The Socialist 24 March 2021 |
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Battle for a fighting, anti-austerity Liverpool mayor
British Gas engineers on strike in Liverpool , photo Neill Dunne (Click to enlarge)
Liverpool has a rich history of councillors being prepared to mobilise workers, take the fight to a Tory government, and win funding for the city. This was the case in the 1980s when, with the political leadership of Militant, now the Socialist Party, Liverpool defeated Thatcher and won £60 million.
Unfortunately, in the decades since, successive Labour council leaderships and mayors have continued to carry out austerity as instructed by the Tories, with £420 million of cuts in the last decade.
Now, after facing corruption allegations and arrest, Labour's ex-mayor Joe Anderson has stepped down. Determined to prevent a Corbyn-supporting mayoral candidate for Labour in May's elections, Keir Starmer's Labour machine has stepped in and interfered, removing the three candidates originally shortlisted. One of those removed, who has been supported by Corbyn and Unite the union nationally, Anna Rothery, has taken unsuccessful legal action against the Labour Party as a consequence. The courts charged her an outrageous £65,000 in costs.
Amid this turmoil, there have been press reports suggesting that government commissioners could be brought in to take over some of the council's functions. All the more reason for an anti-cuts mayor, backed up by councillors, willing to mobilise Liverpool workers to refuse to be dictated to by the Tories in a city with not a single Conservative councillor.
Socialist Party member and prospective mayoral candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Roger Bannister, has written to Anna Rothery.
We publish the letter here:
I am writing to you following your recent legal case, which unfortunately did not result in you being re-included on the Labour Party shortlist of candidates for the Labour nomination in the city's forthcoming mayoral election.
As you are aware, I intend to stand in the election as the candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). My reason for doing this is to ensure that the electorate has the opportunity to vote for clear anti-austerity policies. For the same reason, TUSC will also be contesting council seats in Liverpool.
You have declared you are a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and oppose his continued exclusion from the Parliamentary Labour Party. In my view, your undemocratic exclusion from Labour's shortlist is part of the current Labour leadership's determination to drive Jeremy Corbyn's supporters, and his anti-austerity policies, from the Labour Party.
Many of the policies included in Jeremy Corbyn's 2019 general election manifesto could be implemented by an anti-austerity Liverpool mayor, backed by a team of anti-austerity councillors. To give just a few examples: it would be possible to ensure that any work undertaken by or for Labour councils is done by workers paid at least £10 an hour, to end the use of zero-hour contracts by Labour-led councils and by any company undertaking work for them, and to deliver a year-on-year above-inflation pay rise to begin to restore lost pay. It would also be possible to end outsourcing and return all outsourced and privatised services to council control, restoring them to an even better standard of service than before (see 'Could councils implement Labour's 2019 pledges?' at tusc.org.uk).
Of course, given the dire state of the city's finances, implementing these policies would need to be combined with a mass campaign, based on the trade unions and the working-class communities, to force the government to increase funding for the city.
There has also been some comment in the media, and amongst local Labour movement activists, that you may consider standing as a left independent candidate given the undemocratic manner in which the Labour Party has handled, and is handling, the selection process. I believe that this would be a positive step to take as far as socialist policies are concerned, and in particular for the working-class people of Liverpool. It would undoubtedly create a campaign for trade unionists and socialist activists to unite around, in a fight for fair treatment for Liverpool.
If you are thinking along those lines I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this further, if necessary on a confidential basis.