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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 May 2014

Fight back at the ballot box on 22 May

Vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Vote TUSC

Vote TUSC   (Click to enlarge)

On 22 May many of those suffering in Breadline Britain will have a chance to use their vote to fight back.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing 560 no-cuts candidates in the local government elections. They are workers, trade unionists, socialists, community campaigners and people with a track record of standing up for the working class. This is the biggest left-of-Labour stand in 60 years.

Candidates are drawn from members of the RMT transport union, standing to honour their former general secretary, Bob Crow's commitment to TUSC, hundreds from Labour-affiliated unions Unite and Unison, socialists, anti-bedroom tax campaigners and many more. The message is clear - there is an alternative to austerity.

Britain now 'boasts' more billionaires with more wealth, showing that Chancellor Osborne's economic 'recovery' was only at the very top. While these fat-cats' combined wealth has sky-rocketed by 56 billion to 301 billion, living standards are plummeting. 'Real wages' in Britain have dropped by 6.1% since the turn of the century, more than all the other industrialised economies in the G7.

Desire for change

Given this enormous and growing inequality there's little wonder polls often reveal a widespread desire for an alternative. A Populus opinion poll for the Financial Times found that "almost two-thirds of voters want the next government to be tougher with big business, amid widespread concern over high executive pay and ethics, according to a survey."

There are big majorities in favour of rail nationalisation. And Ipsos Mori showed that 80% of people think the NHS should be protected from cuts. But without TUSC the aspirations for an alternative have no political expression.

Labour has signed up to this agenda of stupendous wealth for the super-rich and cuts for us. Leader Ed Miliband has pledged to maintain Tory spending plans in the event of a Labour victory at the next general election. In local government Labour shows its commitment to this programme - carrying out austerity to the letter.

In meeting after meeting, when they deign to attend, Labour councillors sympathise with those losing their homes, their jobs, the services without which they cannot live a dignified existence - but then explain that they are 'pragmatists' and can do nothing but mete out this misery. That is the big lie at the heart of the establishment parties' local election campaigns.

There is no dispute that councils face a dire financial situation. But the starting point for TUSC is that councils should not meekly accept the cuts to local authority funding made by the Con-Dem government.

By using their reserves and borrowing powers any council on the side of the working class not the 1% could buy time to build a campaign to force the government - either this one or the next - to properly fund local government. This stance is one of the core policies of TUSC.

Mobilise support

Across the country the 560 TUSC candidates are explaining that, far from being helpless to resist the Tories as Labour claims, councils already have many powers to implement policies that would positively improve the position of millions of people. That would be the way to turn back the austerity offensive and mobilise support for a campaign for more resources for public services. A fighting council could inspire enormous support if it gave this kind of a lead.

And when Labour argues that 'the money isn't there' for decent local services, it's simply not the case. True, government funding of local councils is being cut by 7.6 billion between 2011 and 2015 (with a further 2.1 billion cut planned for 2015-16). Yet Britain's top companies have an estimated cash pile of 750 billion accumulated profits which they are refusing to invest.

So the question is not 'is the money there?' but how can a campaign be won for the money to defend and improve public services. The TUSC website gives a glimpse of what could be done, providing an aggregate of policies that at least one council somewhere in Britain has implemented.

In response to the housing crisis TUSC proposes that councils use their existing "powers to compulsorily register private landlords and set-up council-run lettings agencies, as the means to tackle repair standards, high rents, over-occupancy, extortionate letting fees etc for private rented homes" and that they "Build council homes now. By using councils' borrowing powers for capital spending to build council homes, while campaigning for the government to divert its subsidy for private developers to finance a mass programme of public housing."

Punish the Tories

To stem the fall in wages, TUSC says: "Introduce the Living Wage as the minimum wage for council employees and those working for council contractors", "Use councils' powers to exclude firms that have participated in blacklisting from tendering for public contracts."

Disgusted by the corruption and anti-working class capitalist politicians, there will be many who choose not to vote on 22 May. Some will see a Labour vote as the best way to punish the Tories. Some even hope that Labour can be reclaimed for the working class.

In this feature TUSC candidate and former Liverpool Labour councillor Tony Mulhearn explains what socialists did in that city to resist Thatcher, mobilising the strength of the working class and marshalling the powers of the council to build homes, create jobs and resist Thatcher.

But instead of fighting the Con-Dems, pro-cuts Labour is today fighting its tiny number of rebel councillors who have attempted to defend jobs and services by voting against cuts. Look at Councillor Keith Morrell, TUSC steering committee member, standing for re-election in Southampton on 22 May.

When faced with a vote on slashing public services, Keith and fellow socialist Don Thomas refused. For declining to follow the whip and support Tory policies they were suspended and then expelled from Labour. The same has happened in Hull, Warrington and anywhere Labour councillors have put the working class before their careers and voted no.

Protest vote

There will be others who are tempted to use their vote in the local and European elections as a way of sticking two fingers up at Labour, the Con-Dems and the pro-big business elite by voting for right-wing populists Ukip. But Farage's party is yet another pro-cuts party of the 1%, funded and controlled by super-rich members of the establishment, including press barons as well as members of the landed gentry!

Voting for TUSC is much more than a protest vote. A strong TUSC vote could pressurise even pro-market politicians to act. The stand of Keith and Don in Southampton forced the council to reverse some of its cuts plans.

In the US, Seattle council has just voted to increase the city's minimum wage by 50% to $15 an hour. The deal includes certain concessions and workers must continue to fight for its full implementation. Nonetheless it represents a huge achievement. The demand for $15 was the key plank in the successful election campaign of Councilmember Kshama Sawant (member of Socialist Alternative, co-thinkers of the Socialist Party in the US). The Democrat Mayor only took it up when he saw the avalanche of support she was gaining, showing how a left pole of attraction can force change.

But what is required in the US, in Britain and in every country is an independent political voice for the working class that can be part and parcel of the struggle against the misery of austerity. The Socialist Party sees TUSC as a vital step towards building the new mass workers' party we urgently need.

On 22 May many of those suffering in Breadline Britain will have a chance to use their vote to fight back.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing 560 no-cuts candidates in the local government elections. They are workers, trade unionists, socialists, community campaigners and people with a track record of standing up for the working class. This is the biggest left-of-Labour stand in 60 years.

Candidates are drawn from members of the RMT transport union, standing to honour their former general secretary, Bob Crow's commitment to TUSC, hundreds from Labour-affiliated unions Unite and Unison, socialists, anti-bedroom tax campaigners and many more. The message is clear - there is an alternative to austerity.

Britain now 'boasts' more billionaires with more wealth, showing that Chancellor Osborne's economic 'recovery' was only at the very top. While these fat-cats' combined wealth has sky-rocketed by 56 billion to 301 billion, living standards are plummeting. 'Real wages' in Britain have dropped by 6.1% since the turn of the century, more than all the other industrialised economies in the G7.

Desire for change

Given this enormous and growing inequality there's little wonder polls often reveal a widespread desire for an alternative. A Populus opinion poll for the Financial Times found that "almost two-thirds of voters want the next government to be tougher with big business, amid widespread concern over high executive pay and ethics, according to a survey."

There are big majorities in favour of rail nationalisation. And Ipsos Mori showed that 80% of people think the NHS should be protected from cuts. But without TUSC the aspirations for an alternative have no political expression.

Labour has signed up to this agenda of stupendous wealth for the super-rich and cuts for us. Leader Ed Miliband has pledged to maintain Tory spending plans in the event of a Labour victory at the next general election. In local government Labour shows its commitment to this programme - carrying out austerity to the letter.

In meeting after meeting, when they deign to attend, Labour councillors sympathise with those losing their homes, their jobs, the services without which they cannot live a dignified existence - but then explain that they are 'pragmatists' and can do nothing but mete out this misery. That is the big lie at the heart of the establishment parties' local election campaigns.

There is no dispute that councils face a dire financial situation. But the starting point for TUSC is that councils should not meekly accept the cuts to local authority funding made by the Con-Dem government.

By using their reserves and borrowing powers any council on the side of the working class not the 1% could buy time to build a campaign to force the government - either this one or the next - to properly fund local government. This stance is one of the core policies of TUSC.

Mobilise support

Across the country the 560 TUSC candidates are explaining that, far from being helpless to resist the Tories as Labour claims, councils already have many powers to implement policies that would positively improve the position of millions of people. That would be the way to turn back the austerity offensive and mobilise support for a campaign for more resources for public services. A fighting council could inspire enormous support if it gave this kind of a lead.

And when Labour argues that 'the money isn't there' for decent local services, it's simply not the case. True, government funding of local councils is being cut by 7.6 billion between 2011 and 2015 (with a further 2.1 billion cut planned for 2015-16). Yet Britain's top companies have an estimated cash pile of 750 billion accumulated profits which they are refusing to invest.

So the question is not 'is the money there?' but how can a campaign be won for the money to defend and improve public services. The TUSC website gives a glimpse of what could be done, providing an aggregate of policies that at least one council somewhere in Britain has implemented.

In response to the housing crisis TUSC proposes that councils use their existing "powers to compulsorily register private landlords and set-up council-run lettings agencies, as the means to tackle repair standards, high rents, over-occupancy, extortionate letting fees etc for private rented homes" and that they "Build council homes now. By using councils' borrowing powers for capital spending to build council homes, while campaigning for the government to divert its subsidy for private developers to finance a mass programme of public housing."

Punish the Tories

To stem the fall in wages, TUSC says: "Introduce the Living Wage as the minimum wage for council employees and those working for council contractors", "Use councils' powers to exclude firms that have participated in blacklisting from tendering for public contracts."

Disgusted by the corruption and anti-working class capitalist politicians, there will be many who choose not to vote on 22 May. Some will see a Labour vote as the best way to punish the Tories. Some even hope that Labour can be reclaimed for the working class.

In this feature TUSC candidate and former Liverpool Labour councillor Tony Mulhearn explains what socialists did in that city to resist Thatcher, mobilising the strength of the working class and marshalling the powers of the council to build homes, create jobs and resist Thatcher.

But instead of fighting the Con-Dems, pro-cuts Labour is today fighting its tiny number of rebel councillors who have attempted to defend jobs and services by voting against cuts. Look at Councillor Keith Morrell, TUSC steering committee member, standing for re-election in Southampton on 22 May.

When faced with a vote on slashing public services, Keith and fellow socialist Don Thomas refused. For declining to follow the whip and support Tory policies they were suspended and then expelled from Labour. The same has happened in Hull, Warrington and anywhere Labour councillors have put the working class before their careers and voted no.

Protest vote

There will be others who are tempted to use their vote in the local and European elections as a way of sticking two fingers up at Labour, the Con-Dems and the pro-big business elite by voting for right-wing populists Ukip. But Farage's party is yet another pro-cuts party of the 1%, funded and controlled by super-rich members of the establishment, including press barons as well as members of the landed gentry!

Voting for TUSC is much more than a protest vote. A strong TUSC vote could pressurise even pro-market politicians to act. The stand of Keith and Don in Southampton forced the council to reverse some of its cuts plans.

In the US, Seattle council has just voted to increase the city's minimum wage by 50% to $15 an hour. The deal includes certain concessions and workers must continue to fight for its full implementation. Nonetheless it represents a huge achievement. The demand for $15 was the key plank in the successful election campaign of Councilmember Kshama Sawant (member of Socialist Alternative, co-thinkers of the Socialist Party in the US). The Democrat Mayor only took it up when he saw the avalanche of support she was gaining, showing how a left pole of attraction can force change.

But what is required in the US, in Britain and in every country is an independent political voice for the working class that can be part and parcel of the struggle against the misery of austerity. The Socialist Party sees TUSC as a vital step towards building the new mass workers' party we urgently need.


TUSC @TUSCoalition

Gove steals 400m from schools for failed #freeschools project - but don't fall for LibDems as our champions - Con/Lib/Lab cuts & privatisation #TUSC


Tower Hamlets TUSC @towerhamletTUSC

"What took you so long?" GMB member & council worker when told about #TUSC standing against cuts in #TowerHamlets


WalthamForestTUSC @TUSCWF

Told Unite member @TUSCoalition standing 560 candidates. "I'm so pleased! And can't believe they're not talking about you in the press"


TUSC Portsmouth @TUSCPompey

#TUSC candidates are not professional politicians, but ordinary working people and trade unionists. We pledge to oppose all #austerity #cuts


European elections: Vote No2EU - Yes To Workers' Rights

The Socialist Party supports No2EU - Yes To Workers' Rights in the 2014 European elections

The Socialist Party supports No2EU - Yes To Workers' Rights in the 2014 European elections

While TUSC is standing in local elections, for the European elections the Socialist Party is supporting No2EU - Yes To Workers' Rights, which is led by the RMT union.

No2EU opposes the pro-privatisation, pro-profiteering, anti-worker policies of the European Union.

No2EU says:

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In The Socialist 14 May 2014:


Vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

For the millions not the billionaires

Fight back at the ballot box on 22 May

Building Labour: when workers first formed own party

Southampton: Showing what's possible

Liverpool City Council 1983-87: "We had a choice"

Why we're standing as TUSC candidates

On the campaign trail with TUSC


Socialist Party news and analysis

Ukip - the establishment's 'anti-establishment' party

Housing evictions - main parties to blame

Gove robs education budget to fund 'Free Schools'

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

What's socialism got to do with fighting austerity?


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: The ANC victory, WASP and the EFF

Capitalist politicians can't solve Boko Haram crisis

Ireland: Election campaigns "referendum on austerity"


Socialist Party workplace news

Care UK strike: NHS workers v NHS privatisation

PCS: Re-election of a fighting, socialist leadership

Leadership challenged at Usdaw conference

Brighton: Determined to fight college cuts

Transport workers' international meeting

Workplace news in brief

Fight together for pay rise - Come to NSSN conference


Readers' reviews

TV review: In the Flesh


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight back to scrap junk jobs

Freedom Riders- action brings victory

Building TUSC, building socialism

Donate to the election appeal!

Why I joined the Socialist Party


 

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