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Scottish TUSC conference: Preparing the anti-cuts and socialist challenge for 2017

The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference takes place on Saturday 25th February in Glasgow. Throughout the month of February both the Scottish Government and the overwhelming majority of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have been passing further cuts to already slashed budgets. The Scottish council elections on May 4th are an important opportunity to offer a fighting alternative to Tory, SNP and Labour cuts. Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates in a number of areas, including Glasgow, Dundee, Renfrewshire, Lothian and Ayrshire.     

Since the last election to Scotland’s 32 councils in 2012 more than £1 billion has been cut from council budgets. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost from local government. Cuts to vital public services, ever-increasing workloads and attacks on council workers pay and conditions have been unrelenting.

Moreover the cuts planned for this year and over the next two years will see further draconian attacks on local communities and council budgets. Every council in Scotland has voted through these Tory cuts. Despite talk of being “anti-austerity”, SNP and Labour councils have failed to offer any opposition to the cuts agenda. They have consistently refused to set “no-cuts budgets”, as advocated by the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and many local government trade unions. This cannot go on. As part of the fightback a 100% anti-cuts and socialist alternative needs to be built. For the council elections in 2017, Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates to offer that alternative.

Our central policy platform for the election will be opposition to all cuts and for the setting of no-cuts budgets by councils. This should be a springboard for a mass campaign to win back back the more than £1 billion slashed from local government by the Tories since 2012.

We demand that the Scottish government also take the same stand in opposition to austerity. If a no-cuts united front was formed between Holyrood and even a small number of councils, demanding a return of the billions cuts from public spending since the austerity offensive began, the Tories could be defeated.

A mass movement of elected politicians, local government trade unions and local communities could win. The only other alternative is to surrender to the “normalisation of austerity” and the grotesque game of pass-the-parcel with Tory cuts. This policy has been tried and failed for far too long.

In addition, the Tory austerity offensive on welfare, the attacks on trade union rights and the need to combat racism and division in all its forms necessitates a socialist and 100% anti-austerity political alternative.

We know that austerity – making the working class pay for an economic crisis we did not cause – is set to continue for years to come. Scotland’s politicians have a choice; they either stand up and refuse to implement the Tory cuts or they continue to be the main delivery mechanism for the systematic destruction of the jobs, incomes and services that millions of us rely on.

anti-austerity mood

Scottish TUSC is clear. The mass anti-austerity mood that was so evident in the independence referendum, the sweeping gains made by the SNP in 2015 and the support for Jeremy Corbyn’s election as UK Labour leader, are being betrayed by elected politicians who continue with the cuts agenda.

If SNP and Labour councillors were prepared to stand-up and actively oppose the cuts by refusing to implement Tory austerity, Scottish TUSC would not be standing in this election.

However, we know that this is not the case. For this reason the building of a socialist alternative to cuts, privatisation and poverty is essential.

TUSC has accepted from its start that there will be some candidates of other parties who share our socialist aspirations and will be prepared to support measures that challenge the austerity consensus of the establishment politicians. But we are also committed to standing candidates or supporting others if that is the only way a working class anti-austerity socialist alternative can be articulated at election time.

Our coalition of trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of socialist policies to help inspire the building of a fightback.

Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates in the council elections. We have written to all socialist and left parties and groups to suggest a united front for the council elections on a no-cuts platform. We will never advocate a vote for a party or a candidate who will vote for cuts budgets.

Our core platform for the 2017 council elections will be discussed and debated at the conference in Saturday. Come along and help build the 100% anti-cuts and socialist alternative.

Scottish TUSC conference

Saturday 25th February – Renfield – St Stephens Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow

12.30pm – Registration (£4 working £2 unwaged)
1pm – Opening speakers include:
RMT trade union
Brian Smith (Socialist Party Scotland and secretary of Glasgow City Unison – personal capacity)
Angela McCormick – (SWP and leading anti-racist and anti-Trump campaigner)
David Semple – (PCS DWP Exec member – personal capacity)
This will be followed by a discussion on fighting the cuts, trade union and community struggles and the need for a anti-cuts and socialist electoral alternative
2.45pm – Scottish TUSC steering committee member will move the Scottish TUSC council election platform and plans for where we’ll be standing in May followed by a discussion, questions etc
4pm – Finish