I've been replying tonight to RCN members lobbying prospective candidates over their 'Nursing Counts' priorities. Here's what I've let them know about TUSC and what we stand for:
Thanks for getting in touch with me, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Lewisham West and Penge. TUSC aren't the same as the other parties that you're rightly lobbying. Like you, we're public service workers, trade unionists, ordinary people at the sharp end of the austerity that's ruining people's lives - and we're determined to do something about it by offering people a real alternative to cuts and privatisation in this election.
I am a teacher, rather than a health worker, but know from my colleagues - including TUSC candidates who are nurses (see below) - how we both face the same pressures of long hours, low pay and insufficient resources to properly meet needs. Our 'goodwill' is taken for granted while the big businesses that want to leach profits from our public services just want to cutback even further - and it will be patients, or in my case young people, and their families who will suffer.
Other candidates may give you assurances (or maybe not!) but what we are trying to do in TUSC is to build a new party that can make sure that our voices are directly represented in Parliament - by having trade union colleagues there in the House of Commons to say things as they really are, rather than us having to rely on just lobbying establishment politicians in the hope that they may listen to us (but they usually don't!).
TUSC are standing over 130 Westminster candidates, making us the sixth largest stand on May 7th - but the media don't want to publicise our stand (I wonder why not?!). Like many TUSC candidates, I'm also standing as a "workers' MP on a worker's wage" - pledged to stay on my teacher's salary if elected, using the rest of the MP's bloated salary to help support trade union and community campaigns.
So I certainly will be standing up for nursing and patient care in this election care and hope that you, in turn, can let people know about TUSC's stand. You can read more about me, my policies and my campaign on my blog .
Martin Powell-Davies, TUSC prospective candidate for Lewisham West and Penge
PS As Jacqui Berry, nurse and TUSC candidate, puts it on her blog, "I was really chuffed to see the RCN have started lobbying candidates because frankly, if politicians had any idea what it is actually like being a nurse, health care assistant or allied health professional, well, we probably wouldn't have endured a 5 year pay freeze for starters. We keep people alive. We give people dignity. We teach. No-one ever became a nurse for the money, but for a third of the pay of one lazy-arse back-bencher you start to think, maybe we don't have effective advocates.That's why I'm standing. We can't rely on politicians with their corporate interests and privileged lifestyles to have any idea what we need to provide a decent service without totally losing our minds. We deserve £30k starting pay. We deserve double time for unsocial hours. We need a regulator that is democratically run by us, not an outside body which charges us ever increasing fees for the pleasure. We need more staff, more beds and more time. We need a system which doesn't pit hospital against hospital, practice against practice. We need one NHS not hundreds of competing trusts and providers . We need a social care system that publicly owned, run and accountable".