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From: The Socialist issue 843, 11 February 2015: Take the wealth off the super-rich!

Search site for keywords: TUSC - Labour Party - Labour - Austerity - Unite - Southwark - Cuts - Bermondsey - Lambeth - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

"I've taken off the shackles" of the Labour Party

Ex-Labour councillor applies to stand for TUSC

Kingsley Abrams is a former Labour councillor who was suspended from Lambeth Labour group for opposing cuts. He has now applied to stand for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Bermondsey and Old Southwark in May's general election.

Kingsley spoke to the Socialist.

Why have you resigned from the Labour Party?

Across the country, ordinary hard-working people are struggling in this period of austerity. Nurses, firefighters, council workers, office workers - they did not cause the banking crisis. They did not make huge profits from the cheap money that was flowing around ten years ago. Yet ordinary people have borne the brunt of the cuts that government - both national and local - has inflicted upon them.

It has become increasingly clear that Labour has no narrative that will differentiate it from the Tories - the same local government settlement, the same spending caps and limits, the same rhetoric on 'unwelcome immigrants'. This is not a party that countenances an alternative to austerity even though voters in other European countries are keen to give it a try.

Labour also appears indifferent to the unfairness of many of the current anti-union laws and the Tories' proposals for several more.

Only 0.6% of Labour's parliamentary candidates are from the African-Caribbean communities. The fact is that the NEC has not put a single African-Caribbean candidate with any previous elected experience on a single NEC shortlist for the past 15 years.

I am fervently anti-austerity. But it has become increasingly clear that these policies cannot be articulated in the current Labour Party. I haven't given up. I intend to continue fighting austerity. I have just taken off the shackles.

Why did you decide to stand for TUSC?

Of all of the groups to the left of the Labour Party, TUSC, which is a coalition of trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists, offers the best opportunity to articulate my anti-austerity politics. We have a responsibility to inspire the next generation into a lifetime of anti-austerity, left-wing politics.

Until recently you were on Unite the Union's National Executive and hoped to be able to change the Labour Party through Unite's political strategy of recruiting trade unionists to the party and campaigning for trade union-backed candidates. What happened to that plan?

The strategy is not working because Unite members cannot see any difference between Labour and the Tories on austerity. Until Labour shifts to the left and opposes the cuts, Unite members will refuse to join the Labour Party in any significant numbers.

What can we do to help your campaign in Bermondsey and Old Southwark?

We will be setting up a campaign headquarters in the constituency, building on the community work already started by Southwark TUSC. We will need help with getting the leaflets out. Also with telephone and door to door canvassing. I can be contacted on: 07932 447 763; email: [email protected]; twitter: @kingsleyabrams

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Article dated 11 February 2015

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