May elections – TUSC: Opposing all the cuts

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing candidates for the London assembly and elsewhere in the local elections on 3 May. Red Pepper spoke to Nick Wrack, a member of the TUSC national committee and number two on its slate of candidates in London

April 8, 2012
5 min read

What is TUSC?

It is exactly what the name says. It is a coalition of trade unionists and socialists who want to support a different set of policies from the other parties. There is now a three-party consensus in favour of cuts, privatisation and austerity; that aims to make the working class pay for the current capitalist crisis. TUSC opposes that agenda entirely.

Who is involved?

TUSC has the backing of the RMT national executive and in London it has the backing of the London region of the FBU. TUSC has been endorsed by three trade union general secretaries: Matt Wrack (FBU), Bob Crow (RMT) and Steve Gillan (POA). Alex Gordon, the president of the RMT, is heading our list in London and it includes union executive members from Unison, NUT, UCU and the FBU as well as rank and file activists. The Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party are both involved along with the Independent Socialist Network, which was set up for the many socialists who are not members of any organisation.

It also has the support of Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, solicitor Imran Khan, Mike Mansfield QC and ex-soldier Joe Glenton amongst others.

What does it stand for?

TUSC is opposed to all the cuts. We reject the argument that some cuts are necessary.

We are against privatisation and outsourcing. We want the repeal of the anti-union laws. In contrast with Labour, we are not embarrassed to support workers on strike.

We are unashamedly socialist. We call for democratic public ownership of the banks and major industries and the renationalisation of all the industries and services sold off in the past. We want a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the millions, not the millionaires, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and not just a rich few.

What does it hope to achieve?

This time, TUSC hopes to win a seat on the London assembly. We need just 5 per cent to do that. The result in Bradford West shows that Labour cannot take its working-class voters for granted any longer. We hope to cause an upset in London. Of course, we’d like to win council seats elsewhere but that’s much more difficult for a small party like ours with very little profile, when it’s first past the post.

How does TUSC differ from the Greens?

In lots of ways but, most importantly, TUSC opposes all cuts. The Greens say they’re against cuts but they’ve just voted for a cuts budget in Brighton where they run the council. That’s useless. There is no point saying you’re against cuts, and marching against them, if you then go into the council chamber and vote for them. That’s what puts so many people off politics. Voters want representatives who will do what they promise. TUSC promises to fight and puts forward an alternative.

Secondly, we argue that capitalism cannot solve the problems of the economy. You cannot have a ‘good capitalism’. We argue for a different, socialist society. While some individual Green members might agree with us, that isn’t the position of the Green Party.

Isn’t a vote for TUSC a wasted vote?

No. I think it’s important to vote for the party whose polities you support, not just for the least bad option. The old argument that you must vote Labour to keep out the Tories is wearing very thin.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have said they won’t reverse the Tory cuts, that they support the public sector pay freeze and they support privatisation.

Labour was in government for 13 years and continued privatising. The anti-union laws remained intact and the privatisation of the NHS and education began. How can anyone think that they will behave differently next time?

Those who believe we need something different have to start somewhere. We can’t guarantee that TUSC will win, any more than the pioneers of the Labour Party could. But you’ll never win unless you make a start.

There is a real chance under proportional representation that we can get 5 per cent across London and win at least one seat in the assembly on 3 May. That would make a huge difference to the political debate in Britain. By standing and arguing our case we are helping to pull the entire debate to the left.

What does the future hold?

Lots of hard work. At the moment TUSC is a coalition. I would like to see it develop into a new, united socialist party. But that won’t be easy. The left is fragmented. It’s been a great achievement to get this coalition up and running and it will take time to build it. I would like to see TUSC branches all over the country, carrying out activity all the time and not just at elections. I expect more trade unionists and activists to draw the conclusion that we need to build an alternative to Labour. There will be lots of discussions about how best to do that.

We need to build a mass socialist party, which argues and fights for a democratic, socialist society. That requires a party with millions of members and supporters. It won’t happen overnight. But what we’re doing at the moment can be a beginning.


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.


105