Monday, 4 April 2011

socialists and trade unionists against the cuts in the local council elections

I've been meanign to do a post on this matter for a while but tonights branch meeting gave me some more thoughts.

As we all know the local council elections are fast approaching us on the 5th of May and the cuts are boundto play a big part in where the votes go. But a little known part under the banner of TUSC trade unionists socialist coalition a left wing umbrella taking people who want to stand against the status quo which is the big 3 main political parties who are all in favour of cuts just at varying paces but all for cuts none the less dont let them tell you any different.

Please do feel free to check out their site here .

As socialists we oppose all the cuts not just some of the cuts like labour we offer a real alternative to working class people who want something different who stands up for working class peoples needs.

TUSC has agreed the policy platform, outlined below, on which it is proposing to contest the elections to local councils that will take place next May in every area of England bar London. TUSC is also involved in discussions to organise an election challenge for the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly elections (there are no local elections in Scotland and Wales in 2011).

The local elections policy platform, agreed at a conference of TUSC supporters in January, is the basis on which any prospective council candidate who wishes to can stand under the TUSC name in May's elections.

The local elections policy platform is a supplement to the core policy statement that TUSC candidates endorsed when they stood in the general election in May 2010, which still stands as the basic policy position of the TUSC coalition (see 'Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition Policies' below).

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition policy platform for the 2011 local elections in England:
THE LOCAL council elections in May 2011 will be the first opportunity voters will have in England to register public opposition at the ballot box to the Con-Dem government's unparalleled attack on our public services.

But the elections are not just a chance to make a one-day 'protest vote'. They are also an opportunity to elect councillors who can actually stop many of the cuts from being implemented locally.

Over the years, it is true, local councils have been stripped of many of their powers over different services. Margaret Thatcher, who began this process, famously said, "I must take more power to the centre to stop socialism" - in other words, that public services that 'crowded out' the private sector should be curbed or, where they exist, should be opened up to private companies to make profits from public needs. It is a matter of record that the New Labour government carried on with this approach throughout its 13 years in office - the turnover of private companies running public services reached over £80 billion in 2008, for example, 126% higher than 1995-96 under the previous Tory government.

But councils still have enormous powers and responsibilities, controlling budgets totalling billions of pounds, spent on services from housing to schools, youth clubs, libraries, adult social care, crime reduction, sports centres, highways maintenance and refuse collection, to name but a few. They have legal powers, over some non-council provided services for example, including many of those now privatised, that they can exercise for our benefit.

What councillors do, therefore, can still affect the quality of our daily lives. They certainly don't have to accept every dictate from central government to cut or privatise our services. They have a choice. Even a minority group on a council, or a single councillor, can make a difference, by using their position as democratically elected local representatives to appeal to and help organise community campaigns and trade unionists to fight.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an alliance which includes individual trade unionists, community campaigners and different political parties. Yet, while we each have our own general policies and programme, all our candidates are committed to using every opportunity open to councillors - from public campaigning to presenting policy motions at council meetings - to do everything possible to protect and improve our public services. Voting for TUSC councillors will make a difference.

All TUSC councillors will:
* Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services.

* Reject above inflation increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.

* Vote against the privatisation of council services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.

* Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government polices which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.

* When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing them on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.

We in the socialist party argue that there needs to be a new workers party formed as labour no longer represent working class peoples views and needs as a political force. They also do not represent trade unions and take their funding but back them very little. So TUSC may well be a stop gap but it is the best we have as a left alternative at the moment.

In Stevenage we are fielding 5 candidates in wards we feel we can do well in and one in my hometown of Ware. We hope to do ok but to us as socialists we are not really interested in totally getting elected this time around. If we do all well and good but we are not expecting to at all if any of our candidates gain power they will be supported by the local community and the rest of the labour movement and supported to back the policies we stand by in voting against cuts.

But as a party and comrades we feel it is far more benificail to get out there on the doorsteps and use it as a opputunity to build the movement and answer peoples questions on our policies and what we'd do. If we win them over to our cause all the better but it is more about getting ourselves out there and talking to peopl if we can more so than getting elected. Of course what the policy points do not say that if a candidate from TUSC stands and wins and gets elected they will only take the wage of a average skilled worker just as the socialist party advocates. To not raise themselves above the working class rooting themselves firmly within the movement and being able to emphasise with their supporters and the wider working class. The rest of the money they recieve will be donated back to the cause of socialism and fighting for fairness for all not just the few.

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