories in Westminster, cannot expect to be unchallenged. We will fight resurgent Blairism, including at the ballot box.”

Jared Wood, a national executive committee member of the RMT transport workers’ union, officially represented on the TUSC steering committee, said: “The RMT was the first trade union to declare its support for Jeremy Corbyn when he stood for leader in 2015 and, with 80,000 members, was the second biggest donor to both of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaigns, in 2015 and 2016, only behind the 1.4 million-member Unite union.

“His subsequent suspension by Keir Starmer shows that the opportunities for achieving working-class political representation within the Labour framework created by Jeremy’s leadership are closing – just at the time we need a fighting political voice for workers to meet the deep economic and social crisis triggered by the Covid pandemic.”

Chris Williamson said: “The Labour Party has been hijacked by establishment lackeys and no longer welcomes socialists within its ranks.

“We therefore need to build a new vehicle outside the Labour Party to offer a refuge for disgruntled members and others dissatisfied with the discredited political and economic status quo.

“The situation facing the country is dire, which requires us to work out how to cooperate on the left to establish a social movement throughout the land and a credible electoral alternative for voters.”

TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow, the RMT transport workers’ union leader. Along with the RMT, its national steering committee involves leading trade unionists from other unions together with the Socialist Party, the Resistance Movement, and independent socialists.

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Scottish TUSC to stand in the May 2021 parliamentary elections

A well-attended and inspiring online Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference took place on Saturday 7 November. There was unanimous support for a resolution to stand candidates as widely as possible in the May 2021 Scottish parliament elections.

Leah Ganley (Socialist Party Scotland and a GMB union branch committee member from the Highlands) chaired the conference.

Jim McFarlane – a member of the Unison executive and a branch secretary of Dundee City Unison, speaking in a personal capacity, pointed out that in local government, workers are facing attacks from both Scottish National Party and Labour councils. There was no difference in their consistent passing on of Tory austerity rather than standing up and setting legal, no-cuts budgets.

Michael Hogg, the Scottish regional secretary of the RMT and a former miner sacked in the 1984-85 miners’ strike, said the recent announcement that miners sacked during the strike were to be pardoned in Scotland was an important victory, a result of decades of campaigning. He also highlighted current struggles that the RMT are involved in, like the Caledonian sleeper strike.

“TUSC stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the working class, unlike Labour and the SNP”, he added.

David Semple, executive member of the Public and Commercial Services (PSC) union, speaking in a personal capacity, highlighted the unprecedented crisis with Covid-19 and the economic catastrophe in its wake.

PCS members, like all workers, are having to deal with bosses who are putting business and profit before workers’ health and safety. The need for a fighting socialist alternative was ever more urgent.

A socialist Scotland

Lynda McEwan spoke on behalf of Socialist Party Scotland. Lynda pointed out that there is a majority for Scottish independence just now, especially among young people and the working class, but there is no majority for the continued rule of the millionaires and billionaires, whose profits have skyrocketed during the pandemic. “That’s why we need to use the election campaign to fight for an independent socialist Scotland.”

The final platform speaker was Gary Clark, branch secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Scotland No.2 branch.

Gary brought solidarity greetings from his branch of 3,000 postal workers. CWU members have been at the forefront of the battle for health and safety during the pandemic. A socialist leadership for the trade union movement is vital at this time, in opposition to the drive for so-called national unity which has been followed by some trade union leaders.

There was a wide-ranging and enthusiastic discussion that saw a range of contributions about the need for a socialist election challenge for the Scottish elections in May 2021.

Philip Stott from the Scottish TUSC steering committee moved the resolution to stand as widely as possible in the 2021 elections, with a Scottish TUSC conference planned for early February to finalise a manifesto and candidates. It was agreed unanimously.

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