The Point
Last updated: 02 August 2019. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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TUSC: Fighting Back Against Austerity

The Point has very much concentrated on asking for a 1st vote for the SNP and a 2nd vote for Rise, Solidarity or the Greens for the forthcoming May elections. But there are other pro-independence socialist forces who will be standing in some constituencies rather than the list, notably TUSC, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. In the interests of fairness, comradeship and future left unity, we have invited TUSC member, Sean Robertson, to explain why.



Scottish TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) will be contesting seats across Scotland in May on a central policy of defiance of Tory austerity. Since TUSC’s formation in 2010, we have consistently called for politicians to use every legal method and means at their disposal to fight back against the ideologically driven Tory attacks on standards of living, jobs, benefits and public services.

The underlying blame for austerity lies firmly at the door of the Westminster government. First the Con-Dem coalition and now the Tories have used the threat of economic hardship and the financial crash as a stick to beat the working class with, punishing the poor and middle classes for the crimes of a tiny minority of super rich individuals and corporations.

It is eight years since the financial system went into meltdown, and no recovery is in sight. Austerity is the norm in 21st century Britain. Yet 100’s of billions of pounds of tax remain uncollected, and wars can be fought- as well as nuclear weapons bought- at the drop of a hat. Clearly, we are not ‘all in in it together’. 


During the Westminster elections last year, much was made of the SNP’s anti-austerity credentials. Yet the party have been in power in Scotland since 2007, and austerity has carried on pretty much unabated; the Scottish government and councils controlled by SNP, Labour or whoever play an elaborate game of pass the parcel with cuts, claiming they can’t do anything to fight back as the Scottish Parliament is powerless to do so.

Working-class communities in Scotland are facing unprecedented cuts and attacks on workers' rights. Over the next two years more than £1 billion is planned to be axed from council jobs and services that will have a devastating impact. The Tory austerity offensive on welfare, the attacks on trade union rights, the drive to war and the need to combat racism in all its forms necessitates a socialist and 100% anti-austerity political alternative.  

We know that austerity is set to continue for years to come. Scotland's politicians have a choice: they either stand up and refuse to implement the Tory cuts or they continue to be the main delivery mechanism for the systematic destruction of the jobs, incomes and services that millions of us rely on.  

Scottish TUSC is clear. The mass anti-austerity mood that was so evident in the independence referendum, the sweeping gains made by the SNP in 2015 and the support for Jeremy Corbyn's election as UK Labour leader, all prove that the mood for a defiant alternative to cuts and failing capitalism is overwhelming. 

If SNP and Labour MSPs, MPs and councillors were prepared to stand-up and actively oppose the cuts by refusing to implement Tory austerity, Scottish TUSC would not be standing in this election. 

However, we know that this is not the case. For this reason the building of a socialist alternative to cuts, privatisation and poverty is essential. 

TUSC has accepted from its inception that there will be some candidates of other parties who share our socialist aspirations and will be prepared to support measures that challenge the austerity consensus of the establishment politicians. But we are also committed to standing candidates or supporting others if that is the only way a working class anti-austerity socialist alternative can be articulated at election time.  

Our coalition of trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of socialist policies to help inspire the building of a fight back.  

Scottish TUSC will be standing candidates in the parliamentary constituencies for Holyrood. Particularly in those areas in which we have been leading the fight back against cuts. For example, TUSC supporters have been involved in the fight against cuts in Glasgow where a Labour administration wields the axe, and in Dundee where the SNP have their hands on the purse strings but claim to be impotent in the face of the Tory onslaught.

The council trades unions in Dundee and Glasgow have proposed the use of all legal measures - such as renegotiation of debt, and financial measures like capitalisation to allow councils to set legal no-cuts budgets as an initial step towards building a mass grassroots campaign to win back the billions stolen from Scotland since the financial crisis. 

Several prominent trade unionists will be standing for Scottish TUSC in May. They include Jim McFarlane who is the branch secretary of Dundee City Unison and Brian Smith who is secretary of Glasgow City Unison. TUSC has been involved in supporting several high profile industrial actions in recent years including the Ninewells and Victoria porters in Dundee and the Homelessness caseworkers in Glasgow. 

We are standing in the constituencies in these areas and across Scotland as part of our campaign to end austerity. We will consider the manifestos of those other socialist and left organisations who are standing on the regional lists before deciding whether we can recommend a vote for them. We will never advocate a vote for a party or a candidate who will vote for cuts budgets.  

Scottish TUSC candidates will stand for election pledging to live on the average wage of a skilled worker.      

Scottish TUSC candidates for the 2016 Holyrood elections will: 

● Oppose all austerity cuts implemented by whichever party, or parties, form the next Scottish government   

● Demand that the Scottish government and Scottish local authorities refuse to pass on cuts from Westminster and instead use their powers to set no-cuts budgets that defend jobs and public services in Scotland.  

 ● Actively seek to build a mass campaign of opposition to cuts. Demand a return of the over £3 billion stolen from public services since 2010 to allow the reversing of the effects of austerity. 


The participating organisations of Scottish TUSC – Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union in Scotland, Socialist Party Scotland and the Socialist Workers Party - all supported a Yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum. In addition, leading trade unionists who support TUSC in Scotland also backed a Yes vote.   The massive support that was and is being given to independence, in particular by young people, was a clear indication that the public is sick of austerity and desperate for change. A concerted fightback against austerity would be well supported by yes supporters and could make independence more likely. 

Scottish TUSC supports the immediate transfer of the powers of Devo Max to the Scottish parliament, including full powers in areas such as the minimum wage, all welfare benefits and pensions, employment, corporation tax, anti-union legislation and powers over the economy, which would allow the Scottish parliament to bring key sectors of the economy into public ownership and also campaigns for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left


The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books

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