THE LABOUR Party may finally have a serious challenger from the Left in the post-Corbyn era.
In a tumultuous political period where voters have numerous worries both home and abroad, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) are hoping to fill a vacuum once occupied by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn.
After holding back from parliamentary runs since 2015, Thursday’s by-election in Birmingham Erdington is a stern test of a leftist party’s widespread potential.
They will be running Dave Nellist – a former Labour MP for nearby Coventry South – as they hope to become the ‘major minor’ party.
Nellist, who had the whip removed in 1992 for his support of the Militant tendency, said a new party “rooted in the organisations and communities of the working class and fighting for socialist change” was now wholly necessary as the Labour Party reforms itself as a centrist organisation.
He told Redaction Report: “The Corbyn period is now over. The Left is in its weakest position in the Labour Party for decades. 150,000 members, inspired by Jeremy Corbyn and dismayed by Keir Starmer, have left Labour since Starmer was elected leader.
“The Bakers’ union has ended its affiliation after 110 years. Unite, Labour’s largest affiliate, is challenging Labour councils around the country who implement Tory budget cuts and attack workers’ wages and conditions.”
Known as a working class, multicultural area, it’s the kind of constituency which should fall into Labour hands every time.
But Sir Keir Starmer’s shift to the right as party leader may have put off some voters, with party officials suggesting TUSC can hoover up voters looking for a true socialist alternative.
A TUSC source said: “TUSC supporters campaigning for Dave are getting a good response from the locals, especially when you mention Dave was a workers’ MP on a workers’ wage in the 1980’s.
“Working-class people are fed up with establishment politicians, and don’t want to choose between blue Tories and red Tories.
“Hundreds of locals are already saying they will vote for TUSC. We are hoping to be the major minor party in this by-election.”
Though still considered a minor party, TUSC have roots in many major cities around the UK and have historically challenged hundreds of seats at every level.
“TUSC was launched in 2010, and by 2015 we were the sixth biggest party in the country, having stood 135 parliamentary candidates, and 619 council candidates in that year’s elections,” Nellist explained.
“Then Jeremy Corbyn was elected as labour leader. We wanted to see his attempt to move the Labour Party in a more radical direction succeed, so we stood down in the general elections of 2017 and 2019.”
The Left haven’t done all that well in electoral politics outside of Labour – the major parties dwarf them in terms of media coverage, resources and name recognition. But some would argue alternatives across the political spectrum can only be healthy for democracy.
If he does pull it off, what will his first action be?
“Set up offices in the constituency and in parliament and build a strong network of local trade unions and community organisations, with monthly meetings to discuss the problems affecting local people and the campaigns necessary to change them,” Nellist says.
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