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Thursday 21 January 2016

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TUSC steering committee agrees 2016 council candidates selection timetable

The TUSC national steering committee met this week and agreed a timetable and procedures to approve candidates for the English local council elections taking place on Thursday May 5th. It also agreed a Guide for TUSC Candidates and Agents, available as a downloadable PDF at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/359.pdf

The steering committee recognises that the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader on an anti-austerity platform has changed the political situation compared to the first five years of TUSC's existence and that this effects how our coalition will approach the May polls.

Although the big majority of Labour councillors did not support Jeremy for leader, TUSC's local election platform, Build on Jeremy Corbyn's Anti-Austerity Call - A Councillors' Revolt Could Stop the Tory cuts! (see http://tusc.org.uk/policy.php) is clear that "TUSC will work with any Labour councillor who backs the call to refuse to implement the cuts". There will not be TUSC candidates standing against councillors who vote against cuts in the council chamber.

Serious anti-cuts campaigns

To make sure this is the case the national steering committee has added some more detailed questions to the TUSC candidate application form compared to previous years. The form is available on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/358.doc .

These include the question, 'Before deciding to contest the seat did local TUSC supporters discuss the possibilities of joint action against austerity with the Labour candidate?'. To help them make an approach local TUSC groups are guided to a model letter to Labour councillors available on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/17116/12-09-2015/model-letter-to-labour-councillors. Also available as an aid to such discussions is the TUSC briefing pack, Preparing a No Cuts People's Budget, at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/355.pdf.

The form also asks, 'What are the main outlines of the council Labour Group's 2016-17 budget proposals?' This does not mean providing a full account of the Labour Group's draft budget - these documents are often 100-plus pages long! - but to indicate if there are cuts being made and what they are or, where Labour is in opposition, whether the Labour Group is presenting an alternative that challenges the Tory councillors' cuts budget.

The main point of this is to make sure that a prospective TUSC candidacy is part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services - and certainly not to discourage trade unionists or working class community activists from standing against politicians who vote for cuts.

The election timetable - summary

Wednesday February 24th - The date of the first TUSC national steering committee meeting to consider candidate applications, which must be received at least two days before to be processed at this meeting.

Monday March 7th - The first date on which local candidates can sign their official Consent to Nomination form.

Wednesday March 23rd - The date of the March meeting of the TUSC national steering committee.

Wednesday March 30th - The official Notices of Election for the local authority elections are published. Local election candidate nomination papers can be handed in from this point.

Thursday April 7th - The deadline for the delivery of official nomination papers (4pm) for the local elections. This is also the deadline for the appointment of election agents.

Thursday May 5th - Polling day (7am to 10pm)