Building a New Workers’ Party: TUSC

A central part of the Socialist Party’s work in fighting against cuts and for Socialism is the campaign for a new worker’s party. It is clear that each of the big three Westminster parties stand for the rich and the free market, not for working people, students or pensioners.

A key step towards the creation of a new party to represent working people is the formation of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which the Socialist Party has been proud to play a central role.

TUSC  has contested two elections, the General election in 2010 and the local elections of 2011. In Portsmouth RMT representitive Mick Tosh stood in Portsmouth North, while in 2011 Socialist Party member John Pickett stood in Fratton.

 Below are the policies and election pledges for the general and local elections that TUSC candidates have run in. For more information visit: http://www.tusc.org.uk

Stand up to the Con-Dem government

For councillors who refuse to implement the cuts!

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.

Word document version: Local Election Policy document


Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition policies

The following is 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

The working class and peoples of Britain face a ruling class offensive which will intensify over the coming period.

It is an offensive against public services, incomes, living standards and trade union rights in order to boost monopoly profit. Not content with the banks receiving the biggest bail-out in the history of British capitalism, big business aims to make workers and their families pay to serve the interests, first and foremost, of the City of London’s financial institutions.

It is also an offensive which will be stepped up regardless of which party wins the forthcoming General Election. The likelihood is that a Tory government will make earlier and deeper cuts in public spending than a New Labour one. A Labour government may also be more vulnerable to trade union pressure not to outlaw industrial action in ‘essential’ services.

But both main parties intend to prolong the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan and to maintain the expansion of nuclear power and a new generation of British nuclear weapons.

Therefore this coalition is contesting the General Election to show that there is a clear left-wing alternative to policies of public sector cuts, privatisation, militarism and environmental degradation.

We recognise that there will be Labour and non-Labour candidates standing in the general election who agree with our policies, who share our socialist aspirations and who will be supported by left and labour movement organisations participating in our coalition.

We also recognise that there are different strategic views about the way forward for the left in Britain, whether the Labour Party can be reclaimed by the labour movement, or whether a new workers’ party needs to be established.

But our coalition is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of left-wing policies to help inspire and direct such resistance. These are the policies which we therefore propose to put before the people:

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP, NOT PRIVATISED PROFIT

Stop all privatisation, including the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), and the immoral privatisation of prisons. Bring privatised public services and utilities back into public ownership under democratic control.

NO CUTS – QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES

Take rail back into public ownership and build an integrated, low-pollution public transport system.

For a high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.

Stop council estate sell-offs and build eco-friendly, affordable public housing.

Good, free education for all, under democratic local authority control; student grants not fees.

Keep Royal Mail as a publicly-owned service, not a privatised cash cow.

JOBS, NOT HANDOUTS TO BANKERS & BILLIONAIRES

Bring banks and finance institutions into genuine public ownership under democratic control, instead of giving huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis.

Tax the rich. For progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals, with a crackdown on tax avoidance.

For massive investment in environmental projects.

EMPLOYMENT & TRADE UNION RIGHTS

Repeal the anti-trade union laws.

A minimum wage set at half average adult male earnings, with no exemptions.

Invest to create and protect jobs, including for young people.

Solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions. Reinstate full trade union rights to prison officers.

PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT – STOP GLOBAL WARMING

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions – otherwise climate change, caused by capitalism, will destroy us.

Invest in publicly-owned and controlled renewable energy.

Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry and farming – stop the pollution that is destroying our environment.

Recognise that many of our planet’s resources are limited and that capitalism fritters them away for profit.

Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.

DECENT PENSIONS & BENEFITS

Restore the pre-Thatcher real value of pensions. Reinstate the link with average earnings.

Protect entitlement to benefits; for living benefits; end child poverty.

DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY & JUSTICE

Welcome diversity and oppose racism, fascism and discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age and all other forms of prejudice.

Defend the right to asylum. No scapegoating of migrant workers.

Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay.

Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable.

SOLIDARITY NOT WAR

Bring home all British troops from Afghanistan immediately – no more wars for resources.

No more spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons, huge aircraft carriers or irrelevant eurofighters – convert arms spending into socially useful products and services.

An independent foreign policy, based on international solidarity – no more being a US poodle, no moves towards a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe, no Lisbon Treaty.

SOCIALISM

For a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the people not the millionaires. For democratic public ownership of the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment.

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