London TUSC meeting: What options now Labour has abandoned working class?

by Mark Finucane, South West London Socialist Party

1st December was the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) meeting in London — ‘Enough is Enough: But what do we do at the ballot box?’. This is a question that has persistently been on my mind, as I’m sure it has for many others.

I recently joined the Socialist Party, which is part of the TUSC. I reached out on the day of Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget disaster.

I was hoping to learn about what options we have now that Keir Starmer’s Labour has all but abandoned the working class. The meeting didn’t disappoint.

Carlos Barros is an RMT union rep, who stood as a TUSC council candidate. He captivated the room with his description of the ongoing RMT workers’ struggle for fair pay and working conditions.

Carlos outlined the need for a workers-led political voice, and the potential that would have, drawing on representatives that are known and trusted in local communities, and who genuinely wish to represent working people.

Andy Walker is a former Labour councillor, who has also stood for TUSC. Andy said that TUSC stands to support the working class. And that in TUSC, all people have a voice.

The Socialist Party’s Hannah Sell addressed some of the questions bubbling up in my mind, before I even had a chance to ask them, like how can a small organisation hope to win in our two-party political system?

All political organisations have to start somewhere. In December 1910, the Labour Party only won 42 seats, and its forerunner – the Labour Representation Committee – got only 1% of the vote when it first stood in 1900.

100 candidates

Standing 100 candidates at the next general election would give TUSC a platform on political debates. The name Trade Union and Socialist Coalition has its benefits too. It’s a good time to be affiliated with the trade union movement right now, especially when Labour is refusing to support the strikes.

TUSC is democratic. There’s no call to submit your questions three days in advance here. Many of the 60 attendees at the meeting took the opportunity to ask questions and offer contributions.

One contribution I found particularly compelling addressed the concerns that support for TUSC could split the left. Keir Starmer is already accepting the Tories’ pro-austerity spending limits, and people on the left are already looking for a new political home to throw their support behind.

Supporting TUSC is not going to stop Labour winning the next general election. But we can ensure, as Hannah said, that we “keep Starmer looking over his left shoulder instead of to the right.”

I left the meeting hopeful and invigorated. Next, TUSC is planning follow-up meetings in local areas across London to prepare for a general election challenge.

If Starmer’s Labour isn’t going to represent us, at least there is an organisation that will.