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Monday 27 March 2017

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TUSC steering committee agrees candidates for May's council elections

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee met on March 22nd to discuss candidates for the local council elections taking place in May.

Twenty-two candidate applications were approved to contest seats across five local authorities in Wales, and 42 candidates - across eleven councils - in England. Details can be found at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/397.pdf.

Scottish TUSC, organising autonomously, has approved 19 candidates to date, fighting seats in six councils. For further details of the campaign in Scotland e-mail scottishtusc@gmail.com or call 07889-135-533.

A calibrated approach

The candidate applications were judged carefully by the steering committee against the criteria set for this year's electoral challenges at the January TUSC conference (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17332/05-02-2017/tusc-conference-debates-election-plans-and-anti-cuts-campaigning).

In line with these parameters, none of the TUSC candidates are contesting seats in which the Labour candidate is known to have come out in support of Jeremy Corbyn in last year's Labour leadership contest. On the contrary, those allegedly representing the Labour Party in these seats either publically supported Owen Smith's summer coup or stayed 'neutral' as the campaign to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn was under way.

In addition, the preparedness of the Labour candidates to fight cuts to local public services was detailed in each case. There are no TUSC candidates standing against Labour candidates who will vote for no cuts budgets in the council chamber.

Withdrawal from the committee

With this carefully calibrated approach TUSC's electoral challenge is not as wide this time as in previous years. But for one of the TUSC constituent organisations, the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP), it was still too broad.

The 22nd March meeting discussed a letter received from the SWP suspending their participation in the TUSC steering committee because of the decision to stand candidates in England and Wales this year, although they will continue to participate in the election challenge in Scotland. Their reasoning is explained in an article in Socialist Worker, at https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/44221/The+SWP%2C+TUSC+and+Labour+how+do+we+take+on+the+Tories, and a response has been published by the Socialist Party, at http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/25022/15-03-2017/tusc-swp-suspends-participation-in-englandwales

While expressing disappointment at the SWP's decision, the steering committee welcomed the SWP's acknowledgement that "at some point... it will be necessary to stand in elections again", and was clear that the door would remain open for them to return in the future.

TUSC's remit to provide a chance for trade unionists, socialists and working class community campaigners to stand in elections under a common banner against pro-austerity politicians, established when it was co-founded by the late Bob Crow in 2010, remains unchanged.