Saturday 25 April 2015

TUSC - not just supporting but leading campaigns

TUSC is different from other parties. We are, as the BBC put it, the only '100% anti-austerity party' - but that's not all. Our candidates are different from most of our opponents too.

Marching through Ladywell today

As a Coalition bringing together experienced and determined trade unionists, socialists and community campaigners, we aren't just people who appear at Election time. TUSC candidates have been battling to defend their communities and fellow trade union members long before the Election - and we will be doing so long after the Election is over as well.

To see a full list of TUSC's 130-plus General Election candidates, see In London alone, we are standing in a third of the General Election seats. Our candidates include prominent trade unionists and a number of former Labour councillors now standing for TUSC against cuts.

For example, I am one of four NUT National Executive members standing nationally, in a personal capacity, for TUSC on May 7. TUSC has endorsed the NUT's Education Manifesto and agrees that the best way to plan local education is if every school is part of a democratic Local Education Authority. TUSC calls for the law to be changed so we can bring academies back into local authority provision. We also believe that parents and staff should be represented in decision-making alongside local councillors. None of the main parties are prepared to support those demands. 

Their future, their education
As a local parent and NUT Secretary in Lewisham, I have been playing a leading role in the 'Stop Academies in Lewisham' campaign, particularly opposing the threats to Sedgehill and the Prendergast Federation schools. If these schools are converted into academies, then there is a real danger that others would follow, tearing apart Lewisham Education, just as we have seen happen in Bromley.

Unlike the main parties, more and more parents now understand that academies are not the right way forward for education. That was shown again in today's lively march of parents, staff and students in Lewisham. We were united in opposition to the Governing Board's plans to turn the three Prendergast schools into academies.

As I explained to the closing rally, held outside Prendergast Vale school, we are all listening to politicians making promises up to May 7. Voters can decide if any of them are to be believed. Prendergast governors are also making promises about the benefits of academisation - but are they any more believable? We think not. 

At the closing rally this afternoon
Of course, at the General Election at least we have a vote. Scandalously, under the existing academy legislation, parents and staff don't have that right. That's why we have no choice but to step up the campaign to make sure that our voices cannot be ignored, including through further strike action before the 'consultation' ends on June 8th. 

I hope today's march will boost the confidence of all those who took part to go out and win our campaign to 'Stop Academies In Lewisham'. I also hope that everyone who wants to defend education from the education cuts and attacks that are to come, whichever of the main parties wins on May 7, will use their vote to back TUSC instead!

See a video of today's protest here:


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