TUSC questionnaire: building on Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is conducting an autumn survey to find out how far local Labour councillors are preparing to back Jeremy Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in next year's council budget-setting process.
During the autumn local councils will start to draw up their 2018-2019 spending plans, which they will finally agree at budget-setting meetings in February or March next year. The autumn months will include public consultation events and initial discussions with the local council workers' trade unions.
This is certainly a time to bring into the debate the TUSC policy of 'No Cuts People's Budgets' - of councils using their reserves and borrowing powers to set budgets that don't pass on Tory cuts and using the breathing space provided to demand that central government makes up future shortfalls.
TUSC has produced campaigning tools to help in this - the briefing document Preparing a No Cuts People's Budget, at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/355.pdf, and the recent TUSC report, How Much Reserves Have They Got?, available online at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/402.pdf. And now there is a questionnaire for local TUSC groups, as a guide to what needs to be done in the autumn period.
Gathering facts, preparing action
What is certain is that if Labour councils were led by councillors determined to turn Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message into action, they could play a critical role in forcing May's government out of office.
There are 124 Labour-led councils across Britain whose combined spending power is greater than the state budgets of 16 EU countries! If they declared that they will use their borrowing powers and reserves to stop all cuts - in the expectation that they would be reimbursed by a future Labour government - what could the Tories do?
The questionnaire asks local groups, or even just individual TUSC supporters, to find out what the main outlines are of their council Labour Group's initial proposals for the 2018-19 budget and what consultation plans there are that can be used to influence the budget-making process. But also, if the council has elections next year, when will the local Labour Party's 2018 local election manifesto be agreed? (To find out if a council has elections next year, check the TUSC directory of elections at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/401.pdf)
Further, if there are elections, how far advanced are Labour's local candidate selections? And where candidates have been selected, have right-wing Blairites have been replaced by publically identified Jeremy Corbyn supporters?
Gathering in this information on the situation now will help TUSC decide how best it can act to build support for Jeremy's anti-cuts position into the new year.
The next TUSC national steering committee meeting takes place on November 15th.
To download a Word version of the questionnaire, go to http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/407.doc