On Saturday 20 February, the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference agreed on an election manifesto for the Scottish elections, set to be held in May 2021.
More than 40 attendees from around Scotland, including socialists, trade unionists and community activists, took part. It was announced that Scottish TUSC would be standing to offer working-class people, from Shetland to Shettleston and from Inverary to Tayside and Aberdeen, a genuine socialist alternative to challenge the pro-big business, pro-cuts mainstream parties like the Tories, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scottish Labour.
Chaired by Sinead Daly, the conference kicked off with a discussion on the need for a socialist alternative for workers.
Michael Hogg, a Scottish regional organiser for the RMT transport workers’ union, opened the discussion with a passionate appeal to socialists and trade unionists to lead by example and build a genuine socialist movement for workers.
He said that while he and RMT supported independence, that in itself was not enough for workers. The pro-Indy SNP government had supported big business, including in the rail and ferry sector, and did not back workers in struggle, while Labour’s rightward turn and position on independence made it unelectable.
Lynda McEwan, a candidate for TUSC’s West of Scotland regional list, speaking on behalf of Socialist Party Scotland, said that the queues of hundreds of people waiting in the snow in Glasgow for food handouts is a true picture of 21st-century capitalism in Scotland under the SNP devolved government in Scotland.
The decade of austerity has led to the underinvestment of public services which directly resulted in many more deaths during Covid. This is because the NHS and local services were under-resourced and understaffed, with poor and working-class communities hit hardest.
Brian Smith, lead TUSC candidate in the Glasgow region, and Glasgow City UNISON trade union branch secretary, who has a proud record of fighting for low paid workers, said that Scottish TUSC was a step towards building a desperately needed new workers’ party in Scotland.
He added: “As socialists, we fight for all reforms to improve the conditions for workers, but reforming capitalism won’t be enough. We, socialists, want to change the world. We can use this election as a platform to expose the limits of capitalism and fight for a socialist future.”
A lively discussion ensued, and the conference heard from TUSC candidates from across Scotland. Speakers lambasted the record of pro-big business mainstream parties, and from community campaigners such as pensioners’ rights’ campaigners.
In the second session Philip Stott, of Scottish TUSC’s national steering committee, proposed TUSC’s election manifesto. He said that the document laid out the broad commitments that TUSC candidates had to agree to stand under the TUSC name but that local campaigns could add their own socialist policies to suit their areas.
The manifesto, which was unanimously passed by conference, calls on socialists to fight for a socialist recovery for the working class from Covid-19 and an independent socialist Scotland. At the heart of these policies is a call for the major sections of the economy to be brought into public ownership under democratic workers’ control and for all jobs threatened by the pandemic to be saved, including by nationalising companies threatening redundancies.
The manifesto goes on to call for an immediate £12 an hour minimum wage to end the scourge of in-work poverty for low paid workers and young people and to reverse all cuts and privatisations and to restore full trade union rights. The manifesto goes on to call for a socialist plan to save the planet from capitalist climate catastrophe, alongside a commitment to fight for free education and jobs and homes, for all, including a massive programme of council house building.
With Scottish TUSC standing in the elections, at least 1.5 million people throughout Scotland will now have the choice to vote for a genuine working-class, socialist alternative in May’s Scottish election.