TUSC Against Cuts
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Sunday 8 April 2018

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TUSC candidates will put Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity policies into practice in the town hall!

In a recent Prime Minister's Question Time Jeremy Corbyn lacerated Theresa May over the financial collapse last month of Northamptonshire County Council and the resulting threat to public services there (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43484836).

Putting her on the spot - was it the responsibility of the Tory councillors' austerity policies in Northamptonshire or Tory austerity policies nationally? - all May could do in the first exchanges was flannel.

But later on she was able to deflect attention from the reality of Tory cuts by attacking the record of right-wing Labour councils in slashing local services. One instance she cited was Birmingham council allowing rubbish to pile up on the streets last summer - while attempting to break a strike against its sacking of 106 bin workers and wage cuts for the rest.

Overall the exchange illustrated the danger in allowing Blairite opponents of Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity policies to go unchallenged in their positions as Labour councillors. The contradiction between what Jeremy Corbyn says in parliament and what Labour councils are doing on the ground can only re-enforce the scepticism of many working class voters that 'politicians are all talk but no action'.

The budgets that were voted on by councillors in February and March of this year are the third set of cuts budgets made by right wing-led Labour councils since Jeremy's election as leader in September 2015. We need councillors who will put Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity policies into practice in the town hall, not carry out Tory policies!

A hundred TUSC candidates

That's why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) agreed at its conference in February to selectively stand candidates in this year's council elections - not against Jeremy Corbyn supporters but the Blairite cutters (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17389/15-02-2018/tusc-conference-sets-parameters-for-may-election-challenge).

The TUSC national steering committee has now approved over 100 candidates to stand in the local elections on May 3rd, across 34 councils (the full list is available at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/423.pdf).

In over a quarter of the wards with a TUSC candidate (some are multi-seat wards) one of the Labour candidates publically backed Owen Smith's leadership coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn in summer 2016 - signing an Open Letter in support - while others remained 'neutral'. But nowhere is there a TUSC candidate in a direct contest with a consistent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity policies.

A coalition of campaigners

The TUSC candidates are an impressive collection of trade unionists, socialists and working class community campaigners whose candidacies will be part of an anti-austerity fightback in their local area.

In Merseyside, where the TUSC candidates include former UNISON NEC member Roger Bannister and RMT Guards rep Warwick Roberts, TUSC is standing against two members of the Liverpool City Region Transport Authority, responsible for trying to push safety-critical guards off the trains on Merseyrail (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17394/06-04-2018/mersey-tusc-candidates-take-up-the-fight-to-keep-the-guards-on-our-trains).

In Birmingham TUSC is standing against the council leader, Ian Ward, and three cabinet members, all prominent figures in the attack on the bin workers. While in Manchester there will be a TUSC candidate taking on a councillor board member of Northwards Housing, where the 80-day Mears housing maintenance workers' dispute took place.

In Kirklees council in West Yorkshire the two TUSC candidates, Nicola Jackson and Mike Forster (a former member of UNISON's national Local Government Sector Executive Committee), are key organisers of the Hands Off Huddersfield Royal Infirmary campaign (Hands Off HRI) which has conducted a two-year long struggle to stop the closure of the hospital's A&E department. This has included two 'protests in the park' festivals involving thousands of local people, a drive to successfully push the council into using its health scrutiny powers to refer back the decision to the secretary of state, and an ongoing judicial review.

In Waltham Forest, where all 60 seats are up for election, there are 17 TUSC candidates, taking the high profile local campaign against a 'Monster Block' phoney regeneration plan to allow private developers to build unaffordable homes on cheaply acquired public land into the ballot box.

In Newham the TUSC candidates are targeting councillors who have refused to back the struggle by parents, teachers and education staff against school academisation plans in the East London borough.

The TUSC message

TUSC has been fielding candidates on a 100% anti-austerity socialist platform since its formation in 2010, co-founded by the late general secretary of the RMT transport workers' union, Bob Crow, but re-calibrated its electoral activity after Jeremy Corbyn's welcome victory as Labour leader in 2015.

Yet that doesn't mean it will not challenge politicians who carry out austerity policies, whatever colour rosette they wear.

And this year's elections will be another reminder of that to local councillors - if you don't want to risk a challenge at the ballot box, don't vote for cuts!