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Getting under Labour's skin in Southwark
Bill Mullins , TUSC candidate for Bermondsey South
A local community organisation recently invited Southwark TUSC to debate with the leaders of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats on the council.
Speaking to an audience of 100 local people, April Ashley, the Southwark TUSC agent and the Southwark Unison assistant branch secretary (personal capacity), exposed the cuts policies of the Labour council since it came to power four years ago.
She accused the council of wielding the Tory axe. Councillors have voted to cut hundreds of jobs and attempted to cut the wages of some workers by 40%.
The council leader almost jumped out of his seat to deny this last point. But April pointed out that the union had resisted this attack on the wages and in the end the figure was 15%.
She also accused the council of social cleansing when she pointed out that Southwark Labour operated a policy of 'payment in lieu' regarding the building of social housing.
No social housing
This meant that major developers, particularly along the south bank of the Thames, were allowed to opt out of building 35% of new homes as social housing.
For example a development building 500 luxury flats near Blackfriars Bridge does not contain a single unit of social housing. Instead the developers paid the council £65 million.
The excuse of the council was that they would use the money to build council houses in other parts of Southwark. But as the Liberal Democrat leader pointed out this has resulted in only 33 council houses being built in the last four years.
The meeting organisers also invited the parties on the platform to have a youth speaker. Laurence Maples accused the council of abandoning their responsibility to young people - particularly with their refusal to pay the London living wage of £8.80 an hour. Laurence called for a £10 an hour minimum wage.
By the end of the meeting the Labour leader was so angry that he adopted a rictus type grin on his face. All in all the TUSC campaign in Southwark has made a magnificent start.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation. It involves the RMT transport union, leading members of other unions and socialists including the Socialist Party. This May TUSC is standing hundreds of no-cuts candidates in the council elections against all the austerity parties voting through the destruction of jobs and services.
Can you get involved? See tusc.org.uk
On 24 April, Leeds TUSC held the first of a series of public meetings planned across the city during the local election campaign.
Hands Off Our Homes activist Carole spoke very emotionally about how the bedroom tax has hit residents of Armley, where the meeting was held. She discussed how this Tory policy has damaged residents' physical and mental health, and driven too many to food banks.
Socialist Party member Iain contrasted this with the luxuries such as tax breaks and bonuses the wealthy have received. He raised the urgent need for a mass programme of council house building and renovation of empty properties. This is particularly important given the 27,000 people on the council house waiting list in Leeds.
Everyone took plenty of leaflets and posters to distribute around their local area.
Amy Cousens, Leeds Socialist Party
Kirklees and Calderdale
Nine TUSC candidates will be contesting seats in Kirklees and Calderdale. Most of our candidates are under 30 years old, reflecting the growing anger and frustration younger people feel with all establishment politicians.
All candidates have been heavily involved in both the Huddersfield and Calderdale campaigns to save A&E Services. We are fighting for a united campaign to save all emergency health services in Calderdale and Huddersfield.
Kirklees and Calderdale TUSC
TUSC has challenged for local election seats in Lincoln over the last four years.
This time round we're putting forward candidates in nine out of eleven wards.
TUSC candidate for Abbey ward Nick Parker, said: "By standing in these elections we want to provide a socialist alternative to the mainstream politicians - including Ukip - who all put profits before people in their support for the failed policy of privatisation."
Mike Hancock, TUSC candidate for Minster ward, said: "Politics is frustrating when politicians try to confuse us about what they are really doing. There is a lot of mistrust when it comes to politicians so I thought I would just do it myself instead."
TUSC's mayoral candidates
To add to its council candidates, TUSC is standing three mayoral candidates on 22 May:
■ Lois Austin in Newham
Lois has been a campaigner for workers' rights since she was a teenager. She was the chair of Youth Against Racism in Europe and played a leading role in the campaign against racism following Stephen Lawrence's murder. She is now part of the campaign opposing police surveillance.
■ Chris Flood in Lewisham
Chris was a Socialist Party councillor in Lewisham's Telegraph Hill ward from 2003 - 2010 and campaigned to stop council house privatisation and attacks on Lewisham's NHS
■ Hugo Pierre in Tower Hamlets
Hugo is a union organiser at work, who, in a long history of campaigning, was one of the organisers of the youth campaign across the borough in the early 1990s which stopped the BNP, and opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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