REPORT: TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE May 28, by Pete McLaren for the ISN
This was another well-attended and representative Steering Committee meeting with positive outcomes
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2014, AND PREPARATIONS FOR 2015
(i) Elections Report
Clive Heemskerk spoke to his circulated report. TUSC had made considerable progress, standing 553 candidates, representing the largest left of Labour challenge for over 60 years. There was a breadth to the campaign in terms of involvement from both trade unions and left organisations. TUSC obtained 64,098 votes in the Council elections, at an average of 3.4%, with a further 3,933 votes from the 3 mayoral contests. There were some noteworthy results, including the re-election of Southampton rebel Labour councilor Keith Morrell as part of TUSC, Dave Nellists’s 30% in Coventry and 20% in one Salford ward. He outlined how UKIP had impacted on TUSC’s vote, and also how the media had constantly refused to include TUSC, showing the importance of reaching the media threshold in future. The BBC had used TUSC’s non-standing in the Euro elections as an excuse to exclude TUSC from coverage.
The following were amongst comments made in the lengthy discussion which followed:
• We need to keep promoting the need for local TUSC groups and to do more between elections
• We should discuss the merits of standing as TUSC rather than TUSC Against Cuts
• We did well to field 553 candidates, and the reasonable results show the potential
• Not standing in the Euro elections affected TUSC’s results
• Results were quite reasonable given the political context: a low level of class struggle compared to when these seats were contested in 2012, and the emergence of UKIP. TUSC is clearly up and running
• Politics is volatile and the mood could quickly swing our way as it has done for the left in Spain and Greece
• The left is too fragmented and needs to get its act together. TUSC is the only organization attempting to do that. There needs to be just one organization on the left contesting elections, and we should take the high ground on that. Maybe a Conference of the left should be organised
• Standing so many candidates can lead to some low results
• TUSC suffers from being a Coalition not a Party. The best left results in Europe were achieved by Parties
• We should aim for at least 100 General election candidates and thus 100 local TUSC groups
(ii) Letter to candidates and agents & approaching other organisations
A draft letter to TUSC’s candidates and election agents was circulated. It congratulated them on this year’s achievements and suggested preparations start for the 2015 General and Council Elections. It suggested TUSC groups lobby Labour PPCs over the Trade Union Freedom Bill and stressed the importance of TUSC being organised locally, offering SC speakers for local meetings where requested.
Points made in the discussion included:
• We should aim to stand Council candidates in every ward within a Constituency we are contesting, and aim for the 15% media threshold of 1,000 TUSC candidates
• We need early discussions with other left organisations likely to have candidates. We must promote unity and avoid clashes
• Our strategic position should be that TUSC will be standing in both the General and Council elections
• Establishing local TUSC groups must be a priority. They should function by consensus to avoid any one component part dominating
• We can give guidelines for local groups as to how they could move forward
• We must involve local trade unions and build roots within communities
• We should make clear our total opposition to UKIP and refer to their policies as racist
• We may need to concentrate our resources and not necessarily stand so widely
• TUSC may not be the final answer, but it is an electoral coalition that works at present
Following the discussion, the following actions were agreed:
• Send the letter to candidates and agents as circulated with additions requesting that local groups
begin general election planning now re: finances and personnel; an appeal for standing orders be
included in the letter; and that plans for 2015 be reported to the steering committee before our next
• To continue with approaches to other socialist and anti-austerity organisations conducting electoral
activity that are not currently within the TUSC umbrella to ask them to become participating
organisations or at least come to an electoral arrangement for 2015.
(iii) Preparations for the 2015 elections
It was agreed to set up a sub-group to bring proposals to the next meeting, including a list of local councils with elections in 2015 and suggestions on how TUSC’s general election ‘core policies’ platform, prepared for the 2010 contest, should be updated for 2015. Nick Wrack and Clive Heemskerk were the initial volunteers for the sub-group but other steering committee members were invited to come forward.
COMPOSITION OF THE TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE
It was agreed to invite the left members of the NUT NEC who might wish to participate in TUSC to select representatives from amongst themselves to sit on the TUSC steering committee. It was further agreed to invite the Turkish-Kurdish socialist organisation DayMer, to the next SC meeting to present their case for representation on the SC.
LETTER FROM LEICESTER COUNCILLORS
A letter was circulated from two Leicester city councillors expressing a wish to set up a TUSC group on the council. It was agreed that Dave Nellist and Clive Heemskerk should contact them for a meeting, with Cllrs Keith Morrell and Don Thomas to be involved if possible.
OPEN LETTER FROM THE INTERNETIONAL SOCIALIST NETWORK WOMENS CAUCUS
An ‘Open Letter’ had been sent to TUSC four days before polling day asking the steering committee to repudiate its decision to issue a Certificate of Authorisation to the RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley to stand as the TUSC candidate in Newham council’s East Ham South ward.
The SC agreed to take no action on this except to re-affirm in the minutes that clauses 3(i) and 3(iv) of the TUSC rules state that candidates who are members of organisations participating in the steering committee “can expect to have their nomination papers for elections authorised by the coalition nominating officer as TUSC candidates if they so request”, subject to the steering committee operating by consensus having “the final say on all coalition seats and candidates”, which was the procedure followed in this case.
DATE OF NEXT STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
This was agreed as Wednesday 2nd July, at Unity House, 4pm