Socialists to challenge UKIP over Exit EU crown, says ex-Labour MP
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) today announced that it would officially register as an exit campaigner in the forthcoming referendum on EU membership.
TUSC, which stood the sixth largest number of candidates in May's general election (after the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens), was co-founded by the late Bob Crow, the RMT transport workers' union leader who was well known for his opposition to the EU as an agency of anti-worker and pro-austerity policies.
Dave Nellist, the former Labour MP who is now the chair of TUSC, said:
"Following a decisive vote at our autumn conference, TUSC will be campaigning against EU membership in the referendum due before the end of 2017.
"We believe it is vital that working class voters who oppose the EU are not forced to line up behind the reactionary racist and pro-austerity politicians who are being promoted in the mainstream media as the only exit voices.
"As part of our campaign against EU membership we will be challenging any attempt by the Electoral Commission to allocate public money, the free use of rooms, TV broadcast rights etc to any of the current 'Out' campaigns - Business for Britain, the UKIP-dominated Leave.EU or, of course, Conservatives for Britain.
"After all, pro-market, pro-austerity big business voices will be perfectly well represented by the 'In' side, including by the Labour for Europe campaign headed by the former Blairite cabinet minister Alan Johnson. And unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn's more critical position has been overruled by his shadow cabinet.
"So TUSC will have a vital role in making sure the socialist arguments against the EU get a hearing in the referendum debate".
The EU's austerity agenda
TUSC was set up in 2010 as a coalition, involving the RMT, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Independent Socialist Network (representing non-aligned individuals), around a set of core policies. These include opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the EU and the US, and policies on bringing privatised public services, industries and utilities back into public ownership, defending the right to asylum and opposing racist immigration controls, and democratic public ownership of the banks and major companies, which are all tightly circumscribed by EU treaties.
Dave Nellist concludes: "There are those in the TUSC coalition who support an 'In' vote or abstention and they will have the right to make those arguments publically.
"But TUSC is now committed to be an exit campaigner and, as one of only two parties that reached the UK-wide qualification threshold for a party election broadcast in May that now supports an exit position (UKIP is the other), we hope the media will reflect that".
The TUSC conference held on September 26th agreed the following resolution with just 5% of the representatives voting against:
"The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition agrees to register with the Electoral Commission as a 'permitted participant' in the EU referendum to enable it to conduct an independent campaign against EU membership.
"We further agree that TUSC should not participate in any officially designated exit campaign that is headed by reactionary racist and pro-austerity politicians but should campaign on the basis of its own core policy platform of opposition to austerity and support for socialist policies, while being prepared to work with other working class and socialist organisations who take a similar stance.
"TUSC recognises that there are participants within our coalition who will want to support EU membership or argue for abstention and, as a coalition, guarantees their right to present their own position publically as TUSC constituent organisations, members and candidates".