Sunday, 11 December 2011

Brighton TUSC Resources

By-election Leaflet
Full colour versions of our leaflet and poster for the 22 December Westbourne by-election are now available online:

Print friendly layout (gateway fold)

Council budget blogs
TUSC members in the Socialist Party have been blogging about the Green Council in Brighton and the budget process:

Get in touch
Finally, if you'd like to learn more or get involved, please email

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Are Green Councillors Hands Tied? Or Are They Tying Ours?

Green Cuts Budget Proposals
'Are Green Councillors Hands Tied? Or Are They Tying Ours?'
by Jon Redford, Brighton and Hove Socialist Party
(first published at

The Green budget proposals were released on 1st December. In the face of a 33% reduction of funding from central government they are proposing that £35m of cuts are made over the next two years. Most departments are facing between 5-15% cuts in services. The main cuts over the year 2012/13 will be to adult social care (£3.2m), children's services (£2.78m), housing (£2.09m), communities (£1.1m), city regulation and infrastructure (£4.85m) and resources and finance (£1.85m). Up to 120 council jobs will be lost.


There will be increased parking charges and charges for registering births, deaths and marriages, scrapping mobile libraries, reducing library opening times and closing public toilets. The cuts in areas such as adult social care and children's services will see day centres, meals on wheels and community care cut, as well as cuts to mental health services, childcare training schemes and children's centres. In particular school attendance budgets and assistance to young people not in education, training or employment will face cuts. Many more details of areas that will face cuts can be found in the budget itself, although not in the press releases so far issued by the Greens.

In addition the Greens are foregoing a one off grant from central government to prevent a one year council tax rise, instead implementing a 3.5% rise. Whilst the Greens are correct to point out that the government's offer is a poisoned chalice; it only lasts for a year and would result in lost funding in the long-term, it is not acceptable to offset cuts with tax rises that impact disproportionately on the working-class and poor. This council tax rise is not being used to invest in new services, it is being raised to mitigate the harmful effects of the overall reduction in government funding.


Can Councillors Fight the Cuts?

Brighton and Hove Socialist Party has consistently argued that genuinely anti-cuts councillors would build a mass movement to refuse to make the government cuts. In Q&A notes released at the same time as the budget the Greens take up this question:

Q: Why not defy the Government and refuse to set a budget - or set an uncut one?

A: These are not the defiant 1980s. Nowadays, if we set an illegal budget, an unbalanced budget (where spending exceeds income) or no budget, it will just be set for us by the Council's Chief Finance Officer or a central Government civil servant.”

This is an incredibly important question. They argue that their hands are tied, and a fight-back is simply not possible. If it was true that the council cannot fight this funding reduction then the question for us would be the same questions facing the Greens. However we are not just limited to the options the government present us. The aim of the workers and anti-cuts movements must be to make our own 'option' instead of shuffling along behind variations of a theme we disagree with. More importantly the position put forward above is false.

It is strange to hear them say “These are not the defiant 1980's” only a day after the biggest strike in Britain since 1926, and probably Brighton's largest ever demonstration! The announcements made in George Osborne's Autumn statement made it clear the pain was not yet over, and in fact it would continue for a further two years of austerity after 2015. Disposable income will remain below its 2002 levels as the government aims to reduce public spending to 1998 levels. It is hard to see how the defiance of the 1980's will not return or be surpassed in the coming period!


Politics is not just (or particularly) a matter of council practices and procedures; a mass movement of the working-class can decide questions that politicians can only wistfully chew over for decades. However where is the campaign to demand the funding back from the government? Why have the Greens immediately set about making the cuts? They are silent on the fight-back, and have conducted a consultation which is as a result deeply divisive. That has done nothing to build a movement against the cuts, and everything to undermine it.


Not only have the Greens rejected the idea of using the budget setting process to fight for money to be returned to the city, they seem to have rejected the idea of any campaign at all. The Greens are looked to as an alternative to the main three parties (Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem) in the city, if Green MP Caroline Lucas (who has so far said nothing about the decisions of the council) announced a demonstration, backed by the anti-cuts and trade union movement it would no doubt be taken up by many thousands and signal even more that Brighton is willing to fight. Such a campaign does not in itself mean passing a needs budget, although we argue that is the necessary final step; otherwise the movement will be like a lion with no teeth or claws.

What is the Law?

If anti-cuts councillors took a stand and pushed for a budget that reflected local need instead of the government's directions for cuts, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) could issue a report to the council under s114(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which the council would have to respond to within 21 days.

The chief finance officer of a relevant authority shall make a report under this section if it appears to him that the expenditure of the authority incurred (including expenditure it proposes to incur) in a financial year is likely to exceed the resources (including sums borrowed) available to it to meet that expenditure.” s114 (3) LGFA1988

However the council can reject this guidance; it is false for the Greens to argue the CFO can force the budget through. According to the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy report on the role of the CFO in local government,

If the authority (or the executive) acts positively on the s114 (114A) report, well and good; if not, any further formal action is to be taken by the external auditor...”

There are then three courses of action available to the external auditor,section 6 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 or the issue of an ‘advisory notice’ under section 19A or an application to the Court for a declaration under section 17 of the 1998 Act. The first option allows the external auditor to require information to investigate, while the second allows the external auditor to issue a notice to the council explaining they are overspending. However the law is very clear:

“An advisory notice is a notice which...requires the body or officer before i) making or implementing the decision or ii) taking or continuing to take the course of action... to give the person who is for the time being the auditor of the accounts of the body not less than the specified number of days’ notice in writing of the intention of the body or officer to do that thing.” 19A(3)(d) ACA1998

In other words, the council can decide to proceed as long as they inform the external auditor within a set period of time of their intention to do so. The external auditor may then apply for a court order under section 17 which may result in an order to rectify the accounts but since 2002 and the passing of the Local Government Act 2000 it may no longer result in personal liability for the councillors.

Once the CFO has issued a notice to the council and it has been rejected the councillors could be referred to the Standards Board, a process which takes months and which we could use as a platform to gather support for refusing to make the cuts. While it may end in suspension it is not a short, rubber stamp procedure. We would make it as transparent a process as possible and call demonstrations to put focus on the fact that anti-cuts councillors attempting to resist government cuts are being hauled before the Standards Board! Anyone involved in the anti-poll tax campaign will know that court procedures can become a weapon in our hands, they can become a platform to express our ideas or a way to create a massive backlog.

Impact on Councillors

The impact on individual councillors will not be a personal fine as with the Liverpool councillors, after the law changed in 2000, but (at worst) a suspension. Green councillors need to ask themselves whether fighting the cuts is more important than their council seats? But if a movement was built to refuse the cuts, if the councillors used the standards board procedure as a platform to further build the campaign and deepen the mass following they had built, and still the government suspended them, nothing would stop us restarting the process and running in the by-election on the same program of refusing to make the cuts!

Imagine the uproar if they, after all that, imposed commissioners! What difference is there in principle between the Greens (or any other party) being forced to carry out the government cuts, or the government itself directly imposing them? The question is whether we are going to fight or not – and councillors need to decide which side they are on. The Greens may argue there is not difference in principle, but in practice they are able to protect the most vulnerable. However as the details of this budget emerge it is clear there is very little option available to them but to cut services. As the Greens themselves said 'there is no fat left'. If they do not fight for the extra funding they will be cutting into meat and bone.

Ultimately whatever action the government may or may not eventually take depends on the campaign waged to oppose the cuts outside the council chamber. The most recent example of a campaign to resist local government cuts was in Liverpool in the 1980's. The threat of imposing an unelected government commissioner was made by the Thatcher government but they did not take this step, instead they waited for then leader of the Labour party Neil Kinnock to attack the council before picking off the councillors Had they imposed commissioners it would have sparked an even bigger fight-back as a result, especially against the backdrop of the miners strike in 1984-85.


The Greens plead with the movement while they are making the cuts 'our hands are tied, we are doing our best to oppose the cuts by directing the axe'. However the law looks very different. If they cannot demonstrate that their hands are tied by the law, then we have to conclude it is the Greens themselves that are tying the hands of service users, local authority staff and trade union members in Brighton and Hove!

The conclusion that we draw is that the Greens should be waging a campaign but they are not. So we have to build a political force that will do all of this, that is rooted in and depends on a mass movement of the working-class to achieve its aims. That is why we are proud of the role we have played at the core of the strike movement and the rebuilding of the trade union movement in Brighton and Hove; confidence and democratic organisation is needed to oppose this government's unjust pension reforms. We are proud to be part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, standing in the Westbourne by-election. We are proudest of our call for a strategy to win the fight against the cuts, to end the capitalist system which breeds them and replace it with a democratic socialist society!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Westbourne anti-cuts candidate opposes attacks on youth and encourages students to vote

Pip Tindall, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s (TUSC) candidate in the Wesbourne by-election has slated the decision to call a snap election in the week before Christmas. Pip pointed out that the ‘blatantly undemocratic timing seems designed to disenfranchise students’, 13% of the city’s population, and the highest concentration in the UK. Pip declared that ‘this shows the political establishment are running scared in the face of student opposition to cuts and fees’.

TUSC has pledged that this will not stop education being a key issue in the by-election, called less than a month after students joined lecturers, teachers and support staff across the city on pickets and demonstrations on November 30th. Amongst those backing Pip’s candidacy in a personal capacity are Dave Hill, a University and College Union activist and TUSC candidate in Brighton Kemptown at the general election, Phil Clarke, the Secretary of Lewes, Wealden and Eastbourne branch of the National Union of Teachers, and many student and trade union activists from the city’s schools, colleges and Universities.

Labour are now shamelessly attacking the Greens in Westbourne for taking a principled stance against the break-up of state education, rather than allowing the Co-op owned 'Primary Academy' Labour are pushing for. This shows Labour's total abandonment of the principle of publicly owned and run comprehensive education. New state schools are needed across the UK, but we must fight for these to be publicly owned and democratically run, to give all children a fair start in life and teachers and support staff the decent pay and conditions they deserve for doing such vital jobs. Why are the Labour Party pushing these deeply damaging Academies when every teaching union in the UK officially opposes them?

Jack Poole, an anti-cuts activist at Brighton University said:

"I urge all students who can’t stay in Brighton and vote to register for a postal vote before December 7th. The Tories and Liberals want to avoid making education an issue in this election.

Labour are no better - the Browne report which recommended £9,000 fees was appointed by the last Labour government, who privatised schools through PFI and ‘Academies’.

The Green administration in Brighton has passively accepted swingeing cuts to central government’s direct funding for schools and is proposing cuts to children's services of £2.78 million over the next year.

The Welsh Assembly and Tower Hamlets Council have both found the money to preserve the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Why is the Green Party which claims ‘protect the most vulnerable’ not consulting us on that, as well as cuts?"

Students wanting to register for a postal vote should contact Electoral Services, 2nd Floor Brighton Town Hall, Email: , Phone: (01273) 291999 to request a form which must be returned by 5.00 pm 7th December.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Statement from Pip Tindall, Westbourne by-election TUSC candidate

"I am standing for TUSC because they are the only party prepared to take on the government and fight the cuts that are ripping the heart out of our society.

TUSC is committed to fighting all the cuts. We would set a no-cuts budget, and build a mass campaign with local trade unions, campaigning organisations and other community groups to force the government to restore our funding. This is a fighting political strategy, not one that can be achieved through tinkering with budgets, reserves or borrowing. Giving political leadership to a mass campaign is the only way we can stop the cuts.

Hundreds of billions of pounds were spent bailing out the banks, yet it is the working class who are being made to pay. The cuts fall heaviest on the most vulnerable, but the attack on public services will affect us all. The cuts are not just about saving money, they pave the way for privatisation, threatening health care, welfare and education, and undermining the pay and conditions won by working people.

And by slashing local authority funding, the government is making councils complicit in imposing cuts.

Labour long ago ceased to be a worker’s party. They had the chance to roll back the privatisations and anti-union laws brought in by Thatcher, but preferred to waste billions on war. There is no sign that they’ve changed under Miliband.

The Greens say they’re against the cuts but despite their election slogan “Fair is Worth Fighting For”, it quickly became obvious that the Greens were not actually prepared to fight them in Brighton and Hove. The best they can offer people is a choice between which cuts they mind least.

Our society is suffering because a tiny minority have the power to dominate everyone’s lives. Capitalism will never meet people’s needs because this comes into conflict with the drive to make profit. I believe that we can only meet our common needs through common ownership, public funding, and democratic control."

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Brighton TUSC and the Nov 30 public sector workers strike and march and rally at the Level

Brilliant stike action today nationally and locally in Brighton... around 6,000 to 10,000 strikers (depending police estimates or organisers' estimates) marched through Brighton and at the rally at the Level heard lots of speakers such as Phil Clarke (Secretary of Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT, Chair of Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition, and TUSC activist), and Pip Tindall (Brighton Benefits Campaign, UNISON and Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition activist, and TUSC candidate for the Westbourne Ward byelection on 22 December for the Brighton and Hove City Council Vacancy) address the crowd of many thousands.

The march was spurred on not only by anger at the ruling class attack on workers' wages, conditions, benefits and pensions, but also by the Chancellor of the Exchequer/ Finance Minister George Osbourne's class war financial statement in parliament of 29 Nov- not one penny taken from the pockets of the rich, billions taken from the pockets of the working class, especially from the poor...

Here are some pics from the rally at The Level

Sunday, 27 November 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Anti-cuts candidate in Westbourne by-election!

'Ex-Green candidate, Pip Tindall, stands against all cuts in Westbourne by-election'

Now a member of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), Pip Tindall is standing in the Westbourne by-election, due to take place on 22 December.

Pip, who is an NHS worker, trade unionist and welfare rights campaigner, stood as a Green Party candidate for East Brighton in the May 2011 local elections. She had signed the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition pledge to oppose all cuts and give a political voice to a mass campaign to have central funding reinstated for public services in Brighton and Hove.

When the Greens were elected and Pip saw they intended to administer, rather than fight, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat cuts, she and husband, Paul Tindall, left and joined the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

"The Green Party says it's opposed to cuts, but that’s just so much hot air if they won’t fight them when they get the chance. I was horrified when I realised that the Greens in Brighton intended to hand down the cost of the banking crisis to those least able to afford it - the public service users of Brighton and Hove.

The working class is being forced to pay for the bankers’ greed. We need an inclusive political voice to say ‘NO to all cuts’ which the Greens and ‘too far, too fast’ Labour can’t offer - only TUSC is proposing a serious alternative to slash and burn austerity."

During my election campaign I pledge to:
  • Publicise the fact that public service cuts are wholly unnecessary and driven by political dogma;
  • Publicise the fact that alternative and just sources of income are readily available to central Government to fund public services;
  • Work for the anti-cuts vote to be maximised;
  • Work proactively and vigorously with ward and city anti-cuts campaigns;
  • Oppose all use of discrimination and division to promote a cuts agenda.

If elected I pledge to:
  • Oppose and vote against any attempts to set Council budgets which will result in cuts to public services and local jobs or a worsening of terms and conditions for council staff;
  • Oppose and vote against any attempts to cut or privatise individual public services;
  • Oppose any above inflation increase in council tax and instead campaign for a progressive national tax system where the rich pay more;
  • Propose an alternative ‘no-cuts’ budget which could involve use of reserves and/or council borrowing powers and a campaign against the government to replace the funding they are cutting from local government;
  • Fully support industrial action taken by trade unions to defend their members’ jobs, terms and conditions from cuts;
  • Use my position to argue against all cuts and support and publicise campaigns against privatisation and cuts in jobs, services or benefits.

More to follow...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Labour cuts vs ConDem cuts - spot the difference

Back in February, the Guardian published the graphic below, asking 'are Labour councils cutting harder than Conservative ones?'

Speculation followed regarding whether Labour's enthusiastic implementation of ConDem cuts at a local level were politically motivated or not.

The question is - why is Labour implementing cuts when it could be fighting them?

Many of the public sector workers affected by council cuts will be members of UNISON, GMB or Unite, unions which have sponsored many of the Labour councillors implementing cuts. Is this value for money?

The Guardian article shows that even when various factors are controlled for, Labour councils are cutting at indiscernible rates to others.

Following a post-election crash in contributions from private benefactors, trade union money now accounts for 91.3% of Labour party funding. Yet Labour continue to slash jobs and services with the same vigour as the other main parties.

"Too far, too fast" say Labour of ConDem cuts - yet even this craven approval of slower-paced cuts and privatisation turns out to be far to the left of Labour's behaviour in councils across the UK.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Meeting Report 'Stop the Cuts – Defend Higher Education'

‘Stop the Cuts – Defend Higher Education’ joint Brighton and Sussex Universities workers and students meeting, 11 October 2011

Report from Dave Hill (Brighton Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

Yesterday, meeting at Brighton University, TUSC members and supporters joined with public sector workers, lecturers and students from the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, and union and student union reps, to discuss the privatisation and cuts facing Higher Education, and to plan for and build support for the expected 30 November public sector general strike.

The 30 November Strike – which could see the largest number of workers taking industrial action since 1926 – is centred around the government attacks on public sector pensions, but speakers repeatedly linked the struggle over pensions with the struggle against the neoliberal/ ConDem (and New Labour) attacks on the Welfare State, on benefits, and on public services through privatisation (of universities, schools, services and of course the NHS). Speakers also attacked the government for attempting to fundamentally alter the purpose of education, denying any role for individual and social fulfilment – across the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as Science and Technology and Business Studies. Education’s critical edge (and subjects) are being replaced by a narrow focus on ‘education for work’.

On pensions, Carole Hanson (UNISON Branch Secretary, University of Brighton) pointed out that, under the ConDem law and plans, public sector workers will be working longer and paying substantially more, to get a massively reduced pension. Carole’s public sector pension would cost her an additional 3% of her salary – an extra £90 a month on top of her existing public sector occupational pension. In addition to this hike in contributions, public sector retirement ages are being harmonised with the State Old Age Pension age of retirement, and the amount paid out over retirement will be far less! Public Sector pensions will, in future, be based, not on the final career salary, but on a career average salary – generally substantially lower, especially for women workers who often work part time or take career breaks to raise children. In addition, public sector pension increases will be tied to the CPI (Consumer Prices Index) instead of the RPI (Retail Price Index). The CPI is a lower inflation rate which excludes housing costs, meaning pension payments will decrease in real terms as inflation rises.

This is theft and robbery. It is little known that the Local Government Pension Scheme is not subsidised at all by the taxpayer – it is fully self-funding. So the ConDem changes are a tax – an extra tax – on public sector workers.

Carole (and the other speakers) called for united action across all the different sectors of public service. Various speakers also called for private sector workers to support the action, too, and for students to join the picket lines and express solidarity with the strikers.

David Cichon, president of University of Sussex Student Union and activist in Sussex Stop the Cuts, called for students and university workers to work closely together over the coming period, to build a strategy together which is capable of uniting the energy and dynamism of student activism with the industrial power of workers organised in trade unions.

Luke Martell, president of UCU at the University of Sussex, explained the details of the government white paper on higher education and its consequences. Already, arts and humanities subjects have received a 100% cut to HEFCE funding, whilst HEFCE funding has been cut by 80% overall – which has in turn opened the way to moving the costs of Higher Education from public funding to students (£9k fees for EU students, much more for others) and workers, through mass redundancies, privatisations, real terms pay cuts and pension cuts. At Sussex, UCU members began ‘working to contract’ on Monday as the first stage of industrial action against the now implemented changes to the USS pension scheme – students present discussed how they could support this action.

Jack Poole, activist in Brighton University Stop the Cuts, called for students to unite with University workers to fight cuts to higher education, and to help build confidence in University workers to take strike action on 30 November. He also explained how young students, workers and unemployed have been recreating the ‘Jarrow Crusade’ against unemployment, 75 years since the original march, by marching from Jarrow in the North East to London, culminating in a rally in London on 5 November. He also explained that the 'work longer' element of the pensions attacks had a direct and urgent impact on young people as it means higher youth unemployment (currently 1 in 5 18-24 year olds is unemployed) as workers are forced to work well in to old age before being allowed to draw their pension.

Speakers such as Carole, and Phil Clarke (NUT branch secretary), Dave Hill (TUSC and UCU) also highlighted that the 30 November one day public sector strike was a beginning, not the end, of what will likely be a long campaign. In the words of some speakers, not just to protest at the pension changes/theft, not just to oppose the attacks proposed by all three main parties (Tories, LibDems and Labour) on the Welfare State and Public Sector, but also to replace the three of them, to forge ahead with a socialist alternative to neoliberalism and to Capitalism.

Last term I was teaching at two different universities – Middlesex University in London, and the University of Athens in Greece. This term, I am teaching at neither. But for very different reasons. At Middlesex University most of my hours have been cut as part of 300 full-time equivalent redundancies across the university workforce. A result of government cuts and policy on higher education.

At Athens University I am not teaching for a very different reason. Universities in Greece are closed for a very different reason! They are occupied by staff and students against the cuts and changes in higher education! That’s what we should do here occupy all universities and colleges, and, like in Greece, recognise that a one day public sector general strike is not enough ­– it’s necessary to have a united, cumulative and lengthy campaign uniting workers, students, campaigning groups, direct action groups and socialist/Marxist groups, with the strength of the organised working class and its trade unions.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

TUSC leaflet for students resident at Sussex University. Vote Phil Clarke, Tony Greenstein and Dave Hill in the Brighton Council Election, May 5th, Hollingdean and Stanmer Ward.

Students Resident at Sussex University-
Vote for 3 campaigners against education cuts. Phil Clarke is a local teacher active against cuts in school education, Tony Greenstein works with the Unemployed Workers Centre. Both play a central role in co-ordinating student and worker/ trade union action against the cuts in Brighton and against imperialism and Zionism. Prof Dave Hill studied at Sussex University and played a major supporting role, speaking at many campus meetings and demonstrations, in the recent `Save the Sussex Six’ campaign, and the StC- Stop the Cuts- campaigns at Sussex University.
·         Free Education from  Nursery to University
·         Scrap the Fees
·         Restore the EMA grants for needy 16-19 year olds
·         Restore Funding for University Arts and Humanities and
    Language Courses
·         Against Racism, Sexism and Homophobia- For Social and Economic Justice and Equality

Tony Greenstein says `We need a mass united resistance against the government, which must involve student protests, industrial action by university and other workers, and action focussed on the new generation of younger students who face exclusion from higher education through the abolition of EMAs’.

Phil Clarke says `we are socialists, fighting for students’ rights to free education, and for workers rights, for a fairer, socialist society, and for the development of a new workers party. In Hollingdean and Stanmer Ward, which includes Sussex University

photo shows Dave Hill on the massive November 2010 national demo against Education Cuts. Dave writes about, and for, University occupations and resistance. See
The Brighton TUSC blogspot- including lots of action pics- at                                              
Printed and published by Jonathon Redford, Frank Elvy House, 4 Crestway Parade, Hollingdean, BrightonBN17BL.