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Wednesday 6 October 2021

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After Labour's conference: join with TUSC to organise for the May 2022 elections

The first meeting after the Labour Party annual conference of the All-Britain Steering Committee of the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) took place on October 6th. The meeting agreed that Labour's Brighton gathering marked a definitive break with the promise of fundamental change that had been offered by the previous Jeremy Corbyn leadership.

In response TUSC is issuing a call for the largest possible anti-austerity and socialist intervention to be organised in the local council elections scheduled for May 2022 - as a vital next step in the fightback against what is so clearly now a return to Tony Blair's New Labour politics.

The TUSC national chairperson Dave Nellist, a Labour MP from 1983-1992 and a former backbench colleague of Jeremy Corbyn, said: "All the components of the TUSC coalition1 had wholeheartedly supported Jeremy's anti-austerity policies and his defence of working class people against the 'rigged system' that serves the interests of the billionaires. We saw his leadership of the Labour Party as creating opportunities to achieve working class socialist political representation on a mass basis".

"But the anti-democratic measures pushed through by Sir Keir Starmer at Labour's conference consolidating the grip of the right-wing shows that those opportunities have well and truly passed. These organisational moves were combined with policy retreats in defence of the interests of big business; and confirmation that the suspension of Jeremy from the Parliamentary Labour Party is effectively a permanent one, meaning that he will not be able to stand again as a Labour candidate in future elections".

"In this light we applaud the decision of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) to disaffiliate from Starmer's Labour because, in the words of the BFAWU general secretary, Sarah Woolley, of how far it has 'travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours'. And the union's firm commitment not to 'leave the political scene' - but to fight even harder to 'ensure our members political voice is heard' - is especially welcome".

"TUSC believes that securing a workers' political voice must include challenging Starmer's new New Labour at the ballot box - starting in the local contests next May when over 6,700 council seats will be up for election, in every local authority in Scotland and Wales and 148 councils in England".

"We would warmly welcome BFAWU, and other unions too, standing independent trade union candidates in these elections; and we commit to ensuring that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Candidate name - to help distinguish them from other independents standing on the ballot paper - will be made available for them to use if they wish to do so".2

"No weapon should be left unused in the fight against the post-Covid austerity that's coming, and that includes the ballot box".

Jared Wood, a national executive committee member of the RMT transport workers' union officially represented on the TUSC steering committee, said:

"The decision to disaffiliate made by BFAWU - an early founder union of the Labour Party along with an RMT predecessor union - is clear evidence that Labour under Starmer will not represent workers. Ever since the RMT first formally agreed to participate in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - at our annual general meeting in 2012 - we have always had the hope and expectation that other trade unions would join us in what our AGM motion described as 'the hard, long-term task of rebuilding political representation for working class people'. BFAWU's decision is a great step forward for the whole working class movement".

Another left-wing former Labour MP, Chris Williamson, also sits on the TUSC steering committee, representing Resist: the Movement for a Peoples' Party. Resist was one of the organisations explicitly barred from the Labour Party over the summer. Chris said:

"The cold hard truth is the Labour Party is once again in the pockets of corporate capitalism. The Corbyn project had the potential to deliver transformational change, but squandered the opportunity by pandering to bad faith actors making bogus accusations about anti-Semitism".

"As a consequence, the party is now irredeemably lost as a vehicle for socialism, and represents a bigger barrier to overcoming the neoliberal status quo than the Conservatives. Building unity across the left is therefore essential, to give people hope, to challenge the bogus arguments justifying never-ending austerity, and to offer a credible alternative to relentless town hall cuts".

The elected representative on the steering committee of individual independent members of TUSC, Pete McLaren, concluded:

"Individual members of the Labour Party who are leaving in anger at Starmer's revival of Tony Blair's New Labour politics can find a home in TUSC. In this year's local council elections we had two TUSC candidates who were Labour general election candidates in December 2019, and a number of former Labour councillors".

"Local TUSC groups are currently drawing up plans for People's Budget campaigns to bring together trade union branches, community groups and independent socialists to fight for what communities will need from their local council - not what Tory austerity will demand and Labour councillors compliantly nod through. Everyone who was inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message should get involved".


Information

1. TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow, the RMT transport workers' union leader, as a federal coalition. Along with the RMT, a constituent organisation of TUSC, its All-Britain steering committee involves leading trade unionists from nine other unions; together with the Socialist Party, Resist: Movement for a Peoples' Party, and individual independent socialists with their own representation.

2. Under UK election law candidates are only able to appear on the ballot paper with the word 'Independent' next to their name if they are not endorsed by a registered political party (like TUSC). This would make it hard for voters to distinguish independent trade union candidates from 'independent' ex-Tories, former UKIPers etc. Appearing on the ballot paper as a 'Trade Unionist and Socialist Candidate', however, leaves no room for ambiguity.

3. 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, not contesting either the 2017 or 2019 general elections. But with Keir Starmer as Labour's leader, TUSC has agreed to resume standing candidates in all election contests.