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Thursday 15 February 2018

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TUSC conference sets parameters for May election challenge

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has decided that it will put up candidates in this year's local council elections - but not "against consistent public supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity policies".

This was the outcome of the conference held on February 10th which, in a session under the heading 'Building support for Jeremy Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the 2018 local elections', supported two resolutions encouraging candidates on a selective basis.

The successful resolution from the Socialist Party (see below), one of the constituent organisations of TUSC, welcomed the 2018 local elections as an opportunity to advance TUSC's "founding goal of building working class socialist political representation, but only if a careful approach is adopted that takes into account the surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn expressed in the 2017 general election".

This was reiterated in the other resolution agreed, from Rugby TUSC (also below), which urged the steering committee to ensure that candidacies "are part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services and will strengthen the battle against the right wing in the Labour Party and the trade unions".

Timetable for candidate approvals

With this clear signal from the conference the TUSC steering committee has now set the timetable for applications from prospective candidates for the legally-required Certificate of Authorisation to be approved.

The committee will begin considering candidate applications from February 26th and weekly from then on, until the official nomination period starts on March 27th. The application form is available on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/412.doc

The steering committee has also agreed the annual Guide for TUSC Candidates and Agents, available as a downloadable PDF at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/414.pdf


Resolutions agreed at the TUSC conference

Motion from the Socialist Party

This conference believes that the 2018 local elections will present big opportunities for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to advance its founding goal of building working class socialist political representation, but only if a careful approach is adopted that takes into account the surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn expressed in the 2017 general election.

TUSC has already re-calibrated its electoral activity following Jeremy Corbyn's initial leadership election victory over Labour's right-wing in September 2015. Our coalition, whose components helped facilitate Jeremy's leadership challenge, recognised from the outset that if his anti-austerity message was developed into a clear socialist programme and Labour's structures democratised, the Labour Party itself could become the mass left-wing alternative that is needed to the capitalist policies of public sector cuts, privatisation, anti-union restrictions, militarism and environmental degradation.

Consequently TUSC candidacies in the 2016 and 2017 local elections were only approved where they strengthened the battle against the right wing in the Labour Party and campaigns against local austerity policies. In the 2017 general election, in which the working class had an opportunity to change the government and put Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten, TUSC did not stand any candidates, from the position of being the sixth-biggest party on the ballot paper in 2015.

At the same time TUSC has also recognised the continued presence within the Labour Party of defenders of capitalism who oppose socialist policies and will do everything they can to prevent Labour's transformation. They still dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party and much of the formal structures of the party. They also predominate in local council Labour groups where, in the 124 Labour-controlled councils across Britain, they carry out the Tory government's austerity agenda.

This year's 2018-2019 council budgets will be the third set of cuts budgets made by Labour-led councils since Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader. This situation is even more indefensible after the general election outcome of a massively weakened Tory government. A defiant stand by even a handful of councils of using council reserves and borrowing powers to refuse to make the cuts, as campaigned for by TUSC, could be the catalyst to bring down the Tories. Refusing to take such a stand, on the other hand, could extend the life of the Tory government and perpetuate the distress caused by savagely reduced local public services.

To allow the Blairites to go unchallenged generally is to allow them to build their authority, which they will then use in the future to sabotage anti-capitalist policies under a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. To allow them to go unchallenged in local councils in particular allows them additionally to undermine the possibility of winning a Corbyn government, by creating a vacuum for other forces to fill (including UKIP still) and re-enforcing the scepticism of many working class voters which saw rising abstentionism over the New Labour years, that 'politicians are all the same'.

Conference therefore calls on the steering committee to continue with the broad electoral approach adopted since September 2015 for this year's May elections. That means encouraging TUSC candidates to come forward but ensuring that no candidates are authorised to stand against consistent public supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity policies or without local TUSC groups seeking a dialogue with sitting Labour councillors on the critical issue of their preparedness to resist cuts to local council jobs and services.


Motion from Rugby TUSC

This conference re-affirms the support that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has given to Jeremy Corbyn against Labour's Blairite right-wing.

Conference calls on the Steering Committee to continue with the approach adopted at the 2017 conference for the 2018 council elections, noting that TUSC candidates are only being considered following attempts at dialogue with the local Labour group and/or sitting Labour councillor/prospective candidate on the critical issue of their preparedness to resist cuts to local council jobs and services.

Conference calls on the Steering Committee to ensure that, for whichever elections candidate applications are received, TUSC's electoral interventions are part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services and will strengthen the battle against the right wing in the Labour Party and the trade unions.