Saturday, 24 January 2015


TUSC call to media (and the Greens): why not a 'minor parties' debate?

 

Steve Bell's Guardian cartoon on the party leaders' TV election debate row that flared up in the New Year was typically pointed. It depicted the four austerity party leaders in a line - Cameron, Farage, Clegg and Miliband - with the Greens, in a dig at Cameron's previous 'cut the green crap' comments, an unpleasant presence for them all (see gu.com/p/44q9f/tw).

But actually Steve Bell has it slightly wrong. The real 'unmentionable' in the media coverage of the election so far, including the 'debate about the debates', isn't the Greens. While even the Pub Landlord gets some coverage for his election challenge, the party that will be fielding the sixth biggest number of candidates across Britain in the general election, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), has not had a single mainstream media reference once this year. We will have to campaign for our right to be heard.

A debate of a different type

Back in December the TUSC national steering committee sent a letter to Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (see below) adding its support to the demand that the Greens be included in the leaders' general election debates.
But we also suggested a joint campaign for a televised debate of a different type - involving all those parties that reach the threshold for a party election broadcast (standing in one-sixth of the seats up for election in England, Scotland or Wales) but that could not reasonably be seen as contenders to form a majority government. This would mean the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cmyru, and... TUSC.
Unfortunately Natalie Bennett has not replied to our letter. And The Guardian refused to print a letter making a similar proposal from the former Labour MP and now national TUSC chairperson, Dave Nellist (also below).
The BBC's former editorial director says that all "those who are willing to put themselves on the line" should be able to participate in the debates. The Guardian writes editorials urging a "fight for the right to have debates" (January 15th). Yes, but obviously not with socialist trade unionists who will put a real alternative to the austerity consensus.

1. Letter to Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, 18th December 2014

Dear Natalie,
I am writing on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee to add our support to your campaign for fair media coverage in the 2015 elections of the alternatives to the establishment austerity consensus.
You may be aware that TUSC, co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow, is aiming to stand widely in 2015. We plan to surpass the 560 council candidates we stood in this year's local elections and to reach the broadcasting authorities' political election broadcast (PEB) qualifying threshold of around 100 candidates for the general election.
Standing this number of candidates - giving TUSC the sixth biggest presence on the ballot paper - will, inevitably, entail electoral clashes between our parties. Indeed TUSC, as a declared socialist coalition with a commitment to refuse to implement the cuts in local councils as in parliament (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy ), would not seek to underplay the political differences between us. But we do share your indignation at how the media's political coverage is slanted, exemplified in the promotion of UKIP in the proposed leaders' debates, at the expense of other alternatives.
We unequivocally support your participation on behalf of the Green Party in the leaders' debates planned by the BBC, ITV, C4 and Sky. But we would also like to propose that the Green Party and TUSC make a joint approach to the broadcasting authorities for an additional televised debate of a different type.
This would be for parties that reach the PEB candidates threshold but are not contenders to form a majority government - a 'Championship debate', to use a football analogy, rather than a Premier League contest, without Cameron and Miliband. Such a format would meet the criteria that you rightly set out in your recent letter to ITV that general election debates should not simply be "to hear the prime minister and the leader of the opposition debate, but to hear the views of a broader range of party leaders, representing the range of parties standing large numbers of candidates across the country".
We would be very pleased to meet with you to discuss this proposal - or any other suggestions you may have for how we could work together to challenge the media's pro-establishment bias.
We look forward to your reply.
With regards,
Dave Nellist,
TUSC national chair

2. Letter to The Guardian, 9th January 2015

I am writing to add the support of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to Natalie Bennett's campaign for fair media coverage in the May elections ('Cameron's Green protest may black out TV election debates', 9 January 2015).
TUSC, co-founded by the late Bob Crow, is aiming to stand widely in 2015 with 100 candidates for the general election and around 1,000 in local authority seats, giving us the sixth biggest presence on the ballot paper.
We share Natalie's indignation at how the media's political coverage is slanted, exemplified in the promotion of UKIP in the proposed leaders' debates, at the expense of other alternatives.
In unequivocally supporting Natalie's participation on behalf of the Green Party in the leaders' debates, we would also like to propose an additional televised debate, of a different type.
This would be for parties that reached the threshold for a party election broadcast, but are not contenders to form a majority government. A 'Championship debate', to use a football analogy, rather than a Premier League contest - in other words without David Cameron or Ed Miliband.
Such an innovative format would meet the criteria Natalie set out in a recent letter to ITV, that TV debates should not simply be "to hear the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition debate, but to hear the views of a broader range of party leaders, representing the range of parties standing large numbers of candidates across the country".
Perhaps in a spirit of seeking wider debate in the run-up to the election, especially from those holding anti-austerity views, the Guardian might support such a suggestion, or even agree to host a similar debate itself?
Dave Nellist
National Chair, TUSC


Friday, 16 January 2015

Help build an anti-cuts electoral alternative

Come to the TUSC conference, 24 January

Waltham Forest TUSC supporters campaigning for rent control
Dave Nellist, TUSC national chair
The 7 May general election will be seen by many as an opportunity to ditch the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition that has imposed the widest and deepest austerity for generations.

The first few days of January saw the 'formal' opening of the 2015 general election campaign. Many newspapers marked it by predicting the closest election for many years.

They were mainly referring to the outcome. Currently neither Labour nor the Tories seem likely to gain a working majority without support from another smaller party. But the description could even more accurately apply to the narrow political terrain on which the action is to be fought.

All four national parties of the establishment - Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Ukip - are united in the central message of 'eliminating the deficit'. Despite, in some areas, plans already being in place for mass closures of libraries, community centres, children and family centres and most adult education - cuts sufficient to 'balance the budget' in the next parliament would need to be at least 50% greater in the next four years than the last. A horrifying prospect.

Even the Greens agree the necessity for cuts. Shortly before Christmas, on the BBC Daily Politics programme, Green leader Natalie Bennett said that, as part of a 'confidence and supply agreement', Green MPs would support a Labour cuts budget as a better alternative to a Tory cuts budget.

So what do you do if you're fundamentally opposed to continued wage freezes, the sacking of hundreds of thousands of public sector workers and the axing of essential public services?
You need something new.

Serious opposition

The only prospect for trade unionists wishing to see serious political opposition to the continued diet of austerity from the main parties is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). We need to push forward the development of TUSC into a viable electoral alternative.

That underlies the importance of the conference organised by TUSC on 24 January to discuss the May 2015 general election and local authority elections campaigns.

TUSC has set an ambitious target for next year's elections: 1,000 anti-cuts candidates in local council wards and 100 anti-austerity candidates in parliamentary constituencies. This would be the largest left of Labour, working class and socialist alternative, seen since the Second World War.

If these numbers can be achieved it should entitle TUSC to 'balanced media coverage' in the election period - including TV election broadcasts in England, Scotland and Wales.

The conference will be an opportunity for TUSC activists, candidates and organisers to meet others who are building an alternative to the austerity parties in their areas. Sessions at the conference will discuss the core policies, for both a general election and the local elections, on which TUSC candidates will stand in May.

Debates between the main four national parties will exaggerate synthetic differences of policy and artificially exaggerate secondary issues. Only the widespread standing of serious anti-austerity alternative candidates, rooted in the organisations and communities of the working class, can offer a genuine alternative in May.



TUSC 2015 elections conference

Student Central (formerly ULU), Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

Saturday 24 January, 11am to 4.30pm

Registration fee: £10 waged and £2 unwaged/low-waged
Capped pooled fare of £10
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation. It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, as well as the Socialist Party and other left and anti-cuts groups and individuals.

For transport details from Stoke-on-Trent and across Staffordshire please call Andy on 07845893607
 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


DEFEND THE PCS!


TUSC Stoke & Staffordshire supporters stand in solidarity with PCS members and offer any support we can give to the fight to save their union from a vicious attack from the Tory government. We also appeal to all other trade unionists and workers to support the fight of PCS members to defend their union. 

The PCS has been a thorn in the side of the Tory government and has played a crucial role in leading the fight back against their savage austerity measures. Their fight is our fight!

Why the Tories are attacking PCS (a PCS statement)

     The Tories are trying to undermine PCS as its foremost critic in the trade union movement. Our work on challenging austerity and importantly our campaign to promote an alternative, including our Tax justice campaign, have been widely supported and embarrassed the government.
Our campaigning and industrial action has had some notable successes, including: winning over 1000 more jobs in the Passport Office, winning extra funding at Kew Gardens, stopping the privatisation of the Land Registry, and ensuring fixed term contracts have become permanent posts in HM Revenue & Customs.
These successes, among others, were delivered by a combination of industrial action, political campaigning and media work that pressured the government into backtracking.
It is because our union is a block on the government’s attacks that they are going on the offensive against PCS. Our effectiveness has made us a target. More ............

A statement from LEFT UNITY in the PCS

PCS has been the backbone of resistance to the coalition government’s austerity cuts and privatisation programme. Because of that we now face an all out assault aimed at destroying our ability to represent members and defend jobs, conditions and services. This is the most serious attack on trade union and democratic rights since the Miners Strike. The principal purpose of this attack is to destroy any organised resistance to the destruction of the public sector under the guise of austerity. More ...............

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

NHS Worker Matt Wright selected as TUSC General Election Candidate in Stoke South                 


Hanley NHS stall Feb 2010 001
Matt Wright campaigning to defend the NHS in August 2011

TUSC general election candidate Matt Wright was born, grew up and still lives in Longton. Matt is a real Socialist who has been a tireless campaigner for ordinary hard working people across the area for many years.
 
Matt says,
 
This isn’t the first time that I’ve stood as a TUSC candidate, but I’m pretty sure it’s the most important.
 In the 4 years since I stood in the last general election the Conservatives, aided by the Lib Dems, have set about dismantling our welfare state and public services with a wrecking ball.
 
The sad thing is that the party who’s supposed to represent ordinary working class people like myself, Labour, have offered no alternative to the march of endless cuts and austerity. In fact, in many councils across England it is Labour councillors who are doing the Tory’s dirty work for them by meekly passing on cuts to much needed services.
 
 I’ve worked in the NHS for 7 years and currently work in acute mental health. I work with a lot of people who have fallen through the cracks in society, cracks that have only grown larger under this government. During my time in the NHS I’ve seen services slashed and privatised with little regard to patient well-being or safety. Look where we are now, on the cusp of the whole cancer and end of life care pathway across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire being privatised. This would represent the single biggest sell-off of front line NHS services ever, and it’s right on our door step! Ask yourself this – if you were unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer would you want your care delivered by an organisation that exists solely to make a profit? 
 
 We are being force fed an endless mantra from all of the establishment political parties and the mass media that we need to make more cuts in our jobs and services with no end in sight. I’m proud to stand for TUSC that rejects this logic. While our services have been slashed and privatised the wealth of the richest in this country has skyrocketed. While MPs give themselves a 10% pay rise NHS workers and other government employees have had their pay frozen for 5 years – equal to a 10% pay cut. Half a million people have to depend on food banks in order to survive, and hundreds are dying after being declared fit to work and losing their benefits in the seventh richest country in the world.
 
This is a disgrace and I make no apologies for saying that I stand up for everyone who has been trampled under foot by this government of millionaires.
Photo Matt WrightI am standing to say that there is an alternative to endless cuts. Why should hard working people have to pay for a crisis caused by the super rich and the bail out of the bankers? I say we need to turn this around.
 
 For a start we need to collect the £120 billion in unpaid and avoided tax by big business. Doing this alone would make any cuts unnecessary. This would be further enforced by bringing banks and finance institutions into genuine public ownership under democratic control, instead of giving huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis.
 
If elected I would take only the average wage of a skilled worker in my area and produce regular details of expenses.
 
As an MP I would continue to campaign for an immediate end to zero hour contracts and for the minimum wage to be raised to £10 an hour now, with increases in line with inflation or wages, whichever is higher. Britain needs a pay rise!
 
I have campaigned for many years against Stoke-on-Trent city council’s continuing policy of meekly carrying out government cuts, closures and privatisation of our council jobs and services. As an MP I would use all powers available to me to demand instead that the city council works with council workers and the city’s residents to agree a budget based on the funding that we NEED to maintain and restore local services instead of what the government says we can have. That applies to ANY incoming government."
 
  • For more TUSC polices see http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy