TUSC challenges UKIP & Tory EU outers: 'Let's debate who should be the voice of Leave'
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) today followed up what the BBC called a 'surprise bid' to be the official Leave campaign in June's EU referendum (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35941945) by challenging the Tory and UKIP dominated exit campaigns - Vote Leave and Grassroots Out - to a public debate.
Dave Nellist, a former backbench colleague of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is now the chair of TUSC, said:
"We believe it is vital that working class voters who oppose the EU are not forced to line up behind the reactionary pro-austerity politicians who are being promoted in the mainstream media as the only exit voices.
"How can Tory cabinet outer Priti Patel, for example, allegedly the 'employment minister' in a government resisting calls to nationalise the steel industry, be remotely considered as capable of representing workers who face the loss of thousands of jobs? She is siding with the EU and its rules against state aid.
"That's why as part of TUSC's campaign against EU membership we are disputing any attempt by the Electoral Commission to give political authority and substantial public funds - Â£13 million in free postage for a start - to either Vote Leave or Grassroots Out.
"So today I issue a challenge to Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, leading figures in, respectively, Vote Leave and Grassroots Out.
"Before the Electoral Commission makes it decision on April 14th, let's have a public debate: 'Who should be the voice of Leave? Trade unionists and socialists, or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?'
"They can choose the venue - we don't have to hold it in Port Talbot, Scunthorpe or Redcar if they're too afraid to venture out of London - but let's have the debate and see who really represents those millions of working class voters who will vote leave on June 23rd".
TUSC was set up in 2010 as a coalition, involving the RMT, the Socialist Party, and the Socialist Workers Party, around a set of core policies. These include opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the EU and the US, and policies on bringing privatised public services, industries and utilities back into public ownership; defending the right to asylum and opposing racist immigration controls; and democratic public ownership of the banks and major companies, which are all tightly circumscribed by EU treaties.
TUSC, which stood the sixth largest number of candidates in last year's general election (after the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens), was co-founded by the late Bob Crow, the RMT transport workers' union leader who was well known for his opposition to the EU as an agency of anti-worker and pro-austerity policies.
1. TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow of the RMT transport workers' union, together with other leading trade unionists, the Socialist Party, the SWP, and other socialist groups, to provide an electoral alternative for those opposing austerity.
For information and video clips about TUSC see: www.tusc.org.uk
For interviews and any other information requests, please email: [email protected] or call Clive Heemskerk, the TUSC National Election Agent on 020-8988-8773.
2. A TUSC conference held on September 26th 2015 agreed the following resolution with just 5% of the representatives voting against:
"The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition agrees to register with the Electoral Commission as a 'permitted participant' in the EU referendum to enable it to conduct an independent campaign against EU membership.
"We further agree that TUSC should not participate in any officially designated exit campaign that is headed by reactionary racist and pro-austerity politicians but should campaign on the basis of its own core policy platform of opposition to austerity and support for socialist policies, while being prepared to work with other working class and socialist organisations who take a similar stance".
3. The legislation governing the EU referendum gives the Electoral Commission the power to designate one 'official' campaign on either side of the referendum question which are eligible for public funding, Freepost communications, the use of rooms free of charge, and referendum broadcasts. But the Electoral Commission is not legally obliged to choose an official campaign if none of the applicants for lead campaign status can be held to 'adequately represent' the range of those who will support a particular outcome.