Swansea needs councillors who vote against cuts! No to austerity - vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Don’t waste the opportunity to send a clear ‘no more cuts’ message by voting for Ronnie Job, TUSC: the only no-cuts, socialist candidate in Swansea West in the 2015 General Election!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Labour leadership get something right - TUSC is the natural home of those who want to fight austerity.

This last few weeks have seen massive rallies addressed by Labour leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn. Venues have often not been big enough to accommodate everybody that's wanted to attend.

The popularity of Corbyn's campaign has left many so-called political experts scratching their heads as they try to explain it. To TUSC supporters it's obvious - trade-unionists, the working class in general and large sections of the middle class too, are crying out for an end to austerity. With all respect to Jeremy, I don't think his lead in the opinion polls is so much down to his personal qualities (although the fact that he uses public transport and claims the least MP's expenses certainly helps many to feel he's 'one of us') as to the fact that at last they can see the prospect of a fightback against cuts.

I hadn't expected Corbyn to get the number of nominations (35) required to make it onto the ballot for Labour leader. With only hours to go it looked like that prediction would be correct; Corbyn doesn't have the support of his own party's MPs and looked like he would come up short as John Mcdonnell had twice previously. But so confident were the Labour leadership of the dominance of their position in the Party that Labour MPs who have said publicly that they won't vote for Corbyn, we're persuaded to nominate him in order to "have a debate". Rival candidate, Andy Burnham, who had hopes of being the candidate backed by the unions, even encouraged some of his supporters in Parliament to lend Corbyn their nominations for this purpose. How they must be regretting that now!

Now Corbyn leads in all opinion polls, has secured the most constituency nominations and those of of many of the most important trade unions. He could win, although his current lead is no guarantee - he might have to get near an absolute majority on first preference votes alone as the other candidates are much closer to each other in political outlook and the majority of their second preference votes would be expected to transfer to each other.

The Labour hierarchy have been thrown into panic by the very possibility of a Corbyn win and seem to release daily stories of Corbyn supporters consisting of 'far left' and even Tory infiltrators. In one interview, acting leader, Harriet Harman, said that Labour chiefs were listening in to the conversations of new activists. I know where the Murdoch press leads, Labour normally follows but surely she didn't mean Labour was intending to engage in News Of The World style phone-tapping? She has also announced she is ordering Labour Party workers to "copy and paste" names of all new party supporters and to send them to their constituency MP's to be vetted for "known troublemakers". The article, in the Guardian, went on to say that many Labour MPs were saying of the people that had signed up to support Corbyn, that for many, their "more natural home is in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition" - at last something we can all agree on!

Every day now I read stories about how us "Hard Left" types have infiltrated Labour to vote for Corbyn. Nobody who knows me would call me 'hard' but if they mean principled socialists are joining Labour, then the fact that they can be called infiltrators shows just how far from its roots Labour has moved. Labour's socialist founders would be amazed at the party they set-up to provide political representation for workers and trade unionists, looking to block socialists from joining/registering as supporters, on the grounds that their aims and values are opposed to Labour's.

The majority of TUSC supporters would be barred from joining Labour or registering as supporters, even if we wanted to. MP Simon Danczuk, who has been the subject of speculation in the past, regarding intentions to defect to UKIP, wants to deny a vote to around a quarter of new supporters in his constituency.

But the reason why most of us aren't registering as Labour supporters is we don't think that it is possible to reclaim Labour for socialism or even make it into a weapon for fighting austerity. The Party machine is openly discussing the pros and cons of stopping the election or some other method of robbing Corbyn of victory (it's already been claimed that up to 1,200 people joining or registering as supporters have been turned down) versus simply using the Party machine to isolate and contain him should he win.

For TUSC supporters, the level of support for Corbyn shows how popular the ideas and policies we put forward in the election in May can be if given a fair airing.

We will defend Corbyn against the attacks of the right-wing press but the worst attacks on him and his campaign are coming from inside his own party. Attempts to appease the Labour right by inviting the Blairites into his cabinet or heaping praise on Miliband and even Blair, will not work but will confuse and even alienate, his own supporters.

This week Corbyn has been in Wales and seemed to accept the myth of the "red water" between England and Wales put about by Welsh Labour. Many of us in Wales experience 2 sets of Labour hands - the Labour Welsh Government and our Labour councils - wielding the Tories' axe for them. Welsh Labour, including those AMs and councillors who say they back Corbyn, are just a conveyor belt for Tory cuts.

These people are worse than useless as allies but to the tens of thousands of Corbyn supporters who genuinely want to fight austerity, TUSC supporters will campaign shoulder to shoulder with you. All we ask is that if and when you find the path to fighting cuts inside Labour impossibly blocked you take your place in your 'natural home' - TUSC.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Raising two fingers to Osborne's budget

Labour responses to Osborne's 'emergency' budget seem to fall into 2 general categories.

There is the "this is all a scam - this budget does nothing for the young (under 25s are excluded from Osborne's devalues 'Living Wage'), public sector workers (facing a four-year pay cap), disabled people (facing further cuts to the benefit safety net as part of £12bn cuts)."

This is undoubtedly true, these and other groups will again be worse off. Labour never uses the word "class" but the entire working class and swathes of the middle classes too will see a further eroding of their living standards as a result of this budget by the rich for the rich.

The other Labour response is a childish playground cry of "it's not fair - that's Ed Miliband's programme".

This is true as well. This devastating budget for the working class is full of policies that were either part of Labour's election programme or are championed by the current leadership.

Chris Leslie, the new Shadow Chancellor has pronounced himself in support of the public sector pay freeze. So despite the fact that many of us have seen our pay fall by 15-20% in real terms since the onset of recession, Labour has joined the Tories in wanting to cut pay further.

Labour peer, Frank Field, was making overtures to the Tories about reducing and scrapping working tax credits, just like Osborne has announced, in the run-up to the budget. Jeremy Corbyn aside, none of the Labour leadership contenders have been willing to oppose Tory plans to lower the benefits cap.

Osborne's 'Living Wage' (in reality a re-named minimum wage, without any reference to the real cost of living) is nowhere near adequate for workers to get by on and for many, won't make up for the working tax credits they will lose. But it is still £1 an hour more by 2020 than the figure Miliband promised (£8/hour) for the minimum wage during the election, also by 2020.

The Tories' have made a budget based on Labour policies and it is an attack on the working class. What more proof do we need that the working class need our own party? TUSC is laying the foundations for such a party and in the meantime we are supporting all those fighting back against Tory austerity.

The strikes of rail workers, civil servants and council workers on budget day were a big two fingers raised to Osborne's budget. This fighting response is the only appropriate one to Tory and Labour austerity.

Fight all cuts!
Strike to win!
Build TUSC!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Save EOTAS Swansea

I attended a great meeting of Save EOTAS Swansea last night, taking greetings and messages of support from Swansea Trades Council.

There are many varied reasons why pupils might need the extra, specialist help provided by the EOTAS (Education Other Than At School) service. What was abundantly clear from the testimony of pupils and former pupils, together with their parents, last night is that the service provides invaluable support to those that need it. Time and again the meeting heard how pupils had been able to successfully complete their school-age education and progress to college only with the assistance of dedicated staff.

It's a shame and a scandal that City and County of Swansea officers and the councillors of the ruling Labour Group are either not listening or are hearing and then ignoring, the evidence of EOTAS' success. They seem to determined to press ahead with cuts to the service which could see more than half the staff lose their jobs.

Staff, pupils and their families have been shabbily treated by the Council, which seems to repeatedly contradict itself, appears to have ridden rough-shod over the consultation process and has generally left both users and providers of the service in the dark about the exact nature of their proposals for cutting costs.

If Labour councillors and Council officers thought they would have an easy ride by targeting this relatively small group of staff as part of their plans to cut £24 million from education in Swansea over the next 3 years they were very much mistaken. Trade unionists have shown their determination to defend the service they are rightly proud of providing, by more than once taking strike action, the last time for 3 days.

Perhaps it's time to step up the political pressure on Labour councillors who make Tory cuts by threatening to stand no-cuts candidates from the campaign, against all those with a hand in making cuts in EOTAS, in the next council elections.

Defend education!
Save EOTAS Swansea!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Swansea March Against Austerity

On Saturday there is a Swansea march against austerity assembling at the Guildhall at 12.30pm to march to Castle Square.

The demo is timely as Osbourne has announced further cuts for Wales this year of somewhere between £50 million and £84 million, depending on which report you read.

It's a good job we in Wales have got a Labour Government and many of us have got Labour councils to protect us from those cuts...

Except they don't!

Labour is in a potentially powerful position in Wales to throw a serious spanner in the wheels of the Tories' austerity programme but instead the facilitate it.

Labour holds the leadership of the Welsh Government and, until recently half the councils in Wales. Labour has just lost the leadership of Carmarthenshire Council to Plaid Cymru, where unions are demanding Plaid Cymru keep the promises they made while in opposition - to halt the cuts and attacks on union representation of the previous Labour administration. But Labour still runs 10 out of 22 local authorities.

The problem is that Labour has simply wielded the Con-Dems' axe for them, slashing jobs and services. An insightful front page image for the local newspaper had a mocked up picture of Cameron, Labour First Minister and the then Swansea Council Leader, David Phillips, all carrying hatchets, under the headline "the axe men cometh".

I wonder how many Labour politicians who have put up their hands for devastating cuts will be on this demo and the even more important Peoples Assembly march in London on June 20?

Obviously we all want unity in the fight against austerity but it has to be unity based on a plan to defeat cuts. That has to mean elected representatives voting against cuts. Councillors and other politicians who vote for cuts to jobs and services and then march and rally against the cuts they implement just sow confusion in the movement.

TUSC will be marching in Swansea on Saturday and in London next week. If, like us, you think that an important part of the fight against austerity is to build a political opposition to cuts then speak to us on the rally or come to our meeting in Dyfatty Community Centre, 7.30pm on June 24. We will be discussing the next steps in building a political anti-austerity alternative after the election.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Does Jeremy Corbyn entering the Labour Leadership contest negate what we've previously published?

Jeremy Corbyn has entered the contest for the Labour Leadership. Corbyn is standing as a left, anti-austerity candidate. Does that negate what we've previously published?

No! It's not guaranteed, in fact it is perhaps unlikely, that Corbyn will get enough nominations from Labour MPs to make it onto the ballot paper. John McDonnell was unsuccessful un securing the necessary nominations in the last two leadership elections. Less Labour MPs were willing to publicly defend the party-union link than the 35 required to nominate a leadership challenger.

If Corbyn does make it onto the ballot then it is all but ruled out that he would win given the emptying out of the Party and its acceleration to the right. So fast has been Labour's march to the right that Miliband's weak election platform, which promised more cuts, tighter immigration controls, no measures to halt falling wages, or reverse the jobs massacre and which completely failed to inspire working class voters, is now seen as left-wing in the ranks of the Labour Party.

Will the affiliated trade unions back Corbyn? It's not guaranteed but if they don't and continue to support austerity-Burnham even after he has made it clear he doesn't want their support, then it should be obvious to everyone that there is no prospect of Labour ever being reclaimed as a tool to fight for trade unionists and working class people.

We now have the strange spectacle of Corbyn, the declared left winger in this contest, having to defend Miliband's programme and election campaign. Sorry Jeremy but a few token gestures, like raising the minimum wage to a few pence more than today's Living Wage, in 5 years' time, doesn't make Miliband's an anti-austerity programme.

Despite Corbyn's identification with Miliband's austerity election programme, I think TUSC should give him what backing we can, particularly in the affiliated unions. In return we ask that if and when he fails to halt the march to the right of Labour, that those who back him in the Party be prepared to accept the obvious conclusion that Labour can't be reclaimed as a party for trade unionists and the working class.

Instead of wasting time and energy on the Labour Party which, despite their efforts, is rapidly ditching the 'lite' part of Tory-lite, we invite them to join us in debating how to build a new party of the working class on the foundations already laid down by TUSC.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Never mind Blairite, Labour leadership contenders sound positively Thatcherite!

So Newsnight's going to screen a Labour leadership contenders' debate? I don't know why they bother - they all seem to be saying the same things.

On one news programme last week we had reports of Burnham saying he didn't want to be seen as the candidate of the unions or the Left (as if!) and that he thinks we should be tougher on benefits, Liz Kendall saying she wants to back the white working class young (what about the non-white working class?) and Yvette Cooper calling for tougher action on immigration. Never mind a field of Blairites, at times they sound positively Thatcherite!

Despite the determination of all contenders for the Labour leadership to move the Party even further to the right (incredibly they all blame Miliband's defeat on him being too left wing!) the affiliated unions will no doubt find some reason to back one of this ragbag as the 'unions' choice'; it looks like being Burnham at the moment despite his desperation to distance himself from that label.

If newspaper reports are right then Unite and Unison between them gave upwards of £20 million to the Labour Party under Miliband, who was himself the 'unions' choice' at the time. What did we get for our members' money? Under Miliband's leadership, Labour refused to support and in a number of cases condemned, striking trade unionists doing what Labour refused to do - fighting back against Government cuts.

Worse still, where Labour is in power - in the Welsh Government and in councils across the country - they've been just as quick to make cuts as the Tories. £20 million to support a party whose councillors make thousands of our members redundant, outsource jobs and services and drive down our members' conditions?

And let's not forget the Labour Leader reporting Unite, his party's biggest financial backer, to the police on completely spurious charges. Even though  all the accusations against Unite in Falkirk were found to be groundless, they still provided a pretext for Inneos to victimise a Unite steward and for the Labour Party to bar an elected candidate from standing in Falkirk and then initiate the Collins Review, to neuter union influence in the Party.

And yet Labour 'lefts' and the Morning Star, are getting excited about Labour MPs 'defending the union link' but when you read the detail it's a signal of the weakness of support for union values in the parliamentary party - they could only find 26 Labour MPs who were willing to defend the trade union link, even in its extremely watered down version post-Collins. When I was a member of the Labour Party if you applied to join without providing details of what union you were a member of, your application would be referred back until you could provide a good reason as to why you were not a trade unionist. Now I seems that only a tiny minority of Labour MPs think there is a role for unions at all in the Party (apart from maybe bankrolling their personal careers).

To suggest that trade unionists should join, vote for and fund the Labour Party given all the above smacks of Stockholm Syndrome. The affiliated unions need to break with Labour now - not a penny more of our members cash to the red Tories! Instead found a real workers' party that can build on the foundations laid down by TUSC.

Friday, 29 May 2015

FIFA and the once beautiful game

FIFA has become a byword for corruption; today the sole remaining Brazilian delegate to it's World Congress appears to fled Geneva, to escape arrest like his colleague who has been picked up already in the current corruption scandal. Despite this Sepp Blatter, who has presided over all the scandals, will probably win the election for FIFA President today, against the only other contender, a Jordanian prince.

Politicians in the UK, delighted to have found a body dirtier and more corrupt than themselves, have been quick to point the finger at FIFA and demand it clean up its act. From Cameron to Carwyn they have been jumping on this particular bandwagon.

The taint of corruption has been too much for even the giant multinationals who sponsor FIFA and the World Cup; one or two have ended their sponsorship while others have issued demands that FIFA clean up its act. Considering this includes the likes of Coca Cola, no strangers to bad publicity over political corruption themselves, indicates just how toxic being associated with FIFA has potentially become.

Behind the public show of outrage though is a glossing over of the real scandal, the human cost of FIFA's dodgy deals. At least 1,200 foreign construction workers have died building the stadiums that will house the Qatar World Cup.

The World Cup offers such a marketing opportunity for these global brands that the majority of them will simply issue a few bland statements calling on FIFA to reform, before continuing with business as usual.

If you've any doubts about this, check out the link below:
Fifa scandal: the sponsors respond - YouTube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nCc_raw8cgI

Football is big business. Reclaim the game!