An alliance of left-wing and trade union activists have launched their campaign for the general election, pledging to stand 42 candidates on a platform of support for workers' rights and public services, along with opposition to privatisation, war and cuts.
The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is campaigning under the slogan “No to cuts and privatisation – make the bosses pay”. Their manifesto was launched yesterday (20 April) by Bob Crow of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT).
TUSC brings together several small left-wing groups, trade unionists and individual campaigners. It is the latest of a number of left-wing alliances formed to contest elections in recent years.
TUSC candidates include Tommy Sheridan, a former Member of the Scottish Parliament and John Metcalfe, the former Mayor of Carlisle. Other candidates include Karen Reissman, a nurse sacked for alleged “whistleblowing” over health service cuts.
“Whilst the bookies and the chattering classes speculate on who will win the next general election it is already clear who the losers will be,” said Sheridan, “Pensioners, the sick, the unemployed, the poor and working class communities the length and breadth of the country will find themselves under increasing attack as the political consensus of the main parties scapegoats them for the financial crisis."
The coalition is calling for progressive taxation, significant increases in pensions and for the banks and financial institutions to be brought into “genuine public ownership”.
They also want to scrap the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), renationalise the railways, end university tuition fees, repeal anti-union laws and invest in environmentally sustainable industry.
TUSC would also defend the right to asylum, withdraw troops from Afghanistan and bring an end to Britain's role as a “US poodle”.
While the groups concerned share a commitment to socialism, trade unionism, the environment and women's rights, they also differ on issues including including membership of the European Union and independence for Scotland.
Those involved in the coalition include Trotskyist organisations such as the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers' Party, as well as more mainstream left-wing groups, trade union activists and former members of the Labour Party.
Some of those involved may be considered more radical than others, but coalition members seem to be emphasising the broad nature of TUSC in order to avoid internal conflict over policy detail.
But TUSC is likely to be criticised for standing candidates against other left-wing parties, such as the Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party.