Sheffield – Labour and Greens have joined the establishment
Alistair Tice, TUSC candidate in Manor Castle
How do you know that there’s an election on? Because all the councillors are posting pictures of themselves picking litter.
In Sheffield, on two occasions recently, Labour politicians have crossed University and College Union (UCU) strike picket lines. Now all the Labour candidates want to be photographed showing support, like with Just Eat drivers on their 98th day of action!
Last year, Sheffield Labour went into coalition with the Greens to stay in power. They call it a “cooperative executive”. They can call it what they like but they’re still carrying out the Tory government’s dirty work by passing on cuts.
This year, they’ve used £80 million ‘risk reserves’ to set a cuts budget. They’ve cut another £50 million on top of the half a billion pound cut over the last 12 years. The council has set up ‘reviews’ to make more cuts to libraries, early intervention, and hardship payments.
But one Labour councillor, Sophie Wilson, refused to vote for the cuts, and resigned from the Labour Party. She is now an independent socialist councillor and supporting the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the elections.
Another left-wing Labour member, a potential council candidate, was expelled from the party just before nominations opened. And another left Labour candidate, who responded to TUSC saying he would vote against cuts, was removed as a candidate and replaced by a shortlist of one!
All this has generated increased support for TUSC, with ex-Labour members and Just Eat strikers keen to nominate and leaflet for real trade unionist and socialist candidates.
TUSC is standing in 12 of the 28 Sheffield wards, making us the 5th party in the city. We’re well on the way to delivering our first 15,000 glossy colour leaflets, with plans for local campaign stalls, workplace leafleting and canvassing.
Cumbria – Tories and Labour work together to make cuts
Brent Kennedy, TUSC candidate in Currock
Last year, when there was a by-election in my ward, a Labour councillor asked me to help their campaign. I said of course I would, if the candidate fought on a socialist programme against cuts. Her answer summed up post-Jeremy Corbyn Labour: “It’s a local election, so there won’t be any programme.”
Socialist councillors would build modern, carbon-neutral council houses, and take Riverside housing association back into public ownership. We demand grants for homeowners and tenants to install solar panels, heat pumps and insulation to slash energy bills, fight climate change and create decent jobs.
In Cumbria, Tory, Labour and Lib Dem councillors have worked together in coalitions – including Labour-Tory – to ruthlessly cut jobs, wages and local services.
Carlisle Socialist Party fought to defend residential care homes for the elderly, with a petition of over 2,000 names. But Labour scrapped a majority of care-home beds, leaving them to the private market.
We also organised a meeting of 150 locals, and led a successful campaign which defeated the Labour-led council’s attempt to charge residents for parking in their own streets.
We have stood on picket lines with low-paid, outsourced hospital and rail workers fighting for decent pay. We helped organise protests for proper funding for NHS services and against privatisation.
In all of these campaigns, we have taken the message of socialism to the working class. That is impossible today in the Labour Party. There isn’t a single left Labour candidate in the area, and their leaflets, like the Greens, are non-political.