2014 local elections policy platform
Posted: 3 March 2014
Councillors can make a difference...
But only if they are prepared to fight
The Con-Dems' systematic dismantling of the welfare state has put the very existence of local council services at risk.
The Labour leader of Birmingham council, Britain's biggest local authority, has spoken of the 'end of local government'.
Even the Tory chair of the Local Government Association has hypocritically warned that the funding squeeze on councils is 'unsustainable'.
But it is not true that councils can do nothing but accept the government's attacks. They still control billions of pounds of public services and have powers they could use to resist.
Councillors have a choice. They can make a difference and take steps to improve the lives of millions of people - but only if they are prepared to fight.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has agreed a policy platform, outlined below, to contest local council elections in 2014 which, if adopted by just a handful of councils, could make a difference.
Even one councillor in each local authority arguing for the policies we outline, if they used their position in the council chamber to appeal to those outside, could give confidence to trade unionists and community campaigners to fight.
This platform is the basis on which any prospective council candidate who wishes to can stand under the TUSC name in local council elections.
We encourage every trade unionist, anti-cuts campaigner, community activist and all those who want to see an alternative to the establishment parties to become a TUSC candidate.
The local election platform is a supplement to the core policy statement that TUSC candidates endorsed when they stood in the general election in May 2010, which still stands as the national policy position of the TUSC coalition.
All TUSC councillors will:
- Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions. We reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services or that the national debt is a reason for austerity.
- Refuse to implement the Bedroom Tax. Councils should write off all bedroom tax-related arrears, withdraw all court proceedings and eviction orders where the bedroom tax has been a factor, and call on Housing Associations to do the same.
- Support all workers' struggles against the cuts, privatisation and the government's policy of making ordinary people pay for the crisis caused by the bankers and the bosses. Defend the national collective bargaining arrangements for council workers.
- Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
- Vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.
- Oppose racism and fascism and stand up for equality for all.
- Use all the legal powers available to councils to oppose both the cuts and government policies which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies. This includes using councils' powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations in campaigns to defend public services.
- Campaign for the introduction of a Living Wage above the minimum wage, including for council employees and those working for council contractors.
- Vote for councils to refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid making cuts. But we argue that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the dismantling of council services is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.
- Support action against climate change and for a future where sustainability comes before profit.
What TUSC stands for: the core policy positions of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition agreed for the 2010 general election
THE WORKING class and peoples of Britain are facing a ruling class offensive against public services, incomes, living standards and trade union rights. Not content with the banks receiving the biggest bail-out in the history of British capitalism, big business aims to make workers and their families pay to serve the interests, first and foremost, of the City of London's financial institutions.
It is also an offensive which has support across all the establishment parties. That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will contest elections, to show that there is a clear left-wing alternative to policies of public sector cuts, privatisation, militarism and environmental degradation.
We recognise that there will be Labour and non-Labour candidates who agree with our policies, who share our socialist aspirations, and who will be supported by left and labour movement organisations participating in our coalition.
We also recognise that there are different strategic views about the way forward for the left in Britain, whether the Labour Party can be reclaimed by the labour movement, or whether a new workers' party needs to be established.
But our coalition is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of left-wing policies to help inspire and direct such resistance:
Public ownership, not private profit
- Stop all privatisation, including the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). Bring privatised public services and utilities back into public ownership under democratic control.
- Keep Royal Mail as a publicly-owned service, not a privatised cash cow.
No cuts - for quality public services
- Take rail back into public ownership and build an integrated, low-pollution public transport system.
- For a high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.
- Stop council estate sell-offs and build eco-friendly, affordable public housing.
- Good, free education for all, under democratic local authority control; student grants not fees.
Jobs, not handouts to the bankers and billionaires
- Bring banks and finance institutions into genuine public ownership under democratic control, instead of giving huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis.
- Tax the rich. For progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals, with a crackdown on tax avoidance.
- For massive investment in environmental projects.
Employment and trade union rights
- Repeal the anti-trade union laws.
- A minimum wage set at half average adult male earnings, with no exemptions.
- Invest to create and protect jobs, including for young people.
- Solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions. Reinstate full trade union rights to prison officers.
Protect our environment - stop global warming
- Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions - otherwise climate change, caused by capitalism, will destroy us.
- Invest in publicly-owned and controlled renewable energy.
- Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry and farming - stop the pollution that is destroying our environment.
- Recognise that many of our planet's resources are limited and that capitalism fritters them away for profit.
- Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.
Decent pensions and benefits
- Restore the pre-Thatcher real value of pensions. Reinstate the link with average earnings.
- Protect entitlement to benefits; for living benefits; end child poverty.
Democracy, diversity and justice
- Welcome diversity and oppose racism, fascism and discrimination. Defend the right to asylum.
- Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay.
- Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable.
Solidarity not war
- Bring home all British troops from Afghanistan immediately - no more wars for resources.
- No more spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons, huge aircraft carriers or irrelevant eurofighters - convert arms spending into socially useful products and services.
- An independent foreign policy, based on international solidarity - no more being a US poodle, no moves towards a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe, no Lisbon Treaty.
- For a democratic socialist society run in the interests of people not millionaires. For bringing into democratic public ownership the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment.