Chris Bingham, Rotherham Socialist Party
On 27 January South Yorkshire Socialist Party members attended a public meeting of South Yorkshire Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) – an anti-cuts and socialist electoral alliance involving the RMT transport union, the Socialist Party and others.
The online meeting was attended by around 63 people, who heard Dave Nellist (TUSC Chair), Gaz Jackson (RMT national executive member), Chris Williamson (ex-Labour MP, now representing the Resist movement, affiliated to TUSC), and the thoughts and contributions of trade unionists, socialists and community activists.
Gaz Jackson, a guard on Trans-Pennine trains, opened the discussion, commenting that “it is an honour to have an association with an organisation that wants to fight cuts”. He went on to say that the RMT is prepared and willing to support TUSC candidates, and he encouraged appeals for financial support from the union, indicating that it would be forthcoming if approved at the national executive level.
Reporting on the specific problems facing RMT members, he warned of a “tsunami” of situations where bosses plan to force workers to pay for the mess made by Covid with their jobs, including the recent announcement about ferry routes from Hull being scrapped.
Chris Williamson commented that if the Labour left had strongly fought the smears and backstabbing against Corbyn and other left MPs (such as himself), then in the winter of 2019 we could have had a Corbyn premiership and a left Labour government.
He went on the suggest that with these actions and others, such as the undermining of the grassroots membership at the national conference, Labour had lost its chance to change itself into a party of its membership, that is, of the working class. TUSC could act as a “lifeboat”, he said, for all the disgruntled, and now politically homeless, ex-Labour Party members.
Dave Nellist explained that in the coming period the government would be seeking to recoup its Covid spending, and that cuts would inevitably materialise. Opposing these planned cuts will be the backbone of our May election campaigns.
Dave proposed that the unions should call a general conference to discuss working-class political representation, including socialists from both inside and outside the Labour Party.
It was reported that the TUSC steering committee has agreed to promote policies from Corbyn’s 2019 election manifesto that could be immediately implemented by councils if they want to (see tusc.org.uk). No councillor from any branch of the establishment, who is committed to cuts, should go unopposed in May’s local elections.