Brian Caton: "Back TUSC to build a socialist alternative"

Submitted by AWL on 31 March, 2010 - 1:07 Author: Brian Caton (pc)

I handed back my Labour Party membership card recently after 40 years in the party. I'm a proud member of the Socialist Party and I support the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. TUSC isn't going to make a big impact in this election but it offers people an immediate alternative.
I think we all expected a hell of a lot more from a Labour government. Even the positive things they have done could've and should've been done much quicker. They've gone back on so many commitments; we were given a promise by the Labour Party when they were in opposition that they would end prison privatisation if they got into government. But they've actually privatised more prisons than the Tories.
The Labour Party used to hand out gold roses for people who recruited lots of members to the party; I won three of them. I persuaded people from my industry to join the Labour Party, people who started off with very right-wing ideas. I persuaded them of the case for socialism and convinced them to join the Labour Party. I'm embarrassed by that now.
There's no doubt that any of the three main parties will cut public services and wreck the welfare state. I remember what my father and grandfather fought for and believed in in terms of a civil society, and it's not just being picked at, it's being torn to pieces.
The Tories will, of course, be no better and the Liberals have certainly never been a friend to workers. David Cameron was Michael Howard's advisor when we were taken to court in 1993 and had our rights taken off us. Cameron was an architect of attempts to smash trade unions. That's his political nature. I think Cameron could be worse than Thatcher. His current cabinet is probably just a front; if he gets in he'll fill the front bench with people from the hard-right of his party. I find their views on issues like immigration almost as abhorrent as the BNP.
We owe it to future generations to stand up against these cuts and attacks, but we owe it to previous generations too. People didn't lay down their lives in two world wars and in conflicts like the Spanish civil war to see this happen to their country. I remember what some of the New Labour politicians used to say and believe in when they were younger. I remember an era of people like Barbara Castle, who was a marvellous politician. It tears my heart out to see what people like Jack Straw have become.
The left needs to get our act together. We agree on 80% of issues, so we need to set aside the 20% we disagree on and stop bickering. I want to see a new alliance of socialists to help make socialism a genuine force in British politics again. I think young people and students also need to mobilise again. In the past they've been able to catalyse significant social upheavals but Students Unions seem to be absent from big struggles around public services. A new movement from the left could reassert basic socialist ideas around public ownership and taxing the rich. We should be taxing the bankers, not banking the taxes! We're never going to smash financial markets altogether but we can restrict and regulate them.
If Labour loses, that could shake things up. It could be an opportunity for us. I think the party has gone too far to be retrieved. Corbyn and McDonnell are good people but I think the party's heading for defeat. In constituencies where there's no TUSC candidate standing, I don't have definitive answers but I have been impressed with some of what I've seen from the Green Party. We need to keep the Tories out, and if that means voting Labour in some places then people should vote Labour. But we need to hold Labour MPs to account and make sure they're genuine representatives. The key fault line is whether they believe in the failed capitalist profiteering approach to running public services or whether they believe that our schools, hospitals and prisons should be publicly-owned.
A Tory victory in this election would mean big battles for us as a union. Put bluntly, you'd almost certainly see more unlawful industrial action from us. We don't want to just fight around levels of redundancy pay - we'll fight job losses and job losses altogether.
The POA is not politically affiliated, and I think other unions like Unite need to break with the Labour Party. The RMT were kicked out of the Labour Party for backing candidates in elections who were prepared to stand up for the union's policies and principles; they were right to back those candidates. I want to see unions backing candidates who'll stand up and fight for trade union policies and principles; I think POA members would vote for those candidates. In the upcoming general elections, that means TUSC.

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