Student Fees ? We say student Grants not fees!

TUSC’s manifesto calls clearly for “student grants not fees” and, if elected, our representatives would use their positions to help organise campaigns and actions to help make that demand a reality.

The fact that the Labour Party hopes that students and their families will be content with a pledge to reduce tuition fees to £6,000 a year shows how far removed they are from the pressures facing most young people.

They, and all the main parties, have abandoned the idea of free education. Of course, it was a Labour government who first brought in tuition fees for higher education in the first place.

Reducing student fees by a third will still leave many students from working class backgrounds feeling that university is something that they cannot afford. For those students who do go on to higher education, then they will still leave with a mountain of debt to go with their degree certificate.

It also appears that the shortfall to universities from a cut in tuition fees  would not be funded by the prospective Labour government. This will mean more cuts in courses and facilities. Students will still be paying huge fees for an underfunded university education.

Of course, students don’t just have to borrow to fund their tuition fees. Rents and other living costs continue to rise as well. That’s why TUSC also stands for the return of grants – a system that helped fund today’s MPs when they were at university but which they now wish to deny to a new generation of students.

All the main parties will say that TUSC’s demands are ‘unaffordable’. TUSC disagrees. We do not accept their ‘austerity’ agenda. We know that their is plenty of wealth in our society but that is in the hands of a tiny few who are using the ‘austerity’ agenda to steal back the gains of the past, like free education, from the rest of us.

TUSC candidates in, for example, Manchester include students standing as council candidates for TUSC to help campaign for our demand for “grants, not fees”. I would call on students who support what TUSC are saying to get in touch and help build TUSC’s campaign up to the General Election on May 7.

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TUSC backs 38 Degrees campaign: No to TTIP, tax the rich, and save our NHS

Across the country members of 38 Degrees have been contacting TUSC parliamentary candidates to ask their views on various questions. While local TUSC candidates have and will respond individually, the questions 38 Degrees have been asking are, in the view of the TUSC steering committee, very important. For that reason we would like to make our views as a coalition clear.

We would also appeal to all supporters of 38 Degrees and others campaigning on these issues: why not use the elections as a means to further your campaign? TUSC is a coalition which was established in order to enable people like you – trade unionists, campaigners and socialists – to stand against the pro-austerity establishment parties. This May we are aiming to have over 100 parliamentary and 1,000 council candidates standing under our umbrella.

If you would like to take part and stand as a candidate yourself check out the candidates page on the TUSC website:

Q1. Do TUSC candidates oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? What will we do to stop this deal and protect our public services?

Unlike the three major parties, which all support TTIP, TUSC is completely opposed to it. At our 2015 national conference we agreed our general election platform which included: “No to TTIP and all secret austerity treaties”. No wonder TTIP has been devised behind closed doors, it aims to further open up our public services (particularly the NHS) to be privatised and run in the interests of profit, rather than the public.

TTIP would further deregulate finance, genetically modified organisms and fracking. But probably the most dangerous aspect of TTIP is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). This would allow corporations to bring claims against states whenever they feel that their business interests have been adversely affected by national laws or policies. It would give, for example, governments an excuse to further accelerate privatisation of the NHS as US private healthcare companies could demand access to run NHS services and be entitled to legally claim against a government if denied.

TUSC opposes all privatisation of public services. We resolutely oppose TTIP now, and would continue to do so if elected. TUSC MPs would help mobilise opposition to TTIP, both through raising awareness but also supporting protests, demonstrations and strikes which can force positive change. We believe TTIP is yet another example of how we need to change the type of society we live in – which is run in the interests of the 1% not the 99%. We will continue to campaign for a democratic socialist society.

Q2. Do TUSC candidates support a crackdown on tax dodging by the big companies?

Yes! While public spending is being cut to the bone, big companies are not even paying the very low levels of corporation tax demanded of them. A National Audit Office report showed that more than 400 of the 800 largest businesses paid less than £10 million in tax in 2012/13 and around 160 paid no corporation tax at all. Imagine how many public services that have been closed – including libraries, community centres and youth centres – could have been saved if these big companies had paid up what they owed.

It is little surprise that big business has got away with this when successive governments have assisted them in doing so. At least 14 of the top 20 donors to the Tory party are linked to ‘tax havens’. But with Labour recently declaring that it is “furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business” it cannot be trusted to act either.

TUSC’s general election platform states: “Tax the rich. For progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals and an end to tax avoidance”. We also campaign for the cutbacks in Revenue and Customs to be reversed to enable rich tax dodgers to be pursued. However, we think there are also wider issues here. The whole banking system is rotten, based on gambling and speculation. It needs reorganising and rationally planning. But you can’t plan what you don’t control, and you don’t control what you don’t own. Large amounts of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland are in public ownership, but not under democratic control. Nationalisation should be extended to the whole banking system and tight regulation then enforced in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.

Britain is not a poor country. The problem is we have an economic system, backed up by the main establishment parties, which means vast wealth is concentrated at the very top. The key point is that the minority at the top own and control this wealth, whilst most of us struggle to get by. We think we need a radical change, whereby ownership and control of the main resources in society are put in the hands of ordinary people, and human need (such as the NHS, decent housing and free education) are put before private greed.

Q3. Do TUSC candidates campaign to defend the NHS by opposing NHS cuts and privatisation?

Yes. Historically the NHS has been one of the most important gains made by working class people in Britain. We need a massive campaign to stop it being destroyed; which would leave workers in Britain facing the nightmare of a profit-driven US-style ‘Breaking Bad’ health service. If the Tories win the election they will accelerate the destruction of the NHS. Labour has said it will repeal the Tories Health and Social Care Act, but it has not pledged to reverse privatisation, much of which took place under Labour governments. TUSC campaigns for all the profiteers to be kicked out of the NHS. We demand an end to Profit From Illness (PFI) and for the massive debts it has created to be written off. We oppose all cuts, closures and job losses in the NHS.

We also go further, calling for the expansion of the NHS with free and accessible dental care for all and the abolition of the prescription charges. We call for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy chains and medical supply industry and integrate them into a democratically controlled NHS.

We demand a minimum of at least £10 per hour and a 35-hour week for all health workers.

We also campaign for a democratic socialist society where poverty – the biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health – could become a problem of the past.

Bermondsey & Old Southwark – Kingsley Abrams

At the end of January 2015 I resigned from the pro-austerity Labour party after over 30 years of membership. I am now standing for TUSC as no other party countenances an alternative to austerity even though voters in other European countries are keen to give it a try. There is always an alternative.
I attended South Bank University where I gained a BSc Social Science degree. I currently work for a Housing Association and is also a branch officer of Unite Housing Workers Branch. From 2011-2014 I sat on Unite’s Executive Council and Finance and General Purpose Committee.
I was a Labour Councillor for 23 years – Merton Council from 1986-2002 and Lambeth Council from 2006-2013. During that period I was Chair of the Finance Committee, Deputy Leader and Chief Whip at Merton Council, and Deputy Cabinet member for Enterprise at Lambeth Council. I was also suspended by Lambeth Labour Group for opposing cuts. For a number of years I was Chair of the London Boroughs Grants Committee (LBGC) investing £30m in the voluntary sector in London.
I was Labour’s parliamentary candidate in North Southwark and Bermondsey in 2001 where I came second with 30.8% of the votes.
Contact
Email: southwarktusc@outlook.com
Mobile: 07932 447 763
Meetings
6th April – How can we build an alternative to cuts
27th May – What next for TUSC?
All at 7.30pm@ Albert Arms, 1 Gladstone Terrace, SE1
There are also several hustings which will be noted on the Southwark website.
Event
Saturday 14th March – Aylesbury March 12 noon @Burgess Park (opposite Tesco)
Sun 22nd March – Mass Canvas meet at Elephant & Castle Tube (Bakerloo exit London Rd)  12 noon