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Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition campaign reports
Yorkshire TUSC campaign wins trade union support
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaign in Yorkshire was a success before a single vote was cast. Standing more broadly won candidates from the trade unions and anti-cuts campaigns: Care UK strikers and former Women Against Pit Closures activists in Doncaster, anti-bedroom tax campaigners in Barnsley, an RMT branch secretary in Hull, and an ex-Labour councillor in Grimsby.
The Labour Party were so paranoid about TUSC in Grimsby that they banned a Unite member who was a TUSC candidate from attending his union meeting at the Labour club. This backfired on them because TUSC organised a protest outside the Labour offices which got us more publicity.
TUSC candidates got support from Leeds, Hull and Doncaster RMT branches and the FBU West Yorkshire brigade committee. The POA backed their former general secretary Brian Caton in Barnsley, and the two Hull Labour councillors expelled for voting against cuts endorsed TUSC locally.
In all we stood 84 candidates, contesting 30% of the seats and gained nearly 10,000 votes.
Carole O'Keefe, an activist with Hands Off Our Homes in Leeds explains why she campaigned for TUSC in Armley ward:
"For me, TUSC stands for all that is right for the people. I became involved in campaigning in Leeds (Armley) in support of our candidate Iain Dalton. Close to my own heart is the Anti-Bedroom Tax campaign and the fight for better, more affordable housing both of which our TUSC candidate Iain Dalton has supported since we began.
It's vital we continue to get our message out within our own communities and let the people know they are supported as they support us."
One in ten vote TUSC in Salford
In Salford our highlights were three wards where we hit 20%, and in one of those wards we came second, beating the Tory by 60 votes.
These three wards were a three-cornered fight between Labour, Tory and TUSC. Does that mean we 'stole' UKIP votes? Not a bit of it. There is massive discontent with the mainstream parties. For some, UKIP acts as a 'lightning conductor' for that anger but this election showed us that a vote for TUSC, a clear anti-cuts platform, can express that anger too.
We met and discussed with working class UKIP supporters who attended a Salford Against Cuts rally. They were gutted that they had failed to get their candidate nominated but told us they'd vote for us. We put a lot of energy into that ward and were rewarded with 486 votes!
TUSC is now a standing item on the agenda of our monthly Salford Against Cuts meetings. We've produced a leaflet to use in door-to-door canvassing on Sundays to keep the TUSC name in people's minds. We're focussing on four wards, two in each of the two parliamentary constituencies and are also organising a fund-raiser - we'll need some serious cash as we are considering a TUSC challenge at the general election in 2015 too.
Paul Gerrard, Salford TUSC agent
Preparing a 'people's budget' in Leicester
We may not have had local elections in Leicester this year, but the need to provide a political alternative for working class people could not be more relevant.
Leicester is run by a Labour-majority city council. People are paying the cost of the bedroom tax and losing vital children's and community services, while millions have been spent on city-centre building projects for big business and a further £154 million of city council reserves sit unused in the bank.
The people of Leicester don't see Labour as a party fighting for their interests, but one bending over backwards to ignore them at every consultation and council meeting.
Two disaffected councillors, sickened by the cuts and the 'culture of fear' the mayor has created on the council, have broken away and left the Labour party. They are now working alongside TUSC to oppose the cuts.
Our strategy is to use this summer to build for a conference bringing together trade unions, community groups and services to call for a 'people's budget'. This would be a no-cuts alternative to the Labour group's austerity budget, just as the TUSC councillors in Southampton have done.
We've got our banner and pink t-shirts ready to go at local festivals and events, as well as the joint strike rally planned for 10 July. With a petition to remove the anti-democratic mayoral position, leaflets and a sign-up sheet we're asking people to come to the conference, get involved with TUSC and stand against cuts next year.
How can local councils fight cuts?
Over 60 delegates attended the TUSC Unison conference fringe meeting chaired by Angie Waller (Unison local government service group executive) to hear speakers Roger Bannister (Unison NEC) and Steve North (Salford Unison branch secretary), all in a personal capacity, outline their views on how local councils could fight the cuts.
A wide-ranging debate from the floor took up the question of whether socialists can reclaim the Labour Party.
The Falkirk debacle showed how even the smallest advance by the trade unions was met with a fierce response by the Labour leadership. In Warrington, the Labour council has carried out huge cuts, including job losses of Unison members and suspended councillor Kevin Bennett after he refused to vote for the cuts.
Build for the future
Summing up the meeting Roger Bannister explained: "There is a widening gap between the Labour Party and the trade unions, especially Unite and the GMB.
"TUSC's role is to build for the future when the cracks will grow wider and the need for a new mass workers' party will be posed."
Extract of a letter sent to a local paper in Lancaster
I wish to express deep appreciation via the Lancaster Guardian from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and its supporters for the solidarity received in the local by-election for Scotforth West held on May 22.
This campaign has broadened the scope of the real left and given a real independent political voice for the working class majority which the four main parties locally plus Independents treat largely with contempt.
For every vote we got there will be many more people who seriously considered voting for TUSC.
There is a basis for continuing to build on the growing consciousness of the need for a serious organisation that furthers the real interests of the working class majority of the population, most harried by public spending cuts.
Steve Metcalfe, Local byelection TUSC candidate, Scotforth West, RMT Lancaster district branch secretary, and RMT assistant secretary, Manchester/NW region (personal capacity)
South East London TUSC Public Meeting:
The Fight for Affordable Housing
Speakers include Tommy Sheridan, Scottish socialist
Thursday 10 July, 7.30pm
Barnes Wallis Community Centre, 74 Wild Goose Drive, New Cross, SE14 5LG
In The Socialist 18 June 2014:
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