Wakefield local elections 2021: Trade Union and Socialist Coalition says Covid has proved 'key workers run society'

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has claimed the Covid pandemic has exposed society's inequalities, in a pre-election pitch to voters.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:43 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:44 am

TUSC is fielding just one candidate in Wakefield at this year's council polls - Mick Griffiths - who has stood on a left-wing manifesto in every local election since he left the Labour Party in 1996.

TUSC, which itself was formed 11 years ago, has been a vocal opponent of austerity and is warning against further cuts being made to public services, following the fortunes spent battling coronavirus.

Mr Griffiths was critical of the ruling Labour party in Wakefield, who he claimed had implemented Conservative cuts to local government without a fight.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mick Griffiths is standing for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Mr Griffiths said: "Labour have unanimously rubberstamped and imposed cuts without even mild-mannered resistance to any aspects of it. We think that’s not fair, that’s not what should be done.

"We’ve been castigated as if we’re calling for something illegal, but what we’re saying is the council should use its reserves and its borrowing powers in to keep services going rather than just imposing the cutbacks."

The TUSC candidate lamented the national Labour leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, who he suggested would "cosy up" to big businesses "in the same way Tony Blair did".

In Wakefield, the council's Labour leader Denise Jeffery has been candid about her desire to move the authority in a "more socialist direction" and its pre-pandemic budget of 2020 was the first in a decade not to include cuts to frontline services.

Mr Griffiths called for a new programme of council house building, as he suggested rents in the social housing sector are now almost as high as in private accommodation.

However, Mr Griffiths said he "failed to see" how Coun Jeffery had shifted the local party to the left and cited Liverpool City Council's hardline and controversial resistance to the Thatcher government of the 1980s as an example to follow.

He added: "All they’re doing (in Wakefield) is holding their hands up to government pressure and just accepting it.

"One of the things we need is a council house and affordable housing building programme.

"The council may say they're building a certain amount of affordable housing in every development, which is allegedly more affordable for those on modest incomes, but even those prices are antiquated.

"Now that many council houses have been put on the market, they're just as expensive as renting any property now."

Asked if he thought the pandemic had altered the political spectrum, Mr Griffiths said: "It’s shifted public opinion, in the sense it’s laid bare what the system is all about.

"It’s profit before people’s livelihoods, and their lives in actual fact.

"There’s now more appreciation for collective social provision. It’s proved who really runs society, and that’s the key workers.

"Without them, society wouldn’t function."

Mr Griffiths said voting for TUSC would, "Show that there is an alternative and the alternative can be electable."

He added: "That’s the big hurdle we face. We get a lot of strong sympathy, but there’s a general underlying feeling of ‘You’ll never get in, so it won’t be put into practice’.

"We’re saying there should be something worth voting for.

"I think the councillors are happy with being apathetic about the cuts. But they’re concerned about what would happen if the 80 per cent who don't normally vote in local elections did come out of vote.

"We're appealing to people who feel disenfranchised and alienated."

This article is part of a series of profile pieces about the political parties and independent candidates standing in the local elections in Wakefield. Each profile will be published on our websites in turn in the run-up to polling day.

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidates standing for Wakefield Council

Wakefield East - Mick Griffiths

View the names of all candidates standing in your area here.

Local Democracy Reporting Service