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TUSC survey sets scene for conference debate on May elections
Last autumn the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) launched a survey of Labour councillors to see if they would back Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity stand when setting 2018-19 council budgets and, in those councils going to the polls this year, in the 2018 local elections.
Now, as TUSC prepares for a conference debate on 10 February on what it should do in May's elections, the survey results are in.
Not unexpectedly the survey confirms that Labour-controlled councils, still under the domination of the Blairite right wing, are continuing to make drastic cuts to local services, jobs and conditions - even under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the national party.
In the 21 councils where detailed budget information is collected in the survey, Labour councils are planning a further half a billion pounds of cuts this year.
TUSC has a well-established policy of arguing for no-cuts 'people's budgets' - of councils using their reserves and borrowing powers to set budgets that don't pass on Tory cuts, and using the breathing space provided to demand central government makes up future shortfalls.
There are 124 Labour-led councils and their combined spending power is greater than the state budgets of 16 EU countries! If they set no-cuts budgets this year - in the expectation they would be reimbursed by an incoming Labour government - what could May's feeble administration do?
Councillors could play their part in forcing the Tories out of office. But instead the Blairites are acting to prop them up.
And the survey also shows that there will not be a new influx of Corbynista councillors who could change the situation. Right-wing Labour councillors have by and large been reselected to stand again as candidates in May.
There have been red scare stories in the establishment media, typified by a Times front-page splash in December claiming that "Corbyn supporters are ousting local councillors" in an "orchestrated purge" across Britain.
This was based on events in the London borough of Haringey where supporters of a notorious social cleansing 'redevelopment' scheme have indeed been replaced as candidates for this year's council elections.
The "across Britain" evidence cited by the Times, however, was slim. In the one case mentioned in Leeds, for example, involving the Labour group leader, the TUSC survey report shows that she was reaffirmed as a candidate the following day. This was something that didn't make the Times's columns.
Overall the survey suggests that at most one in eight Labour candidates in May's elections could - sometimes very generously - be described as being 'on the left'.
In the vast majority of cases, the Blairites have not been unseated, and are poised to take positions of public authority for the next four years, which they will then use to do everything they can to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and socialist policies.
Whether the battle against them must move to the ballot box in May is the question that is now posed. Come to the TUSC conference and join the debate!
- The full report of the TUSC survey replies is available at tusc.org.uk/txt/409.pdf
TUSC conference 2018
- 11am-4pm (registration opens 10am), Saturday 10 February, Student Central, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
- Two sessions: 'Building support for Jeremy Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the 2018 local elections', and 'TUSC and the Brexit negotiations'
- All TUSC supporters welcome
- See tusc.org.uk
In The Socialist 7 February 2018:
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