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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 943, 5 April 2017: Resist cruel NHS cuts

Search site for keywords: TUSC - Metro - Merseyside - Labour - Liverpool - Election - Austerity - Merseyrail - Anti-austerity - Labour Party - MPs - Jeremy Corbyn - Councillors - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - Roger Bannister - RMT - Public services

TUSC to challenge for the Merseyside 'metro-mayor'

TUSC mayoral candidate Roger Bannister, photo Senan

TUSC mayoral candidate Roger Bannister, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is on the ballot paper for the inaugural election of the Liverpool City Region directly-elected mayor (the 'metro-mayor').

Roger Bannister, a member of the Unison national executive council from the formation of the public services' union in 1993 until his retirement this February, will represent TUSC's anti-austerity socialist message in the 4 May contest.

Roger was a Labour Party member from 1970 until his expulsion in 1986 for his role in the struggle of the Liverpool Labour council against Margaret Thatcher's government. He stood as the TUSC candidate for the mayor of Liverpool council in May 2016, polling 4,950 votes (5.1%), coming in ahead of the Tories.

The councils within the area the seat will cover are all solidly Labour-controlled authorities. The election will be conducted on a preference vote basis, with electors able to vote for a first and second choice candidate.

This system makes it easier for TUSC candidates to be supportive of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message while making sure that the Tories do not make electoral headway.

One of the most important election issues is the dispute with Merseyrail over the plan to get rid of guards on trains and introduce driver-only operation (DOO) on the new stock that will come into service during the metro-mayor's first term of office.

The Merseyrail franchise is under the control of the Merseytravel committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which, as stated, is completely controlled by Labour councillors.

They could stop the introduction of DOO on Merseyrail now, striking a blow against the Tories' dangerous plans for safety on the railways, not just in Merseyside but across Britain. But, instead, the right-wing Labour councillors are pushing it through and local Labour MPs are making no protest.

Stand up

Unfortunately that includes the Labour metro-mayor candidate Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, despite repeated efforts by TUSC to get him to come out against DOO.

If he won't stand up to the Tories - and right-wing Labour - on such a clear question of putting public safety ahead of private profit, on what issue would he stand up to them?

Steve Rotheram voted for Andy Burnham in the 2015 leadership election although, like Burnham (but unlike others in the parliamentary Labour Party), he did not join the campaign to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, serving as his parliamentary private secretary.

That is why TUSC in Merseyside has consistently tried to open a dialogue with Steve since his selection as the metro-mayor candidate, but without success.

And then there is the issue of the cuts. The six Labour councils in the Liverpool City Region have this year agreed further budget cuts of over 90 million between them - without a word of opposition from the region's Labour MPs.

Fighting austerity and cuts - not just in words but in practice - will be central to the TUSC metro-mayor campaign.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an anti-austerity electoral alliance including the transport union RMT, the Socialist Party, leading members of other trade unions and non-affiliated socialists and community campaigners.

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