First candidates announced as TUSC's 2016 elections challenge gets under way
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee has approved the first batch of candidates for the English local council elections taking place on Thursday May 5th.
TUSC's local election platform this year is headed, Build on Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity call - A councillors' revolt could stop the Tory cuts! (see http://tusc.org.uk/policy.php). It takes into account that Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader on an anti-austerity message has changed the political situation compared to the first five years of TUSC's existence. There will not be TUSC candidates standing against Labour councillors who vote against cuts in the council chamber.
But the big majority of Labour councillors did not support Jeremy Corbyn for leader and still continue to vote for cuts. Any politician who does that shouldn't be surprised if they are challenged by anti-austerity candidates at the ballot box, no matter what party label they wear. We need councillors who will stand up to the Tories, not carry out their policies.
That's what the TUSC local elections candidates promise, and with a record to prove it. Amongst the first batch is Warrington councillor Kevin Bennett, standing for re-election, who has provided the only serious opposition to austerity on the council (see the article on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/17184/02-03-2016/tusc-councillor-defiant-as-warrington-labour-rush-to-cut-services-with-tory-support).
Growing union support for a fightback
TUSC argues that a combined campaign of Labour councils refusing to implement the cuts could defeat the government. If the total gross spending of the 100-plus Labour-controlled councils in Britain was counted as a 'gross domestic product' (GDP), they would be the eighteenth biggest country in the EU! How can it be said that they 'have no power' to resist the Tories?
And support is growing in the trade unions for a fightback. The national bodies for council workers in the UNISON and UNITE unions are calling on Labour councils to set No Cuts budgets by using their reserves and borrowing powers as the first step in a national campaign to force the Tories to fund local public services, echoing the TUSC platform (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17175/08-02-2016/union-opposition-to-council-cuts-grows-but-labour-councils-plan-more-job-losses).
UNISON NEC member to stand for Liverpool mayor
That's why the steering committee was especially pleased to announce that the long-standing UNISON national executive committee member Roger Bannister will be the TUSC candidate for the mayor of Liverpool against Labour's 'I can't do anything' incumbent, Joe Anderson.
In the city's last mayoral contest in 2012 the TUSC candidate was Tony Mulhearn, one of the 'Liverpool 47' councillors who defied Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. He polled 4,792 votes, ahead of the Tories and double the UKIP vote. Roger, standing with the full support of Tony Mulhearn, also represents the traditions of the 47 councillors, having been expelled from the Labour Party alongside Tony in 1986 for his role in the Liverpool struggle.
Future candidate approvals
The candidates approved by the steering committee also include the first twenty from Sheffield, following the successful conference initiated by the PCS civil servants' union's town committee for a People's Budget campaign (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17181/16-02-2016/sheffield-peoples-budget-conference-agrees-fighting-no-cuts-alternative).
A full list of the council candidates approved by the TUSC steering committee so far is available at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/365.pdf
The next date for candidate applications to be received for consideration by the steering committee is Wednesday 9th March. The candidate application form can be found on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/358.doc and there is a Guide for TUSC Candidates and Agents available as a downloadable PDF at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/359.pdf
The 2016 TUSC election challenge is underway.