Sunday, 27 January 2013

Councillor resigns – Unison withholds funding. Labour meltdown in Stoke-on-Trent continues!

On 23 Jan Stoke-on-Trent Labour councillor Andy Lilley resigned from the Labour Party saying, “I cannot, nor will not support an administration that seeks to target the very people they claim to represent”

 
The following day Stoke-on-Trent Unison Local Government branch decided to suspend funding of Labour locally because of their attempt to push through more cuts against workers jobs, terms and conditions. Branch secretary Clive Rushton said,

“The Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement and is there to represent the working man. It is now attacking the working man.”
 
How true this is! Rather than discuss with the unions and council workers how the cuts can be resisted, the Labour council leadership has just forced them through.

Why should the hard earned cash of workers fund a party that kicks them in the teeth?

To many people locally and nationally these developments might seem to have come out of the blue but they reflect the seething resentment which is now felt by millions in Stoke-on-Trent and across Britain at the failure of Labour to fight for the interests of ordinary working class people. And in a predominantly working class area like Stoke-on-Trent, the feeling of betrayal has become widespread.

Recently this anger has reached fever pitch because of the city council plans to borrow up to £59 million to build another new council HQ after carrying out savage cuts of £56 million over the last two years with a further £21 million planned this year.

There is massive anger against this plan. Nearly three thousand people have signed Stoke Socialist Party’s petition against the new HQ which also calls on the city council to “Save our Jobs & Services Instead”. Other petitions are also ongoing.

What started as a ‘virtual march on Stoke’ on Facebook has now become a real “March on Stoke” taking place on 23rd February. Public meetings are taking place across the city.
 
In a local by election last July Labour’s vote plummeted by 17%. That was before knowledge of the planned new HQ became well known. If there were local elections this year Labour would face wipeout. It’s not surprising that rumours of other Labour defections are growing. But can Labour in Stoke recover from this meltdown? The choice is quite simple.

Labour councillors have to decide which side they are on - a right wing led Labour council passing on Con Dem cuts or their own workforce and the people of Stoke-on-Trent?
 
There are genuine socialist Labour councillors who want to fightback against the governments constant cuts in funding but such a fight is not being allowed by the right wing pro-big business leadership of Labour nationally or locally. 

Does anyone honestly think this is likely to change in the period ahead? Are the Labour leadership going to give up their stranglehold on the party?

It's extremely unlikely which means Labour will be party to the driving back of living standards to the 1930's.

There is an alternative to endless cuts!

Despite Labour council leader Mohammed Pervez denials, councils can legally borrow money and or use reserves to stave off cuts.

Nationally councils are currently holding on to “13 billion in reserves!

If they refuse to implement cuts they would get massive support from across the city and beyond.

They could set a budget that meets the needs of the 250,000 people who live in Stoke-on-Trent, as part of a mass campaign involving unions, service users and the local population, to demand more money from the government. Linking up with other local authorities, the government could be forced into granting more resources to the city.

If the city council launched a campaign of resistance to central government, TUSC would give our 100% backing and would help mobilise support across the city, in trade unions and in the communities through demonstrations , rallies and protest etc.

Is waiting for a Labour government an option?
 
The strategy of Labour and some trade union leaders seems to be; lets carry out so called ‘kinder cuts’ and wait for a Labour victory at the next general election.

But in Stoke-on-Trent in 2006 with a Labour controlled council AND a Labour government cuts of £21 million were launched!

In 2007 Labour formed a coalition with the Tories, Lib Dems and Independents and continued to carry out cuts and massive hikes in council tax. And this was in a period of prolonged economic growth not the economic stagnation that will face Labour if it wins the next general election. This poses a crucial question for Labour Party councillors, members and ordinary working class people locally and nationally.

If Labour is not prepared to launch a serious fight AGAINST cuts under a ConDem government or under a Labour government then under what circumstances will they ever again fight for the interests of ordinary working class people?
 
In fact Ed Miliband has said he supports government austerity measures and that a future Labour government would not reverse one spending cut! They condemn strikes and refuse to repeal the anti trade union laws. Quite clearly the Labour Party no longer represents working class people.

We applaud the efforts of lefts and other hard working Labour Party councillors and members locally and nationally trying to reclaim Labour from it’s right wing leadership. But we also think that your efforts are in vain.

Even if tens or hundreds of thousands of trade unionists, other activists and youth join Labour, the democratic structure no longer exists in the party to allow genuine Socialist ideas to prosper.

Two Labour councillors have already been expelled from Labour in Southampton for having the temerity to vote against cuts. Now in Stoke-on-Trent councillor Andy Lilley resigned to be able to speak out against cuts.

The lesson is becoming clearer by the day – if you want to fight against cuts you need to step outside of the Labour Party and trade union members should follow the example set by Unison in Stoke and demand that their money is no longer used to fund a party that continues to attack their jobs, pay and conditions.

We need to build from the bottom up a new party to fight for and represent the interests of ordinary working class people.


We believe that the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is a step in this direction – an electoral alliance standing candidates against cuts and privatisation. It already involves leading members of the PCS, NUT, RMT. POA, community campaigners and Socialist groups including the Socialist Party.

TUSC stood 6 candidates at the last local elections in Stoke-on-Trent and in 2015 we aim to stand more.

We want to discuss with Labour councillors locally who want to fight AGAINST cuts how we can work together to resist the Con Dems cuts onslaught.

You can check out TUSC here www.tusc.co.uk

To contact TUSC locally;

Email us on stoke.tusc@gmail.com

call/text 07845893607




Friday, 25 January 2013

TUSC Makes Plans in Stafford!

 
After a meeting last night in Stafford we now have three prospective TUSC candidates for May's local elections - NUT rep Jim Reading, disability activist Josie Shelley and ex Labour councillor Scott Wilson.
 
A TUSC public launch meeting will take place in Stafford on Wednesday 13 February at 7.30pm in the County Staff Club 77 Eastgate Street, Stafford.
 
Next Wednesday 30 January there will be a meeting of TUSC activists in the Butler's Bell Weatherspoons pub 27 Gaolgate Road ST16 2NT in Stafford town centre at 5.30pm.
 
If you are interested in either standing as a TUSC candidate or helping with the campaign or just want to find out more then come along to the meeting or you can call/text 07853249608.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dave Nellist Launches TUSC Campaign for Staffordshire

Latest on Staffordshire Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition election campaign from Ritchie Steele
"On Monday the 14th January, despite freezing conditions and snow-covered roads seventeen people attended a meeting in Newcastle-Under-Lyme to hear Dave Nellist give a talk about the importance of TUSC in this May’s forthcoming elections, and to appeal to those in attendance to consider standing as a candidate in their area.

Dave Nellist at TUSC meet Newcastle 16 Jan 2013
Dave Nellist speaking at the TUSC meeting in Newcastle
 
Dave started by outlining the disillusionment of voters and the fact that there is not a “cigarette paper” between the policies of the 3 main parties. He discussed the role that TUSC has to play in opposing these policies, and drew on several examples in history where the labour movement was successful in driving back the austerity measures of the day. And in case anyone in the room was under the illusion that Labour would provide a remedy to these cuts, Dave informed us about the appalling record that Labour had in expelling any of their councillors who dared to vote against cuts!

In the discussion afterwards Dave addressed comments regarding economic growth and debt, stating that ‘debt’ is meaningless; as an MP he witnessed Thatcherite ministers wipe debts from the public service to make them appear more profitable to private companies, and that we could solve the national debt in one fell swoop by taxing the mega rich and giving control of the state back to ordinary working-class people.

TUSC banner pic

This year we already plan to stand across the whole of Staffordshire where we can, including Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stafford, Burton and Leek. We see this as a positive step in the growth of TUSC, and in our contact with working-class people who more and more are identifying with socialist ideas.

At the end of the meeting at least another 3 people are seriously considering standing as TUSC candidates in May. This is a vast improvement from last year, when we had just 2 candidates standing across the borough of Newcastle-Under-Lyme."

Monday, 7 January 2013

Public Meeting to Launch TUSC Staffordshire Election Campaign

Local Elections May 2013

TUSC standing candidates to
Fight Against Cuts!
Speakers include;
Dave Nellist - a real Socialist MP who took only the average workers wage and others from NUT, Unison, CWU
TUSC banner pic
Mon 14 January 2013 – 7.30pm
Holy Trinity Community Centre, London Rd (A34)
Newcastle, Staffs ST5 1LQ

* * * * * All Welcome * * * * *
 
———————————————————————————————————————————-
Workers Fighting Against Cuts Need a Political Voice!
It’s becoming increasingly clear that all the main political parties in Britain – Tory, Lib Dem and Labour – support an endless diet of cuts, outsourcing, privatisation, wage freezes and anti-trade union laws.
They all agree on the need to try to make ordinary working class people pay for an economic crisis created by big business, top bankers and successive governments.
Millions in Britain no longer have a mass political party to defend their interests.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) aims to bring trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts campaigners together to stand candidates at elections who are committed to representing working-class interests.
Trade union resistance to the cuts is vital, but we also need a political alternative to the policies of cuts and privatisation. TUSC believes that a new working-class party is needed that campaigns for a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.
TUSC includes the RMT and leading figures from PCS, NUT, POA and other unions.
PCS members recently voted by 4 to 1 to endorse the union’s political campaigning strategy, and to give the union the authority to stand or support candidates in national elections, in exceptional circumstances, where it would benefit members’ campaigns for jobs, pay, pensions and services.
At the TUSC conference on 22nd September the RMT also called for TUSC to develop a trade union forum to take our message to working people in trade union branches, shop stewards’ committees and throughout the democratic structures of the trade union movement.
Please ask your union branch to invite a TUSC speaker.

Standing TUSC Anti-Cuts Candidates Across Staffordshire in 2013
Staffordshire TUSC supporters are building a team of candidates to stand in the May 2013 local elections. Already, potential candidates – including locally based trade union activists, socialists, community campaigners – have come forward in Newcastle, Leek, Stafford and Burton-on-Trent.
The TUSC Public Meeting in Newcastle on 14 January 2013 will launch our campaign and we invite you to come along to volunteer as a potential candidate, support the campaign or just to find our more about TUSC.
Dave Nellist is our main speaker. Dave has a proud record previously as a real socialist Labour MP and later Coventry Socialist Party councillor. For 9 years as an MP Dave refused to accept all his Parliamentary salary and instead lived on the average wage of working class people in Coventry.
Along with other Socialists, Dave was expelled from the Labour Party as it lurched further to the right to become a party fundamentally no different to the Tories. Dave is now a national coordinator of TUSC.