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Wednesday 5 October 2016

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TUSC slams media fixation on Jeremy Corbyn's 'sinister left-wing backers'

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) openly supported Jeremy Corbyn's re-election as Labour Party leader. Since TUSC was established in 2010 we have always recognised, in the words of our founding statement, that there were Labour representatives "who share our socialist aspirations" who would be supported by our coalition.

Jeremy Corbyn obviously comes into that category. Equally obviously the Blairite MPs who want to unseat him do not. But that subtlety is lost by the establishment media - deliberately so - as they search for scare stories about 'sinister left-wingers' behind the Corbyn phenomenon.

The latest example is the 'revelation' that the Hillsborough Justice campaigner Shelia Coleman, who introduced Jeremy Corbyn's leader's speech at the recent Labour Party conference, signed the nomination papers for the TUSC candidate in her local Princes' Park ward in this year's Liverpool city council elections.

The TUSC candidate was the RMT transport workers' union regional organiser Daren Ireland who, as Shelia told the Liverpool Echo, "had supported the Hillsborough Justice Campaign over many years and was also a member of the RMT" - which as a national union had consistently backed the campaign.

So what exactly does the media find 'sinister' about somebody nominating a local trade unionist and socialist campaigner to stand for the council while also supporting Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader?

And is it surprising that there are working class people in areas like Liverpool - where TUSC for example came fourth in this year's Mayoral election, outpolling the Tories - who are totally behind Jeremy's anti-austerity message but who have supported TUSC candidates against Blairite councillors carrying out the cuts?

The Tory infiltrators

What is more newsworthy is how quickly some of local Blairite members of the Labour Party are showing their true colours after Jeremy Corbyn's re-election by jumping ship.

Within hours of the result the leader of Portsmouth council Labour group, John Ferrett, announced his resignation from the Labour Party and called for a new "social democratic alternative" party to be established (BBC website, 26 September). Portsmouth, of course, is where the notorious Mike Hancock was one of the first Labour MPs to defect to the Social Democratic Party in 1981.

In the 2015 general election TUSC stood the chair of the Portsmouth council Unison branch Jon Woods against John Ferrett in the Portsmouth North parliamentary constituency and also stood against him in this year's local council contest. His subsequent behaviour completely vindicates our stand.

Meanwhile the only Labour councillor on Folkestone district council in East Kent, Claire Jeffrey, has now joined the Tory party! Jeffrey was also Labour's Folkestone & Hythe parliamentary candidate in 2015,

Interestingly the UKIP candidate for the Folkestone & Hythe seat in 2015 was also a former Kent Labour councillor, Harriet Yeo. We can safely say that the only candidate on the ballot paper in that election who supported Jeremy Corbyn's socialist message was the TUSC candidate, Unison activist Seth Cruse!

New opportunities

The most hysterical media attack on TUSC during the Labour leadership campaign appeared in a Daily Telegraph editorial in August, placing the RMT "extremists shutting down train services" with socialists in a "coalition infiltrating the Labour Party" (13 August).

"The RMT has lent enthusiastic support to Mr Corbyn", the Telegraph wrote, "despite being unaffiliated to Labour and supporting the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in elections". Theresa May, they concluded, "must not allow any appearances of giving an inch to the unions" and this "rise in extremism on the left".

The TUSC national steering committee, which includes representatives of the RMT and other individual leading trade unionists, is meeting on 12th October and will discuss TUSC's future work to make the Telegraph's nightmares come true in the new period brought about by Jeremy Corbyn's re-election triumph.