It’s Up the Poll! 2015: The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Tameside

A look at the policies of the TUSC with a Tameside angle.

For the ninth part of It’s Up the Poll! 2015, we shall be looking at one of the newest parties to stand in Tameside’s local elections. One that has four times the number of candidates as the Conservative’s chosen coalition partners at local level.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is a recently formed alliance of left-wing and far-left parties. Its prime movers include the Socialist Party (which older readers of this blog would remember as ‘Militant’), the Socialist Workers’ Party (once the preserve of Paul Foot), and Solidarity. The third force split from the Scottish Socialist Party. Created in 2010, its main supporters included the late Bob Crow (former RMT union leader).

The TUSC also has its roots in a left-wing anti-EU group entitled NO2EU (No to EU – Yes to Democracy).

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Arts, Culture and Sport

With art galleries, libraries and football pitches under the purlieu of Tameside MBC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition may see them as essential public services. And effectively funded. All legal powers could be used by TUSC councillors to, for example, reverse cuts to opening hours at the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery or any library closures.

Crime

The TUSC favours democratic control of legal institutions and the UK’s police forces. This means opposition to the Police and Crime Commissioners. Changes to Legal Aid initiated by Chris Grayling could be reversed.

Defence

The TUSC is against spending money on a replacement for Trident. Instead of huge aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons, they prefer to channel the money towards socially useful projects. For example, the enhancement of public services and better funded hospitals.

Democracy

Diversity and opposition to racism, fascism and discrimination is key to TUSC policy. The alliance also favours the right to vote for persons aged 16 to 18, along with the Labour and Green parties.

Economy

The TUSC wishes to repeal the anti-trade union laws. With Britain having the most regressive trade union laws in Europe, this means an end to laws outlawing secondary picketing. They favour a rise in the National Minimum Wage to £10 per hour, a move that would pull a lot of Tameside people away from the breadline. Furthermore, the TUSC states that all NMW rises should be in line with inflation or higher wages, whichever one is the highest of the two.

Like Labour, the TUSC favours the abolition of Zero Hour Contracts with guaranteed hours and full employment rights available for all from day one. Instead of depriving public sector workers the right to strike (as the Conservatives propose), the TUSC aims to extend full trade union rights to prison officers. Equal rights and pay for women as well as LGBT and disabled people is key to their policies of social justice.

It is wholeheartedly against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and treaties of a similar ilk.

Banks and finance institutions could be brought into genuine public ownership with democratic control. The Royal Mail – privatised by the ConDems – could be brought back in to public ownership.

Education

Like the Green Party of England and Wales, the TUSC is against the marketisation of education. In other words, they favour an end to Free Schools; also the end of Academies with Copley Academy and New Charter Academy transferring to LEA control. The borough’s students could benefit from a debt free stint in university as the TUSC would like to see grants replace loans.

Environment

The TUSC is wholly against fracking and favours investment in renewable energy – all publicly owned and regulated. They are against genetic modification and favours production based on need. To save the environment, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, given that the TUSC apportions the blame on capitalism for climate change.

Europe

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s main partners have believed in a Europe which is built upon socialist grounds. Though the European Union has brought some benefits to the borough’s workers and its public services, they have favoured exiting the European Union. For sometime, the EU as been regarded as a ‘capitalist club’ by the TUSC’s partners.

Families

Among its most family friendly policies would be the reversal of public service cuts which have disproportionately affected families. Especially women. In a bid to maintain work-life balance and allow for ‘quality time’ with children or other relatives, the TUSC suggest a maximum working week of 35 hours. This would be a boost to the borough’s public services as families would have more time to go to art galleries, swimming pools or enjoy a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Foreign policy

An independent foreign policy based on international solidarity is key to the TUSC. They are against a militarised Europe with economic aims, and kowtowing to the USA. They also recognise the state of Palestine and favour justice for Palestinians.

Health

The TUSC favours full democratic public control of the National Health Service. Which in other words not only endorses Labour’s plan to reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Bill, but reverses the use of PFI schemes.

Housing

Though too late for Tameside MBC given the sale of its housing stock to ALMOs (New Charter Housing Trust and Ashton Pioneer Homes for example), the TUSC wishes to end further privatisation of social housing. They aim to stop the housing crisis by encouraging Tameside MBC to build more high-standard and eco-friendly social housing. An immediate introduction of rent controls will also be considered.

Immigration

The alliance defends the right to asylum by repealing the 2014 Immigration Act and other similar laws. This including the £18,000 income threshold for British nationals wishing to send an overseas lover home to his/her country.

Social Security

The TUSC’s Social Security policies is likely to strike a chord with the people of Tameside given the borough’s role as guinea pigs for the ConDems’ policies. Key to this is a reversal of all cuts to state benefits, the abolition of DWP sanctions and the abolition of the Bedroom Tax.

Furthermore, the TUSC favours restoring to State Pensions to pre-1980 levels (which if kept to such levels would be around £200 per week). To boost youth employment rates, changes to the retirement age by Labour and the ConDems they state should be reversed.

Transport

The return of British Rail and Greater Manchester Transport (or SHMD and Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation) is key to TUSC transport policy. All inland transport and ferry services could be renationalised, a move which could see Dukinfield getting a decent bus link to Manchester city centre again. With environmental concerns, electric-hybrid buses and electrified railways could be the order of the day.

Youth

A debt free graduation is at present a dream among today’s Higher Education students. The TUSC favours the return of Student Grants, in place of Student Loans. Full entitlement to state benefits could be restored to 16 to 25 year olds. Changes to the retirement age could see more younger people join the labour market.

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At a more local level…

The two Denton wards, Hyde Godley and St. Peter’s will see Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates. Whether they make a dent – as a left-leaning tactical vote against the Labour incumbents in these wards – remains to be seen. Denton South sees competition with Carl Simmons who is probably the most likely candidate to nab this seat. Many of the TUSCs policies may find common currency with the borough’s electorate, but the borked first-past-the-post system remains a stumbling block.

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Next up on It’s Up The Poll! 2015

For the tenth part of our electoral Tour of Tameside, we shall be looking at the Communist Party of Britain’s manifesto. They will be standing in the Audenshaw ward which is not a million miles away from the birthplace of Harry Pollitt (the CPGB General Secretary from 1929 to 1956).

S.V., 02 May 2015.

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