Corbyn suspension: TUSC fights ‘resurgent Blairism’ as second ex-MP joins coalition
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee today condemned the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, and pledged to fight Keir Starmer’s ‘resurgent Blairism’ – including at the ballot box next May.
At the same time it welcomed new members to the coalition steering committee from the national executives of five different trade unions – and the former Labour MP Chris Williamson who was himself suspended in 2019 and prevented from defending his Derby North seat as a Labour candidate in last year’s general election.
The TUSC national chairperson Dave Nellist, also a former parliamentary colleague of Jeremy Corbyn when he was an MP from 1983-1992, said:
“The ruthless decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn is the clearest signal yet that under Keir Starmer’s Labour the interests of Britain’s capitalist establishment will be in safe hands if and when they decide to move on from Boris Johnson’s inept premiership”.
“TUSC wholeheartedly supported Jeremy’s leadership of the Labour Party as an opportunity to achieve working class socialist political representation on a mass basis. We adjusted our electoral activity in response, not standing candidates in either the 2017 or 2019 general elections”.
“But our decision in September that we would resume contesting elections because of the new situation created by Starmer’s leadership has been completely vindicated by subsequent events”.
“Candidates standing in the elections next May – in Scotland, Wales, London and the English councils – who endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension while agreeing to implement austerity measures directed from the Tories in Westminster, cannot expect to be unchallenged. We will fight resurgent Blairism, including at the ballot box”.
New committee members
Dave continued: “In relaunching TUSC in September we appealed in particular to leading trade unionists to join our coalition and are pleased to welcome a number of trade union national executive members, who will sit on the steering committee in a personal capacity, from five different unions: the public sector union, UNISON; the National Education Union (NEU); the PCS civil servants’ union; the University and College Union (UCU); and the family court and probation workers’ union NAPO”.
“We are also extremely pleased to welcome the Resistance Movement established after the suspension of the left-wing MP Chris Williamson from the Labour Party last year, who have appointed Chris and the former NEU divisional secretary Sian Bloor to the committee”.
“TUSC is a coalition involving organisations and individuals all playing their own part in a range of struggles to defend working class people in the workplaces and in our communities – but who are also prepared to collaborate together to stand in elections if there are no other candidates reflecting those struggles on the ballot paper”.
Welcome to Chris Williamson
Jared Wood, a national executive committee member of the RMT transport workers’ union, officially represented on the TUSC steering committee, said:
“The RMT was the first trade union to declare its support for Jeremy Corbyn when he stood for leader in 2015 and, with 80,000 members, was the second biggest donor to both of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaigns, in 2015 and 2016, only behind the 1.4 million-member Unite union”.
“His subsequent suspension by Keir Starmer shows that the opportunities for achieving working class political representation within the Labour framework created by Jeremy’s leadership are closing – just at the time we need a fighting political voice for workers to meet the deep economic and social crisis triggered by the Covid pandemic”.
“Chris Williamson joining the TUSC steering committee at this time is especially welcome. As an MP Chris was a member of the RMT’s parliamentary group and, when he was suspended from Labour in February 2019, received overwhelming support from our Annual General Meeting (national conference)”.
“The successful motion forewarned that ‘anti-Corbyn members of the Parliamentary Labour Party have demanded Chris Williamson’s removal from the party as a step towards their real objective of removing the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’. And so it has been”.
“I am sure RMT members will look forward to once again working with Chris on our common political goals”.
Chris Williamson said: “The Labour Party has been hijacked by establishment lackeys and no longer welcomes socialists within its ranks”.
“We therefore need to build a new vehicle outside the Labour Party to offer a refuge for disgruntled members and others dissatisfied with the discredited political and economic status quo”.
“The situation facing the country is dire, which requires us to work out how to cooperate on the left to establish a social movement throughout the land and a credible electoral alternative for voters”.
1. TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow, the RMT transport workers’ union leader. Along with the RMT, a constituent organisation of TUSC, its national steering committee involves leading trade unionists from other unions together with the Socialist Party, the Resistance Movement, and independent socialists.
2. TUSC stood sufficient candidates in the 2015 general election to qualify for a UK-wide party election broadcast, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcEMrCTVRdg. It recalibrated its electoral activity following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, a development which it warmly welcomed. Consequently TUSC did not contest either the 2017 or 2019 general elections and only stood in other elections against those Labour candidates who opposed Jeremy Corbyn and were carrying out austerity policies. But with Keir Starmer’s election as leader TUSC agreed to resume standing candidates, starting in the contests scheduled for May 2021 (see https://www.tusc.org.uk/17410/04-09-2020/back-at-work-tusc-to-stand-in-elections-again-against-pro-austerity-politicians).