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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.

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