TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALAITION – HOW IT DEVELOPED; THE CONFERENCE JULY 2011; DEVELOPMENT OF A TUSC BRANCH OUT OF THE ANTI CUTS MOVEMENT IN RUGBY
TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION (TUSC)
TUSC developed out of No2EU-Yes2D which had contested the 2009 Euro Elections. It was set up initially to fight the 2010 General Election. “Our intention is to put forward candidates in the general election as a federal coalition under a common name, with a steering committee of participating organisations and trade unionists that operates by consensus”
A Steering Committee was elected to organise the election work, consisting of representatives from the SP and the SWP and, all in a personal capacity, Bob Crow and Craig Johnson (RMT); Brian Caton (POA); Chris Baugh and John McInally (PCS), Nina Franklin (NUT) and Nick Wrack (Respect).
Clive Heemskirk, SP representative on the TUSC Steering Committee, confirmed to the LULC that Supportive Organisations and individuals would be able to get involved, but organisations needed to have some "social weight" and be able to work by consensus. All organisational requests to get involved would be looked at on merit. The CPB had decided not to continue participating, as had the AGS despite an offer for the AGS to stand under their own name as part of the Coalition, or for a variant of TUSC to be registered with "green" added.
In a separate development, it was agreed that the LULC could become a type of shadow steering committee for TUSC during the GE period – a forum for discussion to feed back into the TUSC discussions. The LULC would meet more regularly to hear reports from TUSC, and Clive Heemskerk would take any concerns raised back into TUSC, thus giving left organisations a voice. He would liaise with Pete McLaren between meetings.
In the event, TUSC fielded 42 GE candidates, averaging 1%, much the same as the rest of the left.
DEVELOPMENT OF TUSC SINCE MAY 2011
After the GE, the Steering Committee agreed to continue working to develop TUSC, and contest the May 2011 Council Elections. TUSC started to produce a regular Bulletin in November 2010, stating that TUSC aimed to bring trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts campaigners together to stand candidates at elections who are committed to representing working-class interests. Resistance to the cuts is vital, it added, but we also need a political alternative to the policies of cuts and privatisation. TUSC believes that a new working-class party is needed that campaigns for a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.
The Steering Committee continued to meet, and it started to plan for a Conference in January 2011 to agree a programme for the Council Elections. The LULC was informed in September that the RMT Conference had endorsed the Executive's decision to back TUSC general election candidates. The SP and SWP confirmed their commitments to TUSC.
The TUSC policy Conference took place on January 15th and a political programme put forward by the Steering Committee for the local elections was adopted unanimously after a lengthy and open debate. Supporters were encouraged to go away and work to persuade anti cuts campaigners to stand as TUSC, or TUSC Aagainst Cuts. In the elections, TUSC stood 177 candidates, averaging just under 5%. This was seen as quite respectable first time out in Council elections, showing a base had been built in a number of areas. Branches were already planning for 2012, aiming to campaign and build roots in communities in the months ahead.
The Steering Committee immediately agreed to hold a Conference on July 16 for all candidates, their agents and campaign supporters to review the recent campaign and plan ahead for the coming year. Rugby TUSC submitted a resolution calling on TUSC to campaign against the spending cuts and all other attacks on working class living standards; build TUSC Branches up and down the country; prepare from now for next year's Council Elections; and work with other genuine anti cuts campaigners, community groups and organizations. It also called on TUSC to broaden out its structure at national level to welcome representation from local TUSC branches as well as trade union branches, political organisations and independents supportive of TUSC
The Rugby TUSC resolution was agreed in principle unanimously, as was the Framework Statement for developing TUSC into 2012 put forward by the Steering Committee, both dependent on endorsement from the individual TU members of the SC not present.
The SC Framework Statement called for a TUSC Conference before the end of 2011 to prepare for the 2012 Council Elections; for the Steering Committee to be enlarged to include a representative of independents through the TUSC Independent Socialist Network and for it to be able to include additional supporting political groups. It called for local TUSC Steering Committees to be established in areas TUSC would be standing candidates, and it stated clearly that these were interim arrangements and that discussions would continue on how best to organise TUSC as it developed, and this would be an agenda item at all future TUSC Conferences. Any prospective candidate would be asked to endorse TUSC's Founding Statement and other relevant additional policy statements.
INDEPENDENT SOCIALIST NETWORK
The TUSC Steering Committee agreed late in 2010 that an organization for independent supporters of TUSC should be set up. The aims from the start were to enable independent socialists to influence developments taking place within TUSC, partly by having a representative on the Steering Committee, whilst also attempting to bring independent socialists together within an organization that would have a life beyond TUSC if that proved necessary. There would be a formal meeting to launch the ISN, open to all independents who support there being an Independent Socialist Network, see TUSC at this stage as being the organization to work through, and want to see a new Socialist party. The launch of the Independent Socialist Network in TUSC was also announced at the January 2011 TUSC policy making conference.
A handful of independent supporters met afterwards and it was agreed that will McMahon would represent the ISN on the Steering Committee over the summer and until a formal ISN meeting could elect a representative. This national ISN meeting has now been arranged for Saturday October 29th. In a further development, the London Region RMT agreed in late July to promote an anti cuts challenge in the greater London assembly and Mayoral Elections in 2012, stating this could take place under the name of TUSC
RUGBY TUSC GETS ORGANISED – SEEN AS A MODEL AT CONFERENCE
In Rugby, a meeting early in March unanimously agreed to set up a local TUSC Branch, with officers elected. This came after Rugby Against the Cuts had decided to promote anti cuts candidates in all 16 wards in Rugby for the 2011 Council elections wherever candidates from the mainstream parties had refused to sign their pledge to oppose all cuts. No such candidate signed the pledge, and the TUSC Branch was set up to become part of the anti cuts electoral challenge in the town. Four TUSC candidates were selected at the meeting, and three more subsequently. These included the Chair of Warwickshire FBU, the Rugby RMT Health & Safety Rep, the Warwickshire UNITE Youth Section Secretary, the former Secretary of Rugby Anti Poll Tax Union and members of the NUT & UCU. In terms of political orientation, there was one member of the SP, one member of the SA, one lapsed member of the SWP and four independent socialists. All agreed with the bold socialist policies TUSC was standing under.
• Three strongly socialist leaflets were produced and delivered across the 7 wards and on stalls, the second one including a photo of the candidates with Bob Crow.
• Over £1,900 was raised during the campaign, £1280 of which was from Trade Unions, and £590 from individuals, including over £200 from SA members and £50 from CAWSA.
• Media coverage was favourable with nine Media Releases resulting in 12 press articles and two letters about TUSC's socialist campaign, three radio interviews and two articles on socialist blogs (Counterfire and SP).
• The results were reasonable with an average of 9% across Rugby for all 16 anti cuts candidates. TUSC averaged 7.2% across its 7 wards.
At the Conference on July 15, Rugby TUSC was praised by Steering Committee members for being a model of how to operate and build. The Rugby Branch has continued to campaign since May. Five candidates have been selected for 2012, once again including leading local members of the RMT and FBU. There is a likelihood that this number would at least double, and it was agreed to draw up a leaflet for distribution in the selected wards and a further generic one for work across the town. Both would be to build TUSC, as would a Public Meeting it was agreed to hold in the autumn – now confirmed for Wed Oct 26th, 7pm, at The Rugby United Railway Club, with Bob Crow as the main speaker. The RMT and FBU offered to print copies of both leaflets.
Pete McLaren 10/09/11