[by Peter Knight, Brighton Thursday branch]
Hundreds of trade unionists and socialist packed into a conference room at Friends Meeting house in central London on Thursday evening to mark the launch of a working class, anti-cuts coalition standing in the upcoming general election.
Workers and trade union representatives, who are involved in industrial struggles against big business and the government intent on making working people pay the price for the economic crisis, have united to form the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to fight the election in 42 constituencies across the country.
TUSC is backed by the Socialist Party as well as a number of leading trade unionists including the RMT general secretary Bob Crow.
Assistant general secretary of the PSC Chris Baugh addressed the rally just a day after leading hundreds of thousands of civil servants out on strike on Budget day who had voted to take action to oppose a government attack on their redundancy rights. He said: “We welcome the opportunity to fill the void left by New Labour’s abandonment of working people.”
The union link with New Labour was highlighted as a central issue for workers in dispute against attacks on jobs, wages and conditions, with more and more union members supporting calls for dissaffiliation from the party that has now turned its back on them.
Baugh, talking to Radio 4’s Today programme which recorded the meeting, added: “I think the BA cabin crew is a classic example where Unite is a major contributor [to Labour], and yet the Prime Minister and other ministers have denounced what is and what we believe is a just cause.”
“We reject that fatalism and defeatism. We need to reinstate the idea of an independent workers’ party,” said Baugh.
Karen Reisman, a nurse and TUSC candidate standing in Manchester, emphasised that the coalition is gaining an echo across the country among many ordinary people in building that independent political voice.
“There are lots more people, who actually think that after 13 years of betrayal they cannot stomach putting their cross against Labour again. People want something different,” she said.
Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist received only the average wage of his constituents during his nine year’s as a Labour MP between 1983 and 1992, in stark contrast to today’s ministers and their shocking expenses scandal. Quoting Scottish socialist John Maclean, he said: “Representatives should rise with their class, not out of it!”
Nellist is standing under the TUSC banner against New Labour MP Bob Ainsworth in Coventry North East.
Along with introducing Brighton Kemptown TUSC candidate Dave Hill to the audience, Nellist added: “TUSC is not just a case of a vote; it’s to get involved and to make sure the working class have the voice when the main parties attack working people.”
Prison Officers’ Association general secretary Brian Caton marked the significance of the launch. He said: “Tonight should be remembered for centuries to come, because it’s a time when we’ve decided we’re going to have a party for the people, by the people, that’s going to support working men and women, and not abandon them to the scrapheap in favour of bankers, bent businessmen and big business generally.”
Find out more about the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition at www.tusc.org.uk
If you would like to get involved and want some leaflets to give out to your workmates, friends, family and your local community, get in touch with us locally at brightontusc.blogspot.com or call 07894 716095. Thank you.