15 May 2013
Southampton anti-cuts ‘rebel councillors’ back TUSC by-election candidate
SOUTHAMPTON’S TWO ‘rebel councillors’, expelled from the Labour Party last year for refusing to back council cuts, are backing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate a council by-election on June 13th.
The by-election in Southampton’s Woolston ward was caused by the resignation of the council’s Labour leader, Richard Williams, who quit his seat and dramatically walked out of the council chamber on April 25th. (See the background story here:TUSC to stand in Southampton by-election as Labour cuts leader quits)
Now the ‘rebel councillors’, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, have issued the following press statement explaining their support for the TUSC candidate, Sue Atkins:
Press release by Southampton City Councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas:
Challenge to Labour for breaking promise to protect services and jobs
We are giving our full backing to Woolston resident and local campaigner Sue Atkins, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate in the coming by-election. Sue Atkins wants the city council to protect local services and jobs by refusing to make cuts in spending and demanding back from the government the money it has taken away from Southampton.
The Woolston by-election is an opportunity to make a difference. Does the city need yet another Labour councillor who will simply help the Labour administration dismantle the city’s public services?
The election of Sue would dramatically strengthen our anti-cuts group in the council chamber and would send a powerful and positive message: enough is enough – it doesn’t have to be like this!
Our city desperately needs more affordable housing, more jobs, improved public transport and support for our young people. The government’s austerity programme is eating away at the public services so important to Southampton’s citizens.
The courageous fight-back by Southampton’s council staff to resist the attack by the previous Conservative administration on their pay and conditions led directly to the decisive victory by Labour in the May 2012 elections, with a mandate from the people of Southampton to protect local public services and jobs.
Within weeks of the election we were told by the leadership of the Labour Group, without any prior discussion, that the popular Oaklands Swimming Pool in our ward of Coxford was to be closed down, despite the promise made by the Labour Party during the election campaign to keep the pool open.
Our refusal to break the election pledge and vote for the pool’s closure resulted in our suspension from the Labour Group, thereby silencing us. In response, we resolved to continue campaigning to save the pool, and to challenge the idea that there was no alternative to making draconian cuts, by forming a new group on the city council: ‘Labour Councillors Against The Cuts’. On the very same day we made the announcement we were kicked out of the Labour Party.
We have given our full support to all those individuals and groups across the city fighting to maintain their local public services: youth workers, play centre users, library users, and others.
City councillors have been democratically elected by their communities to represent them and are not simply the government’s local enforcers.
We believe that it is possible to mobilise popular mass support across the city behind a campaign to demand from the government the money it has taken away from us.
Electing Sue Atkins as the voice of Woolston residents to join us in the council chamber would dramatically reinforce the growing city-wide campaign to defend public services and jobs.
Woolston by-election TUSC public meeting
Saturday 18th May, 2pm
At the St Mark’s Institute, 37a Victoria Road, Woolston, Southampton, SO19 9DY
Councillor Keith Morrell – Councillors Against Cuts
Sue Atkins – TUSC candidate for Woolston
Daz Procter – RMT national executive member and Southampton Shipping branch secretary
Hannah Sell – Socialist Party deputy general secretary
Help TUSC’s election campaign
Could you put some time in helping out the campaign in Woolston? There’s plenty of leafleting and door-knocking to do and regular street stalls throughout the campaign. Contact the election agent Nick Chaffey on at [email protected] or phone 07833 681910.
And if you can’t physically come to Southampton to help, could you make a donation instead? There’s a PayPal facility on the TUSC website (at http://www.tusc.org.uk/donate.php) or you can send cheques, made payable to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, to TUSC, 17 Colebert House, Colebert Avenue, London, E1 4JP.