Socialist Worker

How can we take on austerity in the general election?

There is a growing debate among socialists in Britain about how to build the alternative to the cuts that the poor want and need, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Issue No. 2440

The March for Homes last month brought people together to challenge austerity

The March for Homes last month brought people together to challenge austerity (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A growing number of socialists are breaking with Labour to build a working class alternative. 

Kingsley Abrams was a Labour councillor in Lambeth, south London. He announced last week that he now aims to stand as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in the Bermondsey and Old Southwark parliamentary constituency. 

He has stood in the area before as a Labour parliamentary candidate.

Kingsley spoke to Socialist Worker about his decision to leave Labour. 

“I’m going to be standing against Simon Hughes,” he said. “He’s a Lib Dem minster in the government that’s been pushing through all the cuts.

“But I’m also going to be standing against Labour candidate Neil Coyle. He’s a Lambeth Labour councillor. 

“Coyle has been at the forefront of pushing through cuts—that’s all he’s done,” explained Kingsley.  Many still argue that breaking to Labour’s left will only keep the Tories in office. 

But Kingsley said, “I don’t believe that’s a real argument. 

Alternative

“There is a real alternative to austerity, which means opposing cuts and supporting jobs and growth. It’s our duty to put that forward.” 

Until he left, Kingsley was in trouble with the local Labour leadership for opposing the cuts. 

But many left wingers still think it is wrong to stand against Labour. Some Labour Party members hope to “reclaim” the organisation for the left. 

Around 130 people attended a Left Platform meeting last Saturday, in response to a call out from left wing Labour MP John McDonnell. 

It discussed what the left’s bottom lines would be after May’s general election if Labour forms a minority or coalition government. 

John said, “Ending austerity has to be a key demand—we cannot let Ed Balls continue austerity.”

Kingsley Abrams

Kingsley Abrams


Kingsley attended the meeting and John responded to him, acknowledging, “The party is vulnerable to its left.”

Many speakers said it was the wrong decision and that there was “no future for the left outside of Labour”. 

Kingsley said, “John McDonnell and I disagree, and I wish good luck to those who have stayed. But I believe that it has to be fought from outside the Labour Party. 

“I was being suspended like every other week, and the intensity of cuts is growing. 

“I had to ask myself, can I really articulate opposition to austerity in Labour, with the right wing leadership? The answer is ‘No’.” 

“I’m not saying TUSC is the British Syriza, but Syriza was polling less than 10 percent in 2009 and it is now in government in Greece. You have to start from somewhere and discuss building that alternative.

“I believe TUSC provides us with that opportunity.”


Are the Greens the party of the left?

The RMT rail union’s president Peter Pinkney announced last week that he was joining the Green Party. He said, “Labour is no longer the working class party… The party of the left is now the Green Party.” 

But the Greens do not focus on the working class.

And as they try and present themselves as a respectable alternative they distance themselves from their more radical policies. 

So the party said it would give everyone in Britain a “citizens’ income” whether they work or not. The right wing media said this would cost billions. 

But rather than taking the money from the rich the leadership of the Greens rushed to ditch the policy.


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