TUSC core policies for local elections finalised after steering committee debate
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) All-Britain Steering Committee finalised the TUSC core policy platform for the May local elections at its latest meeting on February 24.
This followed the discussion on the draft platform at the recent TUSC local elections conference, attended on Zoom by over 500 people. The draft core policies, and the amendments received which were also discussed there (see https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/435.pdf), had been taken back from the conference to the constituent components of TUSC for debate and a final, consensus, decision at the steering committee.
The steering committee agreed to the proposal to re-word the draft bullet point on social enterprises. This now makes it clearer that TUSC candidates oppose the transfer of existing council services to social enterprises or 'arms-length' management organisations which are the first steps to the privatisation of those services, while not excluding support, for example, to a new community-run facility.
But in respect of the policies raised in the other amendments that had been moved at the conference - a hardship fund for pensioners, opposing executive mayors, councillors' accountability etc - while the committee was strongly supportive of TUSC candidates choosing to include them in their own individual election addresses, it did not reach a consensus to add them to the core policies. The local elections platform as finalised can be seen at https://www.tusc.org.uk/policy.
Role of the core policies platform
Summarising the debate, Clive Heemskerk, TUSC's National Election Agent, said: "TUSC has always been an inclusive umbrella alliance, enabling fighting trade unionists, working class community campaigners, social movement activists, and socialists in different parties or none, to stand together in elections under a common name and logo on the ballot paper, while preserving their own identities and ability to highlight any particular policies and issues that they may wish to campaign on".
"But there has to be a bottom line before somebody can use the TUSC name and logo (legally speaking, before they are issued with a formal Certificate of Authorisation from TUSC that they have to hand in to the council with their nomination papers to be able to appear on the ballot paper as TUSC)".
"This is the role of the core policies - they are that 'bottom line' - an absolutely unequivocal commitment to resist the austerity measures that we know are coming from the pro-big business establishment politicians seeking to pass the costs of the Covid crisis onto the working class. So somebody who will not pledge that if they are elected they will go into the council chamber and vote against cuts, closures, privatisation and other austerity politics cannot be a TUSC candidate".
"None of the establishment parties require that from their candidates. But the core policies are not a limit to the issues candidates can chose to promote in their election campaign and nor should they be".
"For example, the TUSC steering committee has recently published a report examining the policy pledges made in Labour's 2019 general election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, which councils have the legal powers to implement today if they had the political will to do so (see https://www.tusc.org.uk/17462/01-02-2021/new-tusc-report-could-councils-implement-labours-2019-pledges)".
"It identifies 46 separate policies promised by Labour just 14 months ago which councils could carry out now - immediately - that would transform peoples' lives. These range from breakfast clubs and free school meals for all primary school pupils, to rent controls for licensed landlords, to the end of '15-minute maximum' care visits. Any of these, or indeed all 46 policies, could have a serious claim to be a mandatory policy for TUSC candidates".
An inclusive umbrella, not exclusive
"But the danger of insisting on a long prescriptive checklist of policies before someone can become a TUSC candidate might be that campaigners - for example, focused on saving their local swimming pool, fighting their council's 'fire and re-hire' attacks on jobs and conditions, or involved in a myriad of other particular campaigns and struggles - would miss the central point of TUSC".
"Which is, that TUSC is an inclusive umbrella, not an exclusive one, available to be used by every working class fighter prepared to stand up to the capitalist establishment politicians at the ballot box".
"And that is what is summarised, we believe, in the TUSC core policy platform for the May local elections".