Ben Mayor, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Leeds West, was invited to speak at a very well attended hustings in Bramley last week. The room was packed, with standing room only – contradicting the somewhat patronising view that people aren’t ‘interested’ in politics.
Mary Finch, Leeds Socialist Party
Looking at the options available to working class people on May 7th, it’s no wonder they’re so concerned. The three main establishment parties – Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives – all stand for the same policies of more cuts and privatisation. And the ‘alternative’ parties seem to capitulate, at one point or another, to voting for cuts as well.
UKIP like to pose as anti-establishment, and as the party that stands up for working class people. They don’t publicise that Nigel Farage is an ex-banker, or that a number of their candidates are Tory defectors! The UKIP candidate for Leeds West summed up her party’s attitude when she said she ‘would make sure cuts wouldn’t be too severe’. UKIP are committed to carrying them out.
The Green Party call themselves anti-austerity, but when they’ve been in power, they too have voted for cuts. The Green minority council administration in Brighton tried to cut bin worker’s pay by £4000, provoking a strike that ultimately defeated their attack on workers.
The fact that they were a minority administration is no excuse. Two Southampton Labour councillors (now TUSC councillors) voted against the closure of a local swimming pool in the face of intimidating opposition, and eventually expulsion from Labour. They still voted against cuts, and joined working class people in the campaign against closure. Most importantly, they won! £1.7 million of funding was allocated by Southampton council to renovate and re-open the pool.
TUSC was the only party at the hustings to point out that cuts aren’t necessary. We live in the fifth richest country in the world. The money is there to fully fund all our public services. The only problem is, it’s in the wrong hands. Ben got an excellent response when he raised the need for renationalisation of the railways and the key sectors of industry, along with the banks, to use that wealth in our interests.
TUSC’s other demands were equally met with enthusiasm at the hustings. When asked how each party would save the NHS, Ben said the answer was simple – ‘we kick the private companies out’. Every person that spoke to a TUSC supporter at the end of the hustings commented how impressed they were with us. There was overall an excellent response to the politics we put forward.