WITH more than 300 candidates standing across the United Kingdom at all levels of government, the resurgence of activity from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) may worry Labour at the local level.
The party – formed in 2010 under Bob Crow and former Labour MP Dave Nellist – suspended their electoral activity during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader, but reversed their course to combat the direction of Keir Starmer’s Labour.
Like many parties standing in mayoral and council elections, they don’t necessarily expect to come out on May 7 with many seats – but providing an alternative of a “mass workers’ party” appears a noble aim.
Redaction Politics spoke to Deji Olayinka, a Black Lives Matter activist and Socialist Party member running for the Greater London Authority.
“I’m running as a candidate so that at the election box, people have an alternative to right-wing Labour Party politicians,” the 24-year-old said.
“Labour have abandoned the multiracial and multigenerational movement of working people that Corbyn had mobilised and I want to show voters there’s an alternative way to run society.
“I want to push the policies of TUSC and the Socialist Party but in particular I want to reverse the cuts to jobs and services that have seen unemployment rise while youth clubs and women’s refuges close down.
“And support the mass building of quality council homes so that young people can easily afford to move out and find their new home.”
As a fringe party, TUSC resembles a leftist version of UKIP, or the Brexit Party – a movement that, while not winning itself, has the power to influence mainstream politics by threatening to steal a huge chunk of voters from the major parties.
Deji said: “UKIP showed how a third party can change the political conversation and force the major parties to change their policy. Sadiq Khan and Keir Starmer have shown they’re on the side of billionaires.
“But beyond that, all of our candidates recognise that cuts and austerity is only one dimension of all the attacks on working people.
“So unlike UKIP, we aren’t a single-issue coalition, our candidates have and will continue to defend the working class in other arenas.
“And we recognise that to win on these issues, requires a mass party led by the working class and even if TUSC isn’t that party it could help to create one.
The coalition also has the distinct advantage of being recognised by many – for good or bad. Many of the candidates and party leadership were involved with the Militant tendency of the Labour Party – which famously opposed all cuts in Liverpool – or are community activists on race, schooling, housing or a number of other issues.
And so while May 6 may not see many ‘TUSC gains from Labour’ messages, reaching out to voters who were inspired by Jeremy Corbyn but disillusioned by Keir Starmer’s leadership could bring out many former non-voters.
“It’s very important to stand everywhere because different things can be achieved at each level and you can also appeal to different voters,” Deji said.
“TUSC is full of candidates who have done great work fighting for their communities at the local level as citizens and they can achieve even more as councillors.
“Just like the Militant-led Liverpool city council who defied Thatcher’s cuts to the council and set an illegal budget where they built 5000 council houses, saved 1000 jobs and created 1000 more!
“So many more people can be reached and much more can be achieved at the mayoral and parliamentary level.”
While any TUSC politicians will primarily be focused on opposing cuts at a local level, the party is also hoping that successful candidates can voice anti-imperialism on a local level.
“Britain’s foreign policy continues to be one of pure imperialism,” Deji said.
“This was exposed again by the recent protests in Northern Ireland and the revelations that Britain trained and equipped Nigeria’s brutal SARS policing unit.
“While Starmer welcomes the Blairite imperialist tendency that supported the Iraq war, we oppose imperialism. The UK should be helping the world to battle climate change, improve healthcare and respond to disasters.
“Instead of exporting weapons we should be exporting doctors and nurses to countries in need like Cuba do.”
Featured Image: Socialist Party
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