Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

77 people attended the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in Coventry on February 25th. The Socialist Party, which organised the meeting, is standing as part of TUSC alongside the RMT trade union and many leading trade unionists.

Judy Griffiths, Coventry CWU branch secretary and prospective TUSC candidate, chaired the meeting, at which speakers from the FBU, PCS, Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and NUS spoke (all speaking in a personal capacity), reflecting the base of TUSC and the Socialist Party in the unions across the city.

Jordan Jefferies, a sixth-form student in Coventry and a Socialist Party member, spoke about the anger felt by many young people against austerity, and said that TUSC has been amazing in attempting to engage the people who are disillusioned and disinterested in politics. People are disillusioned and angry with establishment politics and rightly so. The Socialist Party and TUSC are out to build the opposition to “business as usual”.

Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President and prospective TUSC candidate, spoke about the effects she sees of austerity on children in her job as a teacher.

Nick Harrison, Coventry Fire Brigades Union borough rep had been on strike with his union the same day – supported on the picket lines by Socialist Party and TUSC activists – and spoke about their dispute, and the need for a viable political alternative to Labour.

Lee Cooper, RMT Coventry No.1 branch secretary, spoke about the City Link scandal, the effect it had on workers and the need for a working class political voice.

Former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist spoke about the TUSC project more widely, and why it is significant in the development of a new party for ordinary people.

This meeting showed some of the appetite in Coventry for a political party that sticks up for ordinary people. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain show the potential for building an anti-austerity alternative. The Socialist Party will build TUSC and fight for bold socialist policies to combat not just austerity, but the cause of austerity – the capitalist system.

Sign up here to get involved in the Socialist Campaign Team for the election!

Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Coventry Council announced today that all libraries in Coventry will remain open for another year, after protests and petitions across the city against the planned cuts.

Despite only being a “stay of execution” for a year, with Labour councillor David Kershaw admitting that the council will be looking at libraries “sharing” buildings with other groups in the future, this shows that protests and campaigning can work.

“The council are running scared and have responded by delaying the closures for a year, in an attempt to stop the protests – the best way to respond is to keep campaigning against all the cuts.” said Sarah Smith, a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist who has been campaigning to save Tile Hill Library.

Councillor Kershaw’s comment that the libraries may be closing in two years also reveals what we can expect to see under a future Labour government – continued cuts to council grants, leading to our public services being closed. We can’t just “wait for Labour” – we have to fight the cuts!

This decision blows apart the council’s continued claim that “there is no alternative” to cuts, as they have found the money to keep the libraries open for another year. Rather than continuing to slash our services and cut council workers jobs, they should use the £80million+ that they have in reserves to fund services, while building a campaign alongside the people of Coventry to demand central Government gives us the money back. If the councillors aren’t prepared to do that, we should replace them with people who will.

Let’s keep the pressure up and make the demonstration on Saturday massive to drive forward the anti-cuts movement in Coventry!

Coventry Against The Cuts march, Saturday 21st February, 12 midday outside the Transport Museum

40 people join protest against library closures

40 people join protest against library closures

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Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Around 40 people protested against library closures outside Earlsdon Library on Thursday in a vibrant demonstration of opposition to the council’s planned cuts.

Many children from Earlsdon Primary School came to the protest with their parents, which shows the depth of feeling in the community – this is echoed across Coventry, particularly in Tile Hill where over 900 people have signed the petition against the closure of the library,

Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Dan Crowter spoke at the protest to advertise the anti-cuts march on February 21st, and finished by saying that if the councillors aren’t prepared to fight the cuts we should replace them with people who will.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Jason Toynbee on the protest

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Jason Toynbee on the protest

Protesters will be outside Stoke Library at 10am and Earlsdon and Tile Hill Libraries at 12midday on Saturday 14th February, and will be holding a “read-in” outside the Council House at 4.45pm on February 23rd. There is also a major anti-cuts march in Coventry on February 21st, gathering outside the Transport Museum at 12 midday.

Coventry Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Election Launch – 7.30pm, February 25th, Methodist Central Hall

Two dates for your diary – major protest against the cuts and TUSC election launch!

Two dates for your diary – major protest against the cuts and TUSC election launch!

TUSC election launch

TUSC election launch

Anti austerity campaigners in Coventry are working hard to build for two key events taking place in the city next month. See the bottom of this article for details of both. The first is a major demonstration called by Coventry TUC, Coventry against the Cuts and local trade unions against the proposed cuts by Coventry City Council which will see the closure of vital local services such as community centres, local libraries and children’s centres. This takes place on the Saturday before Councillors vote on the cuts budget – we need to show our opposition. Make sure you are there and bring as many people as possible with you!

Shortly after this demonstration the Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be holding the launch event for our election campaign. Speakers will include Dave Nellist, local trade unionists and campaigners. TUSC will be the only socialist and anti-austerity alternative in these elections – come to our launch to find out how you can get involved.

Coventry against the Cuts demonstration

Saturday 21st February, 12pm. Assembly point to be confirmed. For Facebook event page click here. If you want leaflets to help build for this event contact the campaign on coventryagainstthecuts@gmail.com

TUSC election launch meeting

Wednesday 25th February, 7.30pm. Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. For Facebook event page click here. To get more information about the campaign call or text 07530 429441

 

 

Protest against cuts to local services

Protest against cuts to local services

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Despite the pouring rain, around 40 people joined the lobby of Coventry Council on Tuesday 13th to challenge councillors over their planned budget cuts. The cuts will mean every service outside the City Centre is under threat of closure – every library, community centre and even public toilets!

Members of unions such as Unite, Unison, NUT and the FBU were represented, as well as Coventry Trades Council. Socialist Party members and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates were also at the lobby.

Dan Crowter, who stood for TUSC in Bablake ward in the 2014 local elections, said “The councillors tell us they’re making these cuts with a heavy heart. Well I’ve got a heavy heart too – but after these cuts and council tax rises, I’ll have a lighter wallet as well.”

Jane Nellist, Branch Secretary of Coventry NUT (personal capacity), attacked the council’s decision to cut libraries, pointing out their importance to the community and also for children as they provide them books and a safe space to read. She ended by saying that “we didn’t create this crisis, we’re not going to pay for it!”

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist, national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, called on the council to use the £81 million they have in reserves and build a campaign against the cuts. He also said the council should be flooded with petitions challenging every service closure so the council know people are opposed to their cuts.

There will be a Coventry Against the Cuts march through the City Centre on February 21st, to put more pressure on the council before the budget vote on the 24th. If, as expected, Coventry’s councillors choose to vote for the planned cuts and decimate our services, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates will stand in every ward across the city to provide an anti-cuts alternative in May.

Labour Council plans to close 100 essential local centres

Labour Council plans to close 100 essential local centres

Coventry City Council plans more cuts

Coventry City Council plans more cuts

 

Coventry’ Labour Council has announced it is to close almost every children and family centre, community centre, play centre, adult education centre, library and suburban office in the city.

The plan, called City Centre First, should be renamed ‘City of London First’ as it’s an abject surrender to an austerity agenda seeking to force working class people and their families to pay for the gambling and speculation of the banks.

City Centre First will rip the heart out of virtually every community in Coventry. It reverses decades of investment from the Council Tax of hundreds of thousands of Coventry residents, into our communities, our neighbourhoods. Hardly a family in the city will be untouched as dozens of public facilities close, and as the few remaining services are re-located, for some, many miles away.

Closures are not necessary

These cuts and closures are not necessary. And it isn’t ‘the only way to deliver a balanced budget’ as has been claimed by Labour’s finance chief, Cllr Damian Gannon.

Coventry Council has reserves of tens of millions of pounds – much of it put aside to fund staff redundancies, to pay for the axing of another 1000 jobs that will then never be available to young people in our city. A proportion of those reserves should be used to preserve jobs and services and offset the shortfall in government funding. This would buy time whilst the Council mounts a serious campaign for the Government to properly fund our essential local services. Council unions should offer to work with the Council in a joint campaign for funding for the needs of the city – but be prepared to take resolute action against the Council if they continue with their plan of surrender.

Cuts and closures must be challenged

Labour seem to have given up the fight without ever engaging the enemy. When the Tories say “jump”, they merely ask “how high?” They no longer challenge whether widespread swingeing cuts are necessary, only ­how they are to be implemented.  Unlike the success of socialist Liverpool in the mid-1980s (when the equivalent of nearly £90 million extra funding was won by a Labour council from Mrs Thatcher), this generation of Labour councillors see no prospect of changing a Tory government’s mind (and David Cameron is no Mrs Thatcher!).

And unlike previous generations of Coventry Labour councillors, such as led by Cllr Arthur Waugh Snr in the 1970s who, when faced with demands for making government cuts into local services, organised a meeting in St Mary’s Hall of Labour council leaders from all around the country to stand together and tell the then Labour Government that cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund had to be opposed. Today, each Labour council around the country is making similar cuts, instead of standing up to the Tory bullies.

Whoever wins the General Election, working people will suffer

You would think that Labour would be explaining that this was all the Tories’ fault, and that if Labour wins the election next May then the rot would stop and the onslaught of cuts would be reversed. But no; Coventry Labour council assumes that even if their party wins the General Election, Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has promised to match Tory spending cuts £ for £. The demands for service cuts in Coventry in 2016 and 2017 will continue and, whoever wins the General Election, rise to £65 million a year in 3 years’ time.  Indeed the Council report announcing these cuts and closures makes these predictions based on “the Government’s June 2013 Spending Round and subsequent indicative announcements of the main political parties nationally”.

In other words it doesn’t matter which of the 4 main national parties you vote for next May, all the national establishment parties are agreed that our local services should be sacrificed to settle the bankers’ debts.  And equally it doesn’t matter if the cuts are made enthusiastically by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in London, or with a heavy heart by Labour in Coventry, they will hurt just the same.

If Coventry Labour councillors are not prepared to fight, they should stand aside and let people on the Council who are willing to fight for Coventry.

Campaigns

100 essential local centres are targeted for closure, and out of many of those will come campaigns of angry local people, parents, service users and staff determined to save their local service. But, scandalously, Labour have said that they might not even consult those local people about these plans because, according to the Coventry Telegraph, ‘the closures were viewed as inevitable’. That will be strongly challenged.

And the closures themselves are not inevitable. Local people can force changes in agendas. Petitions, local meetings, delegations to councillors, lobbies of the city council itself – all will be used to press for a change in direction. But if the success in saving one library or community centre is not to mean that something else gets cut even more elsewhere, local cuts campaigns will have to come together in a citywide body and challenge the whole strategy of accepting massive central government funding cuts without question. To get that change means electing people onto the Council who are prepared to fight.

TUSC – the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

The Socialist Party and our partners in TUSC will work with communities, service users and staff in Coventry, and support each and every campaign seeking to save a local service. As part of our work we will discuss with local campaigns and argue that they should put up anti-cuts candidates in every ward in the city next May, standing under the TUSC umbrella alongside over 1000 similar anti-cuts candidates around the country, all pledged to save local services.

By standing in such large numbers we begin to take that fight to London, and begin to force the media to broaden the debate beyond the speed of cuts, to whether cuts should take place at all!

And if voting Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP all mean largely the same diet of cuts to our family services, so that their banker friends can carry on receiving bonuses, then TUSC will mount the largest left of Labour General Election challenge across the whole country seen since the Second World War.

We need a new politics

The cuts aren’t necessary. The rich individuals and corporations presently avoiding or evading £120 billion a year in taxation should be made to pay – not child and family centres, libraries and youth clubs. We have to shift the argument back from ‘how-to’ implement the cuts, to ‘whether’ cuts should be implemented at all.

We need a new politics in this country and TUSC is determined to build one, rooted in the organisations and communities of the working class. Help us challenge the overlapping austerity agenda of the big establishment parties, and build a new political force that doesn’t ignore working people nor leave them behind.

Dave Nellist

National Chair TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

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