Tag Archives: TUSC

Protest Against Huge Budget Cuts in Bradford

Protesters outside the council meeting

Protesters outside the council meeting

Anti-austerity protesters turned up outside Bradford town hall last Thursday to make their feelings known. As one protester said: ‘we will not take these cuts lying down’!

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

And what are these cuts?  About £170 million in total to be precise, what also is precise is where these horrendous cut backs will in effect ‘land’ on the people of this district.  Bradford is not a wealthy town that has been well documented, but the Con-Dem government’s disproportionate ‘attack’ on northern cities and towns seems to me to be totally ideological.

The North is still the most unionised part of the country, probably the most militant and certainly has some of the poorest areas of England.  So the cuts to education and social care to name a few will have a devastating effect on people in this city.

Clearly, if you are a Whitehall minister with no actual clue where Bradford is, job done I suspect.  Walking through Bradford at times, it is palpable the amount of people begging on the streets, this surely must also be an indicator of the problems ahead.

We brought a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) banner to the protest and gained a lot of local publicity for this (see two articles in the Telegraph & Argus – Article 1 & Article 2)

But the fight has only just begun to eventually stand candidates that will not lie and renege on their promises, only then will working class people have faith in the political process again.  We’re aiming to stand 7 TUSC candidates in the local council elections in May.

Advertisements

Bradford Respect: Where did it all go wrong?

In October the five Bradford Respect councillors announced their resignation from their party to now sit as independents.

Less than a year and a half ago, Respect was riding high, after George Galloway had won the Bradford West seat from Labour by a landslide.

He received more votes than all the other candidates put together and attracted over 1,000 people to a pre-election rally.

This had an initial energising effect on the city and was followed by Respect winning five council seats in last May’s election, including defeating the then Labour leader of Bradford council.

A number of youth politicised by Galloway’s campaign went on to occupy the Bradford Westfield site, known locally as ‘the hole’ after Westfield abandoned the site almost a decade ago to take up more lucrative projects in London in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

The potential for anti-austerity and anti-war campaigning was shown further in several high profile demonstrations: over the massacre of the Rohinya people in Burma, drone strikes in Pakistan/Afghanistan and the crumbling Bradford Odeon; although such events have been one-offs and few and far between.

Divisions

Yet tensions within Respect over a whole series of issues have seen it shed a number of high-profile members over that period.

Some of these resignations were due to comments made by Galloway. The resignations of then-leader of Respect Salma Yaqoob and Manchester byelection candidate Kate Hudson a year ago, were over Galloway’s ill-informed and reprehensible comments about rape and consent.

The recent resignations initially stemmed from Galloway’s announcement that he was considering standing for London Mayor in 2016.

This fed in to an image that Galloway doesn’t care about Bradford, spending time presenting TV and radio shows.

Indeed, not one person from Respect turned up to the anti-war protest over Syria it was supposed to have organised in Bradford at the end of August.

Despite Respect’s initial impact in Bradford, it has not been able to build a substantial activist base in the city.

This was evident when its much publicised conference in Bradford after the elections only attracted less than half of the 200 attendees it had expected.

Then national secretary, Chris Chilvers, commented that the party had been on the verge of winding up before Galloway’s election, with only two functioning branches in the country and £170 a month in standing orders.

It announced a Jarrow-style march from the city for later that year which it has been unable to organise.

Abstention on cuts

Respect’s failure is partly due to the unprincipled stands it has taken. For example, rather than following the anti-cuts example of the Southampton two, Hull three and Warrington one rebel Labour councillors, Respect councillors in Bradford abstained on Labour’s cuts budgets and their council group leader Alyas Karmani gave an atrocious speech, in effect attempting to justify Labour’s budget and accepting the need for ‘difficult decisions’, ie cuts.

In the election to the Yorkshire section of their national committee there were 14 candidates for the six available positions.

Only four of them had been involved in Respect for over two years and five described themselves as ‘business people’ or CEOs.

The electoral description of one, Qurban Malik, was:

“I have been a Tory for most of my political career. I was a candidate for Tories in the last local elections but recently joined Respect publicly. I have various and vast experience.

“I am a business man in Bradford and would like to get involved with the building of Respect in Bradford”.

He is one of a layer of political opportunists who moved towards Respect in the aftermath of Galloway’s Bradford victory.

Indeed Galloway seems to have surrounded himself with ‘yes-men’ and turned Respect more and more into a vehicle purely for his own promotion.

If Respect is to live up to its self-description as a ‘left-wing alternative’, instead of unprincipled blocs, it should recognise the need to build up powerful campaigns based on trade unionists and youth.

Contrast Respect in Bradford with the approach of the Yorkshire Socialist Party in the Doncaster mayoral election where our local candidate Mary Jackson won a respectable vote, but crucially built up important links with the RMT and other trade unions.

Only on the basis of building such campaigns, linked to publicising the ideas of socialism as an alternative to capitalism, can a sustained political alternative be built to the main political parties that Galloway once described, correctly, as ‘three cheeks of the same backside’.

Iain Dalton