The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is on the ballot paper in the by-election for the Mayor of Hackney taking place on November 9th – but immediately faced censorship of its message by the Labour-run East London council.
The TUSC candidate is national trade union organiser Annoesjka Valent who, before taking up her current position, worked for nearly seven years for the council and represented Hackney workers as a local shop steward. Since moving on she has still been involved as a Hackney resident in local struggles against council cuts.
But when TUSC handed in our text for the official Mayoral address booklet, that goes to every household in the borough, our effort to contrast Annoesjka’s record with that of the Labour candidate, councillor Caroline Woodley, was censored by the council.
There are many examples of slashed council jobs and services made by the right-wing Labour council as it has implemented budget cuts worth over £200 million since 2009. But one particular case was the attempt made in 2021 to close down the Fernbank and Hillside children’s centres – led by the council cabinet member responsible, Caroline Woodley.
So, in making the point in our Mayoral address – in the original wording – that this election “will decide who negotiates for our borough with both the Tory government and a likely Keir Starmer-led Labour government” implementing austerity, we asked: “Will our borough be best represented by the Labour candidate who tried to close Fernbank and Hillside children’s centres? Or by the TUSC candidate, a member of the Socialist Party, which supported the campaign that saved them and has fought every cut?”
What could possibly be wrong in saying that? Unless you want to obscure the role of local Starmer-supporting Labour councillors in passing on Tory cuts and what that says about how they will act in the future? And that’s what the amendments forced on the TUSC election address did.
As Annoesjka says: “As Mayor I would be a shop steward fighting for the residents and workers of Hackney, not a manager passing down austerity from the Tories or Starmer’s Labour”. And, despite the obstacles, that will be the message that the TUSC campaign will deliver! ■
You can check out Annoesjka’s election address – as finally approved by the council! – at https://www.tusc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Hackney-mayoral-address.pdf
And go to https://www.tusc.org.uk/donate/ to make a donation to the campaign, putting in the message bar, ‘Hackney Mayor’.