Scottish TUSC agrees core policies for May's local elections
Scottish TUSC activists gathered in Glasgow on February 25th to discuss plans for a 100% anti-austerity, socialist election challenge in May's Scottish local council elections.
A draft manifesto for the elections had been discussed by Scottish TUSC's constituent organisations, the RMT transport workers' union, Socialist Party Scotland, and the Socialist Workers Party, and was agreed by the conference (see below).
The conference heard from a number of trade union speakers from the frontline in the battle against austerity. Dave Semple, a member of the PCS union's DWP Group Executive Committee, speaking in a personal capacity, explained the union's campaign against the mass closures of DWP and HMRC offices and sites. Dave will be a TUSC candidate in Glasgow.
Socialist Party Scotland member Brian Smith, the branch secretary of Glasgow City Unison, also addressed the conference in a personal capacity, outlining the council trade unions' policy in Glasgow and Dundee to call for no cuts budgets and a mass campaign to demand back the billions stolen by austerity measures - which TUSC is raising as its key policy in this election.
Brian also called for the Scottish government to follow the same policy and use its taxation powers to tax the super-rich and invest in the 99%.
Angela McCormick from the SWP, who is a TUSC candidate in Canal Glasgow and on the EIS-Further Education Lecturers' Association executive, also spoke, linking the battles against austerity and racism.
The conference was attended by college workers and teachers who have been involved in strike action recently, disabled activists and health workers. Scottish TUSC is standing candidates across Scotland. For more details e-mail [email protected], or call 07889-135533.
What Scottish TUSC stands for
Core policy platform for the 2017 Scottish council elections
Since the last election to Scotland's 32 councils in 2012 more than ¬£1 billion has been cut from council budgets. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost from local government. Cuts to vital public services, ever-increasing workloads and attacks on council workers' pay and conditions have been unrelenting.
Moreover the cuts planned for this year and over the next two years will see further draconian attacks on local communities and council budgets. Every council in Scotland has voted through these Tory cuts. Despite talk of being 'anti-austerity', SNP and Labour councils have failed to offer any opposition to the cuts agenda. They have consistently refused to set 'no-cuts budgets', as advocated by Scottish TUSC and many local government trade unions. This cannot go on. As part of the fightback, a 100% anti-cuts and socialist alternative needs to be built. For the council elections in 2017, Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates to offer that alternative.
Our central policy platform for the election will be opposition to all cuts and for the setting of no-cuts budgets by councils. This should be a springboard for a mass campaign to win back the more than ¬£1 billion slashed from local government by the Tories since 2012.
We demand that the Scottish government also take the same stand in opposition to austerity. If a no-cuts united front was formed between Holyrood and even a small number of councils, demanding a return of the billions cuts from public spending since the austerity offensive began, the Tories could be defeated.
A mass movement of elected politicians, local government trade unions and local communities could win. The only other alternative is to surrender to the 'normalisation of austerity' and the grotesque game of pass-the-parcel with Tory cuts. This policy has been tried and failed for far too long.
In addition, the Tory austerity offensive on welfare, the attacks on trade union rights and the need to combat racism and division in all its forms necessitates a socialist and 100% anti-austerity political alternative.
We know that austerity - making the working class pay for an economic crisis we did not cause - is set to continue for years to come. Scotland's politicians have a choice; they either stand up and refuse to implement the Tory cuts or they continue to be the main delivery mechanism for the systematic destruction of the jobs, incomes and services that millions of us rely on.
Scottish TUSC is clear. The mass anti-austerity mood that was so evident in the independence referendum, the sweeping gains made by the SNP in 2015 and the support for Jeremy Corbyn's election as UK Labour leader, are being betrayed by elected politicians who continue with the cuts agenda.
If SNP and Labour councillors were prepared to stand-up and actively oppose the cuts by refusing to implement Tory austerity, Scottish TUSC would not be standing in this election.
However, we know that this is not the case. For this reason the building of a socialist alternative to cuts, privatisation and poverty is essential.
TUSC has accepted from its start that there will be some candidates of other parties who share our socialist aspirations and will be prepared to support measures that challenge the austerity consensus of the establishment politicians. But we are also committed to standing candidates or supporting others if that is the only way a working class anti-austerity socialist alternative can be articulated at election time.
Our coalition of trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of socialist policies to help inspire the building of a fightback.
Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates in the council elections. We have written to all socialist and left parties and groups to suggest a united front for the council elections on a no-cuts platform. We will never advocate a vote for a party or a candidate who will vote for cuts budgets.
Our core platform for the 2017 council elections is set out below. Many of these policies are based on the current powers of councils, however we also comment on important national and international issues as well. The core platform can be added to by candidates and local campaigns standing under the TUSC banner.
NO TO ALL AUSTERITY - DON'T IMPLEMENT TORY CUTS
- Opposition to all austerity cuts.
- Demand that the Scottish government and Scottish local authorities refuse to pass on cuts from Westminster and instead use their powers to set No Cuts budgets that defend jobs and public services in Scotland.
- Actively seek to build a mass campaign of opposition to cuts. Demand the return of the over ¬£3 billion stolen from public services since 2010 in Scotland to allow the reversing of the effects of austerity.
- No council tax rises, rent or service charge increases to pay for Tory cuts.
- The participating organisations of Scottish TUSC - the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union in Scotland, Socialist Party Scotland, and the Socialist Workers Party - all supported a Yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum. In addition, leading trade unionists who support TUSC in Scotland also backed a Yes vote. Scottish TUSC supports:
- An independent socialist Scotland based on public ownership, an end and reversal of austerity, the scrapping of all anti-trade union laws and massive investment in jobs, a living wage and public services for all.
- A second referendum on Scottish independence.
DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY AND JUSTICE
- Welcome to Scotland migrants and refugees who wish to come here. Oppose the UK government's 'Prevent' strategy which is another example of the Tories scapegoating the Muslim community and using racism as way of increasing the coercive powers of the state.
- No to sexism and all forms of gender oppression. Defend a women's right to choose. Ensure women have genuinely equal rights, pay and income.
- Full equality for LGBT+ people.
- Scrap Police Scotland. For full democratic control of the police at council level. Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable. For a full and democratic public investigation into the role of spycops in Scotland.
- End the scandal of blacklisting. Full compensation for all workers who have suffered in the past and now. No council or Scottish government contracts for proven blacklisters.
- For the right to vote at 16 in all elections.
END THE PRIVATE PROFIT RIP-OFF - SCRAP THE DEBT
- Stop all privatisation. Scrap, buy-out and renegotiate all existing Private Finance Initiative (PFI), Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and Non-Profit Distributing model (NPD) contracts. Write-off all pre-1999 historic council debt.
FOR QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
- Public ownership of all rail, bus and ferry services to build an integrated, low-pollution public transport system. Defy 'directives' from the EU that insist on the privatisation of public services.
- Stop the NHS cuts. For a fully-funded, high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.
- Invest in schools to deliver high quality education and lower class sizes. Employ teachers to fill all current teacher vacancies. Stop the cuts to classroom support staff.
- For the Scottish parliament and councils to ensure the building of 100,000 high-standard, eco-friendly, affordable council and social rented homes over the next five years.
- Rent controls on all private and socially rented houses to ensure affordable homes for all.
A LIVING WAGE AND TRADE UNION RIGHTS
- Repeal all anti-trade union laws. For councils and the Scottish government to refuse to implement all aspects of the Tories anti-trade union bill. No to attacks on facility time, defend the right to collect subs by check-off, a simple majority for strike ballots, and no prosecution of trade unionists under any aspect of the trade union bill.
- For a ¬£10 an hour living wage for all, and for it then to rise in line with inflation or wages, whichever is higher. No exemptions for young people.
- Cut the working week to a maximum of 35 hours with no loss of pay.
- Scrap zero-hour contracts. Guaranteed hours and full employment rights for all.
- Invest to create and protect jobs, including for young people.
- Solidarity with council workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions.
A DECENT INCOME FOR ALL
- A living income for all that covers the cost of living - reverse all cuts to benefits and end child poverty
- For the Scottish government and councils to use their powers to mitigate the Tory welfare cuts and use those powers to top-up current benefits and create new ones to help end poverty.
- Scrap benefit sanctions. The Scottish government to provide 100% mitigation of those who are sanctioned.
- Oppose all cuts and closures of job centres, DWP and HMRC sites. Support the PCS campaign against closures and fight for a fair social security system.
SCRAP THE COUNCIL TAX AND TAX THE RICH
- Scrap the council tax and replace it with a progressive alternative based on ability to pay. The council tax alternative to be worked out via a democratic discussion involving trade unions, communities and elected representatives.
- Tax the rich. For a Scottish government that uses its new powers to raise taxes on the richest.
- For Scotland to have full range of tax raising powers which would allow a Scottish government and councils to tackle issues such as social deprivation and poverty and provide increased funding for the NHS, education etc.
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.
- Bring the North Sea oil industry into public ownership under democratic control to allow the sustainable transition to alternative forms of energy.
- Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry and farming - stop the pollution that is destroying our environment.
- Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.
- No to profit-driven GM technology.
- Oppose all forms of fracking.
STOP THE ATTACKS ON DISABLED PEOPLE
- Promote inclusive policies to enable disabled people to participate in, and have equal access to, education, employment, housing, transport and welfare provision.
- Support measures to ensure disabled people receive a level of income according to needs. Equal pay for equal work.
NO TO THE BOSSES' EU - FIGHT FOR A SOCIALIST EUROPE
- Scottish TUSC campaigned for a Leave vote in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. This was based on our support for working-class internationalism and in opposition to the neoliberal and anti-democratic EU institutions.
- Scottish TUSC supports leaving the EU based on policies that promote public ownership and the ending of privatisation, the scrapping of all anti-trade union laws, defending the rights of EU nationals to live and work in the UK and for all migrants to have full rights, including a living wage for all and trade union negotiated conditions at work.
SOLIDARITY NOT WAR
- No to imperialist wars and occupations!
- Justice for the Palestinians, lift the siege of Gaza, recognise the state of Palestine.
- Scrap Trident. 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.
- No state visit by Trump to the UK. Support for the anti-Trump protests in Scotland, including school and college walk-outs. Solidarity with all those in the US and internationally fighting back against his racist, anti-worker, anti-women big business policies.
- 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.