Tuesday 28 April 2015

Anticuts Campaigners Should Unite and Stand Against The Austerity Parties in Elections

Ross Saunders,Secretary of Cardiff Against The Cuts and TUSC candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth

Austerity has been brutal, and, as many made clear in the People's Assembly meeting last Thursday, we've had enough of it.

But how can we defeat it? How can we put an alternative onto the agenda?

There is agony in society, but there is even more coming our way, whoever wins the next election. 

And not only has Labour refused to reverse the funding cuts, the party plans to make more: all but five Labour MPs voted with the Tories and Liberals last month for another £30 billion cuts to welfare and public services. (UKIP wants £35 billion.) Although Labour has been forced by protests to pledge to scrap the bedroom tax - one of the most hated of the ConDem's attacks on the vulnerable - benefits spokesperson Rachel Reeves has promised to be "tougher than the Tories" on benefit claimants.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have pledged to help Miliband carry out this programme if Labour doesn't have a majority of its own. Those parties are also currently implementing austerity at council level. There are many good activists currently attracted to them but, because they're not rooted in working-class communities and organisations, and because they accept the status quo of big business dominating our economy, when tested they do what capitalism wants them to do, even though refusing to carry out cuts is essential if the Welsh language is to get the support it needs and if we're going to tackle climate change.

We should fight the attacks with every fibre and with our last breath, in every way possible. That's why I believe the anti-austerity movement is making a big mistake if we don't gather our forces, organise them, unite and stand our own candidates in elections.

As things stand we come together to decry the brutality of austerity on protests and rallies, but when it comes to elections we are spread thinly across several parties. We can make a big impact on marches and demonstrations, but our energy and influence is dissipated at election time because our forces are divided and diverted, and in a direction that props up austerity and the parties that support it. Ironically, many of us are anti-cuts campaigners planning to vote for pro-cuts parties next month. That's why they get away with it: because we haven't resolved that contradiction by founding our own party.

Some people will be worried about letting the Tories in. But it is precisely the absence of a party that would fight for all ordinary working-class people that is strengthening the Tories. After five years of brutal cuts, any real opposition party should be leagues ahead in the polls. But the Tories' divide-and-rule tactics, turning low-paid workers against benefit claimants, the old against the young, native against immigrant, are still working because there is no party credibly promising to improve living standards for all ordinary people. In any case, without such a party we will get Tory policies whoever forms the government.

Of course it's not true that we should wait for the creation of an anticuts party before fighting the cuts. It's not true either that we can't win any concessions until we do: nationally the Coalition has been a coalition of u-turns. And locally, in the five years that I've been Secretary of Cardiff Against The Cuts I've fought alongside campaigners who have stopped the closure of primary schools, playcentres, libraries, youth clubs, swimming pools and many other facilities.

This year Cardiff Council was forced to back off from more cuts than ever before, and more than anywhere else in Wales. Building the protests was key to this, but so was the threat many campaigners made to stand as anticuts candidates, independently of the main parties but linked up with one another. What happened this year in Cardiff is proof that, if you're aim is to pull Labour to the left, the best way of doing that is to drag them to the left from the outside. But what this year also shows is that protesting isn't enough - Cardiff Labour Council still got away with making another £41 million of cuts to services. To stop the cuts we must continue to march, protest and strike together, but we need to take a stand in elections together too.

There are 135 candidates in the General Election this year who have committed to that project, including in a third of the seats in Wales. They're linking up through the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, known as the "Coalition Against The Cuts." They're all community campaigners or trade unionists who have experience standing up for their community and workmates, and ALL of them would make better representatives than the politicians we confront in our campaigning work.

But so would many of the people reading this article. TUSC is standing to broadcast the idea of building a new party out of the anti-austerity movement. If you want to find out more about that project, or get involved, or help us fight this election, get in touch with me at Wales.TUSC@gmail.com. Or come to the meeting at 730pm on Tuesday 5th May in the Holiday Inn on Westgate Street. It's time to stop buying the bullets for the firing squad aiming at us, lending our votes to parties that are demanding we pay for the recession instead of the billionaires who caused it.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Standing up for Further Education against Welsh Government Cuts

Yesterday (22 April) staff and students - organised by the Joint Trade Unions representing FE workers - in Welsh Colleges took part in protests against Welsh Government cuts to Further Education.

Early reports are that the events were well supported all across Wales, which fits with my experience in Gower College Swansea. At Gorseinon, where I work, the joint trade unions put out a call for people to gather at 1pm at the main gate and workers and students responded enthusiastically.

There was an upbeat atmosphere but a quiet determination to stand up for the broad range of quality learning and training opportunities we provide, particularly for adult education, which is seeing a 50% cut in funding in a single year!

The range of chances for adult learners in our communities, that colleges provide, will be seriously reduced if these cuts go through and where learners can find courses they could be much more expensive as colleges have to pass on the full cost price to learners. This is likely to price many out of education and training. Has the Welsh Government abandoned the principle of 'lifelong learning' in its willingness to pass on Con-Dem cuts?

Workers and students were clear what they think of Welsh Labour cuts to Further Education, summed up in the placard made by one lecturer - betrayal! Next Wednesday (29 April) we take our protests to the Welsh Government's doorstep as we demand they reconsider and give us the resources we need to deliver the high quality education we're proud of.

TUSC, as the only 100% anti-austerity party contesting the election on May 7th stands shoulder to shoulder with all those standing up for Further Education.

Ronnie Job, TUSC candidate Swansea West

Saturday 18 April 2015

Oppose Welsh Government cuts to Further Education as well as Con-Dem ones

A response to an email from a constituent about opposing FE cuts..

Thank you for your email. I am happy to sign the petition but I notice it only refers to English FE cuts.

Unfortunately the Welsh Government, with its willingness to pass on Con-Dem cuts is also making deep cuts to Further Education, particularly adult education.

I am a Unison steward in a college in Wales. On Wednesday (April 22) I am urging my members to join the lunchtime gate protests that are taking place in colleges across Wales against Welsh Government cuts to Further Education.

The following Wednesday (29 April) trade unionists from colleges around Wales will be lobbying the Assembly to Hal these cuts. Hopefully students will also join us.

These Welsh Government cuts are not only a threat to the jobs and conditions of my union members and workmates but also to the opportunities that exist for learning and training in Wales.

If you look at the Swansea TUSC blog: http://tuscswansea.blogspot.com/ you will find a number of posts about FE cuts in Wales. If you agree with what is written then please share and help us to oppose cuts.


Ronnie Job
Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition Candidate, Swansea West

Thursday 16 April 2015

FE workers prepare to fight back against Welsh Government cuts

It was no accident that today's media launch for the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Wales took place outside a college. The cuts in Further Education now taking place across Wales are a perfect example of how Welsh Labour is prepared to pass on Con-Dem cuts.

The cuts now taking place in Welsh colleges threaten hundreds of jobs and will represent a reduction in learning opportunities for people across Wales, particularly for adults and part-time learners. It would mean the end of the principle of 'lifelong learning' - of learning and training opportunities from cradle to grave. Courses will be harder to find and even where available the cost may be prohibitive for many.

The cuts are directly as a result of reducing central funding and other streams of income from the Welsh Government. They are exacerbated by the willingness of the Welsh Government to award training contracts, previously delivered by professional staff from FE colleges, to private and third sector providers, some of whom don't even recognise unions.

But FE workers are not taking this lying down. An initiative from the lecturers' union, UCU to begin a campaign to put pressure on the Welsh Government to reconsider, is being backed now, I'm glad to say by my union, UNISON, and other campus unions.

Next Wednesday, 22 April, there will be college gate, lunchtime, protests by FE workers to be followed by a lobby of the Welsh Assembly the following Wednesday, 29 April. These could be really well attended and will be backed by the majority of students.

A lot of FE workers will recognise that only co-ordinated national action by campus unions is likely to be needed to force the Welsh Government to rethink. These protests will be important in alerting students and communities to the dangers for education and in building the confidence in FE workers for the fight ahead.

Stong support from TUSC for Global Day of Action for Fast Food Rights

Trades Unionist and Socialist candidates in 4 parliamentary seats and 2 council by-elections joined the Global Day of Action on Fast Food Rights in Swansea yesterday. TUSC supports one hundred percent this campaign, launched by the BFAWU, to unionise fast food workers to organise to end zero hours contracts, to fight for £10/hour minimum wage and for union rights.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Fed up with Labour - Vote TUSC

On Friday April 10 the Guardian ran an article '10 things Guardian readers think should be in the Labour manifesto' this was the same day the Guardian completely blanked and ignored the national manifesto launch of the TUSC manifesto. 
TUSC is all about meeting the needs for working class people but remains the largest party many people haven't heard of - stop the media blackout now!

Iain Dalton TUSC candidate in Leeds has had the following letter published on the Guardian this week. 

The Welsh launch of the TUSC manifesto takes place tomorrow 
Thursday 15 April in Cardiff outside the Cardiff and Vale college 35 The Parade Cardiff CF24 3AD at 11am. 

Make sure you tune into the TUSC election broadcast on Friday  17 when TUSC will have an historic opportunity to mount, on TV, the clearest anti-austerity message from any party in the election. Broadcast times are scheduled to be BBC2 5.55pm, ITV 6.25pm and BBC1 6.55pm.

Thursday 2 April 2015

"TUSC the largest political party you've never heard of". Yet!

With the party leaders' general election debate imminent, the radio this morning keeps talking about the 6 largest parties contesting seats in Parliament. There's one party missing from that list - TUSC.

It is this blanking of TUSC that led political blogger, Alex Woolley of 50for15.com, to describe us as "the Largest party that you've never heard of".


It's an accurate description in terms of our ambitions, if not in terms of our financial backing or likely vote at this election.

The TUSC Steering Committee has approved over 130 prospective parliamentary candidates for May 7 and hundreds of council candidates for English council elections.

We can't expect large donations like the £1.5 million that Unite the Union has given to Labour to fight the election but we have successfully inspired thousands of ordinary people to make donations large or small because they would not otherwise have anybody to vote for in this election.

While we're realistic enough to know that it's very unlikely that I'll be giving up my day job working in education, to become MP for Swansea West on May 8 for instance, we do believe history is on our side.  Workers, trade unionists and working class people need our own party - the bosses already have them in a number of party colours, including Labour red.

TUSC is doing pioneering work in raising the idea of a new mass workers' party and, even if it doesn't come next month, a breakthrough may not be that far away. When a clear anti-austerity message is presented it can inspire - look at the success of Syriza in Greece or the phenomenal growth in Podemos in Spain.

50for15 has identified 50 'marginal' seats in the election and is visiting each of them to get a flavour of campaigning. When Alex, on behalf of 50for15, visited Swansea TUSC supporters on Saturday we were battling with gale force winds, cold and rain. It was too gusty to use our banner in case it became a flying hazard to motorists!

Despite all obstacles, the response made the day enjoyable and worthwhile. I received a tweet last night that shows we're on the right track and will inspire me for the rest of the campaign.

"Great to meet you on Saturday @RonnieJob , despite the dreadful weather you managed to put some fire back into my jaded heart. Best of luck."

Ronnie Job, TUSC, Swansea West

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Meals on wheels: One more Welsh victim of austerity

The BBC is reporting that a Freedom Of Information request by Radio Cymru has revealed that councils in Wales have cut Meals on Wheels provision by around a third in 5 years.

This means that users of this service are not guaranteed a hot meal every day or to see another person; some councils in Wales only deliver a batch of frozen meals once a fortnight. There are Welsh councils which no longer provide this service at all!

This is just one more example of how services are cut and service users suffer because the Labour Welsh Government and councils in Wales, no matter which party they're led by, pass on Con-Dem cuts.

A Labour victory in the General Election in May will not prevent further cuts being experienced by users of services like meals on wheels; Labour has pledged to continue cuts. No wonder the Welsh Local Government says that councils in Wales, currently making £300 million in cuts, will face continuing austerity for the foreseeable future.

If you've had enough of cuts and being made to pay for a crisis that we didn't cause then you should check out if you're in one of the constituencies in Wales where you can vote for TUSC, the no-cuts alternative, on May 7.