The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will be standing twice as many candidates in Leeds as last year with four candidates standing in the local election. This was a decision made to provide the greatest chance to have a fighting anti-cuts City Council.
The cuts are far from over in Leeds with another £80m worth of cuts to come in the coming period. With vital services like the crisis centre in Headingley already cut and schools being turned into academies and privatised through the back door, it is vital to have a council that will fulfil their election pledges and defend services.
The candidates standing this year are Ryan Preston in Otley & Yeadon, Iain Dalton in Headingley, Andrew Smith in Horsforth and Steve Hobson in Armley.
Ryan took part in the historic Jarrow March for Jobs last year. A Youth Fight for Jobs march from Jarrow in the north east to London to highlight youth unemployment. His subsequent work with the media, including outlets such as Al Jazeera has given him a determination to fight to give this generation hope. As a local resident who is young and unemployed, this is obviously a campaign that affects Ryan deeply and a significant percentage of his peers. He does not however just participate in campaigns directly related to his own interests, having campaigned to save schools from academisation and building to defend the NHS and public sector pensions.
Iain has been involved in and led many campaigns against the cuts and unemployment in Yorkshire and throughout Leeds and has fought constantly for a future for young people. As an organiser for Youth Fight for Jobs and an active trade unionist, Iain has been involved in supporting the defence of pensions and trade union workers and by extension all workers pay and conditions. Standing in the ward where Ian Pattison last year campaigned and won over 2% of the vote, Iain has a good relationship with student movements in the area and has been involved in several campaigns to oppose the rise in tuition fees which Labour started, the Lib Dem’s lied about and the Tories hammered through despite the strength of feeling by academics and students alike.
Andrew is standing for the second year in Horsforth after gaining a respectable vote in the last local election. As a member of Horsforth Against Cuts and aspiring NHS member of staff, Andy has fought to defend the NHS on a national and local level. He also led two occupations at Leeds Trinity University College and several protests and organisations since. Uniting with Leeds Against the Cuts and the trade union movement in the area Andy played a part in bringing 100 parents and locals together to oppose Horsforth School becoming an academy and despite this strong local opposition, the Town Council refused to even discuss opposing the controversial and totally undemocratic decision.
Steve has been involved in many local and international solidarity campaigns to promote unity and solidarity amongst the working class and trade unionists in England and oversees. Steve will be standing against Touchstone’s Chief Executive Alison Lowe, who last year was responsible for cutting the pay of her staff their leaidng to trade unionist activists taking strike action. If Labour were to truly stand for ordinary working people, then Alison Lowe should be fighting to improve third sector workers conditions and not take advantage of them. Steve as a member of the Socialist Party is involved daily in a struggle for an £8 per hour minimum wage to avoid disputes like the happening again and to ensure a decent standard of living for all working people.
TUSC are standing to oppose all cuts in Leeds and nationally as part of a national campaign. In Leeds we have co-ordinated with the Alliance for Green Socialism, who are standing nine candidates in Leeds and have also pledged to fight all cuts if elected.
As there are anti-cuts candidates in 13 wards in the Leeds area, with this number growing with every election, TUSC aim to dispel the deeply flawed assertion that the cuts are in any way necessary. With all three of the major parties championing cutting the poor to feed the rich, we aim to build a strong and united opposition to cuts including all trade unionists, socialists, independents and anyone else willing to fight all cuts.