Election candidates and campaigners gathered in London for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference last Saturday.
Over 280 people discussed how to pose a left challenge to the Tories and Labour in the run-up to general and local elections in May.
The falling support for mainstream parties shows the need to pose a united left alternative in the elections.
But there is also potential to build resistance. Charlie Kimber from the Socialist Workers Party told the conference, “The acids of disillusionment and anger are dissolving the political establishment in Britain.
“When you see Syriza win the elections in Greece on Sunday, the message that needs to go out from all of us is, if they can vote against austerity there, why can’t we vote against austerity here?”
He added, “We are not in the same position as Syriza and Podemos in Spain. There will be immense pressure on people to vote Labour to get the Tories out.
“But by lively, vibrant and real campaigns we can get a vote which shows the potential in Britain.”
Many speakers talked about how they will use their election campaigns to strengthen resistance to austerity.
Socialist Workers Party members and others underlined the need to confront racism and Islamophobia during the election campaign as well.
Bridget Parsons from Birmingham insisted that anti-racism was not an optional extra.
TUSC supporter Liz Kitching, who is standing in a parliamentary seat in Leeds Central, has been central to the local anti bedroom tax campaign.
She told the conference, “I fought the bedroom tax—that’s been my main political experience. I’ll be standing in the spirit of getting people involved, and getting people to be part of the fightback.”
Robert Punton, Disabled People Against Cuts activist, will be standing in Birmingham. He explained how he will use his experience as an activist to unite people in a fightback against austerity during his election campaign.
He said, “I have been a disabled activist for over 30 years. Disabled people are isolated and seen as part of the problem, not part of a solution.
“The Tories, the Lib Dems and even Labour are dividing communities. We have to break down those barriers by working together.”
Candidates in Scotland explained the need to challenge the Scottish National Party (SNP) as well as Labour.
Edinburgh East candidate Ayesha Saleem said, “There are massive cuts being pushed through by Edinburgh council—and the council is run by the SNP and Labour.”
The conference heard from a number of former Labour councillors who have refused to back cuts and been forced out or left Labour to work with TUSC.
There was some debate at the conference on immigration controls. A proposed amendment to TUSC’s general election policy sought to commit TUSC to a clear rejection of all immigration controls.
Socialist Workers Party members voted in favour of the motion, but it was defeated. However, TUSC will still have the best position on anti-racism and immigration of any organisation in the election.
And candidates will use their campaigns to fight racism and Ukip.
Activists and campaigners left the conference ready to build lively campaigns across Britain that can begin to unite the left and build a genuine alternative to Labour.