UK Far-Left Splits: SWP Leaves Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
TUSC: Standing for the 99%
Socialist Worker reports this bombshell:
The Socialist Workers Party has decided to suspend its membership of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
TUSC has provided a structure for trade unionists, campaigners and socialists to stand in elections against pro-austerity politicians.
It’s not a decision we take lightly.
We have been part of TUSC for over seven years, stood dozens of candidates and recorded some of TUSC’s better results.
We have worked with the other components of TUSC—the RMT union, the Socialist Party and independents.
We think it is right to cooperate with others on the left wherever possible.
Labour won’t be the vehicle for socialist transformation any more than Syriza was in Greece—and we still want a socialist alternative to it.
But we cannot support the decision taken at TUSC’s recent conference to stand in May’s council elections in England and Wales.
These elections will be seen as a referendum on Corbyn. It won’t matter if the candidates are right wingers. Every loss will be blamed on the left.
For TUSC to stand at this point welds together Labour supporters and is a barrier to united front work with Labour people.
Our small electoral united front would make it harder to achieve a larger united front with the Labour left.
At the Copeland and Stoke by-elections Labour’s candidates were from the right. However, Socialist Worker called for a vote for Labour. We don’t want Ukip or the Tories winning.
What’s at issue is how to fight cuts and work with Corbyn-supporting Labour members against those who ram though the attacks. And we know any victories for them would be used to unleash the dogs on Corbyn.
We have been proven right. If TUSC was winning substantial votes the argument might be different, but the results will be modest. There’s no shame in that. But it makes standing against a Corbyn-led Labour even harder to justify.
Our unwillingness to put forward candidates is not because Labour councils are doing a good job. They are ruthlessly imposing Tory cuts.
Many councils face a loss of 60 percent of their income between 2010 and 2020. Yet there have been no Labour-led national marches, no councillors’ revolt, no calls for defiance by councillors, unions and people who use the services.
Instead, at the last Labour conference, delegates and leadership united to declare it a disciplinary offence to pass “illegal” no cuts budgets.
What’s at issue is how to fight these cuts and work with Corbyn-supporting Labour members against those who ram though the attacks.
We believe the best way is to campaign in the streets and workplaces alongside Labour supporters.
None of us can predict future events. At some point, as part of the fight to move beyond social democracy, we believe it will be necessary to stand in elections again.
Were Corbyn to be removed and replaced by a right winger, the question of standing against Labour would return in sharper form.
We hope TUSC will continue to be part of the response.
In Scotland the situation is different. Labour is headed up by the anti-Corbyn Kezia Dugdale. The rise of the Scottish National Party has raised the question of alternatives to Labour.
We support Scottish TUSC candidates as part of what we hope will be a wider realignment on the left.
We wish the best to those who remain in TUSC and look forward to continuing to work with them.
The Socialist Party reported the TUSC decision to stand at the beginning of February,
The following motion was agreed by the conference, with five votes against:
“This conference re-affirms the support that TUSC has given to Jeremy Corbyn against Labour’s Blairite right-wing, from his initial leadership election victory in September 2015 and during his re-election campaign in 2016.
“We recognise that his leadership of the Labour Party has opened up the political situation compared to the first five years of TUSC’s existence and that his defeat by the Labour right-wing would be a serious blow for the working class movement.
“TUSC was set-up in 2010, co-founded by the late Bob Crow, to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand candidates under a common anti-austerity and socialist banner, with an agreed minimum platform of core policies. Establishing an electoral coalition of this character, involving a mix of constituent organisations and individuals, as conceived as a step towards solving the vacuum of working class political representation that had existed since the triumph of ‘New Labour’.
“Clearly Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory, potentially a terminal defeat of New Labour, required TUSC to re-calibrate its electoral activity and conference supports the steps taken by the steering committee to do so. In the May 2016 local elections, for example, no TUSC candidates were even considered to be run without local TUSC groups seeking a dialogue with the sitting Labour councillor or prospective candidate on the critical issue of their preparedness to resist cuts to local council jobs and services.
“Conference calls on the steering committee to continue with this approach for the 2017 elections.
“We recognise that this will be more challenging in the 33 English county councils and unitary authorities with elections in May, only six of which have Labour-led administrations. That is not the case, however, in Wales – where right-wing Labour is the dominant force in local government – or Scotland, in a different political context and with councillors elected under a proportional representation system in multi-member wards. The preference vote system used in mayoral elections also makes it easier for TUSC candidacies to be supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity message while making sure that the Tories do not make electoral headway.
“Notwithstanding the differences between the various contests taking place in May, conference calls on the steering committee to ensure that, for whichever elections candidate applications are received, TUSC’s electoral interventions are part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services and will strengthen the battle against the right wing in the Labour Party and the unions”.
They remain upbeat,
Last week’s meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee approved the first batch of candidates to contest the local elections taking place on Thursday May 4th.
The February 15th meeting was the first steering committee since the TUSC conference in January, which set the parameters for TUSC electoral challenges this year (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/17332/05-02-2017/tusc-conference-debates-election-plans-and-anti-cuts-campaigning).
In line with these parameters, none of the TUSC candidates approved at the February 15th meeting are contesting seats in which the Labour candidate came out in support of Jeremy Corbyn in last year’s Labour leadership contest.
On the contrary all of the Labour candidates, sitting councillors on the Labour-led Lancashire County Council, either publically supported Owen Smith’s summer coup or stayed studiously ‘neutral’ as the campaign to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn was under way.
In addition, all of the Labour candidates have just voted for another cuts budget for the county council. These included cuts of £3.3m from mental health services; £4.8m from Supporting People, with plans to end supported housing for people with mental health issues; ending free transport for adults to day centres; and the closure of three Adult Education Centres, five museums, and 20 county libraries (out of 74). These are not the actions of anti-austerity councillors!
The TUSC candidates include Dr Jackie Grunsell, standing in Burnley Central West against the council cabinet member for (cutting) Adult and Community Services; and Gavin Hartley, a former PCS public sector union branch officer, standing in Padiham & Burnley West against the cabinet member for Environment and Cultural Services (ie libraries and museums).
The other TUSC candidates agreed were Lucy Nuttall (standing in Preston East); Dave Beale (Preston Central North); and Tom Costello (Preston South East).
Background to TUSC (Wikipedia)
2015 general election
The organisation announced in October 2014 that it had received a guarantee of funding from Socialist Alliance. The funds would provide for one hundred deposits in parliamentary contests, as well as a Party Political Broadcast.
2016 local elections
Following the 2016 elections, TUSC have no remaining official councillors, Kevin Bennett having lost his seat in Warrington; Hull Red Labour and Walsall Democratic Labour also lost their remaining seats.
So TUSC soldiers on while the SWP have opted for a “united front” with the “Labour left”.
That is anybody not connected to what “Labour Councils” who are not, apparently, doing a “good job”.
Since every council faces cuts in budgets, perhaps even the most “ruthless” would prefer to attack the government doing the cutting rather than the councils under Theresa May’s pressure.
Is anybody in the Labour Party listening in the SWP’s long battle to “move beyond social democracy”.
Not many if reports are to be believed.
Which is the reason most on the left think the groupuscule is concentrating on demonstrations, the SWP’s Protest to Survive.
Except in Scotland where apparently things are ripe enough to continue with…..TUSC.