Sixty at Haringey TUSC meeting
SIXTY PEOPLE attended last week's meeting to launch the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition's anti-cuts electoral challenge for next year's local elections in the north London borough of Haringey.
The meeting was chaired by Jenny Sutton, a local University and College Union (UCU) rep who has stood for TUSC locally in previous elections and achieved creditable results.
Platform speaker Oktay Sahbaz of the Day Mer Turkish and Kurdish group that hosted the meeting, explained that austerity policies, supported by all the major parties, were unnecessary and had made the rich even richer at our expense in the period since the financial crash.
Along with other speakers he also highlighted the plight of refugee and immigrant communities. As local journalist Gary McFarlane put it; "the problem is not Bulgarians and Romanians, its Etonians".
Martin Powell Davis, an executive member of the National Union of Teachers (speaking in a personal capacity), outlined how cuts hit vital services and were storing up an acute shortage of school places in London.
Frank Murray, Chair of Weir Hall Action Group & Co-chair of Tottenham Concerned Residents Committee showed how plans to 'regenerate' Tottenham were designed for profit rather than to help local people.
From the floor, John Dolan of Haringey Unison quoted Labour council leader Clare Kober saying in 2011 that "if Labour had won the 2010 general election the Haringey cuts would have been half of what the ConDem cuts were" - that would still have meant Â£42 million cuts over three years in Haringey with a Labour government and a Labour council!
The meeting was truly representative of the diverse working class community locally. One speaker from the floor suggested that if the attendance list was simply used as a candidates list in the council elections, it would be a better and more representative list than Labour's.
Speakers dealt with a wide range of issues including the murder of Mark Duggan, which sparked riots in the area two years ago, cuts to youth centres locally, and the need for trade unions to orientate to the unemployed and excluded.
Speakers suggested that, while the black community was alienated from Labour it might be drawn back to the fold as the prospect of defeating the ConDems at a general election loomed.
Others accepted that but said that Labours' pro-cuts policies would disappoint if a Labour government is elected, underscoring the long term need for TUSC as the beginnings of a new mass working class party.
One speaker from the floor said that such a new party would look very much like the people in this room.
Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT rail union, pointed out that a key difference between TUSC and previous attempts to create an alternative to the Labour Party was the active involvement of the organised working class through the trade unions.
The RMT nationally is fully committed to TUSC and he called on people in the room to get their trade unions to support TUSC either at local level or nationally.
In summing up, Martin Powell Davies said that what we face in Britain is not unique pointing to developments in South Africa following the Marikana massacre of striking miners.
The direct involvement of the ANC and COSATU leaders in repression had led wide layers to see the need for a new party and the WASP (Workers and Socialist Party) has been formed.
This stirring response to the bitter betrayal by the ANC leadership is an inspiration for workers in Tottenham.
Attendees were urged to take the need for money to support TUSC back to their organisations, and standing order forms were distributed.
Donating to TUSC
To make a donation to TUSC you can use the PayPal facility on the TUSC website (at http://www.tusc.org.uk/donate.php ).
There is no need to set up a PayPal account and all payments, of course, are made through a secure server.
Alternatively you can send cheques, made payable to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, to TUSC, 17 Colebert House, Colebert Avenue, London, E1 4JP.