“The Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will be standing candidates in the two central Rugby divisions of Benn and New Bilton & Overslade in this May's County Council elections,” Rugby TUSC spokesperson Pete McLaren told us today. “We took this decision after much discussion, to ensure there is an anti-cuts voice for electors.”
“It is both local and national TUSC policy not to stand against any Labour candidate who supports Jeremy Corbyn and opposes cuts. However, we found no such evidence in Rugby or Warwickshire. In fact, Labour in Warwickshire supports the Tory £67m cuts package. Rugby TUSC wrote to all opposition councillors on Warwickshire Council last October suggesting they should join together and use their numerical majority to overturn the Tory budget proposals. The Greens replied to say they would oppose some cuts, the Lib-Dems noted our plea, but not one of the 22 Labour councillors even had the courtesy to reply.
“Furthermore, we wrote to all Labour County councilors and candidates in January asking them pledge their opposition to cuts and agree there are alternatives to austerity. We received no replies. We wrote to Rugby Labour party in February to ask if any Labour candidates publically supported Jeremy Corbyn. The reply failed to answer the question. Now we know why: the Tories on Warwickshire County Council could only get their massive cuts through by having the full support of all 22 Labour councilors. The £67 cuts are the direct result of a compromise budget agreed between Labour and Tory councilors.
“We are deliberately standing in the areas of Rugby most likely to be hit by the £67 million cuts agreed by Tory Warwickshire Council with full Labour support. Cuts to public services and welfare always hit the poorest and most vulnerable disproportionately. We want to concentrate our resources and show local people there are alternatives to austerity. We have two excellent and locally well-known candidates who both live where they are standing. Former postal worker Marian Wakelin will be our TUSC candidate in Benn, Trade Union studies lecturer Julie Weekes will stand in New Bilton & Overslade.
“In Rugby and Warwickshire, we are now facing massive cuts in care for the elderly, libraries, the Fire and Rescue Service and road maintenance. Thousands will lose their jobs. The 4% increase in Council tax will hit the poor and those on low wages particularly hard. Cuts to support for recovering addicts are particularly callous. All this is in addition to the severe welfare cuts claimants are suffering, with cuts to PIPs, child benefit and Universal Credit. Health spending is to be cut by £30 billion through Sustainabilty and Transformation Plans (STPs). We are standing to oppose all such cuts – councils can avoid passing on Government cuts as we have repeatedly pointed out
“Local Councils are close to insolvency. Health services cannot cope, hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs, and those who cannot work, including the disabled, are being pushed into abject poverty through benefit cuts and sanctions. None of these austerity measures are being actively opposed by any other party, but TUSC is committed to opposing all cuts at all levels and will centre its local election campaign around that,” Pete McLaren concluded.
• Rugby TUSC can be contacted at: www.rugbytusc.com; on 07881 520626; RugbyTUSC@gmail.com; or PO Box 4123 Rugby CV21 9BJ
• Pete McLaren has just been re-elected to the TUSC National Steering Committee, and is its Local Group Development Officer. He was the Rugby TUSC Candidate in last year’s General Election